week goes by, and as time tends to, so does another year. We had a birthday
this week as Emily turned 24. Believe me she is struggling to come to terms
with how that happened as much as you may be. At some point I’ll let her into
the secret that no matter what age you actually are you never really feel like
a proper grown up and everyone is just busking it and doing their best to get
enjoyed her cake, made expertly by Rebecca, who is developing a real skill for
this sort of thing.
had some for brunch minutes after arriving with it.
may know from previous Julys, Oli shares Emily’s birthday and the big daft
bugger is now a mature 8 year old with fading tolerance for the not very mature
Bean. It gets to us all.
We had a
family takeaway curry on Friday evening to commemorate the day and over ordered
so spectacularly that our fridge still contains Naan bread and some curry. That
is never a bad thing.
matters of planning. Surely there can be nothing left to plan? The issue is
that most folks have a lengthy countdown to these trips, and with planning
being interesting, fun and a way to make trip seem closer (assuming you are
wired in the appropriate way, and I am), over time you end up adding stuff and
planning bits and pieces because of all of the above. However, with just the 30
days to go until departure, this week I excelled myself and conducted an act of
planning genius so cunning that I can’t tell you what it is. It is more cunning
than Mr McCunning, the teacher of cunning at Cunning Town School for foxes who
wish to be more cunning.
few reasons I can’t tell you. One of them is that I know for a fact that Bob
Iger reads my blog every week and if he realised the brilliance of my act he
wouldn’t know whether to sue me or hire me, and I can’t take the risk he’ll
choose the wrong option.
Other reasons include the fact that whilst it absolutely does not break any rules, if everyone did it, then Disney would probably put things in place to stop it or at least make it more difficult. Also, now that I have bragged about my brilliance I want to wait and see if it comes off before admitting to what it is so I don’t look (more) stupid. All I will say is that it has been an issue I have been wrestling with for a while and all of a sudden during last week inspiration came to me. I quickly made the relevant arrangements and felt pretty smug, if not smug or confident enough to tell you about it.
never hear of this again, you will know which way it went. If it works I will
probably admit to it in the trip report and then you can all tell me you all do
it anyway and everyone knows about it and I am in no way clever or special.
Loins are being girded right now, ready for the FastPass thing to start on Tuesday. As we are off site scum, I will need to try every day for two weeks to secure the passes we want for each day 30 days hence. Day one is usually fairly stress free as Magic Kingdom is our park of choice and there’s typically a good enough selection of rides and attractions to get decent FastPasses. The thinking is to secure Mine Train if we can, something like Haunted Mansion and then a ride ideal for Freddie. We may ride Peter Pan but only with a FastPass. It always seems to have at least a forty minute wait and we won’t be doing that.
FastPass pressure will really be on for the days we are at Animal Kingdom and
Hollywood Studios to get those rides everybody wants. Stay tuned for me trying
to put a positive spin on getting FastPasses for the bird show at DAK and the
car park at DHS.
now been rescued from his cupboard where he rests between trips. All relevant
documents, tickets and anything trip related such as the digital camera I only
ever use in WDW, are being randomly stuffed into him. A tactical repack of Ryan
will happen close to departure so that things are to hand in the order I will
need them during the journey. This is in no way sad.
The next major milestone will come post pay day on Wednesday when I will sit weeping, looking at the dollar rate for a few hours before realising I have no choice but to order some anyway. As cunning as I am, I have yet to find a way to rig the currency markets for my own benefit as your Rees Moggs tend to. I spit on your Brexit. Anything which make my holidays more expensive, by definition, cannot be a good thing.
And on that political bombshell, I shall return to my Sunday and wish you well for yours….
How can something feel so close and yet seem so far away at the same time? Over the years, I have to admit to getting very close a trip and not being ready. I don’t mean physically, as packing always gets done and plans get made. I mean mentally. Sometimes life is just so busy that I have struggled to get into the right mindset and it has taken a few days of the holiday to get into the right mode.
Well, I’m ready. This happened this week I think. This lovely bonus trip that was not going to happen is incredibly welcome, needed and almost upon us.
It may have been this holiday mode settling in that was responsible for my latest faux pas. All the things that we told ourselves about squeezing this trip in by cutting back on the more expensive things a trip can include lie in tatters. That’s harsh, we have restricted the number of ADRs but like some kind of Augutus Gloop of trip planning I couldn’t keep my fat fingers off another succulent looking morsel that came into my view this week.
To get the confession out of the way, I have booked Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party for us for the 8th of September. Some random blog about it came into one of my social media feeds during the week at a time when I had a few minutes for it to catch my eye. I read about some of the new things for this year, remembered how last year was one of the highlights of our trip and as all good financially irresponsible planners do, thought, sod it, and pressed the button.
