Freddie’s First Florida Fiesta – Day Nine 6th September 2018

Freddie’s First Florida Fiesta – Day Nine 6th September 2018

I mentioned right back at the start of this report that I made some errors in the planning. I am sure you cannot believe this and as you read each glorious pleasure riddled day, you must all surely wish that you could pay me a lot of money to plan your trips. I would do that, but to be honest, I love my current job too much to do that, no matter what financial rewards you may offer me.

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Anyway, I also said that I was the most tired I had ever been on one of these trips and the pace I set may have been a little too aggressive. I am not too proud to admit that…again. All that preamble is just an excuse for yet another shoddy late start to the day this morning.

After a twelve-hour day yesterday, a slower start had been planned for by my majestic forethought and considerate nature, but getting out of the villa at 11.15 was taking liberties.

We were bound for the Studios again, and we arrived into the current shambola of a car park and entrance around 11.50, barely making our arrival in the “am”. Pitiful.

We all split up looking for the shortest security lines as usual. Mikey picked wrong this time and we waited the longest for him to have his sack examined. Naturally, arriving at this time, we were all hungry and lunch was needed, so we wandered down Sunset Boulevard and the average burger counter service place pulled us in like some fat soaked tractor beam.

We watched as much of this as we could without actual standing still.

I think I mobile ordered and had more success than we did at the Magic Kingdom a few days ago. We all had burgers or nuggets I think. It was $95 and pretty average really.

We were visited by a cute squirrel who was a bigger fan of our food than we were, so we shared some.

I noted that a Beauty & The Beast show was due to start at 1pm so we made the long journey across the street and entered. We were fairly close to the start time, so there was not a huge amount of choice for a party of our size so we split up over a couple of benches. The one I chose had a family spread out across it for no reason. As we signalled our intent to enter their area, they did not respond. I am not unfamiliar with this concept.

I edged a little closer and they did get eventually get the message this big sweaty bloke standing at the side of them meant that they would need to SHIFT DOWN THE FECKING BENCH!

They had several young kids with them and they proved to be a gigantic pain in the arse throughout. They must have got up and left their seats at least six times between them during the short show. I have never tutted as loudly in my life. Sit down, shut up, pay attention and don’t move until it finishes unless one of your party is on fire.

There were brief moments when we could see the stage.

The show was superb of course and Mikey stated it was his favourite so far. After consulting the app, we decided to do Ariel again. She loves a bit of it.

We wandered all the way there in the searing heat and joined the short queue.

Ariel was much better this time and we all enjoyed her very much.

As we left, rain had started so we made a quick dash to the Star Wars Launch Bay thing which was quickly becoming our go to destination for rainy times.

Freddie was intrigued by the these chaps who interacted with him and us all for quite some time.

We had a wander around the various exhibits avoiding the rain and in Mikey’s case having a wee. He was allowed as there was little else to be doing.

This lady was wandering around again, talking to cast members and characters. We saw her in the First March thing the other day. I think she lives here now.

Whilst wandering, I had again multi-tasked superbly to consult the app and had seen that Tower of Terror has a measly ten minute wait, so that was our direction of travel now.

We had a FastPass for Rock n Rollercoaster so we snuck that in now before the Tower. We baby swapped on both but Louise sat out with Freddie for TOT. As we all returned from riding Freddie was just waking up and he seemed very hot. I know that seems an obvious thing to say when you are on Florida in the summer, but he was exceptionally so. We tried drinks and wiping him down etc but it wasn’t helping. To be sure he was OK we walked to the medical centre near the entrance just to get him checked. This is a great service, thank you Disney. They gave him some Calpol type stuff and an iced towel to bring his temperature down.

We needed to get some cash so we slowly wandered to the ATM whilst Rebecca and Tom took Freddie into the Brown Derby to change him and keep him cool. When they returned, Freddie was no better at all and we decided it would be best to leave and get him back to the villa.

We were quickly back in the car after a tram ride and home in about twenty minutes. Freddie chilled out, literally and Rebecca and Tom decided they would stay at the villa with him tonight rather than come out to dinner. A wise decision to make sure he was better for tomorrow.

The rest of us showered and got ready, whilst the largest takeaway order of McDonalds in history was made by Tom. The delivery guy needed a small truck. We headed for Bahama Breeze with me once again forgetting the camera. Bear with me now whilst I transfer the photos from that evening from my phone….

I’m back.

Cocktails were ordered.

I had a diet coke.

Appetisers were a must here.

That dipping sauce you can see with those onion rings was more addictive than crack. We had a spinach dip in addition to those onion rings and both were bloody lovely.

Me and Mikey had Buttermilk Fried Chicken with free heart bypass.

It was superb. Again, that sauce you can see is one of the wonders of the world.

Louise and Emily, as they always do here, had Jerk Chicken Pasta

I know that looks like a lot of pasta, but who doesn’t always make ten times more pasta than they actually need?

This is what full looks like.

We took three slices of Key Lime Pie home for those we left behind and the bill was $210 including a 20% tip for great service.

It was an early night!

Till the next time……

Freddie’s First Florida Fiesta – Day Eight 5th September 2018

Freddie’s First Florida Fiesta – Day Eight 5th September 2018

Enough of this meandering out of the house at any time we like. I had put my foot down. Today, we needed to be out and out early. I had spoken. We *had* to be out by 8.30, no excuses, no delays, if necessary, no sleep.

We left at 9.20.

Usually I would have been mad, but this was mainly caused by Freddie having a lie in. He is forgiven by default. This meant that time was tight, as our first FastPass slot ended at 10.05. Luckily, via Sherberth Road we were a longish stone’s throw from Animal Kingdom, which was our destination this morning.

We were at the gates by 9.30 and via a broken speed limit or two once in the car park, we were in Dino 39 and on to a tram a few moments later.

The theme park Gods were smiling, as the security line was short and we were actually stood on the correct side of the entrance at 9.50. I started the walk to Everest at a brisk pace but shortly afterwards we were halted. Emily had arranged to meet up with Ceara, who is currently on the CRP in the UK pavilion as it was her day off.

Out of the kindness of her heart Ceara had agreed to come along and use her cast member magic to get us a “return time” for Flights of Passage. To facilitate this we had to visit some secret cast members tucked away on a secluded path. Much tapping of tablet devices and scanning of bands happened. I had no idea what was going on, but we were eventually sorted and once again on our way to Everest.

We chatted to Ceara on the way, and still managed to arrive at the ride entrance at 10.03. Impressive if not a little stressful.

We saw the relevant cast member to sort out the baby swap stuff. Her name was Beth and she was lovely. She allowed five of us to ride initially and then a further four to ride the second time with the baby swappers. The ride was pretty quiet so nobody suffered any extra waiting due to us.

