The Planning Has Begun…..

Right. So, a blog every week about normal life. O….K. Erm……I think I remember how this goes, but bear with, this could be a bigger car crash than normal.

Since we last spoke, we’ve been away on holiday. I’m not sure I mentioned that? I should tell you all about it at some point. I still have had to go to work most days which is remains a source of enormous and constant disappointment, and Louise too finds herself still dealing with all sorts of sores, wounds, weeping things and stuff that oozes to earn a crust. Life is cruel.

We have continued to be delighted by Freddie on a daily basis. He was round at ours yesterday for a few hours whilst Rebecca and Tom were out and about and he is just a constant source of joy. I apply the grandparent’s caveat to that, in that we only see him for a few hours at a time and can hand him back, but he’s just lovely. I know we are biased but he is just a smiling bundle of fun and he makes our day whenever we see him.

I said that he was perfect on holiday and indeed he was. We went out for our Christmas meal this year at a local restaurant and again, he just took it all in, wasn’t an ounce of trouble, which was handy as I was sat next to him, and enthralled the waiting staff.

Many of the comments on the final instalment of the trip report were about booking another trip. I know I always say that won’t be happening, before it then does, but really, honestly, it won’t. That is because other events are in the early planning stages which will involve most of our available funds for the foreseeable.

For those of you that have been around a while and have for reasons I cannot fathom but appreciate, witnessed our family grow up (apart from me) over the years, here comes another landmark.

Rebecca and Tom are getting married, and the planning has begun.

The date they are looking at is in May 2020 and, as anyone who knows Rebecca will appreciate, lists exist, venues have been vetted and one looks to have been selected now. At every significant landmark over the years there is astonishment that it is happening, as surely the girls cannot be old enough to, walk, go to school, go to a gig, have a boyfriend and pretty much everything else they have done right up until producing Freddie. But it does seem that this is real, and all the thoughts I had when we produced two girls about weddings and all that it entails are now a reality.

I think the phrase I am looking for is “shit just got real”.

The venue in the frame is one that is quite close to our house, the Last Drop Village, which makes the most sense from a location point of view and, after laughing out loud at some of the prices from other venues, seems to be the best deal too, so that worked out OK.

I suspect that this whole wedding thing will test my planning skills to the maximum, but Rebecca is the queen of lists and getting stuff done, especially when it is something as important to her as her wedding day. That doesn’t stop me being a little bit scared of what this entails. As part of Mustard, the excellent wedding band in which I attempt to play bass, I have seen quite a few weddings recently and been witness to some of the planning problems that can crop up. I am a little bit afraid. With the collective efforts of Rebecca, Tom, Louise, Emily and myself we shall, I am sure overcome, and hopefully deliver a day that Rebecca (and Tom, but let’s be frank, mostly Rebecca) has dreamt of.

As anyone who has planned and paid for a wedding will know, unless you are significantly more wealthy than I, that does not allow for holidays to happen so alas, there will be no Florida based trips that I can foresee. Lottery wins and gifts from strangers from the internet (let me know if you want my bank details) aside, it won’t be happening.

So welcome back to normal life. I’ve probably forgotten to tell you about other stuff that’s been going on. I am ring rusty (there’s a cream for that) and still in the haze of those days over the Christmas period that nobody knows what to do with themselves so these things might get better as we go. I make no promises.

This one felt like it just arrived on the page like some verbal vomit so let’s hope improvement is the ongoing trend.

Till the next time…..

Freddie’s First Florida Fiesta – Day Fifteen 12th September 2018

Freddie’s First Florida Fiesta – Day Fifteen 12th September 2018

I always vow to make serious notes on our travel home day. I usually fail and this year was no different. Don’t get settled, this won’t take long.

Despite doing nothing but moan about being tired all holiday, for reasons I cannot fathom I appear to have been awake at 3.45 am. I dozed off again around 5.30, waking properly at 8. That set me up nicely for the long gruelling journey home.

