What Would You Wish For?

Who’d want to be a Disney Imagineer eh? Well, me for a start. For location alone it’s in my all time top four dream jobs just behind millionaire, musician and best selling author. As good as the job seems they and in turn Disney will, in my view, always be between rocks and hard places when it comes to developing the rides and attractions. The challenge of keeping up with the noisy neighbours at Universal, introducing new stuff to keep folks coming back as well as retaining the magic and memories that everyone is so attached to is a delicate balance to maintain.

I will personally never forgive the Imagineers responsible for Stich’s Great Escape, but that’s one aberration in a long line of success.

This quandry was brought to mind this week when I saw a rumour posted into my Facebook timeline (thanks Val Ramsey!). The article suggested that Disney were testing a new fireworks show at the Magic Kingdom, postulating that this may be to replace Wishes.

Now, that is just a guess and is a million miles from confirmed. They could just be testing the fireworks for the Christmas stuff they do which will be starting soon, but a new fireworks show could make some sense.

  1. There is currently no night-time parade at MK and they need to announce one for when the Halloween and Christmas parades finish. A new set of fireworks could fit into that.
  2. Wishes has been around for a good while now and it could be due a refresh.

Now something like this is going to draw mixed reactions from the Disney faithful. For some, like Emily, their reaction is horror and instant mourning for something that hasn’t yet died. For Emily, Wishes is all she has known so perhaps the reluctance for change is understandable. For others of course there’s excitement and anticipation for what may be to come. I honesty can’t remember what came before Wishes but I know I will have seen it and as sad as it may be for Wishes to be retired, I do wonder what the next generation of fireworks show may look like. I’d expect Disney to up the ante though with technology now being available that wasn’t when Wishes came along.

There have also been rumours that Paint The Night will come to the Magic Kingdom so of course nobody really knows, unless you’re the boss at Magic Kingdom. I guess we’ll find out soon enough. Some folks have even been bold enough to suggest that there will not be a replacement parade at all. Claims that cost cutting will be at the root of this drastic action. Personally, I cannot see that at all. The Magic Kingdom and parades are synonymous, and I just can’t contemplate that Disney would be so silly as to break that tradition.

Whatever happens I’m confident enough to trust that Disney will get it right. The nighttime activities at MK are a show piece event and they have to maintain a standard so that it will mesmerise and entertain their audience, as well of course, making sure it makes a good proportion of them cry, or maybe that’s just Emily?

In twenty years or so, when some other idiot is blogging about Disney changing whatever does or doesn’t come next, there will be a similarly split reaction I’m sure and I just hope I’m still going there to see whatever it is.

So, time for your thoughts, what do you want Disney to do?

Till the next time…..

What Are You Eating Next April?

Our holiday started today. I know that the countdown flew by and I didn’t celebrate the single digit dance and all that, but that’s because of course we aren’t really at that stage. But, crucially today I booked our first ADR. I now know where I’ll be eating dinner on the 14th of April 2017.

Earlier today I booted up the My Disney Experience app and did the deed. It is so easy these days to organise stuff like this and I’m all for it. If there is ever an option to do something online, I’m all over it, so Disney’s move into web and app based bookings suits me completely.

However, there is a very small part of me which misses the butterflies in the stomach feeling of calling Disney to make your reservations. Stood in a dank and dreary Bolton, talking to some ray of sunshine in Florida somehow always seemed to cheer me up. The hold music alone had the power to transport my mind to happier and sunnier places but then talking to a Cast Member who couldn’t pronounce my name and wished me a magical day was a special treat to behold.

Anyway, the booking I made for Friday the 14th of April 2017 at 8:15pm was at ‘Ohanas. It’s been a long, long time since we ate there. The beauty of chronicling all our trips over the years is that I know exactly when it was…


Yep, I know for sure that it wasn’t the 1/3/2002 as it says on that photo. That was caused by me replacing the batteries in my digital camera and all the dates being reset. So every photo from that holiday has the wrong date on it. Sigh….The actual date of our last dinner there was Saturday the 16th of August 2003.  The girls would have been eight and six at the time and I also know we ate at 6.30pm. I knew there would be at least one good reason for writing up every single trip in ludicrous detail.