Once everyone had ridden, we all met up outside the gift shop. Ceara revealed her real motive for joining us today. She wanted a photo with Ryan!

It seemed like a fair exchange for all the help she would end up giving us today.

In all the rush and kerfuffle of getting everyone where we needed to be on time, I had not yet consulted the app to check our plans for the rest of the day. So, my natural instincts kicked in and we set off for the safari. It would turn out that I had at this point totally forgotten that we had a FastPass for the safari later, but that’s not important right now.

There was a five-minute wait and we were soon all aboard.

Regular readers will know that at this point you are about to get bombarded with a large selection of blurred photos of animals. Enjoy!

It was a good trip and enjoyed by all.

Now it was time to head to Pandora. I had managed to secure a FastPass for Navi River Ride and that was next on the list. We tried our best to take in the theming as we wandered into another first this trip.

It’s been a while since this came up in a trip report, but that might benefit from a drop of Vagisil.

Ceara watched Freddie so that we could all ride together, which was lovely of her.

It’s a gentle ride, but excellently themed and one you’d need to ride a lot to take it all in.

We returned to Ceara to rescue her from the incredible heat. We were now headed for Flights of Passage. Ceara had used her CM special pass to get a return time (before she met us earlier) and as all our bands were linked to hers as her guests, we could ride with her. Having tried and failed to get a FastPass this was a lovely thing for her to do and very much appreciated.

Tom and Rebecca sat out first to feed and change Freddie and the rest of us entered.

I know there will be a good few of you that haven’t ridden this yet so I won’t describe it, but….

WOW.

This is just incredible and from a technology point of view this is THE best ride in WDW.

We exited all agog and watched Freddie so Tom and Rebecca could ride. Whilst they did we want to Santuli Canteen to get us all some food. There was no queue. In this instance this was a bad thing, as there as no time to study the menu before ordering so it turned into a panic driven random selection, just making sure that we had enough meals for everyone.

Don’t even ask me what this stuff was…

They were all just variations of the “protein” option. Whatever they were, they were very tasty indeed. With those demolished I mobile ordered a few desserts…

These were also excellent.

Being a gloriously flexible planner and all round good guy, whilst eating I used the app to swap the Safari FastPass I forgot we had booked for a Lion King one and as  that show was imminent we wandered there next.

We were Warthogs.

I have run out of superlatives over the years with which I can heap praise on this show. It’s good.

Mikey was loving it so much he volunteered for the bit at the end where the kids walk round shaking stuff. We “forgot” to tell him it was really just kids who did this, but, to his credit, he didn’t seem to care and loved every second.

A glance at the app showed that every ride time (Pandora aside) was ten minutes at most which pleased me. To celebrate we paused for Ceara to take a group photo.

Freddie had nodded off.

We headed for the rapids next, looking for a little moisture to combat the incredible heat. Louise sat out with Freddie and the ride was a welcome walk on.

I am happy to report that Ceara got the worst of it and was absolutely drenched but to be fair we all got a decent soaking.

To further aid the cooling down we stopped at the cocktail bar near Everest for some refreshment. I didn’t make a note of what everyone had but there were no complaints other than it seemed to cost me $50 for a mocktail.

With Freddie in mind we headed over to…

We’ve only done this once before and our memory of it was that we didn’t need to do it again. However, now with Freddie needing to see it, we were prepared to fall on our swords.

It was *much* better than our memories had remembered. Freddie didn’t manage to sit all the way through it. He’d been woken from his nap to go into the show and he was tired and hot so Tom took him out about half way through.

Dinoland next and on to Primeval Whirl for some rib rearranging.

Rebecca and Tom took the chance to get Freddie back to sleep by walking him around whilst the rest of us rode. Mikey and I rode together, proving that two gentlemen of our girths should find smaller partners to inflict injury on.

We sat in the sun whilst Rebecca and Tom rode and had a much needed cold drink. Then we headed over to…

Emily *hates* this ride due to the childhood trauma of the first time she rode it and she volunteered to sit out with Freddie. It turned out that Ceara wasn’t a huge fan either and screamed all the way round.

We collected Emily and Freddie and made our way back to Dinoland so that a now wakened Freddie could be taken on Triceratops Spin.

With that done, we started the walk over to Yak & Yeti for our ADR(s).

When we arrived I spoke nicely to the lady at the podium and merged our two seperate ADRs (I hadn’t been able to book for our full party on the app back home) and added Ceara.

As we stood outside waiting to be seated a young girl had just thrown up and we got to marvel at the custodial staff dealing with it using some magical powder which made it vanish.

Many cocktails were ordered…

I went crazy and had another mocktail….well, it was more an “ade” of some sort…

We ordered some Egg Rolls and Pot Stickers as appetisers and the chef came out to talk to Ceara who needed to see what she could eat with her allergies.

We had –

Ceara – Lo Mein with no veg

Me – Lo Mein Combo

Rebecca and Emily – Honey Crispy Chicken

Louise and Mikey – Sweet and Sour Chicken

Tom – Korean Beef

We all had various desserts too….

Desserts were Freddie’s favourite part of the meal….if you look closely at the photo above, you can see Freddie’s hand reaching out to get his Dad’s attention. Tom had made the mistake of sharing his cheesecake and now Freddie was on a mission.

He was a HUGE fan of cheesecake and they may have created a monster by introducing him to it.

Freddie had corn dog bites for his main meal and enjoyed those too.

It was going dark now and it was almost time or Rivers of Light. Animal Kingdom was looking very handsome.

As Everest was a walk on we rode that, Emily and Ceara did it twice. We had a FastPass for Rivers of Light so were able to wait until quite late before actually entering.

Freddie was knackered and there was little chance he would sit through this show so Rebecca and Tom wandered slowly out to the exit through the shops and we said we’d meet them at the car.

We took our seats and waited about ten minutes for it to start. It has changed quite a lot since we saw it last, starting with some of the cast wandering through the audience.

I’ve seen quite a few young girls on Instagram with less make up, but his contouring is “on point”. Am I doing this right?

The show is much improved, in my opinion and my camera excelled itself…

The water projections and lasers are far more “firework like” and it is all much more effective and interesting.

We made our way out of the show and wandered slowly to the exit, browsing a couple of shops. These delightful warm, dark Florida nights are just a treat to witness.

We dropped Ceara off at her apartment at Vista Way and then made our weary way home by around 10.30. Another tiring but very enjoyable day.

Thank you to Ceara for making the day much easier and enjoyable via the use of her special cast member magic and of course for getting us on to Flights Of Passage which everyone agreed was just mind-blowing!

Till the next time…..

Freddie’s First Florida Fiesta – Day Seven 4th September 2018

Freddie’s First Florida Fiesta – Day Seven 4th September 2018

After the very fine and full day yesterday, the plan recognised the need for some R&R. So there was no rush to be anywhere this morning and folks were allowed to get up when they wished.