It fell nicely into the plan on one of those days that I mentioned last week that had nothing concrete in it, so, clearly, it was my density.
My weakness was welcomed by my fellow travellers with all the enabling support an addict does not need. It’s like having Oliver Reed as your Alcoholics Anonymous mentor.
Rebecca is now planning and putting together Freddie’s costume. We won’t be dressing up, mainly because when we went last year the temperature was ridiculous and the idea of being in some cumbersome polyester number is too horrific to consider. I applaud those that do.
So that solved one of my outstanding planning issues, as that day now has a character breakfast at Chef Mickey’s mid-morning, and MNSSHP in the evening. Whilst updating “the plan” with these details, I did have a minor meltdown and panic. It suddenly dawned on me that my birthday plans had some potential issues.
This year it falls on a Saturday, and based on Emily’s experiences when working in World Showcase during Food & Wine, Saturdays are generally to be avoided as she always found them to be very busy and very full of drunken people staggering from booth to booth. Options were considered, but the amount of surgery required to the whole plan to accommodate any change that may properly solve this and not cause carnage to the rest of the trip was too severe. So, we decided to leave it as it is.
I consulted Touring Plans and saw that they rated that day a 4 out of 10. This reassured me a little, as I could see they were showing DHS at a 10 out of 10 for much of that week when Galaxy’s Edge opens. At the end of the day, we shall play it by ear. If we focus on Future World (what remains of it) during the day we should avoid most of the crowds coming for Food & Wine and then we can do our ADR at Via Napoli and then wander a hopefully quieter World Showcase in the evening before the fireworks. Simply put, if it does get too busy, we’ll do something else. You know me, I just go with the flow!
To show that I am not a total idiot, I did resist booking Sanaa. This, despite spending a little time browsing the menu this week, is an act of self restraint that I applaud myself for. We already have a list of off site favourites that we will never get through so it made no sense. Then again, their bread service is sufficient to abandon all sense of sanaaty (see what I did there?) so I am quite pleased with myself.
Yesterday I found myself nesting. This seems to happen as a trip gets close enough to touch. It’s a desire to get things in order before we go I guess. Like some pregnant mother about to deliver, when holiday mode gets me, I too have a burning desire to get things done. So a number of tasks that I have been gladly ignoring for months got done. Some grouting, random repairs around the house and sorting of our spare room took place. That spare room has been a disaster since we did our bedroom and that was finished in May. Don’t get me wrong it’s still far from show room standards but we can now see the floor!
So my readiness is there and in a week we will be in FastPass territory. That’s when shit gets real, as somebody who doesn’t mind swearing might say. Be prepared for my inevitable rants about Flights of Passage and Slinky Dog not being available for the entirety of our stay. It’s all part of the process.
Hello friends. It is an appropriate point in time, I feel, for one of my walkthroughs of our holiday plans. I know that you get bits and bobs each week, but it is inevitable that at certain points in time, you must be afflicted with a detailed breakdown of where we currently sit. So now, just 44 days away from departure, it is that time.
Now, I know I have said that this trip will be “planning light”, but, if you believed that for a second you haven’t been paying attention to my obsessive over thinking, over planning nature all these years. It is not however as detailed as previous years and for that I should be applauded.
So settle in for my current version of the plan. It will be strikingly similar, yet crucially different, to all my other plans over the years, and therefore (almost certainly not) worth the investment of your time.
This is our travel day, and already we have something new and “interesting” to report. Our flight is not until 2pm in the afternoon, so this negates the need for one of those 3am starts driven by a 10am flight, to find Louise already up and hoovering the ceiling in an attempt to distract herself from the prospect of the flight.
Our taxi to the airport is booked for a very civilised 9am. This means that will be able to fully enjoy the M60 and all of its delights just as rush hour is ending. I am giving us an hour to complete what should be a 30 minute drive, getting to Manchester Airport Terminal 1 at 10am.
By the time we check in and get through security that may be getting on for 10.45 or so, and that means we will be in proper brunch territory at whichever eatery we select.
We land at 7pm local time, so this means we will leave the airport in our fun bus in the dark and therefore our chances of getting lost are at least doubled, despite all of my years of experience of driving over there and our trusty sat nav. It will happen.
With that late arrival and with Freddie probably having fallen asleep in the car on the way to the villa, we are not planning to do our traditional first night meal at The OutBack as it will be too late. Instead, a take away will be ordered whilst some folks unpack and I find the nearest supermarket for a very expensive shop.
Who knows what time we will be awake, but what is not in doubt is that we will be going to Magic Kingdom. It appears that there is Early Morning Hours and one of those pay to stay late things planned for that day at this park, but it matters not. Day one means Magic Kingdom and the law must be obeyed.
We have no dining reservations made (see, I can play it fast and loose) and my expectation is that we will be flagging by tea time and we will leave the park for some off site dining around that time.