Here is my detailed and thought through review of the whole experience…

Our server was very good and very friendly to the kids, who of course won’t shut up at home, but become mute when other people talk to them.

The starters were lovely, and like the pig I am, I ate far too much of them so I was full by the time the meat arrived. The girls had a hot dog as they are really cosmopolitan and exotic.

Louise had a back scratcher cocktail from the bar, and I had a lovely Diet Coke! 

The meal was very nice indeed. I think maybe we were a little tired at this point and didn’t get the most out of it. $75 was fair enough I thought as Louise’s drink was $8! 

We submitted to exhaustion at 8.00 and we drove home and were all in bed for 9.15.

I suspect we’ll be paying a little more than $75 this time around, down to Brexit and the fact that Emily can now also drink those cocktails. Crazyness!

So one ADR down and not may more to go. Our on-site dining experiences are select and few and far between. To be honest the motivation for booking ‘Ohana was Emily spotting this dessert on some blog or other…

Image credit Touringplans.com

Image credit Touringplans.com

It is Banana Bread Pudding and it will be in my belly on April the 14th. What will you be eating then?

We just have ADRs for Sanaa and Trail’s End to add on for later in our trip and the rest of our eating will be done off site, in my comfy shorts.

I did have a mild panic this week after reading some stuff on the internet about Easter being insanely busy. Not that we can change it now, as it was hard enough to do that once. I think on reflection that we should be OK. The first five days we are there is the start of the traditional Easter school holidays but we have Front of Line and five days to get around two parks so that should be fine. Then we spend a week away from Orlando at Siesta Key and only head back to the parks as everyone else (hopefully) travels back home for the start of school.

Even if the parks at WDW are very busy we’ll just FastPass the stuff we absolutely want to do and if we can’t do the odd ride, well, we’ve done them all before of course, and if you ask me when, I could probably look that up too! We can always go and drink cocktails somewhere instead!!

Till the next time……

Tonight Matthew, I’m Going To Be a Whinger….

It has been a music filled week, with a band rehearsal on Monday, a trip to a gig on Tuesday and a gig of our own on Friday. I have indeed had the music in me this week.

The gig we watched on Tuesday was Level 42 at the Lowry and it was superb. I know they won’t be everyone’s cup of tea but the level of musicianship is incredible. Louise came to see them for the first time ever and was impressed with the quality of the whole thing. Before the gig we also had an all you can eat Chinese buffet so it would take a pretty horrendous gig to bring me down from that high to be honest, but there was no danger of that.

If you fancy a watch of what we saw here’s a song from the night. Not my video by the way so thank you to whoever filmed it and put it up on You Tube.

The gig of our own on Friday was our first with our new singer and just to make that transition more interesting we have changed the majority of the set too. The venue wasn’t quite as grand as The Lowry in which we enjoyed Level 42, but any performance with a load of new stuff to think about reminds you what the colour of adrenaline is.

It went well. Very well in fact, considering it was a first time through that set so we were pleased.

The other thing which seems to have dominated my thoughts was of course Hurricane Matthew. Naturally, most of my social media feeds are dominated by Florida content so it was inevitable that I would see a lot about it. With the current state of the UK, living overseas has been even more appealing recently and of course my first destination of choice would be the sunshine state. Aside from the recent threat of Trump getting elected there aren’t many things which have ever put me off living in the US and specifically Florida, but the threat of these severe weather events is one.

We have been incredibly lucky over the years considering that we’ve nearly always holidayed in peak hurricane season. Sure, we’ve had some rain and the odd impressive storm but our timing has been impeccable in avoiding anything major. I do remember missing Charlie by one day and turning up at Cypress Pointe to see a chuck of it not where it should be. In fact during that trip we saw one of the most impressive and scary storms we’ve ever had in Florida. I think it might have been that same year that we were also the last flight out of the airport before it was closed due to an incoming hurricane/tropical storm.

You don’t mess with this stuff!

With this in mind I was dismayed at various points last week to see lots of questions and more worryingly moans going on in the lead up to Matthew arriving about what I would politely call first world problems. Nobody has to tell me how important these holidays are and how much time effort and money goes into them but when an entire coast is being evacuated the fact that you’re going to miss your Be Our Guest reservation doesn’t register on anyone’s give-a-shit-ometer. Complaining that it was going to be hard to entertain two small kids during the curfew or not getting a refund for your Not So Scary ticket immediately are other examples which make you a knob.

