Day Two – Friday 28th August
Ah, the traditional first day ritual of waking up at a time nobody should know about, especially those on their holidays. Imagine my delight at being so only because somebody phoned me at 4.23am. Who knows how long I may have slept on for….maybe even all the way until half past!
I ignored the call of course, but then saw a voicemail had been left, so I thought I’d better see what it was in case I’d won the lottery or the UK’s sexiest male again. The call was from my bank. It would seem that I had gone overdrawn, and several payments presented were about to be refused and they suggested I got in touch. This did seem odd to me as today was pay day, and as pricey as the airport breakfast was, my wage should be covering most of that.
I got online and found that my account was sadly missing any form of salary payment for me which was, as you can imagine, a mild concern. Eventually I called the bank and explained that, as I had discovered with a bit of googling, HSBC were having all sorts of trouble sending payments and my employers happened to bank with them. It would appear that my salary payment was stuck in some HSBC pipe somewhere and would be in my account in due course.
The bank chap said he knew about the HSBC issue. So that was all sorted then surely? I had been with my bank since 1987 and never missed a payment to anyone and he could see right in front of him how much I got paid each month and from whom it came. Imagine my chagrin as he went on to say that if I did not pay in that day then all the payments presented would be returned and I would be charged.
Put it down to the lack of sleep if you like, but the next couple of minutes were a bit like the clip from Pulp Fiction…you know the Samuel L Jackson soliloquy? I pointed out that I was overseas and therefore unable to “nip into a branch” to pay in. I also outlined my disgust at his lack of understanding of one of their “black” customers. This was not a racial comment. I have a “special” account with them reserved for those with enough stupidity to pay a monthly fee for it to supposedly get some sort of personal service.
Bollocking somebody at a whisper, so as not to wake anyone else up, from 4000 miles away is a new skill, but I mastered it quite quickly. The call ended with a promise of paying everything and no charges being made. It turns out my salary hit my account later that day and all this nonsense was for naught. Sigh. OK, on with the holiday.
With zero chance of getting back to sleep I got some orange juice from the fridge and settled down to watch some adverts on the telly.
Around 6am I began the task of waking everyone else up. There was no way I was going to be up from 4.20 and not be at a park for opening. I started with the girls, predicting them to be the most painful but when I went back into my bedroom, Louise let off a tirade of abuse not seen since my call with the bank. Having woken her I retreated to the lounge once again, leaving her to come around. When I ventured back in some minutes later the reason for her foul mood was that the clock next to her side of the bed was wrong and it read 4.30am rather than the now 6.30am. How we laughed!
It took until 7.38 (precisely) to be out of the villa. I took up, what would become my customary position by the alarm panel waiting for everyone else to get out so I could set it. The really funny part of this EVERY DAY was just as I thought everyone was finally out on the drive and I pressed the button to set the alarm, someone would come back in, apologising that they had forgotten something. Again, how we laughed…each and every time.
Still, this was not a bad time to be out and heading for the Magic Kingdom. We breezed out of the villa development and onto the main road up to the 192. We turned right and we were immediately greeted with stationery traffic and this….
I have to admit to having a slight mood on at this point. The world was conspiring against me at every turn in my quest to have some fun. I will not have it be said that there are greater problems in the world! With the bank stress and now this I had half a mind to set the sat nav for the airport and give it up as a bad job.
A long ten minutes of not getting very far passed and the traffic then eased. Whilst sat in the queue a large wasp had attached itself to Louise’s window. She loves wasps and did not jump about three feet into the air when she saw it.
Once calm again she grabbed the camera and took too many photos of it as our speed increased and it continued to hold on defiantly.
Louise’s ability to focus on entirely the wrong thing in a photo is impressive.
The wasp left us at the junction of the 192 and we took a right in the direction of World Drive. For many years, having stayed around Formosa and Lindfields we have usually taken the Sherberth Road route into the parks so entering the official opening was a novelty and something I vowed to continue in other areas of my life.
With Sarah with us, as a first timer, there was something quite correct about going under this sign on the way in.
We arrived at the Ticket and Transportation Centre at 8.10. This pleased me and offered some reward for the ridiculous speeds I was doing up World Drive. “But officer, it’s our first morning, I’m all excited and we were stuck behind a truck for ten minutes!”
Emily had a voucher for her short term park ticket (to cover the few days until she got her Cast Member one) so she and I went to a ticket window to swap that. I also collected a First Visit badge (they are NOT buttons) for Sarah and a Birthday one for Rebecca. Sure, her birthday was back in May, but this trip was part of her present and so celebrate we would.