I might have wished to be in bed until about 10, but my body clock had me up earlier than I might have liked. Resisting breakfast, knowing what the plan was, proved tricky. We were all ready to go at 10.50 and the sat nav was programmed with the location of a new eatery for us, Keke’s. We hadn’t had a US style, rib busting, double chin causing, T-shirt stretching, guilt inducing mega breakfast yet, so today was the day.

Now, we could have just driven a few minutes up to the 192 and done some pancakes and stuff at a Dennys or similar, but dining is an event on our holidays, and based on a fair amount of online praise and some blog reader recommendations, we had been salivating over the menu at Keke’s during the planning phase for many months.

So we did the half hour drive and arrived to endure a ten minute wait to get a table.

I’m not sure you can read this, but we reminded ourselves of the menu choices…

I had been pretty sure that I would be going for pancakes. The other stuff looked very appealing but there is always a mild concern that the other dishes might not contain the girth I was looking for. Size is important.

We ordered coffees and juices, in most cases one of each, and Emily had a hot chocolate.

and then we ordered…

Me and Tom – Blueberry Pancakes

Louise – French Toast with some sides that I didn’t write down

Mikey – Pancakes & Sides

Emily – Stuffed French Toast

Rebecca – Chocolate Chip Pancakes

I truly can’t believe that I didn’t photograph those and I suspect my camera or SD card has “lost them”.

My word, those pancakes were thick, satisfying and a perfect demonstration of my stupidity and bad relationship with food. I loved them.

We did feed Freddie, don’t be fooled by the manic longing in his eyes.

Those pancakes soaked up maple syrup at an alarming rate and we went through a huge bottle between us. I didn’t finish all of my pancakes to be honest. Knowing I had to drive home I thought it best not to pass out and/or vomit over the steering wheel. Tom made a very valiant effort, especially when he went for the large portion size of four pancakes compared to my meagre three!

After parting with $130 and any chance of ever fitting into my “smaller T-shirts” ever again, we waddled to the car and it was a subdued journey back through a few scattered rain showers. Louise suggested that we detour through Celebration to show our newbies, so we did. Who says my planning is not flexible?

We kerb crawled through the ‘burbs for a bit, picking out our lottery win houses, before heading back to the 192 and the villa. We were home by 2pm and we spent some time around the pool, but clearly not taking any photos! All this resting!!

Whilst we lay, read, swam and rested the pool cleaner came. We pointed out that one of the panels on the pool net thing was broken and she said she would let the relevant folks know. Indeed, a man was with us in double-quick time later that day to sort it. Freddie did some swimming and then was whisked away for a bath whilst the rest of us got ready.

We left, bound for Magic Kingdom at 5.20 after feeding Freddie. How he could eat at this point was a mystery to me. Due to reasons, tonight would be the only night we would be able to see Happily Ever After. A lot of nights at Magic Kingdom were taken up with MNSSHP so it was tonight or not at all.

Obviously, like an over eager, do it all knob, I had also shoe horned some FastPasses in before the fireworks.

We parked in Jafar 310 and trammed it in. A monorail ride later and we were into the park.

Oh look, I remembered to take a photo.

We walked through the castle and into Fantasyland.

We had a FastPass for Winnie the Pooh and this would be our first ride of this for many a year.

Perhaps it was better when I wasn’t taking photos….

Freddie definitely enjoyed the ride, but he enjoyed the shop at the exit equally.

I am ashamed to say that we were a little hungry at this point. We walked down to Tomorrowland and mobile ordered some hot dogs from The Lunching Pad.

It took an age and I was not happy about it. See how furious I am by the arch of my eyebrow.

 

We waited for a bit longer….

Until I reached my limit and wandered up to the counter. I asked a Cast Member who, I have to say was not the brightest I have ever met. She looked at the computer, found my order and pressed a button, and hey, look at that, my phone buzzed to say my order was ready. As the hot dogs we’d ordered were all pre-made and sat in a warmer, this should have been the case about ten minutes ago. Sigh.

We had an overly long conversation about whether we wanted cheese or apple sauce with our hot dogs. Another cast member had to step in to translate (she was an English speaker!) and despite the fact that anybody ordering apple sauce with a hot dog should be ejected from the park, finally I had my tray of food and I returned to our table.

We had hot dogs here a few years ago and they were excellent. It seems that they had shrunk by about 40% since then. They were still tasty but even after our frankly stupid breakfast, they didn’t fill much of a hole. At $10 a dog, this was challenging the Brown Derby for value for money.

Our FastPass for Buzz had opened up so Rebecca and Tom went to ride that followed by the rest of us when they returned. We got a churro or two whilst we waited as obviously we hadn’t had enough sugar today. I didn’t make a note of why we rode seperately but I suspect Freddie had dropped off. Whilst we rode Tom got himself another hot dog so that he felt like he’d eaten something.

We moved on to Mine Train now and it looked lovely in the increasing darkness. Rebecca and Tom rode first again, and we rode immediately afterwards aware that time was pushing on and the fireworks were looming. Again, a mixture of the wrong camera setting and my extreme incompetence produced some classics.

Take my word for it, riding this in the dark is excellent. By the time we exited it was 8.20 and there was just ten minutes until Happily Ever After. Emily and Louise walked ahead to bag a spot for us, but by the time we got to Main Street it was carnage and cast members were shouting at folks like us turning up at the last-minute to not stop there, and to keep moving, which was fair enough.

We never met back up with Louise and Emily who were somewhere near Caseys. Instead, the rest of us were marshalled up into the central hub.

We had a very good view if not a lot of room around us.

It was a great show and one I’d need to see many more times to take it all in. We shuffled our way to Caseys to find Louise and Emily who had, it turned out, had a worse view than us. Reunited we loitered outside of Caseys to watch the projection show on the castle.

That was lovely and full of Disney magic, we turned to shuffle to the exit.

I feel the camera and I almost redeemed ourselves with the last few photos.

Again, we chose the resort monorail due to the size of the queue for the other one.

There was still a fifteen minute wait but eventually we made it to the TTC. Boarding the tram involved a little bit of scrummage. Being so many of us, and with a stroller and Freddie, we were always open to over aggressive knob heads barging their way into a row of seats. Anyway, we all managed to get on albeit in various rows.

As another comment on the size of those hot dogs we called at McDonalds on the way home. I just had a drink but I think Tom and Mikey ordered food. They are young growing lads!

Naturally we also called at Walgreens for some water and “bits” before driving home and to bed at 11.15. Another relaxing rest day then.

Till the next time…..

Freddie’s First Florida Fiesta – Day Six 3rd September 2018

Freddie’s First Florida Fiesta – Day Six 3rd September 2018

After a bit of a fragmented day yesterday, today was much more like it. It was all theme park, all day and some of the night too. As KC and his band of sunshine once said, that’s the way, ah ah, I like it, ah ah.