I have to be careful here as the last time I mentioned a mild opinion on these Facebook groups about Orlando and WDW, I was promptly banned from one of them for having thoughts on my own blog that *might* have been about that one group, despite me never having posted in it. The internet is an odd place sometimes. Typically when any internet forum or group gets to a critical mass the moderators can have a tough time keeping their fingers away from the ban button. After this post I may find myself losing my broadband provider and eligibility for an ESTA for offering my own opinion on my own blog about no Facebook group in particular.

As I say, I do understand how gutting it can be to spend all that time planning and saving, having almost each moment planned in fine detail only to have some world event or force of nature spoil things. When shit goes down on the scale we saw last week, I’m afraid you suck it up, count your blessings and move on.

It was good to see Matthew move off the coast a little and give most parts of Florida an easier time than predicted but there has still been some horrendous damage and even deaths in Florida which is just awful. I can’t even begin to comment on the horrors seen in Haiti. Those poor people…..

So if you pissed and moaned anywhere about anything other than serious damage to your property or injury to a loved on, then shame on you. If I haven’t been banned from all of the internet for daring to have an opinion and still have access to my own blog next week I hope for cheerier stuff to blog about.

It’s great to see Florida almost back to normal since and if you’re over there I hope you can pick up your lives. holidays and anything else that was put on hold for a while.

Till the next time…..

Roy, Joy and a Significant Birthday

What were you doing forty-five years ago? Somewhere on former swamp land in Florida a significant event was happening which would affect mine and a lot of your lives in a way which nobody could have predicted.

A quiet, proud man stood next to a five foot tall mouse and declared the Magic Kingdom open for business to delight, entertain and enchant visitors from all over the world. At about the same time I was probably only concerned with where my next meal was coming from and soiling myself on a regular basis. In both cases, not much has changed.

Many words have been written I’m sure to commemorate the 45th birthday of what is now Walt Disney World Resort, so I’m not sure I have much to add other than my personal thoughts and reflections. The place holds a large part of my heart and a significant chunk of my earnings and I suspect that will always be the case. Looking at the crowds there yesterday, as much as I love it, I’m not sure I would have liked to have been there to be honest, but I celebrate the event in my own way nonetheless.

I have documented many times that my love affair with the place started way back in 1980 when hair was long, shorts were short and we had no idea what we are doing.

Magic Kingdom 1980

And so it begins….

The fact that I am holding a park map demonstrates our rookie status during that first visit. It’s crazy now to think that the place had only been open for nine years then. My memory may be playing tricks on me but I think at that time Epcot Center was under construction, but we didn’t know what that meant at the time.

Since that first time I have been more times than I can remember and loved every single visit. I’ve tried and failed on many occasions to try to capture my feelings about the place and what it means to me and my family so I’m not going to try again now. Nostalgia, outstanding service, the weather, the food and down right great family entertainment with endless experiences are some of the words I might use if I were trying, but I’m not so I won’t.

Having not been on it’s hallowed ground for over twelve months now the pain and longing is real and something doesn’t feel quite right if I’m honest. It’s like not seeing one of your family for a long time I suppose. A few years ago we were lucky enough to do the Keys to the Kingdom Tour, which I would recommend to anyone with an interest in and/or a love for the place. I won’t do any spoilers about the content, other than to say that it gave me an absolute respect and admiration for a chap called Disney, and it wasn’t Walt.

Don’t get me wrong, I think Walt was a visionary, an inspiration and the absolute driving force behind what is now a mammoth empire. I can watch the film about his life in One Man’s Dream endlessly, but the person that came out of that tour with my ever lasting admiration was Roy Disney, his brother. Not only did he look after Walt in their early years but he was the chap who made Walt’s dreams and plans into a reality. He was the money man, somehow raising the funds needed for Walt’s visions time and time again. He was the steady Eddie who did the boring practical stuff that Walt did not have the time or skills to do.

