FastPass Fiesta

Before we begin, sometimes I share with you some of the great search terms folks get to my blog with via a search engine. Usually it is some mis-spelling of mkingdon, or other random phrases that I’ve blogged about in the past. Well, this new one beats them all and if I have achieved nothing else in my blogging “career” (and I haven’t) this shall be my pinnacle. The search term was…

Dwarf sex blogger

I am proud to know somebody came to my blog after searching for that. God bless you.

This week was FastPass+ week. Since the last time we booked any I’m delighted that the time they open up has changed from midnight Orlando time as it means you don’t have to be online at 5am. Instead, it’s a civilised midday start. As many of you reassured me, as soon as it was 60 days from the start of our reservation, the dates opened up and away we went.

I did have a senior moment initially when I forgot that onsite special folks can book all of their FastPass+ rides for the entire trip once you get to 60 days. Having been off site scum for most of our trips I had put notes in my diary each day to book some more. Having overcome that brief dance with incompetence I was down the rabbit hole of ride selection for quite some time.

Of course, despite there being loads of availability for all rides and attractions this far out, you can never book exactly what you want as they put many of the headliners into the same category from which you can only pick one. I also have to say that Disney could make this selection process a little more intuitive from a web site perspective. I like to think I know how web sites work as that’s been paying the bills for a good few years, but it took me a while to get my head around it. Should anyone from Disney wish to pay me huge amounts of consultancy I have some really good ideas on how to make it better.

So here are our selections

Saturday April 22nd – The day we drive back to Orlando from Siesta Key, so we have gone for all PM times in Epcot.

Mission Space – 11:55

Turtle Talk – 1:00

Soarin’ – 2:10

We had an ADR at Sanaa that day and for reasons I couldn’t remember, that was at 5.15pm. To give us more time in the park I moved that back to 8.20pm after which we may do Jellyrolls.

Sunday April 23rd – Animal Kingdom. An aspirational early start, especially if we’ve done Jellyrolls!

Safari – 10:35 (I’d hope to get an early Everest walk on in before this)

Everest – 11:40

Kali Rapids – 1:40

We have an ADR at Yak & Yeti around 5pm. After that we hope to do Everest again but in the dark for the first and if time allows maybe even a night time safari, before Rivers of Light.

Monday April 24th – A nominal rest day, with a morning at Stormalong Bay and lunch at The Fountain but with minimal time in the parks we’ve booked some afternoon Epcot rides as it’s next door to us.

Mission Space – 2:35

Frozen Ever After (for the first time in forever!) – 3:40

Spaceship Earth – 4:40

Tuesday April 25th – Hollywood Studios

Toy Story Mania – 10:10. Again, I’m hopeful of an early Rock n Rollercoaster prior to destroying all my rivals on this.

Tower of Terror – 11:25

Star Tours – 1:00

Wednesday 26th April – Magic Kingdom

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (with no dwarf sex I would hope) – 9:50. This will be our first time on this ride which after all these years is always a welcome bonus. We should be able to sneak in a Thunder Mountain and maybe Pirates before this.

Splash Mountain – 11:05

Buzz Lightyear – 12:35

We have dinner at Trail’s End around 5pm, so we might be able to book more FastPasses for the afternoon once the last one opens up. Whatever happens we’ll be back in Magic Kingdom at dusk getting ready to watch Wishes for the last time ever. There will be tears.

Fitting planning of this precision into the madness of everyday life is, if I may say, truly impressive. I have more plates spinning than Platey McPlate Spin of Plate Town.

Outside of these FastPass+ bookings I am going to have to have a strong word with myself. We don’t need to charge round the parks like idiots Craig…we’ve done the rides many times before and we can take our time, do what we can, and if things get too busy we can retire to somewhere less busy and smell some roses. I wish myself good luck with that.

Till the next time…..

Jet Set Jerry

Years ago, in my formative working years, colleagues, who at the time looked like ancient dinosaurs, but were probably the age I am now gave me two bits of advice that have stuck with me. That doesn’t mean I have adhered to the advice of course, I just remember it!

The first, was on my first day of work at the Nat West Bank in Bury in 1987. The branch manager, a grey haired reverend (I’m sure I haven’t mis-remembered that) welcomed me and asked if I was ambitious. To be honest, on that day, my ambition was to make it to 5pm without falling asleep and working out where to get some lunch from, but of course I said yes, thinking this was the thing to do.

Well, he said, the best way to get ahead in the bank is to go to head office and fall down the stairs. It seemed a bit dramatic and to seventeen year old me a little eccentric, but I have since realised what he meant. Often rewards, promotion and progression are dished out to those who are known, not necessarily to those that may deserve it. I have seen this play out time and time again since.