No sane person takes the ferry boat on their first day, so a monorail journey and the first poking of my sack (Hello Ryan!) saw us stood outside the Magic Kingdom in time for the opening ceremony.
See, that phone is still there.
With the show done, the large crowd moved slowly into the park with us right in the middle of it. Eventually we got to the Holy Grail that is Main Street and took in the sights and sounds and the realisation that we were finally home again. It had been too long!
I expertly walked backwards taking snaps as we went. Stopping is for amateurs.
I think I have one of these shots from every year we’ve been!
The new hub looked lovely.
With Pirates closed, our natural left turn meant that we would be heading for either some Splash or some Thunder. This is pretty typical for me after air line food and it may take a few days to sort itself out.
As we passed Pirates we saw a group of new cast members on a tour of the park. It was funny to think Emily would be doing that in a few short days.
Splash it was.
It was a walk on and this first ride is always a special time. The endless possibilities of the holiday to come in your mind, the very real magic of one of the best rides in WDW and the near euphoria of finally being there after months of planning and anticipation.
As we left the ride Grandad declared that he needed the loo. This, frankly, was unacceptable behaviour after just one ride and I made my feelings clear on the matter. We would have to make those minutes up later from his own time.
Naturally, Thunder was next.
Nana declined to ride and again it was a walk on. Always fun and surprisingly fast.
Our natural Disney navigation systems took us down towards the Haunted Mansion now and as we arrived we saw a thirteen minute wait posted which we guessed meant a walk on.
It was a joy to see Sarah’s reaction to the stretching room and all the theming that is done so well. There had been a few changes in a recent refurb which were nice to see and the traditional stops during the ride of course happened too. I can hear the voice now telling me to remain in my buggy.
As we left the Mansion some weaker folks spoke of their need of a drink and sit down. There was clearly some form of mutiny happening but in the interests of cordiality I agreed. We went over to the snack place in Liberty Square and got a variety of stuff that I couldn’t be bothered writing down. I had a drink and a banana anyway. As we chatted an elderly Cast Member approached us and started to chat. He was called Fred and we spent a good ten minutes talking to him about all sorts of stuff. He asked how many times we’d been, which was a few more than him and he’d worked there for thirty-two years!
We spoke about Emily starting work and it being Sarah’s first time and he quizzed us a little too much it seemed on the make-up of our party. He seemed delighted when he learned that we were three generations of the same family, plus Sarah, a first timer. As we were making to leave (I’m sorry Fred, no matter how charming you are I can feel the queues getting longer) he said he had a question for us. Anywhere but a Disney park and I’d have been listening for banjo music and squealing pigs.
Would we like to take part in the parade this afternoon as Grand Marshalls?
Well, my smile gave him the answer immediately. Of course we would!! We were shocked, delighted and excited in equal measure. He told us where to be and when and said he would see us there later. We wandered off not quite sure what to make of the whole thing. In my dazed state even I went for a wee and then we somehow ended up in It’s a Small World.
Clearly Louise had the camera again.
Still a bit dazed we left the ride and someone else went for a wee. If we can’t co-ordinate our bladders better than this, it could be a frustrating holiday.
Philharmagic was next and we timed it perfectly, entering the holding area just as the doors opened. The show wasn’t full but this did not stop me having to be restrained by Louise as I went for those stopping half way down a row like some drunk outside a nightclub who has had his kebab knocked from his hands.
About half way through the show, starting to regather myself a little I suddenly remembered all this FastPass+ stuff I’d done many weeks ago. I checked my app and sure enough we had a FastPass for Buzz in a few minutes. I spent the last minutes of Philharmagic trying to calculate the distance to Buzz and the speed at which I’d have to get everyone moving to get there in time. We did our best but we arrived as a collective sweaty mess five minutes after our FastPass slot had ended. Looking at the forty minute standby queue I gave everyone a slap for not walking quickly enough. With our newly gained Grand Marshall status I figured it was worth trying to use the FastPass anyway and strode confidently to the pole thingy. I waved my ticket at it (we had not yet had time to get bands of magic) and it lit up and turned green. If your pole does that, see a doctor immediately.
Six more waves of tickets and we were all in.
The score on this ride is not the point at all. It is merely the fun of riding that counts.
As my planning skills are awesome, just as we left Buzz, with me scalding Emily for poor sportsmanship and gloating, our slot for Space Mountain rolled around. We made our way over and again minus a Nana, entered. This is me with the camera, but this is artsy and intentional, not out of focus.
