Every Little Thing About The Magic

As much as everyone here in the world of Mkingdon will be delighted to finally be on this bloody holiday, that surely is nothing compared to the sheer joy for both of my readers who are being subjected to this tortuous and constant over sharing of every tiny detail.

Not long now.

Anyway, onwards with that over sharing, yes?

Not being one to leave things until the last-minute (that can’t be a surprise to you?) my mind has been working overtime, making both mental and physical lists of stuff I’ll need to get organised. This ranges from dog walkers, dog sitters, instructions for both, currency, the tragedy of the exchange rate, and this week most crucially, the contents of Ryan for the flight. Yes we have two weeks to go and I agree that I shouldn’t have left it so late!

The filling of Ryan involved the ransacking of several bedroom cupboards, wondering in which “really obvious” place I had put all that stuff I now needed after our last trip. This included, but was not limited to, my bumbag, a veteran of dozens of trips. I shudder to think how much cash has passed through its zips and compartments over the years.

The camera of course and this year I have a lovely new one, a Canon G7X, courtesy of Emily last Christmas, which is a far better a piece of kit than I’ll ever be a photographer and clearly, being a planning genius with foresight a plenty, a load of quarters that had been stuffed into my bumbag last year. This is very wise, as we typically get stuck at a toll booth after leaving the airport waving $50 bills at an automated teller that only takes coins. Somehow, we also returned last year with $1 in actual note form which I had saved. Returning with $1 in cash is another sign that my obsessive planning skills are a cause for concern. Anyway, that dollar will help our budget this year no end. I bought it at a crazy rate, something like 1.40 so it will represent great value for money indeed.

A new addition this year and again, another excellently thoughtful gift, this time from Rebecca and Tom was this, my official trip report notes book.

Usually I grab something from WH Smiths at the airport, but this, official Mkingdon merchandise is surely a line of business I should pursue to fund my early retirement. Let me have your orders as and when….

The FastPass fun continued last week and was broadly a success.  I left you at the end of last week’s post on the 3rd of September having just secured our Hollywood Studios FastPass+ bookings. Of course we didn’t get Slinky Dog, and as you’ll see when we get to the Animal Kingdom day shortly we also didn’t get Flight of Passage as we are just never that lucky, but no matter. Well, it does matter and I’m incredibly bitter but that won’t change things will it?

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So the 4th of September, according to the plan, was a rest day. We have a long track record of planning rest days which somehow then turn into very busy days, and this was another. The plan said we were to go out for a large breakfast . These are not possible on theme park days as that is vital “doing stuff” time, so a rest day affords us the chance to eat ourselves to a near death experience. Keke’s is the plan, with some resting in a food coma for the rest of the day, desperately trying to get hungry again for our dinner at Cowfish around 5pm. Then we are to go into Magic Kingdom to watch Happily Ever After as for reasons, it will be the only chance we get to this trip.

I couldn’t resist seeing if there were any good FastPasses around just before the fireworks and got a bit carried away, mainly as I managed to snag a Mine Train FastPass. Add to that a Winnie The Pooh and a Buzz Lightyear Spin and all of a sudden we needed to be in Magic Kingdom by 5.40 and Cowfish was brought forward to an earlier time to accommodate that. We will have a job on our hands to feel hungry but, we must make sacrifices for the plan.

Onto the 5th, and Animal Kingdom. Despite being on the app seconds after 12, of course Flights of Passage was unavailable. We happened to be in the car at the time and so it was down to Emily and an intermittent signal to secure the necessary. She played a blinder, her finely honed phone thumbs flying across the app to get us, Everest, Na’vi River Journey and the Safari all by lunch. By the way, we hope to have that lunch at the Satu’li Canteen place before again fighting to get hungry for our traditional Yak & Yeti reservation at 6.15. Technically we have two reservations at 6.15 and 6.30 as I was unable to get one for seven, but could somehow get one for four and one for three fifteen minutes apart.

We’ll see after that if we want to stick around for Rivers of Light or not.

We’re now at the stage of the trip where we will be visiting parks for the second day. This is a luxury we have not been availed of for a while as, and I may have mentioned this before, on our last trip, we spent most of the holiday on a beach and only had four days at Disney. So this pleases me.