When Walt passed away, sadly before the Florida project was complete, it was Roy, who despite his grief and own poor health took on the whole project, called the place Walt Disney World, and stood next to Walt’s creation on the 1st of October 1971 and declared it open. He did not like that limelight and it took an enormous effort to do that. It wasn’t that long after the Florida project was complete in December of that year that Roy passed away. It was as if he kept himself going just long enough to see his brother’s ultimate dream come true.

Thanks Roy!

Thanks Roy!

If it were half as catchy, in my view it should be called Walt and Roy Disney’s Resort, or the Disney Brother’s Resort, but it isn’t and I think it says a lot about Roy that he ensured it carried his brother’s name as it does.

So today I tip my hat to Roy as without him, this thing which takes up far too much of my money and thoughts would not be what it is. It may not exist at all. I hope he and his brother are looking down and loving the legacy of joy and happiness their combined efforts continue to give to millions of people.

Till the next time….

Tired & Toothsome.

Is it possible to have a duvet day from your own blog? I’m a bit tired today as yesterday was my company’s annual kick off event. It’s where we all get together at a poshish venue to talk about some business stuff and then have a meal and a drinkie. These days it has to be a heck of a hotel as there are 1,000 employees now and of course this year Emily came to her first one since joining the ranks a few months ago.

It’s always a busy time leading up to it, preparing presentations and videos for the day so it’s always a nice relief to have to have it done. We have driven back up from Birmingham this morning, only stopping to get Emily her hangover reducing McDonalds.

As we grow in size and struggle to find venues large enough to house us, I will of course be suggesting that we all go to those conference venues that will definitely be big enough…you know like the Swan and Dolphin at WDW. I am not too hopeful that the already enormous budget for these things would stretch to that.

There are a lot of us though…



Although I didn’t really drink, today I have that “lost voice” feeling after hours of shouting above very loud music and having managed about three hours sleep in an unfamiliar bed with crap pillows, I am feeling it to be honest. I’m not cut out for these late nights and galavanting at my advanced years.

In more important news, we are now within one month of being able to make ADRs for our time at The Beach Club. It is these small milestones that help to fool me into thinking this holiday is going to actually happen. It seems so far away. We only have a couple of reservations we want to make but you know that feeling of pressure as the time comes near, hoping you can secure that meal upon which your day and maybe entire plan depend upon? No? Just me…OK.

I see that the Toothsome place at Universal officially opened this week too, after a few weeks of soft opening. This is good as it means they will be very proficient in making those calorific creations before we arrive. I want my coronary thrombosis to be caused by food of the highest quality.

This opening is a great example of why Universal and Disney are good for each other. Well, they are good for us punters. You could see how someone might have to choose between doing Beaches & Cream for their ice cream related death sentence or this new place. Indeed, we have sacrificed Beaches from our plan as we definitely want to try Toothsome and now just can’t squeeze Beaches in. As we’ve done it a few times, it was an easy choice. So when one of Universal or Disney open a new thing, it keeps the other on their toes. How will Disney respond?

Now, whether you get your milk shake off of Disney or Universal is no big deal, but, on a larger scale, you could argue that Disney not getting the Potter park franchise a few years ago caused them to up their game and they came back big with the Star Wars purchase and the plan to basically reinvent Hollywood Studios based on that (and Pixar). Avatar Land at Animal Kingdom may make little sense today with the film almost forgotten, but with more films in the barrel, let’s hope that pans our for them. The Star Wars franchise looks a good bet to compete with the Potter stuff at Universal, as there are many, many new films planned and of course for now there seems little chance of new Harry Potter films. In theory, younger kids of the next few years will see Star Wars as more current and relevant with new films coming out every couple of years. Universal no doubt have something up their sleeve too.

So in this way, us customers get fantastic, cutting edge attractions from both as they compete for our dollar. Our only issue is how the hell do we fit it all in? Well, I for one obsess about my planning for months on end and bore my blog readers with every thought and detail. You?


Till the next time…..

Hair Today…..

There has been very little in the way of Disney thinking and planning this week. Work has been stupidly hectic. I can never say there has been no holiday thinking and planning as even when at my busiest my subconscious is working on things without my knowledge. I will be processing that thing I saw, that restaurant I heard about or that refurb news that came out and somehow applying that to my plans.

Anyway, it was all subconscious last week and remarkably the plan has not been touched or changed since the addition of The Cheesecake Factory.