We are off to Typhoon Lagoon. It’s best to get this in earlier in the trip before all the food has destroyed my Adonis like physique. We have always tended to attempt a rest day on day three, but sitting around the pool never seems to work out for us and we find ourselves getting itchy feet in the afternoon and heading out to do something not very rest like. So by doing a water park the aim is to get some rest but also not get bored!
Again, no dining plans are made. I have pencilled in, very lightly, an evening stroll around the Boardwalk, but hey, what will be will be, right?
This is my birthday so there’s only one place we’ll be heading. Epcot today, ending with our penultimate viewing of Reflections of Earth. As we know we intend to stay in the park till close, I have reserved us some dining today. After loving it last year, Via Napoli gets the nod at 5.40pm. Assuming we are out of there by seven, that’s the perfect time for my ideal birthday activity, wandering around World Showcase at dusk, with the music, and the torches, soaking it all in before we take our spot for the fireworks.
This is one of THE highlights of any trip. That atmosphere is unique and magical and almost impossible to describe.
The way this day currently looks on the plan it may be life threatening. You may find that this part of the plan changes before we go, but currently we seem to have two dining experiences planned that, when attempted on the same day, could be very damaging.
This is a rest day after a long day in Epcot the previous day. Rest days tend to get used for the few breakfasts we like to do, and top of that list is Hash House A Go Go. So if this plan stands we’ll need to be out early, eating as soon as we can to give us any chance for our dinner reservation (we won’t need lunch…probably) at Trail’s End.
That is a deadlier duo than double denim. If anyone can pull it off, we can. We have trained for years to undertake this sort of thing so please don’t try this unless you are similarly experienced.
If we survive, having parked at TTC, and taken the boat over to Fort Wilderness from Magic Kingdom, we will perhaps spend the evening enjoying the park, if we can still walk.
This is Labor Day. I always have the fear that this will mean horrendous crowds, but we did DHS on this day last year and it was OK. So, the plan says Animal Kingdom.
Our dining options are again wide open with my expectations that we will go off site, but hey, I am a free spirit, and wherever our whims take us, I’m OK with that…..really.
One thing we are trying to do on this trip is snack. We’ve been watching a few of the Disney Food Blog snack videos and many of them look incredible. So on some days rather than a counter service lunch we may just snack from various places. Look at me, I am the free spirited hippy of WDW planning.
OK so the elephant in the room is Hollywood Studios. Galaxy’s Edge opens the day after we arrive and I have intentionally omitted that park from our plans for as long as possible on this trip. This will be a week or so after the official opening and I have no idea what the park will be like. So this is very much a “toe in the water” suck it and see day. With this in mind, no dining plans have been made in the park and considering we may not even make it into the car park, then we really will just see how today goes.
Look, another water park! It’s another pseudo rest day attempt and a nod that Freddie will absolutely love the water, so we are going to Blizzard Beach for the first time in decades. I honestly think that the last time we went, Rebecca was four and Emily six, and Rebecca got lost in the kid’s slidey bit and we had a horrible few minutes looking for her until we were reunited at the lost kids table where she was colouring in, oblivious to our nervous breakdown. That was sixteen years ago! Not much will have changed then right?
No dining plans again. We shall select our off site option of choice from our sun beds on the day. It *might* be Cowfish, as I have suggested an evening at City Walk. We didn’t get chance to do that one last year so it is a priority this time.
Epcot. I did say that my birthday would be our penultimate viewing of ROE, as I have low expectations of us making it all the way to 9pm on this day, but never say never. No ADRs again. Will this fast and loose madness never end?
The plan has a tentative suggestion of an evening at Animal Kingdom Lodge for a wander around and a look at whatever animals are knocking about. I am currently fighting the urge to book Sanaa. Pray for me.
Our second day at Animal Kingdom. No doubt having failed to get a Flights of Passage FastPass for either day I will be furious and will have to fight the rage so as not to spoil the day. We have an ADR at Yak & Yeti at 6.45pm, with a very loose intention to see if we can get into Rivers Of Light afterwards. We may FastPass it, if it suits our plans, so that we can wander in relatively late.
This is unusual. Until this week there was absolutely nothing planned for today, so I guess you’d call it a rest day. Going against everything I said about not doing loads of expensive dining, we do now have plans for breakfast.
Freddie is currently obsessed with Despicable Me. The films mesmerise him and with us not doing Universal this year, it seemed a shame to not try to fit something in that would entertain him. So we now have a Breakfast With the Minions character breakfast booked at Royal Pacific Hotel at Universal.
Other than that, I don’t know what we will be doing on this day. I feel unwell!
What? Another day with no firm plans yet. It’s a disgrace. We do seem to have another character breakfast booked though. Do my words mean nothing? This one is at Chef Mickey’s at the request of Rebecca to give Freddie (yeah right) the chance to meet the main characters amidst of buffet. Who am I to argue?