However, with a second day at Hollywood Studios planned for the 6th of September, and that park being in a state of flux I was/am slightly fearful that we wouldn’t be able to fill it. Having bagged three headliners on our first day, we now had some flexibility. It goes without saying that we didn’t get Slinky dog again. Other, less deserving folks got that again.

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Anyway, we went with Star Tours, Rock n Rollercoaster again (you can never ride it too much) and Alien Swirling Saucers. We plan to nip out to Bahama Breeze for tea (dinner) before returning to watch the Star Wars fireworks thing for the first time ever. We were irked on our last visit to find that it started at the exact moment Fantasmic finished, making it impossible to do both.

The 7th of September is a day off from the FastPass malarkey, as we are at Typhoon Lagoon with The Cheesecake Factory for tea. So on to the 8th….

A return to Epcot for what will be a third time, but crucially for our first full day here. We kick off with the third of the big three, Test Track, followed by the Freddie friendly Turtle Talk and Journey Into Imagination. Having done a couple of late afternoon/evenings in this park already by this stage of the trip we plan to leave for dinner at Teak, one of our absolute favourites.

The 9th is our character breakfast at O’hana, some resting and then we are off to Magic Kingdom for our Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. I have secured a couple of tactical FastPasses from 4pm before the park closes to non party guests. We can do Space Mountain and Peter Pan’s Flight before 6pm when we will be consumed with candy collection, special parades, fireworks and hopefully rides with no wait times.

The 10th is another day with no FastPass requirements as we are resting. We have brunch at Hash House a Go Go, a trip to A&E to address our gluttony, some wandering around Disney Springs and dinner at the Olive Garden at Lake Buena Vista. The evening is pencilled in for a Boardwalk visit.

So that leaves us with our last full day. Even the thought of booking FastPasses for our last full day makes me sad and emotional. We are of course in the Magic Kingdom, but with a twist. There is another Not So Scary party that evening so the park will close at 6pm. So instead of our usual last night watching of fireworks and some tears, we shall adjourn to Epcot, and watch some fireworks and shed some tears instead. The FastPasses for our day were secured a few moments before posting this and they are….

Under the Sea ~ Journey of The Little Mermaid

Splash Mountain

Thunder Mountain

We finish strong with a couple of headliner favourites, before heading over to Epcot for final fireworks, tears and the start of the planning of how quickly we can get back.

Finally this week, I have a confession to make. Usually I am a pioneer of tastes and trends. I shape the zeitgeist, I set the pace and forge my own path. However, last night, I was led by the nose to a decision. In this case I am grateful to be that social media sheep. We were watching a recent Tracker video where they visited La Hacienda. We must have walked past this place hundreds of times over the years and never given it a thought, so caught up in a wave of pre-trip excitement, I accepted the challenge of trying to fit just one more meal into our bulging dining plans.

I think I did OK. A quick search found me a 7.45 reservation on my birthday when we of course are due to be in World Showcase anyway. The fact that we are at Beaches & Cream at 3.40 on the same day is merely a challenge that we need to rise to.

Whilst there can be no guarantee that we will be within viewing distance of the fireworks, the fact that I will be laying it on thick to the greeter about it being my birthday and three of our parties first visit, I am hopeful we will be eating somewhere close enough to a window to see some of Reflections of Earth.

We should be able to stretch the meal out for just over an hour, to get to the 9pm start time even if it means some of us having seven courses to do so. I suspect that restaurant has had a lovely uptick in bookings due to that video, but I don’t mind moving with the herd if I can eat lovely food in front of some fireworks.

Enough now.

Till the next time…..

Skecher Buy Golly Wow

Before we do this, I should warn you that this one may be longer than anything you’ve been used to.

Look at that. Even the innuendo engine is getting a warm up as we near take off.

Seriously though, this one goes on a bit and if you’ve ever (always) read these posts, marvelling at how sad I am that I spend so much time and effort over planning stuff, then this one may not be for you. This, dear reader, goes to a whole new level.

By the way, at Louise’s request I have added a few links to Disney terms in this post for folks reading this that are not au fait with da lingo.

Firstly, the important stuff.

Ryan is home and he will ride again. The lady did a great job on him and he is literally as good as new. You can all now rest easy.

Shit got real this week. It’s probably about time that I started blogging about my upcoming holiday don’t you think? You all must be dying to hear some of the detail by now.