At this point, Louise was packing stuff into our cases, I of course had to venture out to buy an extra case as, much like me and my T-shirts, we simply wouldn’t fit everything in on the return leg. Favouring cheapness over quality I ventured round to the shops close to the Outback. Sensing that Louise would not be impressed with me returning with a couple of supermarket shopping bags, I drove a little further and found one of those classy gift shops.

I invested $35 in a medium-sized case that I felt had a 50/50 chance of surviving the journey home.

Once back at the villa I spent what felt like hours recycling and generally throwing stuff out. When Louise had completed the very easy task of packing everything I undertook a task that is only rivalled by landing on the moon. I had to get all the cases into the car. Every failed attempt meant wrestling every heavy case out of the car before getting them back in again in the next failed configuration. I had a sweat on and a desire to burn all the possessions we were trying to take home.

Eventually I got it all in but had to sacrifice one of the back seats, meaning that one of the passengers would be sitting on the half-sized, not quite a seat on the back row of the bus. I didn’t care which, they would have to fight it out Hunger Games style before breakfast.

With a final check of the villa and everyone crammed sweatily into the car, I set the alarm for the last time and girded my loins and other fleshy areas for the next twenty-four hours.

We made a pit stop at Winn Dixie for Freddie supplies for the journey home before setting off for Disney Springs to do the check in thing.

Not being a regular Virgin flyer I had no clue where this was and it only took one detour before we spotted it. Cases were dragged across the car park and placed on to a make do set of scales. Shockingly our main case was too heavy and with a deep joy, I had to open it and re-distribute stuff into other cases. No, really, it was no problem.

Not being a Virgin holidays customers we were robbed of $10 per person for the privilege of checking in here. Forcibly resisting the urge to outwardly show my disgust at the $60 I had just been robbed of, we set off, in a much roomier vehicle to get some breakfast for which I would happily pay double that.

We headed for the nearest breakfast place I was aware of, which was the Perkins at Crossroads. The breakfast on the final day has to be a festival of gluttony, punishing our bodies for needing to be back in the UK.

We all ordered the usual double whammy of coffee and juice and read the menu a couple of dozen times. A balloon artist (is that the right word?) came over and Freddie very much enjoyed her work.

We ordered –

Me – Big Country Skillet and Pancakes

Emily – Pulled Chicken Sandwich

Louise – Eggs Benedict

Tom & Mikey – Hearty Man Combo

Rebecca had a “Three Egg thing”. The piss poor attempt at the name of it and the lack of a photo serve as the perfect gauge of my mood at this point.

The food was excellent and the bill was $130 including a bountiful tip.

We headed back to Disney Springs for the traditional last-minute scramble for gifts. We parked in Lime.

We spent the next hour in World of Disney buying presents for those at home and Emily bought herself a Dooney and Bourke purse.

With the gifts purchased, Rebecca, Tom and Freddie decided to get a caricature done. It only took about fifteen minutes and the result was excellent.

Time was pushing on now and we needed to call at the Premium Outlets on the way to the airport so we rushed back to the car and headed in that direction.

We split into smaller groups for maximum efficiency. Louise and I went into a children’s clothes shop and bought Freddie’s winter wardrobe for back home. Mikey splurged oodles of dollars in the designer shops. We had arranged to meet up at 3.30 and Mikey was seen sprinting towards us several minutes after that time laden with lots of bags that I wasn’t sure how we’d get onto the aircraft. We did.

Onwards now to the airport. I somehow missed the turn off for the car return at the first attempt so we did a nice circuit of the airport before getting it second time around. The investment I made pre-holiday in the huge car seat bag was repaid now, as we were able to use it not only for the car seat, but also for all the random bags we now had from our shopping trip.

We found the place to check that in before going through security, slowly and then onto the monorail.

We arrived at gate 87 and I handed Emily and Rebecca my remaining dollars to fund a Starbucks run. I don’t know what I had as I always just tell the girls to get me whatever they are having. It tasted nice.

We boarded at 6pm and took off forty minutes later.

And there dear reader, my notes end. The flight, I remember, was the usual mix of discomfort, average food and a few films. Freddie was great yet again. He took a little while to go to sleep but once he did that was pretty much it. We had no free seats on the return leg alas so sleep was sparse and fitful.