I’m sure we’ll head to a park afterwards but which one, who knows?
We are back at Hollywood Studios, maybe, crowds permitting. No dining plans of course, so this will be a do what we can, take it as it comes day, with a retreat if the crowds are as bad as feared.
Our last full day, so of course we are back at Magic Kingdom. Today is a Not So Scary Party so we will be turfed out at 6pm. This is fine on this occasion as we want to end this trip at Epcot watching ROE for the final time. It will be an emotionally charged farewell and will be an emotional affair. Our last night’s can get teary anyway, but this could be a sob fest.
No ADRs booked so we may eat on the way from Magic Kingdom to Epcot.
Travel day. No doubt we’ll buy an extra suitcase, eat a huge breakfast and head to the airport after a shopping spree. It’s only natural.
So that’s where we are. Clearly there are gaps to fill, details to add and in some cases days with nothing planned that need to be sorted but it’s broadly there now. FastPass booking is probably the last thing that may drive significant changes and those are available to us in two weeks time.
It is entirely normal and reasonable to block book 12pm out of your work diary so that you can book FastPasses uninterrupted, right?
If you managed to retain any sort of interest to the end of this post, I salute you.
The recent horror show at work led me to take drastic action last week. On Tuesday I booked Friday and Monday off. My body was telling me I had to. It was also telling me I’m a fat get, but I can only deal with one thing at a time.
The decision was initiated by the fact that on Friday evening Louise and I were going out to watch Book of Mormon in Manchester. This was our glorious Christmas present from Emily and we’d been looking forward to it ever since. My commute being what it is, battling my home, to then turn right around and head back to half a mile from where I started seemed silly, so the day off made sense on many levels.
I didn’t do a great deal with it I am pleased to report. It was nice to take a breath, enjoy the nice weather and set off nice and early to avoid rush hour stress.
Our plan was to eat in Manchester pre-show, and despite our first choice being too busy we had a lovely Indian before heading into the show. It was fantastic. This might be the musical for people who may not feel that they like musicals. It isn’t your traditional, boy meets girl, love song driven affair. It is incredibly funny, fast paced, original and of course full of great songs. I think (and don’t quote me on this) it was written by the creators of South Park with the bloke who wrote Avenue Q. From that you may work out it is irreverent and rude, but for me that just makes it better.
I give it five stars and a Freetime thumbs up (ask your Dad).
This week has also seen some significant news coming from WDW. Whatever is going on at Epcot, it’s big. We already know that the entrance area is being rid of those Leave a Legacy things, but it seems the work and transformation also reaches all the way up to Club Cool and the fountain area. Institutions such as Electric Umbrella and Mouse Gear are to be closed, either temporarily or for good perhaps in some cases, and as with all major WDW changes that brings a mix of emotions.
Now, I am old enough to remember standing in front of a monitor in the area beneath Spaceship Earth and talking via video to a cast member to book our meal for later that day at China in World Showcase. That was in the early 80’s I think and that’s probably as good an example as you would need that things do need to change with the times. That blew our collective minds at the time and unless Epcot is going to fully embrace the retro modern motif, then I guess change is inevitable. Tomorrowland in Magic Kingdom sort of has that going on, and bearing in mind what Epcot stands for, then with technology having changed so much since 1982 when it opened transformations like these make sense.
I’ll be honest, I haven’t had time to read up on what might be coming to Epcot. Honestly, if you are relying on my blog for up to the minute and accurate WDW news then I don’t think you’re doing it right! I’m not sure I’d even class whatever this is as a Disney blog, and I salute those bloggers who are always up the minute on the latest changes, rumours and announcements. I just wish I had more time to read them.
Whatever is on the way will need to be accepted, not that I have a choice, and trust has to be placed in the Imagineers doing all of this. I do appreciate the constant reinvention though. We all pay a lot of money for our time at WDW and it would be easy for them to sit back for a few years and watch that money come in, but they do seem to be constantly investing our hard earned into significant changes and upgrades. Of course, that’s a big driver for footfall. Many folks will go back specifically to see the latest new thing, but, then at times, many more will go to watch something before it vanishes forever.
Reflections of Earth is one of those. That thing has a really special place in our hearts. We’ve watched it on most of my birthdays over the past twenty years of course, but it’s more than that. So our final viewings this year will be a special time. There’s something special also that Freddie will see it with us. He was there last year of course but was too young to take it in. This year, as we say goodbye to it, he will take it in for the first time. The circle of life metaphor doesn’t need making.
Change is constant, time stops for no-one and Emily might still be crying on the flight home after saying goodbye to ROE. WDW is expensive, but very few holidays get you like that and I suppose that’s why we all keep going, right?