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Tuesday saw the start of our FastPass+ journey, and it wasn’t good. It would be very sad if I had booked a meeting room at work to retire to just before 12pm so that I could concentrate fully on the task at hand. Yep, it would. These things are too important to be interrupted by a phone call or work based emergency.

On the off-chance that Disney would open up the date I was waiting on earlier than expected, I sat refreshing the site for a while, before finally seeing the new date appear at exactly 12pm.

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Bloody sticklers. Here we go, I thought, I’ll just quickly nab three passes and be on my way.

I am sorry to say that the site on which FastPasses are booked is not, or certainly was not on this day, fit for purpose. It was continually crashing, often so tantalisingly close to the end of the process that I almost cancelled the whole holiday. OK, maybe not, but it was bobbins.

After about ten minutes of frustrating red-faced repetition there was still no sign of success. Ooh, more innuendo…..once it is unleashed there is nothing to stop it…..ahh, now I am in an endless innuendo loop.

After a further twenty minutes I finally had one in the bag for Haunted Mansion, at 10:05. As pages loaded and then vanished, all I was seeing was the list of available attractions shrinking as my blood pressure and frustration grew. The whimsical error pages that Disney use when things go wrong were very quickly losing their appeal.

It was almost forty minutes after 12 that the site seemed to settle down and I was able to finish the job. I bagged Big Thunder Mountain at 12:25 and then, with Freddie in mind, Dumbo at 2:20. I totally understand why this could be an alien concept to normal holiday makers, but all these bookings fell nicely into place, not by accident I should say, with our plans for the day. Yes, I have planned to this very sad level of detail, mainly because I can. Knowing the park layouts so well, and how the day generally goes, my thinking is this.

We should be there before the park opens, and after a wander around the shops on Main Street and an inevitable Starbucks, position ourselves near Casey’s for rope drop. We shall saunter, nonchalantly left, using the stroller as a weapon of mass destruction across the bridge into Adventureland for Freddie’s first ever ride in a Disney theme park, on Pirates. With that being  pretty much a walk on, he said confidently, we shall then continue our journey to Splash Mountain, where the standby wait should still be tolerable and we can hopefully get that under the belt too. Of course, Freddie will have to sit this one out.

That should then allow us to wander down to Haunted Mansion for 10am ish to use our first FastPass. By then we’re at 10.30 and if previous first days are any form of precedent then we’ll need lunch, which I haven’t planned. I’m not a monster!

We shall probably eat, drink and see what we get on in Fantasyland, such as Philharmagic, the Carousel, and It’s A Small World should wait times be bearable.

Then our Big Thunder FastPass kicks in so we can walk back up there for that before amusing ourselves until the 2pm parade. The previous travel day and time difference will be kicking in by now and we’ll hopefully just manage our Dumbo FastPass before heading for the exit.

We have a 5pm Whispering Canyon ADR, so we’ll have to make a call at this point whether we try to get back to the villa for a shower and change or, if time is short, we do something like head over to the Contemporary for a drink in the Outer Rim bar. It has been declared that this place serves the best Long Island Ice Teas on the planet and this may be the only time we have this trip to get to sample one, apart from the mug who is driving.

I know this level of detail may sound nuts, but with a lot of expensively acquired experience and knowledge it’s possible and for me totally sensible. Hopefully it makes the day smoother, less stressful and more rewarding for all concerned. As long as time is allowed within this mental level of over planning for the metaphorical smelling of roses, photos in front of the castle and other good stuff all should be well.

The following day saw similar levels of thought and….

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We’ll be at Epcot, but not until the late afternoon/evening. Again, experience tells me that we suffer on day two. The jet lag, journey and adrenaline of day one can make another full day in a park a bit of a strain. So we’ll be at the villa for most of the day, celebrating my birthday a bit until our Beaches & Cream ADR at 3:50. I could only get four of us in for that so if the others can’t get a walk in we’ll eat elsewhere. So we expect to be in the park from around 5:30. When trying to slot some late in the day FastPasses in, thought was needed. The last thing you want to be doing is crisscrossing the park, so a route is needed.

With this in mind I secured The Seas with Nemo & Friends at 5:45. We can enter via International Gateway, wander down to Canada and watch Martin Short before I cry at the song. We will then make our way down to Nemo. We can then take our time to get back up to World Showcase, no doubt via Mousegear, to start the traditional tour of the World Showcase pavilions for my birthday. Of course, that allows us to do Frozen and a FastPass is sorted for 7:30. With ROE not until 10pm that day, that should give us enough time to wander most of the showcase before ending up in “our spot” on the bridge near France to watch the fireworks. We did have a spare FastPass slot left but there’s no point in cramming one in just for the sake of it. We probably wouldn’t get time to use it and that just means some other folks who would might miss out.