That first example has no relation to anything I’m saying today.

The second piece of wisdom was another senior chap in the bank telling me that I needed to work out whether I wanted to live to work or work to live. His point being that it should absolutely be the latter. This surprised me at the time to be honest but again it is a wisdom I have tried to remember when work gets crazy, like it is at the moment. Both Louise and I are dangerously close to the former and it’s not a good thing. There needs to be a new word for busy that covers this.

Louise is currently coming to the end of a nine-day stint without a day off and whilst I’m fortunate enough to get weekends off, the bits in the middle are madness at the moment. You may be familiar with that feeling of always being behind schedule and never quite having enough time for everything? For someone like myself who lives to plan and plans to live that is hard to bear at times.

This week I was Johnny Jet Set and had to travel to Amsterdam for a meeting. Yes, one meeting. To be fair, I instigated it as it was something that had to be done, but it was a heck of a long day. Taking off at 9am, doing a meeting from 12 till 2.30 and then taking off again at 5pm was a whirlwind day. I didn’t see much any of Amsterdam, apart from the inside of two taxis, some motorway and an office. It didn’t stop being blown away by the fact that everybody there speaks perfect English. When are we going to catch up with this in our education system? I did three years of German and I remember so little I’d struggle to spell BMW.

Chatting to the people in our meeting it turns out that English is pretty much the default language in Amsterdam. That chap was Turkish, speaking English in a Dutch company who also spoke Dutch. I apologised for Nigel Farage and left.

Security at Schipol airport was crazy. It’s fortunate that we were early as it took over an hour to get through. I felt safer for it, but that must be stressful if you are running late, or even just on time for your flight.

I am not a nervous flyer at all, but there’s always those first few nervy minutes, when you haven’t flown for a while when the engines kick in and you hurtle down the runway. That is magnified when your plane is basically a Mondeo with wings. Both legs were bumpy and I have to stay I feel safer in the big things that take you across the Atlantic mainly as they don’t have propellers and their landing gear has tyres that aren’t the size of a typical 4 x 4!!

a-plane

With all this being busy and stuff it’s a god job all of my holiday planning is pretty much done. All I’ve done this week is pay the balance on the hire car and tick off another few days in the countdown to making FastPass bookings. That’s Tuesday by the way. It’s nice to be so close now as God knows we need a holiday.

It felt odd and quite cruel to be driving to Manchester airport early in the morning not to be catching a flight to Florida last week. Mind you I did fly back at the same weight that I left at, which won’t be happening in April.

Oh and if anyone is reading this who is in charge of the short stay car park at Terminal 3. £40 for 11 hours? Really? How do you sleep at night. My expenses may be laughed out of the office!

Till the next time…..

Who Ya Gonna Call?

I had reason to call Disney this week. It’s an incredible compliment to their brand experience and customer service that having a problem that necessitates an actual phone call isn’t seen as a negative. I even had to hold for over ten minutes to get through to someone and I didn’t mind. I sat and listened to the hold music with my phone on speaker so that Emily could enjoy it too.

When the dreamy American accent on the other end of the line eventually answered, the warmth of the greeting was like a Floridian summers day. I immediately had to put on my “I’m talking to an American” voice so that they would stand a chance of understanding me.

I explained my issue feeling genuine regret that I had to trouble them when I’ve only spent the value of an average house in the UK with them in my lifetime. The agent sounded as if I had just explained that half of my family had passed away and her regret and genuine concern comforted me in its warm embrace.

My issue was that even though I had linked all of our tickets to our party members, when I did a dry run of a FastPass booking to make sure we were ready to go, the app and web site errored telling me one of the party had no valid ticket. Yet I could see the valid ticket against their name elsewhere in the app.

The agent said she would speak to tech support if I didn’t mind holding. Mind holding? I was a few moments away from sending her my house keys and pension details. A few moments passed and she returned to apologise again that I had indeed linked everyone correctly but one hadn’t linked all the way through. She asked me to refresh my web page and there I would see that everything was now sorted. I was asked if there was anything else I needed today and when I confirmed there wasn’t she wished me a magical day and said she was looking forward to seeing us in April.

Emily at this point was close to tears and I felt like changing my will to make the Disney company sole heir to my debts. This does not happen when I contact other call centres. I know they are selling magic and most of their customers love the experience which is hard to match if you sell energy or mobile phones but how they manage to deliver such high standards consistently is truly amazing. In all of my dealings with Disney over thirty odd years I do struggle to remember a negative experience.