We landed, got the cases, taxied home and well, got back to real life. Sigh.

So there we have it. The end. I wish I could say that I planned the dates of the trip so that the writing of the trip report would nudge nicely up to Christmas. I didn’t. What this trip has taught me is that I ain’t all that at planning to be honest. The balance between being able to show first timers as much as possible versus keeping everyone rested, and ready to go was not achieved if I’m honest. Despite building lots of rest days into the plan, our over eagerness to then use those days to not rest bit us on the arse a little bit. Ah well, you live and learn.

Before we left, all the concern, if that’s the right word, was around Freddie of course. How would he cope with the long flights, hot weather and the sensory overload of a trip like this. We had absolutely no reason to worry. He was, and I use this word intentionally, perfect. He was never an ounce of trouble and only enhanced the experience at every step. The memories of sharing his first Disney experience will always outweigh any of the inevitable tired, not so magical times we had. That, and don’t be offended dear reader, is why I have chronicled this trip here. As I did with the girls when they were young, these trip reports were always written so that we had a record of their experiences. Now, we will all always have this set of badly written drivel as a reminder of the time Freddie first went to Disney.

Hopefully, it won’t be the last, well, it won’t if I have anything to do with it.

There are no plans for further adventures just yet. Not Disney ones anyway. Other plans await us as a family which will become clear in the fullness of time.

Thanks as always for reading this stuff. It always amazes me that you do, and it is not taken for granted. I appreciate each one of your views, likes and comments.

If you and yours are undertaking a Florida adventure soon, I wish you a wonderful time and of course, as we have coincidentally landed at the end of this at this time of year, please have a magical Christmas and  a wonderful 2019 from everyone here in Mkingdon land.

Till the next time…..

Freddie’s First Florida Fiesta – Day Fourteen 11th September 2018

Freddie’s First Florida Fiesta – Day Fourteen 11th September 2018

Here we go then, with the mixed emotions of the last full day. I salute both of you that made it with me to this point. It feels like this holiday has lasted for months and indeed via the medium of this weekly bloggage it has.

It will end next week, perfectly timed as the last one before Christmas, in a blaze of  travel day melancholy. Then at some point after that, in the haze of Christmas holiday days off, there will be lots of self-reflection, self-criticism of the many planning faux pas, and joy that we were able to share Freddie’s first trip. He made the whole thing very special, but I shall not steal my own thunder as God knows, now the trip is done I will need stuff to write about each week. I’m not sure I remember how to write a weekly blog on non Disney trip subjects. Based on the last couple of months, I am also fairly sure I have forgotten how to do trip reports too.

We rose today intent to wring every last drop out of it, and I had, a few months ago, booked us into Be Our Guest for breakfast as a last day surprise for Rebecca. Beauty and the Beast is her jam (I believe that is the correct lingo) and with this trip being a treat for her 21st birthday, then it felt right to do so.

Our last quick service visit to BOG was not brilliant to be honest, but that was more down to misaligned expectations and to allow Rebecca and of course first timer Tom to experience the theming, breakfast felt like a risk worth taking.

I had already of course had to move our reservation back a bit as there was no chance of being there for the overly ambitious 9am I had foolishly selected back in the UK. It was now a more sensible 10.20 and as such, I had declared that we absolutely had to be pulling off the drive at 9.

As we pulled away at 9.20 I wondered where my authority might be. Again, I had to leather it a little to make sure we did not arrive late and we abandoned the vehicle impressively by 9.45 and got on a tram.

Security and a monorail later and we were in the park by 10.

As we entered Main Street the parade was on. It’s called something like flex it, move it, tight Lycra I think. We watched it from the corner of our eyes as we yomped at pace up towards Be Our Guest.

With that parade thing in progress, our progress was stunted a little and Mikey was prohibited from stopping for a wee to ensure we got to check in by 10.10. Well done me.

We were herded into the queue which reminded me of all the reasons why the quick service thing isn’t that great here. The family in front of us had too many children. So much so that one of them just wandered off towards the back of the queue and neither of the parents noticed. Eventually I tapped them on the shoulder to let them know that young Darlene was somewhere close to Atlanta in a van with blacked out windows. The Mum scuttled off after her and returned full of sheepish thanks and firm holds on the kid’s neck.