I was awake at seven. Today was a day that we needed to be out at a decent time so I was rushing round trying to get Ryan filled as required, the relevant items charged, and lots of bodies up and out of bed. Rebecca and Tom needed no such help as they had been up for a lot of the night with Freddie who had decided that he didn’t need to sleep.

It was soon clear that the early start I had been looking for would not be forthcoming. I mentally adjusted our plans to at least get to Hollywood Studios before the end of our first FastPass window at 10.35. We left the villa at 9.20, and then again at 9.21 once a couple of folks had wandered back in to pick up sunglasses or vital medication that frankly they could have done without.

Naturally, we couldn’t pass Walgreens without calling in. We needed bin bags, pills and some “bits”. I went in to get them as I didn’t trust anyone else to do it quickly enough.

Once back in the car I did force the pace ever so slightly, conscious that we may well miss that first carefully planned and painstakingly acquired FastPass. We parked up at 9.50 and did the tram in from Film 53.

With all the work going on here the entrance is a right mess to be honest.

This is the new Sky Way thing which looks a long way down the road to being ready.

It took a painful ten minutes to get through security. I would support a change here to the x-ray style thing they have going on at Universal. It’s much quicker and less intrusive than someone poking around your sack with a pointy stick.

We were finally through the gates and as I turned to see where everyone was I could see Louise a few gates down…….taking a survey!!!!!! Luckily, she quickly drew that to a close before I had to give her one of my looks, and we were headed towards Tower of Terror for that first FastPass. It was now 10.15.

I tried to balance my insatiable desire to get to the ride in time for our slot with the need to take in my surroundings. Over the years I have become adept at taking photos whilst walking at full speed.

At the entrance we arranged the baby swap thing and the cast member tapped their pad a bit, scanned some bands and everyone but Rebecca and Tom rode. Every time I ride this it amazes me all over again. From the theming…

to the ride itself, it always puts a smile on our faces. Sometimes a very strange one!

As frequent riders it is easy to take for granted the pre-show in the study and the theming of the boiler room. Mikey was taking all this in for the first time of course and luckily we also had a good cast member seating us to add to his mood of apprehension and terror.

There was much screaming and a lot of laughter as we were dropped several times. We exited to watch Freddie whilst Rebecca and Tom rode. Whilst they did that, the rest of us walked down to Starbucks to get some breakfast. It would be my second breakfast, but I’m on holiday, get off my back! Emily and I queued, listening to the absolute nonsense being shouted out by the folks dishing out the orders.

“Snail foam and phlegm mist with a lemsip shot for Savannah!”

“Flattened grass and armadillo tears frappacino for Tyler!”

I just wanted a coffee and a cake.

The ordering is so complex here that I wrote it all down on my phone for fear of ballsing it up. We sat outside on the kerb waiting for Rebecca and Tom. As we did the first order wandered past a couple of times.

The cast member was keen to get into one of my photos.

After middle breakfast we wandered up towards the Chinese theatre and towards one of our favourite shows.

Not sure what that lady is up to if I’m honest.

One the way, it was a little surprising to see a shiny black helmet.

It was now time to enter Ariel.

It had been a while.

We didn’t have a FastPass and there was a decent queue so I was a little concerned that we wouldn’t make it into this show, but we did, just. Freddie joined the Ariel fan club and danced his way through the show. I’ll be honest, I’ve had better Ariels than this one, but I’m being picky! It wasn’t helped by some gimps behind us talking all the way through, and why, oh why, is it that EVERY TIME we watch this show some bell end feels the need to take a flash photo at the end of the puppet section?

It was now time for a first. It’s always exciting and this was to be our first experience of Toy Story Land.

It’s down there somewhere.

It was scorching hot and the place was busy. Everyone wandered about for a bit taking photos etc, but eventually I rounded us all up and herded everyone into Toy Story Mania for our FastPass. A few years ago, this FastPass would have been a prized possession, but now it was the poor relation to the other newer stuff.

We rode with just a five minute wait. I really wish they would fix their scoring system as it was clearly broken again.

At the exit, Rebecca, Tom, Freddie and Mikey joined the queue to see Woody and Jessie. It was a long one so Louise went off to find a seat in the sun and Emily and I loitered ready to take some photos once they got to the front. The incredible heat was clearly going to be a precursor to a storm which we could see forming above us. It was now a matter of which would come first, the storm or the meet and greet.

As we were waiting, spookily, I also met Woody. Not the one in costume but a Dibber and long time blog reader, Woody and his wife who had seen from a Facebook post where we were and had hunted us down…I mean sought us out to say hello. We had a chat and they very kindly tried to give us a FastPass for Slinky in a few days that they were just about to cancel. Even though we tried literally as they cancelled, we still had no joy. Lovely of them to think of us though, so thank you both!

The other Woody and Jessie had been for two “short rests” in the time it took to get to the front of the queue and literally as this photo was taken, the heavens opened and everyone ran for cover.

Poor Mikey was next in line and missed out.

We made a mad dash for One Man’s Dream which is where Louise had run to as the rains came. So had half the park so it was a bit busy. We had a wander, Freddie was fed and we waited for about fifteen minutes until the worst of the rain was over.

Some of the concept art models for Star Wars Land look amazing.

The rain hadn’t stopped but it was less torrential so we poncho’d up and struck out.

We had a FastPass for Rock n Roller Coaster and a little but of moisture was not going to deny us.

We did the baby swap admin again with Rebecca and Tom waiting out with Freddie initially. Mikey, who if you hadn’t gathered yet, isn’t a huge coaster fan, loved it and screamed all the way round to prove it.

We then waited with Freddie whilst Rebecca and Tom rode. With the weather still a bit bobbins we were looking for indoor activities so we headed right back to where we had come from and did the Star Wars Launch Bay thing, not really having a clue what it was.

On the way the girls shopped for a jumper each. I had a very vivid flashback to 2003. Our day in MGM had been a wet one and before heading into the Brown Derby we got them matching jumpers so they wouldn’t freeze to death whilst eating. With those secured we moved on to….

Our ADR for Brown Derby was fast approaching so we only had time to watch the film. Louise had opted to stay out and wander a shop or two and as we were really cutting it fine by the time the film ended, I messaged her and told her to go and check us in at the restaurant.

We got there just a few minutes late, Freddie was changed and we were seated in what was a half empty Brown Derby.

We were hungry, and the waiter started us off with some warm bread which was more addictive than crack, or so I imagine. I inhaled it within seconds.

It was a set menu with not a lot of choice and we had –

Me, Tom, Rebecca and Louise – Steak

 

Mikey and Emily – Chicken

Freddie – Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Desserts were just brought with no selection required or sought…

It was nice food. They were, what I would call, “poncy bollocks” portions, but very nice.  It was an enjoyable meal and a nice peaceful break from the park but the bill was a ludicrous $550. Even adding in the Fantasmic guaranteed seats etc, that is just silly and we won’t be doing that again.