I was so misty eyed that I didn’t think to keep them on the phone whilst I tried another FastPass dry run and after putting the phone down I noticed that I was only being offered dates that are 30 days out, rather than 60 as we are on site elite uber customers. I couldn’t face the emotion of another phone call so I emailed them instead.

It may be that the FastPass window only opens to 60 days when you are actually 60 days out from your on site booking? If anyone of you who do the on site thing more than we do know that would be lovely. Otherwise I shall await the reply to my email.

In other news this week, it was announced that it will be the end of Wishes just after our visit. I cannot tell you how upset Emily was. She does have a complete aversion to things changing at Disney. Anything that she experienced during her childhood is not allowed to be amended in any way. I understand that of course but having seen more changes than she has, I know that these things have to happen to keep the parks interesting and of course keep the punters coming back.

Image credit Mousehints.com

Image credit Mousehints.com

She will observe a period of mourning and the usual guaranteed tears on our final day as we watch Wishes will be increased by a factor of about ten, as she knows she will never see it again.

With Rivers of Light also coming on line and opening dates announced for Avatar and Star Wars Land it’s been a big week for Disney. Anyone would think that Universal have a new park opening soon!!

Image credit wdwmagic.com

Image credit wdwmagic.com

I won’t bother with you with my pre-holiday weight loss progress. The least said the better.

Till the next time…..

Fitting In The Fountain

I’ve had more successful dieting weeks to be honest. It included two…no three take-aways and more biscuits than is conducive to weight loss. Clearly I wasn’t in the zone as it’s been a stressful week and we tend to eat our feelings in this family.

Speaking of over eating. You may not think it possible for us to get any more of it into our calorie laden plan. I thought that too, but Emily pointed out that since we shuffled our plans to give us one less day at Universal and one more at WDW we had a day in the plan without any food planned in. This was clearly a huge mistake and Emily’s idea was to squeeze in Beaches & Cream with us staying at the Beach Club. Looking at what we will have eaten by then squeezing in might be more literal than you may imagine.

Those of you familiar with Beaches & Cream will know that it isn’t very big and as expected, getting an ADR for a party of five this many days out was never likely and we were denied. However, I haven’t been obsessing about Florida holidays for fifteen years for nothing and quickly my database of knowledge and experience threw up an alternative.

In the Dolphin there is a similar looking establishment to Beaches & Cream. It doesn’t have the same level of theming or fun and games based around obscene amounts of ice cream in a sink, but I thought it may work.

fountain

A quick look at the menu confirmed my suspicions. Here are some of the highlights….

Fountain Signature Burger

Two 4oz. Angus Burgers, Applewood Smoked Bacon, Avocado-Bacon Aioli, Caramelized Onion, Tomato, American Cheese, Sesame Brioche Bun

Southern Pulled Pork

Hickory Smoked Pulled Pork, Western Carolina Barbeque Sauce, Apple-Fennel Coleslaw, Toasted Pullman Bun

Chicago Dog

Vienna All Beef Hot Dog, Cherry Tomato Relish, Kosher Pickle slices, Beer Mustard, Sport Peppers, Caramelized Onions, Hot Dog Potato Bun

Stawberri Kookies with House Vodka

Strawberry Patch and Cookies & Cream Ice Creams, Strawberry Topping & Chocolate Milk, topped with Whipped Cream & Oreo Crumbles with House Vodka (must be 21 or older)

Soft Serve Split 

Classic Banana Split made with Vanilla, Chocolate, and Swirl Soft Serve, topped with Pineapple, Chocolate and Strawberry Toppings, Whipped Cream, Peanuts, a Cherry and a Banana

PB&J Shake

Peanut Butter Ice Cream, Strawberry Topping with Whipped Cream & Reese’s Pieces.

So that’ll do nicely as an alternative. It is of course within walking distance of the Beach Club so on this extra Disney day, which we plan to spend some of it resting by the pool, we can wander over there for lunch. It doesn’t offer reservations so we’ll go early for that reason and one other very important one. On our holidays we have to plan our eating times carefully to ensure we will be hungry when the next meal reservation rolls around.

Bearing in mind that we will be in Celebration for our evening meal later that day and then moving on to Disney Springs and the culinary treats to be had there we will need to lunch at a time which may be bordering on brunch. These holidays don’t just fall together you know.

If you have any intention in reading about our trip when we get back, I would advise against reading it hungry. The amount of food pictures that are likely to feature may push into a calorie spree that I cannot be held responsible for. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Oh and if you happen to be staying at the Beach Club when we are, I apologise now for what will be the horrific calorie induced frame that I will be parading around the pool. I’ll be to wear a thong won’t I?

Till the next time……