It took ten minutes to get to the ordering kiosk things and I did the pressing of the buttons as clearly I was in charge. I executed it flawlessly and then we, somewhat less flawlessly, searched for a table large enough to accommodate us.

All I would say is that having just blown $170 on breakfast it would have been nice not to have loiter next to some party who looked close to finishing and then having to push their post dining carnage to the edge of the table whilst waiting for someone to clear and clean the table. Anywho, with all that done, we were in, seated and you just can’t knock the surroundings.

Although these are quite disturbing to be honest.

I had a Croque Madame, but I was able to walk it off.

Everyone else had Gaston’s Feast, which was not, it turned out, a large ice cream covered in chocolate and nuts.

These were accompanied by pastries.

The food was good and as experience dining goes, you don’t get better surroundings.

We left at 11.10, eager to use our first FastPass of the day which was for Ariel.

This was one of Freddie’s favourite rides. He will carry the Ariel torch for me when I can no longer.

As I now stated as we exited, it was only right that the first timers with us got to experience the pinnacle of Disney magic and so we headed directly to the Country Bear Jamboree. There was, amazingly, no wait for the next show starting a few minutes after our arrival.

Tom and Mikey were, as you can imagine, suitably impressed.

Next, we rode Aladdin’s Carpets, which is a ride I haven’t been on for many a year.

With that done, Pirates looked to be a walk on so that is exactly what we did. At the entrance a show was underway so we watched Jack Sparrow for a little while.

I suspect that isn’t the most flattering photo he’s ever had taken, and we shouldn’t judge his resemblance, or lack of it, to Johnny Depp based upon it.

This the new redhead scene, where to bring it up to date with modern ways, sees her taking a selfie, adding a filter and moaning at the bloke for not leaving his avocado encrusted plate to soak before going into the dishwasher.

We needed a rest at this point. We made it across the way to the shaded seats and sat with a drink for about half an hour. By then it was time for our next FastPass on Splash Mountain. Louise stayed with a sleeping Freddie whilst everyone else rode.

We saw that Big Thunder had no wait at all so we fitted that in quickly before moving on to Splash.

It was 1.55 by the time we had done both of those mountains and the parade was about to start. I power walked back to Louise and Freddie to collect them and told the rest of the party we’d meet up after the parade. We found a spot for the parade which was unintentionally directly across from everyone else. Spooky.

By jingo it was hot, and we experienced a little piece of Disney magic as the cast member on a nearby stall came over and handed us a couple of water bottles for free. Our spot had Freddie nicely tucked into the shade and enjoying a cold wet towel.

Here you can see Anna and Elsa drinking in my sweaty sexiness.

“Hmm, look how the sweat stains from under his arms are almost meeting up with the one down his back!” Said Elsa

“Dreamy” agreed Anna

“Look how those shorts don’t leave much to my imagination….” said the one from Princess and The Frog, using her arms to emphasis the point.

And here, if ever a Disney character reflected my appearance….

As the parade ended we were literally melting. It was ridiculous and we just needed to cool down a bit. We headed into the nearest shop and just stood in it for ten minutes until our sweat started to dry.

Feeling a little better we headed off for a Disney first. In all these years we had never tried a Dole Whip and now we headed off to put that right.

It was delicious and very welcome in the scorching heat.

We headed for Jungle Cruise next and encountered the longest queue of the trip. It had to be endured as of course we wouldn’t get another chance this trip to ride this one.

On the trail of tidying up the other stuff we hadn’t done yet, Monsters Inc was next, so we headed in that direction.

With Louise having sat out with Freddie a lot, I volunteered to miss this one and I took him over to some benches near Space Mountain whilst he snoozed in his stroller. I left the camera with the girls though, who captured Tom starring in the show.

Whilst they enjoyed the show I sat under the People Mover listening to the same announcement every ten seconds. Another few minutes and I may have cracked. Luckily the return of the others saved me and we moved away.