My notes tell me someone else restroomed prior to Space. My disgust at that time did not allow me to document who.
This was a great ride. Having Sarah along meant that finally someone on it screamed louder than I did.
As we left the ride we took the chance to get our Magic Bands in the shop at the exit. It was painless yet expensive.
To allow some form of resting without actually resting, we boarded the people mover thing.
As ever, this was a nice breezy sit down.
There had been a disgusting lack of food so far today so we were due to remedy that right now with a buffet attack at the Crystal Palace. We wandered over past the castle, through the new hub area.
We were a little early, for probably the first and last time this trip, but I figured if they added together our lateness for Buzz and our earliness for lunch we’d be about right. We were. I checked in and more or less as soon as I had that thing in my hand it went off and we were taken to our table.
I was pretty restrained food wise to be honest. A little salad to start and just the one visit for “mains”, with no dessert. Listen, we’re here for eighteen days and if I go off at full tilt I’ll have to be winched out of the front of the villa by a reality TV show.
One clear disadvantage of a large touring party is that when characters appear, there are often multiple cameras in use. The girls want one for their phone(s) plus my Dad has his camera out and they are all competing with my official record of the event with the real camera. So what happens is this…
After all that food, a large Pooh was inevitable.
Then, back to the food.
Emily likes to look her best for the camera.
A rare shot of me and a rarer shot that is actually in focus from Louise.
Our server had fallen for our dastardly plan of pretending it was Rebecca’s birthday and brought her a nice cup cake. We all sang to her and were immediately condemned to eternal damnation for our evil deceit.
She also got a lovely card signed by the characters.
Eeyore turned up suitably late.
I’ve taken better photos. The one on Rebecca’s phone was no doubt great.
As an aside, here are the girls from way back in 2004 in more or less the same spot. Time does indeed fly.
The bill was as sizeable as expected at $304. I was left all alone at the table to settle the bill whist everyone else buggered off to the shops. Once relieved of my wealth I caught them up during a traditional silly hat try on session.
By this time we had to make our way to meet Fred for our appointment with the parade. We wandered all the way back to Splash Mountain to the gate where the parade starts and ends from (either, not both). We were a little early and met Brian, our official photographer…I kid you not. He took some shots whilst we waited for Fred and started what would be the royal treatment from start to end.
Once Fred arrived we were given Mickey hats to wear and told that we’d have some free photos from Brian’s work to collect on Main Street later. We also got certificates to confirm our Grand Marshall status. He took us backstage to where our car was waiting for us and we climbed in.
We chatted with Fred and the driver until the other Cast Member with us shouted “Thirty Seconds” whilst touching her ear piece which was clearly just for effect! We were told to “smile and wave boys” for the duration and look out for Brian taking photos as we went.
Here we are doing as we were told.
A Dibber/blog reader had just spotted us and shouted “Where’s Ryan?” so I did the decent thing and showed them my sack. It was hard work smiling and waving for that amount of time but the whole thing was surreal and bloody marvellous. During the parade we had a few shouts from people who lived in Bolton or thereabouts. We were announced across the park as the Williams family and Sarah Prince from Bolton at regular intervals.
As we pulled into the backstage area at the side of City Hall we thanked everyone in a two-mile radius about twenty times.
We were then escorted to a roped off area right at the end of the parade route and we were told that Brian would continue to take photos as we watched the parade pass by. So we waited for the parade to arrive.
And here we are watching the parade. Thanks Hilary for pointing me at this vlog which captured us. We appear from around 5m 30 seconds in.
Be warned, there are a lot of parade photos.
We got up close and personal with some of the characters…sometimes a little too close.
See how Ariel delights in seeing me all sweaty in my tight T-shirt and attractive baggy shorts.
When it was over, we wandered, still shell shocked by the whole thing, to the photo shop. We viewed all the ones Brian had taken and choose our freebies to have printed there and then. We linked to rest to my MDE for viewing later.
Not sure how we’d top what had just happened, either today or ever again we made our way out of the park. This being Sarah’s first ever day in a Disney park, it may have set the bar a little too high!
We monorailed to the tram stop and we left our parking spot in Aladdin to make our way to the Publix supermarket close to our villa for yet more shopping. We got back to the villa at 5.15 and right on cue the rain came down. To be honest, we were beyond spent for today and we all just collapsed in various places of rest and I think I was asleep at about 7pm. What a day!
Till the next time…….