With full(ish) bellies we decided to do the Frozen sing a long next. With a little time to kill before that we watched the full First Order March having just caught the tail end of it earlier.

We took our seats in Frozen and I have to say this show was excellent and totally exceeded any expectations I had for it. It was just great fun. Sure it’s just the songs from the film but the cast were great and everyone loved it.

With that having somewhat made up for the bill at Brown Derby we moved on to our final FastPass for the day at Star Tours. I had secured this whilst eating as I am clearly a very able multi-tasker. Louise sat with Freddie in the now much better weather and Tom especially liked this one as he is a huge Star Wars fan. At the exit we watched a few minutes of the Jedi Training too.

Being in the area and being pretty sure that there hasn’t been a wait longer than five minutes for the Muppets since 2003, we headed over there.

On the way in we passed a food stall selling Corn Dogs. Pretty much everyone had been looking forward to trying one during the countdown to this trip, so the plan was to grab one once we’d seen the show. I told you they were “poncy bollocks” portions in the Brown Derby.

After enjoying a salute to all nations but mostly America, we walked back to the stall to see it closed. Gutted was not the word. We found Louise and Freddie and spotting, via the app, that Tower of Terror was just a fifteen minute wait we walked (all the way) over there to ride it.

The random drops were much better this time.

Fanstasmic time now. On the way in we got some drinks and we got Freddie his first obligatory light up toy, a Buzz Lightyear. We had a great view (not a $550 view, but still), and Freddie this time was less tired and loved the whole thing, even the loud stuff.

It goes dark quickly in Orlando.

I found a selfie mode on my camera and annoyed Emily with it for a bit.

The show was great, until, just as the “finale” started, the gimps on the row in front of us all stood up to leave to “beat the crowds”. That’s exactly what I wanted to do to them and I let them know with major tutting and disgusted looks. They made a token gesture of bending down a bit and scurrying away. Idiots.

Once the show was over I noticed one of them had lost their Magic Band. I picked it up, hoping they were staying on site and I could charge a million pounds of merchandise to their room.

Instead, I carried it out to the exit and handed it in to a cast member instructing them that the owner should be banned from every Disney park for life for being an early leaving knob.

We collected the parked stroller and shuffled out to the exit. Despite the thousands doing the same, a tram was immediately waiting to take us back to the car. How do they do that? You can’t get out of the Trafford Centre car park in under two hours at a weekend.

We were home by 10.15, after a ding dong twelve hour theme park bonanza. Love it.

Till the next time…..

Freddie’s First Florida Fiesta – Day Five 2nd September 2018

Freddie’s First Florida Fiesta – Day Five 2nd September 2018

I look at my notes for today and it says we had a lazy start. It feels like there was a lot of this already this trip. I do wonder then why, looking back now, that I was definitely the most tired I have ever been on one of these things this year.

Sure, I’m the oldest I’ve ever been, but without stealing my Jerry Springer style summing up at the end thunder, I may have pushed the pace too hard.

Anyway, lazy we were and there was some TV watching, Freddie had his toast for breakfast and everyone generally did nothing until about 10.30 when readying began. We left the villa at 11.30 and headed for what turned out to be a very busy I4. I don’t tend to think about things like this when planning, but we were heading for Toothsome for lunch, and if I were back home I would seriously question driving that far to anywhere for lunch. It’s different here and on holiday of course food is very much part of the destination not the journey for us, and there is only one Toothsome, so travel we must and did.

It took us forty-five minutes to get to a Universal car parking spot and, another thing I wouldn’t do at home, I spent $22 on parking without blinking an eye or ranting for three and half hours, which I definitely would do in the UK.

We were in Spiderman 455. We unloaded everyone and Freddie’s stroller and after a battle with some escalators and some elevators that weren’t working, or at least not quickly enough for my patience, we were on the moving walkways and heading into City Walk.

By jingo it was hot.

We arrived at Toothsome, and again, it’s a bloody long walk from the car to get there, just after 12.45. There was no wait and we were taken upstairs and seated immediately.

Now, we were here for food. The chap at the front desk clarified that, as they must get a load of folks rocking up just for milkshakes. Regardless of our dining intentions, our priority of course was a milkshake so we spent many minutes looking at a menu we had read many times before the trip, even watching a vlog about them all, to help in our decision-making process.

I still rushed it a bit, and ended up blurting one out feeling pressured by the waiting server.

Me – PB&J

Mikey & Rebecca – Celebration

I can only apologise for the blatant lack of a photo. There is no excuse.

Emily – Key Lime

Tom – Brownie

Louise – No milkshake, but some wine

They are absolutely bloody lovely. I know they look impressive and that is important, but the taste does not disappoint. I loved mine as did everyone else.

We sucked on these whilst waiting for our meals to arrive.

Me – Red Reuben

Louise – Houmous & a side of Onion Rings

 

Emily, Mikey and Rebecca – Chicken Sandwich

Tom – Burger

Freddie – Pasta

Imagine the fullest thing you can, double it and add a bit more and that was me. I was absolutely stuffed, bordering on hospitalisation. So a good meal!

We walked, slowly, back to the car in incredible heat wondering if we would ever need to eat again. (We did).

The plan stated that this afternoon was a non-theme park day and instead we were to go shopping. How this would make the day any more restful, I have never known, but we have always done some shopping so off we went. The location was to be the Premium Outlet Malls at Lake Buena Vista.

The fatal flaw in this plan was defined by the very reason for its existence. Today was Labor (sic) Day weekend, and as such, my plan was to stay as far away from theme park crowds as possible. It seemed that all of those crowds had instead congregated at this mall. We toured the car park for about twenty minutes before finally admitting defeat. There was just no chance of us finding a spot and so I left that traffic nightmare and drove straight into another. The queue of cars to get back to the Crossroads area (Benny says Hi….ask your granddad) past Bahama Breeze was just bobbins. We sat and waited for about half an hour inching forward slowly. Just as we got to the front of the queue some f*ck nugget tried to just indicate and swing in right in front of us. If Freddie’s first words are unrepeatable, this moment will be why. I can assure you, I did not let him in.

Denied of retail therapy at one location we headed to Disney Springs, where these days, the one thing you can be pretty sure of is a parking spot. We pulled into Lime, found a spot easily and disembarked.

We wandered some shops, I have to say halfheartedly.  Emily got a hoodie but other than that nothing was purchased and enthusiasm for such was very low it had to be said.

Rebecca voiced those views first and said they’d rather be in a park. Faced with a fairly forceful sulk, it was agreed that we’d chance a theme park as they couldn’t be any busier than these bloody shops.