Freddie now needed a feed and like everyone on this trip, food makes him happy.

Whilst he was being fed we did some wildlife photography.

We did a baby swap for Space Mountain next, with Rebecca and Tom going first. As we waited Louise used the personalised merchandise counter thing to get a new phone case done with her name on it. It would have been handy to take a photo of it to show you here but I didn’t.

We had to wait about twenty minutes for that to be made so everyone else walked down to Main Street to do some last day shopping. We caught with them, did some shopping of our own and took the last photos of the castle for this trip. The dark clouds perfectly reflected the feelings of leaving Magic Kingdom for the final time on our trip.

With a Halloween party that evening we couldn’t, as we would usually, spend the last evening in Magic Kingdom and we were headed over to Epcot for Reflections instead. It didn’t make it any easier as the monorail pulled away.

To prolong the pain, the resort monorail we were on was delayed due to some local lightning. I was starting to get concerned about our reservation at Beaches & Cream for tea as it was currently 6.10 and we were booked in at 7.20. By 6.20 we were off and we smoothly moved from monorail, to tram, to car and sped across to the Beach Club to park the car.

I’ll be honest, most of the motivation for eating at Beaches & Cream was to be able to park there so we would have a much easier exit after the fireworks. The other reason was of course the food…

That was my Reuben and it was excellent.

Louise and Mikey had a burger…

and we all had cheesey fries.

We were split over two tables, so I was too far away from the others to annoyingly take photos of their food.

Once full we walked out into the darkened delight of the Boardwalk area at night.

We made our way to International Gateway and we took up “our spot” at 8.40, feeling some last night feels.

We waited for a bit for the torches to be blown out…

And then it started…

Freddie was fine with the noise, completing a trip where he just dealt with everything like a professional. He had been an absolute star.

There were tears, lumps in throats and all the usual emotions. It was a quiet walk back to the car, for me especially. I find this bit tough. I won’t be able to articulate it here but it won’t stop me trying. It’s memories and nostalgia from previous trips, wondering if we’ll make it back to see all this again added to thoughts of going home and the mixed feelings of seeing family members and pets, yet knowing work is on the horizon. Let’s just say this is not the favourite part of the holiday.

We made our way home by 10pm (that’s why you park at the Beach Club!) and we all retired to bed.

Till the next time…..

 

Freddie’s First Florida Fiesta – Day Thirteen 10th September 2018

Freddie’s First Florida Fiesta – Day Thirteen 10th September 2018

As we near the end of this trip, even the writing about it has me feeling tired. I look at my notes for this day and they are a scrawly mess, rushed and all over the place. A decent metaphor for our state of being as this day dawned.

I should warn you that the levels of food consumption during this day are epic. I know over the years we’ve been known to put it away, but prepare yourselves…

We had of course had a very late night and this turned into a very late start today. Of course I had expected this and only had a brunch on the plan. Even so, that quickly turned into lunch as we didn’t leave the villa until 12.30.

Naturally Walgreens sucked us in on the way past. I didn’t make a note of what we were buying. I mean, what could we possibly still need at this point? I did note that it took an absolute age and I was getting stressed about it.

On the bright side, we were heading for Hash House a Go Go. It took us until 1.45 to get there, but still, let’s look on the bright side.

We hadn’t booked or phoned ahead so it was pleasing to see that it was pretty empty and we were immediately seated. We all ordered coffee and juices of varying fruits and settled in to consult the menu.

My notes are so rubbish that I have no idea what this is or who ordered it. It looked nice though.

That looks like Louise with a mocha of some kind.

It took us quite a while to decide what we wanted. There is so much choice here and wanting to order the largest portion available it took some well spent time to ensure that was the case.

Me – Chicken and Waffles

It deserves two photos…

Mikey – Andy’s Chicken Benedict

 

Tom – Pancakes with all the sides available

Emily & Louise – Stuffed Burger

Rebecca – Fried Chicken Thing

Freddie had a child’s pancake, which in normal life would have fed two adults. He barely made an impression.

It seems kind of redundant to talk about portion size after posting those photos, but I’m gonna. Holy shit, the amount of food here is just incredible/obscene/dangerous.