The next day we could book for this week oddly would see us in Epcot again (don’t question my planning!). Yes, don’t, as I honestly can’t remember why.

Anyway, this is a full-ish day in Epcot allowing for a later start due to the late ROE the night before. So again, thinking of a sensible route between FastPasses, we start with Spaceship Earth at 11:50 followed by (I am chuffed to say) Soarin’ at 12:25. That is always the prize FastPass for us, despite Louise’s trepidation and fear of “flying”.

In a blaze of glory we then move on to Mission Space at 2:35, timed perfectly just before we eat at Via Napoli at 3:40, saving us revisiting our food somewhere on the way to Mars. Whether we will be able to get on Test Track via standby or single rider, we shall see. One cannot be too greedy of course.

Yesterday we were able to book for the 3rd of September and that is Hollywood Studios and Labor Day too. I had to drop Emily off at the train station just before 12 as she was heading to London to watch Heathers. This meant that I was in central Manchester at 12, reliant on 4G and a following wind to secure what could be a tricky set of Fastpasses as, with Toy Story Land open, this would likely be the busiest park of our trip.

It was effortless. Aside from Slinky Dog being immediately unavailable a few seconds after 12pm, I easily secured Tower of Terror, Toy Story Mania and Rock n Rollercoaster. I was pretty pleased with that. With that first one running until 10.35 we may be able to endure a bit of a queue to get onto Slinky if we are at the park for opening. We’ll see.

With FastPasses done for as far as I can do them, thoughts then moved on to other pressing matters. Yesterday was also new trainers day. They have to be bought a few weeks prior to departure so that they can be worn in nicely. After last year’s change from the traditional all white affairs, I must admit that I am now sold on a Skecher and wanted another pair of those. Usually, I buy everything online, but trainers, for a WDW trip have to be tried on in person. I cannot over emphasise the importance of comfortable footwear and no chances can be taken.

With that in mind, after dropping Emily off I headed for some actual shops. I ended up in Bolton town centre and despite living here all my life, I did not recognise the place. A few fruitless shop visits later and I was relying on google to find somewhere that actually stocked Skechers. My last resort was Debenhams and they had at least three pairs to choose from.

It was like a scene from Are You Being Served with an actual person attending to me, getting the right size from the back and at some point almost trying to apply some sales techniques to close the sale.

I walked away with a pair of comfy loveliness just in time to get back to my car before my 80p of parking ran out.

 

With that daring show of leg, I’m done, as I suspect are you.

Till the next time….

Book Cover

Ryan, The Ressurection

Ryan, The Ressurection

Before I begin the usual trivial nonsense about a holiday, last week was a bit of a strange one. Whilst celebrating Emily’s birthday on Thursday, literally as the chinese takeaway arrived, my phone rang. It was my sister-in-law, Paula, which was a bit odd as I knew they were in France. My brother and Paula have a cottage there and they had just arrived for the summer holidays a few days previously.

To spare you the horrors unveiled, whilst out on a bike ride, my brother had been hit by a car, and was at that moment in an air ambulance on the way to hospital. At that stage it wasn’t clear what his injuries were and until we heard from Paula again later that night, it was of course a worrying time.

After scans, and an operation to pin a broken leg, if you can say this with that in mind, he was OK.

He won’t be riding that bike again. I spoke to him the following day and he was in good spirits all things considered and now, he just has to get himself healed and fit again. I always contested that this exercise lark was a danger to your health.

So with that trauma behind us, let us return to your normal programming of trivial nonsense.

Christmas

A March full of birthdays

Easter

Rebecca’s birthday

FA Cup Final

The World Cup

Wimbledon

The Open

Emily’s Birthday

As a seasoned August traveller, these are familiar landmarks on the road to WDW. They are ticked off with increasing excitement whilst all the while trying desperately not to wish my life away.

We’re getting through them now and we are about to round the last bend and kick for home, Mo Farah style. So, as tradition dictates, this time next month, that’ll be me….