Don’t worry, the pin had been removed from the back of this badge…I mean pin…no, I mean badge. There was nothing sharp on what Freddie was holding here is what I am saying.

Once back in the car we pointed the van at Magic Kingdom. He who dares wins.

We parked in…

At this time of day there was no army of Cast Members waving you to the bottom of a row so we drifted around the car park like it was the Premium Outlet Mall again until we found a spot.

We were by now getting quite skilled at the routine from the car, onto the tram and off again. Everyone had assumed a role, and we dismantled the stroller and boarded in a few seconds like on of those F1 pit land crews. We didn’t wear helmets though.

We monorailed in

Once in the park we consulted the app to see what horrendous queues awaited us and to confirm that no FastPasses would be available for anything.

 

I have to say, I struggled with the app this year. It was constantly flakey. Certain pages never loaded. For example, whenever I viewed our plans, unless I filtered by something, no content appeared. It froze a lot and was generally about as fast as an episode of Poldark. (Sorry my hatred for all Sunday evening period dramas seeps out now and again).

With every ride rammed we resorted to meeting a character. We rarely do this these days and hadn’t done any this trip. With Freddie with us, we should and we did. We struck out up Main Street heading for Tomorrowland and Buzz who was out doing a meet.

On the way, we passed “the purple wall”. If you “do” Instagram you’ll know….

Mikey, Tom and Rebecca joined the queue for Buzz for Freddie’s first ever official character meet.

We wondered if he would be terrified of them. It may run in the family as Louise is quite scared of other large things with weird heads.

As they queued I loitered ready to take a few photos once they got to Buzz.  There was an Edna drive by…

We needn’t have worried about Freddie. Like everything else on this trip he took Buzz in his stride.

As did Mikey.

Whilst waiting I had used the app to book some FastPasses having found some actually did exist. The first of which was…

This is a ride I hadn’t been on since 2003 I think. After a pre-ride wee our FastPass time came around and we all boarded except Louise who I think thought it may be too thrilling for her.

After feeding Freddie, we now headed back to Tomorrowland (sure, I do know we just came from there…) and we did the old faithful rides when things are busy and you need something to do between FastPasses. First,

Even this had a small queue, but we were soon aboard, enjoying Magic Kingdom at dusk.

When you are “the planner” of the group there can be a certain pressure. Every time you leave a ride all eyes turn to you with a “What now?” attached. So I often find that whilst on one ride my mind is thinking of the next step or two. In this case, the answer was right in front of me and we did Carousel of Progress.

There was a holiday many years ago when Rebecca was obsessed with the song and we had it in the car for the whole fortnight. There is no greater testament of our love for her than the fact that she survived.

Our second FastPass was now due and thankfully it was for Buzz and not some ride at the other side of the park.

Again, the scores weren’t important. These competitive Dads who can’t just appreciate the joy of taking part with their family are a real source of dismay!

As we exited the ride the fireworks were on. This was a problem as Emily and I had been avoiding all online showings of Happily Ever After so that we could watch it for the first time live. So as we bolted for the exit, we did our best not to look up or indeed listen to what was going on! We must have looked a bit strange, head down, shouting instructions to each other, trying to avoid the gathered crowds whilst only looking at the pavement.

The other concern of course was that the fireworks would finish, and thousands of folks would start heading for the exit too, so this was a full paced extraction. We still took the resort monorail as the queue looked shorter and we were soon back at the car.

Right, time to get back on plan! Applebees it said and Applebees we would do.

We did the one on the 192 and were pleasingly seated immediately. More pleasing for those not driving was the news that it was two for one on most alcoholic drinks.

There were so many flying about that I lost track of what they were.

This one is actually Tom’s milkshake. He has an addiction problem, and this is it.

 

 

Freddie was alseep so we had brought him in still in his car seat. Applebees had an ingenious contraption that could be placed at the end of the table that we could rest that on so he wasn’t on the floor.

The fact that the only child in our party was out of it did not stop us from commissioning something from the wandering balloon person.

 

Yes, even at my age, I can still get Woody.

We ordered some appetisers as it had been several hours since our life threatening amount of food at Toothsome.

Me and Emily shared some nachos. Louise and Mikey had some Mozzarella sticks.

For mains we had –

Me – Thai Salad

Louise, Mikey and Emily – Various Pasta things

 

Tom – Club Sandwich

Rebecca – Boneless Wings

Who knows why I didn’t photograph those!

It was all superb. I know Applebees isn’t fine dining but it is good fun, great quality and at $200 including a 20% tip great value too. Full and tired I got us back home and we were in bed by 11.20.

Till the next time…..

 

Freddie’s First Florida Fiesta – Day Four 1st September 2018

Freddie’s First Florida Fiesta – Day Four 1st September 2018

The exertions of the last few days resulted in me sleeping for a full nine hours, according to my notes. This pleased me. There was no rush to get anywhere this morning as I had once again built in a lazyish morning, unsure of how everyone and especially Freddie would be coping with the journey, heat and time zone change.

Speaking of the latter. I’d like to claim this as an act of planning genius however you wouldn’t believe me, but as I enjoyed my breakfast this morning in the villa I found a channel on the TV that was showing live coverage of Liverpool’s footy match. Freddie watched with me.

This was glorious and it ended (in glorious victory) just as everyone was almost ready. So I then took my usual seven minutes or so to shower and dress and still be stood waiting at the door for everyone else.

It was around 10am when we made it into the car. This included, and would on most days, at least one person coming back into the villa to get something they had forgotten just as I had set the alarm.

We were Epcot bound again (don’t question the plan) and we parked in Explore 78 amidst some serious heat. For the first time this trip we needed to get on a tram from the car. This meant collapsing the stroller, which I left to Tom as it was his honour to do so and not because I didn’t know how.

Security was busy. I know it’s necessary and a reassurance but jeez it can be a pain in the arse when all you want to do is get into the park and start doing stuff. It was about 10.30 when we got into the park and with a FastPass for Spaceship Earth at 10.50 we wandered some shops and loitered a for a bit until we could ride.

We scanned our bands at 10.45 and joined what turned out to be a ten minute wait.

 

 

As it always tends to, the ride stopped three times on our journey. In addition to this outrage, mine and Emily’s photos didn’t work. I await the results of my compensation claim.

Right, so with the first ride done and it being at least 11.30, clearly it was time for lunch. Regular readers will know what happens next. We stand around for a few minutes with me reciting all the options available to us for lunch before they are all ignored and we end up in Electric Umbrella again.

The beauty of eating so early is that the place wasn’t rammed and we quickly ordered.

Me and Louise – Brisket sandwich

Emily, Mikey, Rebecca and Tom – Burger

We all devoured our selections and then Freddie had a pot of something whilst the rest of us toured Mousegear for a bit. Rebecca and Tom stayed with Freddie, he wasn’t abandoned with a spoon!