Nobody finished anything, although I gave it a really good go. Tom was the last to admit defeat, with enough food left to regret leaving it later.

I love this place. It has quickly become a must do on our eatery list.

The bill was $240 including a nice tip and that included the waiting staff carrying me to the car whilst I vomited all over them.

Having already been tired, now, carrying that amount of food in my ample belly, I was close to a coma. Somehow, I pointed the car at Animal Kingdom and relied on instinct and luck to get us there.

Several people needed to expel things from their bodies, so we loitered around the toilets for a bit.

We entered the park and headed for It’s Tough To Be A Bug. It was a walk on. I am old enough to remember when this was pretty much the headline attraction here.

We donned our bug eyes, and waited a few minutes before being admitted to the theatre. I was quite concerned about Freddie in here. Emily is 23 and still lifts her feet off the floor for the whole show, but once again, he just took it all in and let it wash over him with no negative reaction at all, even the scary bits. This child was built for Disney trips!

With that effort of having sat down for ten minutes we needed a drink and a rest so we got one across from Yak and Yeti at a frozen Coke stand. Some of us had rum in them, some, who were driving, did not.

After a twenty minute session of people watching and some much needed digestion we headed into the Up show. This will forever be “Birds of Flight” to us, but I am not resistant to change!

We had explained to Mikey that it was a bird show knowing that he was petrified of all birds.

As we waited for it to start, Freddie had a feed…

and then it started…

and that was about as much as Mikey saw. At this point, just after the first bird flew over the audience, he was seen sprinting for the exit. We didn’t laugh much.

Tom became part of the tunnel through which birds flew. It was probably for the best that Mikey had vacated that spot on the end of our row.

The show was good fun. I can see why they have included the Up characters, but I’m not 100% sure they have created the best show that they possibly can yet.

We had a FastPass for Everest next. You simply cannot ride this thing too much.

Look how full of energy we look.

There’s some compulsion that makes me take this photo every time I ride this thing.

The ride woke us up a little and pumped some much needed adrenaline though our sugar filled veins. I was simply too tired to tense my body on the way round which led to a whole new riding experience. I would recommend it.

Luckily we now had a FastPass for the ride potentially the furthest away from our current location, the Safari. Freddie had given up the struggle and fallen asleep so Louise sat out with him whilst the rest of us rode.

At this point of the holiday I was heavier than this chap and about as light on my feet.

Here’s my mate Neil….

Rhino Neil.

That joke makes a welcome return from every previous trip report I have ever written. Much like myself it gets better with age….right?

It was 6.45 when we had safari’d and that meant it was time to…

We trammed back to the car which was here…

I am not clear why I took that photo on the way out, having clearly remembered where we had parked. I blame the fog of food.

Back at the villa we had a welcome half an hour of feet up time. At this point, as incredible as it sounds, we headed out to eat. This isn’t something that you should attempt. We are seasoned professionals and have trained for this for years.

Listen, the plan said Olive Garden, and this, with days quickly running out, would be our only chance to do it. If it were even suggested that Emily could not have the Lasagne at the Olive Garden the consequences cannot be contemplated.

So we made the short drive to the Olive Garden on the 192 and once again, I forgot my camera so, you will be viewing the ones from my phone (again).

Upon arrival, we were told our table would be available in about five minutes. Being a larger party, and that’s not surprising after our lunch, we had to watch several smaller parties seated as we glared at them with hatred and a shocking emerging amount of hunger.

That five minutes turned into twenty or more and I was not happy. The manager sensed this and apologised, offering us free appetisers to appease our disdain. To be honest, nobody was going to have appetisers as were only just hungry, but being free and us being pigs we did of course.

Naturally we ordered a light salad and not this huge bowl of melted cheese and bread.

Along with this other huge bowl of molten cheesy spinach stuff and bread….

Plus these breadcrumb parcels of more melted cheese with sauce all over them.

To be fair, after eating all of these, we did then have some salad….

and more bread…..

Before tucking into our main courses….

Rebecca and Emily – Lasagne

Mikey and Tom had the Tour of Italy which was upside down for reasons I can’t explain.