A lovely thing happened this week though. One of my daughters proved, as they tend to do on a regular basis, that they are nicer people than I.  For years now Emily has had very long hair. Clearly it’s something she has inherited from me. Fancying a change she decided to get rid of a lot of it, but in doing so, decided to donate it to The Little Princess Trust, who provide real hair wigs to boys and girls across the UK and Ireland that have sadly lost their own hair through cancer treatment.


As you can see there was a lot to go at and she had around thirteen inches lopped off to send to the charity. This still left her with shoulder length hair, which frankly is just showing off and is absolutely not fair.


She’s had long hair for such a long time that there was a fear it would be a mentally scarring experience but she says she feels much better for it and it may help her to look a little more like her 21 years…..or maybe not!🙂

It’s stuff like this, along with when I watch Rebecca deal with small kids in such a warm, friendly and loving way that I can almost convince myself I had a hand in raising two humans who are the making the world a better place. They balance out my grumpy, selfish, curmudgeonly traits to some extent allowing me to remain that way with less guilt.

Rebecca and her boyfriend Tom had a week off work last week and drove down to Thorpe Park for a couple of days. Knowing they were driving that far, and with the newly passed Rebecca threatening to do most of the driving, did nothing for my stress levels, but as it turned out Tom drove whilst Rebecca snapchatted, so the worry was for naught.

They had a great time and returned to regale us with tales of many excellent rides. They got a great deal, with two day’s park tickets and a night in a hotel for £100! Sure, a hot dog was nearly £8, but that is to be expected.

It’s been a while since I gave you an update on my pop career, so you can have some now. We (Mustard) are deep in rehearsals for our return from a mini hiatus following the departure of our singer and the recruitment of another. It’s going very well and we can’t wait to get back at it. We have our first live outing with this line up next week with gigs lined up beyond that to the end of the year. As and when I get any video worthy of sharing I shall and you can marvel at my tight leather pants and nipple rings.

In other news, Louise and I have done series 2 of Narcos over the last week or so and loved it. We now know several rude words in Colombian so it was also educational. I recommend it if you are searching for your next binge watch bonanza. See, I told you last week had been busy!!

For now, I may just cast my eye over the holiday plan and see if anything has peculated from my subconscious. I’m sure there’s room for more food if I really try…

Till the next time……

Cheese? Cake?

It’s been an upsetting week. I was back at work and to make matters worse I had to spend a couple of days away from home down in Marlow. It’s a lovely place don’t get me wrong, but a 4am start and lots of driving on top of actually having to work as well, just don’t make for a restful week.

This is a mere bagatelle however when compared to the horrors of the first cold mornings and darker evenings when I haven’t had a summer holiday. The weather is yet to turn properly of course but there has been enough of a chill in the air, certainly this morning, to suggest what is on the way.

I think it is safe to say that both Louise and I are feeling the pain now and all the signs are that it is going to be a long winter…..sort of Game of Thrones style. Winter is indeed coming and not only have I not eaten hundreds of thousands of calories in the sunshine state, but the bright white trainer industry in the UK is suffering significantly as I have not invested in their wares as I normally would have. It’s a lose, lose scenario.

Still, our new floor, kitchen, windows and decorating look nice, so I feel much better.  -_-

The hardest blow this week however was delivered by text. Following on from my lengthy and detailed blog a couple of weeks ago detailing exactly how you should plan a holiday and at the same time demonstrating how you shouldn’t, if you have any sort of actual life, you will be familiar with my struggle to fit in all the activities meals we want to into the short time we are there. I have already added a couple of extra places which is going to mean eating when we’re not hungry, but on Friday Emily sent me this image.


That my friends is the counter at The Cheesecake Factory. Why was I so upset about receiving this picture? Well, I couldn’t fit it into our plan and I wanted to…a lot. Emily and I discussed at more length than any rational human beings should how we might force it into our plan and bellies but we couldn’t come up with anything that I thought could work without us spending the holiday like this…


I did not admit defeat. Oh no, you don’t get a body like mine by throwing in the towel just because you’re already planning to eat more meals than a small town in just over two weeks.

If the image of all those cheesecakes isn’t enough of an explanation as to why it must be done, then you check out their full menu here.  There are two, yes two full pages of their menu dedicated to cheesecake…and I make no apologies for sharing all of them here….