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With time pressing on, we are needing to get our act together and get things properly organised and sorted. With that in mind, I spent at least 34 minutes shopping for holiday clothes yesterday. I’m not keen on these long shopping expeditions, but it’s done now and aside from the traditional purchase of the new trainers, I think I have the required clothing.

Another task which needed immediate attention was another injured family member, Ryan. For anyone not in an official state of mourning at his potential demise, shame on you. He has a busted zip, caused by me expecting too much, overfilling him and breaking his main zip. He has idled in the spare room for months, awaiting my attention, and yesterday, I took the bull by the horns and sought a resolution.

It turns out that every seamstress or alterations and repair place in a fifty mile radius of my house objects to opening on a Saturday. I resorted to taking him next door to see if my Mum could tend to him, but she had an ace up her sleeve and pointed me at a place I had not known of who should be able to help.

I made my way there, with Ryan safely nestled in the passenger seat.

“Hang in there buddy, we’re nearly there!”.

The conversation was a bit of an odd one I have to admit.

“Hi, this is a bit of a strange one but I was wondering if you could have a look at my sack”, I opened with.

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The lady was very pleased to see me then place Ryan on the counter. She put the phone down and cancelled the call to the police.

She inspected my busted sack with all the enthusiasm of a Sunday night before work.

“Hmm, it’ll be £20.” she said, expecting me to abandon the foolish project and set Ryan alight.

“It matters not what it costs”, I replied. “It’s a long story….we’ve had him, I mean it a long time, and…”

“I mean you could get a new rucksack for that.” she said as if that were any sort of option.

“NO!!…..no…..I know it’s a bit strange but, we’ve had him for years and if he can be fixed then, that’s what we want to do.” I floundered.

“OK.”

“I know it’s a bit odd”. I mumbled.

“It’s fine, I get asked to do all sorts of odd things.” she replied, a bit weirdly.

My mind raced with what other requests she was confronted with on a daily basis.

Anyway, I paid and left quickly, with a promise that when I collect him next Saturday he will be, as Atomic Kitten once said, Whole Again. Let a nation rejoice, not only at his salvation but also at another majestic song based pun as the title of this post. Seriously, it’s a belter.

Till the next time…..

Discount Disney Tickets

My Technical Romance

Being right all of the time can be a bit of a burden. It has taken Louise a number of years to get used to that fact and be able to live her life ignoring it. Last week, once again, a prediction I made came true.

I found five minutes mid-week to look at the legendarily (at least for me) painful task of linking our shiny new theme park tickets to our My Disney Experience accounts. Our first FastPass+ date is the 31st of July, so, yes I know I was cutting it fine…..

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Once I had been through the process I tried to go through a dummy FastPass+ booking. These holidays don’t just happen, and nothing should be left to chance. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.

I encountered an error. I was, quite frankly shocked. Shocked that there was only one error as in previous years, such an attempt had brought down the internet across the whole continent of Europe. It told me that Emily and Rebecca did not have valid tickets/park admission, despite the fact that I could see the tickets I had just added showing against each of their profiles. Sigh.

I tried clicking random shit on both the app and website hoping that this tried and trusted troubleshooting method would pay dividends but it did not. I resolved that I had no choice but to phone my friends at Disney. I was delighted to discover a UK free phone number, and yet more delighted to learn that this still connected to the treacle voiced cast members in the US, preceded by the best hold music on the planet. Once I had navigated a few IVR menus, and actually spoken to a human, I was told I was being put through to the My Disney Experience folks.

Jolly good. This should all be sorted in a matter of moments then. After a few moments on hold, a cheery automated message told me that due to higher than normal call volumes the current wait time was more than……two hours.

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I didn’t understand how the call volumes could be higher than normal if my experience of trying to link this stuff together was anything to go by. Surely every potential Disney guest has to resort to phoning them up?

As much as I was enjoying the hold music, which I think was Fantasmic, at that point, I did not feel Fantasmic about holding for two hours, so I hung up and sent them an email instead.

Fast forward two days, and with no response, and my obsessive, over planning itch glowing like a radioactive zit, I could wait no longer, and I phoned them again. This time the wait time was likely to be longer than…..fifteen minutes. Happy days.

I connected with Eliza, to whom I explained my issue, using my best “I am talking to an American so I have to be Hugh Grant” accent and she assured me this would be resolved sooner than immediately. It wasn’t.