Louise had the five cheese Ziti, as we hadn’t had any cheese recently.

I had the Shrimp Scampi and clearly forgot to take a photo of it. I had literally looked at the menu and found the entree with the lowest calorie count. It was a little late for that I’ll grant you, but every little helps.

There were cocktails and wine and a bill of $217 including a tip. It was, as ever, one of the best meals of the trip despite us forcing all this down due to our earlier gluttony.

Had I mentioned we were tired. We dragged our flabby bodies to the car and made the ten minute drive home before collapsing into bed at 11.

Till the next time…..

Freddie’s First Florida Fiesta – Day Twelve 9th September 2018

Freddie’s First Florida Fiesta – Day Twelve 9th September 2018

After all the moaning about being tired yesterday, it seemed our collective bodies now hated us as many of the group had spent the night awake and ill. Louise had a crappy cold and nobody in Rebecca and Tom’s room got any sleep as Freddie was up coughing all night.

We were a weary and sickly bunch this morning. The plan had us all down for a character breakfast at O’hana, and that, by jingo, would still be happening, but only after a count of survivors fit to travel. That came down to the hard-core of me, Emily and Mikey. I amended the ADR via the app and we set off for the Polynesian leaving everyone else to get themselves better for the MNSSHP party later.

This is a lovely resort, and of course, if somebody wants to gift me a stay at it, I’d be grateful but it doesn’t feature in my list of places I’d love to stay at. The villas look awesome out on the water but I think I would put Wilderness Lodge, Beach Club and (just to say we’d done it) the Grand Floridian above it on my list.

The queue to check in for our meal was the longest of our trip so far. What can people be talking about for so long to the poor patient cast member?

Once we had finally got to the desk and spent about twenty seconds checking in, we took a seat in the lobby for two minutes until we got our text to say the table was ready. Our seater, (is that a word?) in the short journey to our table had discovered where we were from, asked several questions about it and then described a summer she spent in Bury St Edmunds. I guess she does that a lot.

Once seated we were juiced up and served this delicious pineapple bread thing.

We destroyed that whilst waiting for our platter to arrive….

We all declared the waffles the pick of the platter but happily tucked away everything we had been brought plus selected seconds.

The timing of the meal was great. Character meals can be rudely interrupted by characters, but this morning, we were left in peace to eat and only as we were feeling so full we may be sick did some friends turn up.

Stitch was great fun and really demonstrated how character interaction should be done.

Vowing never to eat again (spoiler – we did), we strolled back to the car and drove back to the villa.

Everyone was resting up around the pool and Freddie was having a sleep making up for what he missed last night.

I had a quick dip and a read, but not at the same time.

Having missed out on the huge breakfast and having to have made do with whatever stuff we had in the villa for their breakfast, Rebecca and Tom were starving now and itching to get going. It was 3pm by the time everyone was ready and of course on the way we stopped at Walgreens. This time it was for cough medication for Freddie and to collect my one million point loyalty card reward.

We parked up in the Magic Kingdom car park and trammed it into the TTC. Freddie needed a quick change so we enjoyed the raging heat whilst waiting and, with no immediate rush to be on any ride, I allowed us to take the ferry instead of the monorail. This was mainly due to the fact that I could see the ferry sat waiting for guests and there was a queue on the ramp up to the monorail.

We set off on the short walk to the ferry and with about six steps remaining to the gate, the cast member shut it and said we’d have to wait for the next one. The four minutes we had to wait for the next one would of course, in my mind, ruin the whole day.

Still, I’ve waited in places with a worse view I’ll admit.

We were on board soon enough and ready to set sail.

Once in the park we were directed right just past Tony’s to an area where we would collect our wristbands and candy bags, who, I had mistakenly thought was a 70’s porn star.

We picked up our first lot of candy, sampling a couple of pieces as we headed to sort out the hunger issue properly at Casey’s with various shapes of hot dogs.

We ate outside, fed the ducks a bit and admired the costumes some folks had put a huge amount of effort into.

The first order of business was our Space Mountain FastPass so we headed over to Tomorrowland.