Once we were all back together and fed we walked over to Soarin’ for our FastPass.

Rebecca, Tom and Emily went on first and the rest of us rested outside for a bit. There was a very odd rain shower for a few minutes which we missed as we had luckily chosen to sit just under the cover of the entrance to the Land.

We rode next with our FastPass taking just ten minutes, which wasn’t at all bad for Soarin’.

We did get called forward as a party of three which cut down the wait a little and allowed me to roll out my smug face as I “excuse me’d” my way to the front of the queue. Upon exiting Rebecca had messaged to say they had gone to Mousegear, as they hadn’t had a chance to look round when we did as they were feeding Freddie. I left Louise and Mikey at The Land and walked at a pleasing pace to get them.

Of course we then walked all the way back to Louise and Mikey as we were then going to ride Journey Into Imagination.

You may be shocked to discover there was no queue for this one. There was some mild concern that Freddie may not like the dark bit, the train noise and the loud blast of air, but he didn’t flinch and danced his way through every part of the song.

Continuing our theme of zig-zagging from one side of the park to the other as much as possible, Mission Space was next on the agenda. On the way, I decided we should do Crush as we were (relatively) close and I was confident there’d be no wait. Ten minutes saw us taking our seats and enjoying one of the hidden gems of WDW (in my view).

OK, now we were allowed go to Mission Space to use our FastPass. Freddie had been put to sleep by Crush so Louise sat out with him whilst the rest of us rode.

With a nervous Mikey wondering what Orange and Green meant, we were in, definitely doing Orange. Rebecca and Tom were assigned to one pod with me, Emily and Mikey in another.

Mikey’s anxiety was not helped by the briefing video (by the way, where has Gary Senise gone? This is unacceptable!), and the wait to board in the corridor.

The ride was as impressive as ever and Mikey felt suitably unwell afterwards which is always a good sign of it going well.

Time had marched on and now I had to as well. Our ADR for Via Napoli was imminent and there wouldn’t be time for us to stroll up there at the group pace, so I was despatched at full speed to check us in.

World Showcase was busy again and the ten minute walk was littered with body swerves, tutting and the occasional naughty word as I weaved my way through the eating and drinking hordes. I arrived, glazed in a nice sweat, with a few minutes to spare. I explained that everyone else would be here shortly and took a seat to wait in the scorching heat in the courtyard at the front of the restaurant.

Somehow I missed everyone passing me and got a message on my phone to ask where I was. I joined everyone at the entrance, confirmed we were ready and with just a few moments wait we were seated.

We had last eaten in the restaurant in Italy over a decade ago and had been very underwhelmed, so we were hoping for a better experience in the new version.

Pizza was very much the order of the day….

Me – Pepperoni

Mikey & Louise – Spicy Sausage

Rebecca and Tom – Large Marge

Emily – White Pizza with artichoke

This, at the risk of going overboard, was THE best pizza I have eaten in my life. Let me confirm what you are thinking too. That is quite a large sample size on which to base that conclusion. It was delicious.

We also discovered that Freddie likes pizza too.

This is Freddie’s pizza face and I think we’ve all been there.

Desserts were ordered –

Me & Emily – Shared a Tiramisu

Rebecca & Tom – Shared a Tiramisu

Freddie & Tom – Shared a Chocolate Mousse. I applaud Tom’s “two dessert” tactics.

Hmm, that reminds me of someone….

Mikey – Cannoli

Louise – Ball Things (may not be the actual name on the menu)

During dessert Rebecca and Emily asked if we could do Fantasmic that evening. This blatant disregard for the plan was shocking and went against all of their training. However, high on pizza and pudding, I agreed and right there and then secured a FastPass for Ariel at Hollywood Studios that we should be able to fit in before Fantasmic.

It turned out that we needed to “nip back” to the villa before heading to Studios as Freddie’s ear defenders (bought for fireworks shows etc) had been left there. Sat at the very rear of Epcot, in a World Showcase fuller than my underpants, there was no “nipping back” about it. Time would be short and we needed to get going.

It took a while to navigate the crowds and walk all the way down to the main entrance.

Next was the tram, then into the car, all taking too much time.

Why we then stopped at Walgreens (again) was beyond me but apparently it was essential. We bought some more toilet roll, amongst other things, so I could see how that might be essential without resorting to ruining the villa’s towels.

Time in the villa was strictly limited by me standing at the open door with the car still running shouting “hurry up” a lot and we were then on our way to DHS. Many other annoying delays like traffic lights and other cars/people inevitably increased my heart rate but we eventually arrived into the park, after the delay inducing long walk from the tram caused by all the work underway, at 7.20 ish. Freddie needed changing so I despatched everyone other than Rebecca, Tom and Freddie up to Ariel, clinging to the vague hope of getting into that before Fantasmic, whilst I waited for Freddie to have a clean bum.

We then walked up to meet everyone else, but upon realising that Freddie now needed feeding, Ariel had to be sacrificed and we sat on a bench whilst Freddie ate. With that done we walked all the way back to Sunset Boulevard and got some drinks and slushies on the way in to the show.

There was only ten minutes to wait before the show started and it became apparent very shortly after it did that Freddie was too tired to be putting up with it, so Rebecca and Tom took him out whilst the rest of us watched.

We met up after the show with Freddie safely tucked up in his stroller and walked to the tram stop. So that we didn’t need to disturb his slumbers, Rebecca, Tom and I walked back to the car and let the others tram it. We all arrived at the car together anyway.

We set off for home, and for some reason that I will never understand we stopped at Walgreens again. Home and bed at 10.30.

Till the next time….

Freddie’s First Florida Fiesta – Day Three 31st August 2018

Freddie’s First Florida Fiesta – Day Three 31st August 2018

Today goes to prove that no matter how many times you’ve been to Florida, incompetence and planning failure can still happen. Today is the tale of two fails. Read on to see if they affected my birthday adversely or not…..

At the end of this whole thing I will share my thoughts on more general stuff that I could have done better, but for now, it’s only day three and we need to crack on.

Another birthday in Florida dawned and I was awake at 5am. An improvement but still unacceptable. As I got downstairs Rebecca and Tom were up, due to Freddie. One element of the planning I had got right was to denote this morning as a time for resting. The long travel day and an adrenaline filled first day in Magic Kingdom can take it out of you. Whatever *it* was, I was empty.

I opened cards and presents from both those with me and those left at home over a coffee and some brekkie.

As folks woke up, we all assembled around and at times in the pool.

Mikey was the last to rise after what was obviously a much-needed lie in.

After playing, I retired to a lounger with a James Patterson book from the shelves of the bookcase up in the nook of the villa. I aspire to have a house with a nook. Crannies, I have loads of though.