Apparently although the cards had been linked to Emily and Rebecca’s profiles, the tickets elements had not. I’m not sure what that even means, but she seemed confident and put me on hold whilst she contacted the folks with access to the relevant buttons to make that so. A few minutes later she returned, apologising that those colleagues were not available, but she would be sure to send that request to them for them to action.

I asked if they would email me when this was done and she promised that would be the case. She asked if we were trying to make FastPass+ reservations today and I sheepishly had to explain that, no, I am an over planning nightmare with almost two weeks until I could actually do that. “OK” she said, with a tone loaded with judgement and resignation, as I was probably the twenty third person that morning to say the same thing.

It was at least forty minutes later that this appeared in my Inbox from Malcolm.

Dear Craig,

We are pleased to learn that you are planning to visit Walt Disney World® Resort!

We are happy to inform you that we were able to correct the challenges that occurred, and hope that you do not experience any other situations before or during your Magical stay with us! When you have a moment, please log on to your MyDisneyExperience account and verify that everything looks correct.

If you have any other questions or challenges, please do not hesitate to contact us by replying to this email or by calling us at 407-939-7765 and we will be more than happy to assist you further.

I love Malcolm.

Now, I haven’t even attempted to link any of those tickets to an actual Magic Band yet. Most of our party seem intent on buying new Magic Bands at ludicrous, unnecessary expense whereas I, sensibly, am more than happy to dig out my grey one from last time and use that, if of course, by any miracle I can figure out how to link my new ticket to it. The $25 saved will be a crucial element of our multi-thousand pound holiday budget. What odds I’ll be buying a new one with everyone else and having the shop link it for me? If only I worked in IT and knew about this sort of thing. I have Malcolm’s details now though and I’ll be making him regret that the minute I encounter further issues.

I love Malcolm.

Till the next time…..


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I Got The Muzak In Me

I Got The Muzak In Me

In a week when it all ended….the World Cup dream and for some, the glorious weather, it could be easy to feel a bit down. But, you know me, I am a constant beacon of positivity and unrelenting joy, so you won’t be finding that here.

The genius of the timing of our holiday this year is that just as everyone else will be lamenting the end of the summer holidays and grappling with the buying of school uniforms and the horror of doing the daily lunch box again, we shall be shedding the worries and woes of every day life and jetting off to kill ourselves with artery clogging amounts of food.

Having watched a bit of the Trackers this week, I have to say that WDW seems to be really upping its game on the food front, especially from a quick service point of view. There are not enough minutes or notches on my belt to fit in all the fantastic looking stuff I am seeing. It is a challenge I am willing to take on of course, and one that I feel the years of training on previous trips has prepared me for.

With a real risk of peaking too soon, WDW fever and excitement arrived bigly in the Mkingdon household this week. This visitor from the US was probably the most welcome one the UK saw, but that isn’t difficult. It’s a sign of how fevered said excitement is when Louise joins in. As enjoyable as she finds the trips, she does not share the obsession levels of the rest of us, but, at times, such as these, she’s all in. We’re ready!

There’s little that can happen to peak my excitement levels. They remain on a constant throughout the year, rising by small increments the closer we get to the next trip. Sometimes though, something sneaks up on you. It grabs your heart-strings, tumbles your tummy like a drop on a coaster and shoots fresh adrenaline through your veins. This is not some class A drug, well, not as everyone else understands that. It is something random, a smell, a memory, a feeling or in this case, some music.

Emily was up in her bedroom, working her way through her WDW play list yesterday afternoon. I was up and the down stairs packing all my band gear into the car for last night’s gig when I heard some familiar strains drifting down from her penthouse (converted attic). O Canada was the first. I cannot over document my affection and admiration for that song. I would sell my home and all its contents and give the meagre proceeds to any random Canadian citizen after hearing the first few bars.

On my next sweaty trip up the stairs to collect some other heavy musical object, it happened. My stomach flipped, the dizziness came and I was instantly transported to another place. It wasn’t last night’s food rebelling against me, no. It was this…

Now, there’s five hours of that thing so I apologise for ruining any plans you might have had for your Sunday. I chose to start that at a certain point for you, which was the theme that I heard Emily playing. I can’t begin to describe how tangibly that particular piece of music put me in Epcot in that second. I could feel it, smell it and touch it. Countless memories of so many trips, the heat, the bright sun, the torrential rain, the twinkling night-time lights, the excitement of the first Epcot day of the trip and the gut wrenching sorrow at the last. All of these, brought sharply to mind by one simple piece of music.