Sorting out the rider swap was a right pain in the arse here as the magic tablet they normally use was broken. The cast member had a huge group of folks gathered around her trying to sort things out and she was having to remember faces to allow folks to ride once the first part of groups had done so. It was almost a longer wait to do this than it was to do the standby.

Eventually we were seen and Rebecca and Tom rode first. It took quite a while, more so as the (I assume temporary) exit now is right around the back and it’s a fair old walk back to the entrance.

It was 5.50 by the time the second lot had ridden and restrooms were needed by some weaker members of the group. This meant that we missed our FastPass for Peter Pan which ended at 6, with the park closing then for the party. As penance for needing that wee Louise then watched a sleeping Freddie whilst the rest of us headed to the two mountains in Frontierland. They were both walk ons.

We had arranged to meet up with Ceara again this evening so we did this now before heading back to Louise who was in Liberty Square.

Next it was Haunted Mansion which I guess is a must do at the Halloween party. It was busy but Ceara worked her cast member magic and literally got us in the back door to avoid a twenty-five minute queue. Freddie needed changing and Mikey needed the loo so we rode without them.

I don’t know why but I thought that this chap had a very fetching hair cut.

As we exited there were some actors up on the lawn who were very entertaining.

We watched them for a little while before reuniting with the others and bagging some more candy in Fantasyland. We then took in Mickey’s Philharmagic and did some actual buying of some stuff in the shop at the exit.

It was raining quite hard at this point and we walked over to Small World hoping to ride and avoid the wet stuff. There was a fifteen minute queue but again Ceara had us whisked through to ride immediately. I did feel a bit guilty walking past the queue. We got some strange looks as of course there are no FastPasses during a party night so everyone was probably wondering what we were doing.

I figured over the years, I’ve paid Disney enough cash to warrant the odd bit of good fortune.

Having ridden this countless times, tonight we experienced a first. It broke a bit and the music stopped, as did our boat and we experienced it in silence for quite a while. Some may say that was a blessing. It extended our ride anyway which Freddie was happy about as he loved this one.

We were going to ride the Mine Train next but it was down due to the weather so Ariel was the alternative.

Another Freddie favourite.

Next, Rebecca and Tom took Freddie on Dumbo and the rest of wandered the huge shop nearby. Somehow I emerged with huge Rice Krispy treats and slushes for all which we all enjoyed before returning to the now functioning Mine Train.

Freddie was alseep again after all his riding exploits so Rebecca and Tom sat out with him whilst the rest of us rode. This is an excellent ride and very smooth. I think it feels better in the dark too.

We did another candy stop and then made our way to the castle for the 10.45 show featuring the Sanderson sisters. We found a place to stand in the crowds and waited.

We waited some more and it became clear, mainly due to it being announced several times, that the show was delayed due to the weather. It wasn’t raining now but the stage was wet and an army of folks were on it trying to dry it out.

Eventually they declared that the show couldn’t go ahead but the sisters did come out and they performed one song to avoid riots breaking out in the crowd.

We stayed where we were waiting for the parade.

We took the opportunity to take some pictures in front of the castle with the crowds now moving away to bag parade spots. This was one of those moments you can’t plan for. We literally had the area in front of the castle all to ourselves and it was lovely to let Freddie explore a bit and take too many photos.

The parade was excellent and we had a great view despite not staking one out.

After the parade, Freddie dropped off to sleep and knowing that the impending fireworks would wake him up, Rebecca and Tom decided to walk back to the car with him.

With a now dry stage the 12am Sanderson sisters show went ahead without a hitch. The three sisters really are excellent.

When the show finished we decided not to leave with the crowds and we hung back instead enjoying the castle.

After a while we started to make our way out through the shops, buying more stuff and by the time we got to the exit it really was getting late now.

We got the resort monorail and the tram back to the car at 1.15. We dropped Ceara off at her apartment and made it back to the villa at 2am. We were all beyond exhausted but I think everyone agreed that this party was a massive highlight of our trip. I don’t know it took us until now to do it, but it won’t be the last time for sure. I also have my eye on the Christmas party at some point!

Till the next time….