The One that Started it All!
Our Famous Creamy Cheesecake with a Graham Cracker Crust and Sour Cream Topping
The Original Topped with Glazed Fresh Strawberries. Our Most Popular Flavor for over 35 Years!
Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake Topped with Hazelnut Crunch and Nutella®
Caramel Cheesecake and Creamy Caramel Mousse on a Blonde Brownie all Topped with Salted Caramel
Hershey’s® Cheesecake Topped with Housemade Marshmallow and Honey Maid® Graham Crackers
Creamy Cheesecake Layered with Oreo® Cookies, Topped with Oreo® Cookie Mousse and Chocolate Icing
Lemon Cream Cheesecake Topped with Layers of Lemon Mousse and Meringue
Creamy Cheesecake Swirled with Caramel, Peanut Butter, Butterfinger
and Reese’s
Peanut Butter Cups
Flourless Godiva® Chocolate Cake, Topped with Godiva® Chocolate Cheesecake and Chocolate Mousse
Layers of Red Velvet Cake and Cheesecake Covered in Cream Cheese Frosting. Finished with White Chocolate
® Peanut Butter Cups in Our Original Cheesecake with Layers of Delicious Fudge Cake and Caramel
Layers of Our Original Cheesecake, Fudge Cake and Chocolate Truffle Cream
Caramel Cheesecake Topped with Caramel Mousse and Almond Brickle on a Vanilla Crust
Creamy Cheesecake Swirled with White Chocolate and Raspberry
Chocolate Chip Coconut Cheesecake with Layers of Chocolate Cake, Brownie and Coconut Pecan Frosting
Topped with Mango Mousse on a Vanilla Coconut Macaroon Crust
Banana Cream Cheesecake Topped with Bavarian Cream and Fresh Sliced Banana
White Chocolate Chunk Cheesecake Swirled with Macadamia Nuts and Caramel on a Blonde Brownie Crust
Raspberry-Vanilla Cake, Creamy Lemon Cheesecake, Raspberry Lady Fingers and Lemon Mousse
Our Wonderful Cheesecake and Tiramisu Combined into one Amazing Dessert!
Silky Chocolate Cheesecake Topped with a Layer of Belgian Chocolate Mousse
Creamy Vanilla Bean Cheesecake, Topped with Vanilla Mousse and Whipped Cream
Layers of Our Fudge Cake, Chocolate Cheesecake, Vanilla Mascarpone Mousse and Chocolate
A Rich Brownie, Topped with Kahlua® Cheesecake, Creamy Chocolate Mousse and Chocolate Ganache

Hershey’s® Cheesecake Between Moist Chocolate Cake with Creamy Chocolate Frosting and Chocolate Chips
Creamy Cheesecake Loaded with Our Chocolate Chip Cookie-Dough and Walnuts
Our Original Cheesecake, Baked Apples, Caramel and Brown Sugar Cinnamon Walnut Streusel
Key Lime Pie in a Cheesecake! Deliciously Tart and Creamy on a Vanilla Crumb Crust
Smooth and Creamy with a Graham-Walnut Crust
Graham-Walnut Crust with Fresh Strawberries and Whipped Cream
Pecan Brownie and Caramel-Fudge Swirl Cheesecake, Topped with Caramel Turtle Pecans and Chocolate
Creamy Cheesecake Topped with Snickers® Bar, Fudge and Caramel
Carrot Cake and Cheesecake Swirled Together, Topped with Cream Cheese Icing and Roasted Almonds
A Classic! The Original Topped with Cherry Preserves
World Famous! Available From September
Cheesecake from 6.95 to 7.95
A La Mode 1.95 Extra with Hot Fudge 1.95 Extra

It will take me until next April to choose which one (or two) I will have.

You may realise whilst looking at the link to their full menu how I have solved this tricky problem. You didn’t doubt for one second that I would find a way did you? Yes, there is a Cheesecake Factory close to Siesta Key. Our time in Orlando may be short but this will not keep me from life threatening amounts of calories. We are saved, and it now sits proudly in the plan like the ticking time bomb those calories will become within my fast hardening arteries.

I’m calling that a successful week after all!

Till the next time…