I do enjoy this poolside time and tradition dictates that whilst relaxing and reading I devour a bag of chips (crisps) large enough to feed a family of four for a week. Today it was Cheese Puffs. I had only eaten a Bagel for breakfast so I was allowed. The resting continued until around 12.30. I took my orange tipped fingers and crumb covered chest up into the shower and everyone was good to go by 2pm.

I was ready first and apparently I may have nodded off on the couch whilst waiting for everyone to put some bloody clothes on.

Having had all that time this morning to rest and get ourselves organised, perhaps someone could explain how I then managed to forget my camera! Fail number one.

We had an ADR at Beaches & Cream which would also allow us to park at the Beach Club. Unusually the guard at the gate scanned my magic band to check my ADR. Surely people don’t lie about having ADRs just to park there??? 😉

We found a spot to leave the car and walked into the Beach Club taking all the usual photos of one of my favourite places in the world (on my phone).

That ADR for Beaches & Cream, which wasn’t for another forty minutes or so, had only been possible for four of the seven of us, so the idea now was to ask if they could take three of us as a walk up. I let the others stroll a bit whilst I wandered to the podium to work my magic. It only took me a few minutes with the lovely lady to get satisfaction…..I don’t think I need to add anything here.

I now walked briskly at full man pace to catch up with everyone as they could fit us all in pretty much right away. I was halfway to the Dolphin (or is it the Swan?) when I got a message from Rebecca saying they were sat outside Beaches & Cream. Super. Getting more of a sweat on, I power walked back to meet them. With all the faff, we’d missed that immediate window and had to wait a bit to get two tables together.

We were seated by the jukebox, which for some reason seemed to be stuck on “I Guess It Doesn’t Matter Any More” by Buddy Holly. By the end of the meal, it did matter, a lot, and if any of us ever hear that song again, the story will end with “and then he turned the gun upon himself”.

We ordered –

Me – Cheese Bacon Fries and a Snickers Sundae

Rebecca – Cheese Bacon Fries and a Snickers Sundae

Tom – Chicken Burger and a Snickers Sundae

Emily – No main meal, just a No Way Jose.

Mikey – Cheese Bacon Fries and Fudge Mud Slide

Louise – Burger and a milkshake and she shared my dessert.

In the rush to get it down before she took too much….

The bill was $150. Frankly, I would have paid double to turn the jukebox off.

We wandered, full bellied, towards International Gateway. I was very conscious that entering Epcot this way for the first time for our newbies would be weird, but there was little to be done about that. We were watching the fireworks tonight, as is the law on my birthday and as such being able to wander out to the Beach Club to get back to the car is just better than getting out of the front entrance with the muggles.

Once scanned and searched we walked through the UK, stopping to listen to a little bit of the British Invasion (assuming they are still called that) and then we moved on to Canada via a temporary Ireland. There was no physical border here…think on politicians….

We waited fifteen minutes for O Canada, but frankly I had been waiting eighteen months so that mattered not.

I am declaring it now. O Canada is THE greatest song ever written. Don’t @ me, as I believe the kids say. I loved the film, I loved Martin Short and my application for Canadian citizenship is submitted.

It was coming up to our FastPass time for Nemo and Friends so we navigated a very busy World Showcase (Food and Wine Festival be damned) down towards the seas. This was another Freddie favourite. We wandered around the Living Seas a bit afterwards…..

and on the way out we bought Freddie a stingray from the gift shop. Not the easiest pet to care for but it’ll be a good learning curve.

He was christened Steve, until someone pointed out that this may be a little distasteful bearing in mind how Steve Irwin met his end, so he was renamed Simon, although I couldn’t quite remember that and still called it Steve for the rest of the trip.

Time for another FastPass now. Luckily it was for Frozen Ever After, probably the furthest point from our current spot in the park so we only had to walk all the way there, through jostling throngs of folks carrying small food portions, who were a bit drunk on that Tortoise Vodka from the Vombekistan booth or whatever it was they were drinking.

It was a testing walk, with my tut muscle flexed on a regular basis, but we arrived a few minutes before our window, wandered the shop for a few minutes before joining the FastPass line, still a little early. There was a fifty-five minute standby queue. Just no.

After enjoying the ride we wandered up to China and took a spot in the gardens to watch an imminent acrobat show.

We had a decent view until a couple just came and stood right in front of us, oblivious to the very obvious fact that they were blocking our view and were dicks. My tut reflex burnt out with use but they did move after a few minutes of my violent stares. We then wandered the shop for a bit.

Our time was now approaching for our evening ADR at La Hacienda at Mexico. This had been a late, impulsive addition to my birthday plans and I am blaming that for what looked like the second planning fail of the day. Rebecca and Mikey were sent to the podium to sweet talk the cast member into bagging us a window seat for Reflections of Earth, with it being my special birthday meal.

They returned to us with bad news. I had made the booking for 7.45, expecting that we’d be able to stick at the table for the fireworks starting at 9pm. For reasons that nobody could explain, tonight ROE wasn’t due to start until 10pm!

Down trodden and defeated we went ahead with our meal, and were led, ironically, to a window seat. That’s right, rub it in.

Our mood was immediately improved by our server, Francisco, who was excellent and a bundle of energy and joy. Cocktails were ordered and he made the generous offer of swapping out anyone’s drink if they didn’t like their selection.

Mikey ordered Francisco’s recommended cocktail….the Avocado one…and loved it.

Emily took him up on the offer of a swap as her first choice tasted like Cillit Bang.

For starters we had….

Mikey – Fundido. That sounds like a sex toy, but it was more satisfying as it was a whole pot of melted cheese.

Rest of us – Guac and chips

For entree…

Me – Short Rib

Louise – Chicken & Veg thing

Emily & Rebecca – Chicken Enchilada

Mikey – Salmon

Tom – Steak Enchiladas

They were all tremendous and this meal was right up there with my favourites of this trip. I don’t know what it is that makes something stand out as a “special memory” on one of these trips but I feel that this meal will make that cut. I loved it.

It was about now that we realised it was about 9.20 and we had a chance to make it to the fireworks. Francisco encouraged us to stay and he very nicely took his time getting our desserts.

Tom and Louise – Custard Flan thing

Me – Chocolate Mousse

A birthday surprise cake was arranged for me and Happy Birthday Mexican style was performed.

To get us all the way to ROE we ordered coffees too.

Appreciating that we had eaten at Beaches & Cream in the late afternoon and nobody was that hungry, this whole meal was a very fine effort indeed. We were able to watch the fireworks from our table so that planning fail was averted. Emily cried as is the law during all WDW fireworks shows.

The bill was a large one. $427 including a very good tip for Francisco. We waddled slowly around the World Showcase all the way back to International Gateway.

Here is Steve/Simon resting on the way back to the car…

We were home and in bed for 11.20.

Till the next time…..