It’s a part of me, it’s a part of us. An immovable, unavoidable building brick of our family history. All of that from one small section of what some might call “muzak”. If that’s wrong, I don’t want to be right!

See what I mean about peaking too early? I have to go back to work tomorrow and pretend I’m both OK and actually interested in what’s going on. Surely if I played that to my boss and explained he’d be fine with me just not working until we go away? No, I suspect not. He’s never been. He was thinking about going once and asked my advice. I think I frightened him to death with the word document I just so happened to have on my laptop with detailed planning advice. I find it saves time.

In the end he went to California and did a road trip with three kids under ten. He didn’t go to Disneyland either. It was probably for the best. As other colleagues over the years have done, he may have returned underwhelmed and then I’d need to find a new job.

Till the next time…..

Breakfast Epiphanies

I didn’t have room/time to tell you last week, as I was too busy moaning about how I was absolutely in the right to be obsessed about a holiday. So, I’ll tell you now.

It would appear that I made a planning mistake!

I know, I know. I didn’t believe it either. A man of my experience, knowledge and girth does not make planning mistakes. The plan knows better than to include one. However, out of the blue Rebecca messaged our group chat thing (see how down with the kids and fly I am?) asking if the plan included a character breakfast.

By now, I know the plan. I don’t know it in absolute detail yet. I haven’t allowed my memory to retain all its glory yet as there is still the possibility of change until FastPasses are secured, but I know the general gist. So I referred to the plan, without referring to it….

I checked it twice.

It would appear that the plan did not contain said character breakfast, and for all the reasons already stated, this must be correct and as I had planned it.

Rebecca then pointed out that at some point in the past she had asked if we could do one, for Freddie’s sake. This rang a bell now, including the thin veneer of an excuse that this was to be for Freddie’s benefit.

Drat.

No matter. I rolled up my sleeves, fired up the laptop and got to work. It was a welcome distraction from Love Island to be honest which has now been on TV longer than Coronation Street.

As I was logging on to the laptop and stuff, Emily chipped in that if we were going to do one then she’d like it to be O’hana. Bloody demanding these daughters.

It only took a few minutes until I was satisfied. Wahey, that’s like the good old days when I wrote mildly amusing trip reports. Have it!

I had to identify a day in the plan with a morning that looked relatively free. I scanned the rest days we had planned and spotted a likely candidate. The morning when we would be doing MNSHHP in the evening had been designated a non-park day, with a lunch at Miller’s Ale House. As much as that is a nice place to eat, with O’hana now in play it was dumped quicker than Adam’s partners in Love Island. What? I am forced to watch the bloody thing every night. I can’t help absorbing some of the detail.

So we have secured a 9.20am breakfast on the 9th of September. I estimate this means that we will need to be up some time around 4am to make it on time.

In other news, with fifty odd days to go, Louise took it upon herself to let me know that I’m a fat bastard and drastic action was needed. She has got us both membership at the local gym for the next six weeks. Now, I have been eating more healthily for a week or two already so my body fat index is now close to 50% anyway, but the odd work out won’t do any harm I suppose. I have been every day this week, and felt close to death on each occasion, so I think I’m doing it right.

I mainly do cardio, as I don’t want to take my now naturally muscle-bound body and turn it into some sort of intimidating freak show by doing lots of weight work. I just want to lose a pound or fourteen. The fact that I can see no actual difference yet is not at all upsetting or demoralising. If I were to eat excessively for the same time period I would surely see the rewards of that by now. There is no justice.

So bear this in mind when you are shaking your head in disbelief at the amount of food I’m getting through on holiday. I will have earned every artery clogging mouthful. Don’t judge me!

I talk a lot about milestones, and another enjoyable and familiar one happened this week. Our theme park tickets dropped through the front door. For those interested, I used Floridatix. They have a deposit option which helped me order the 14 day ultimates at £350 each when they had a sale on a few weeks ago.

Here is the mandatory photo of our precious arrival…

It was pleasing to see that most of them sported a character that the girls could fight over (them being almost 23 and 21 changes nothing) and now we need to dig out all our magic bands from previous trips and go through the exercise of linking tickets to bands. Getting man on the moon was simpler and I implore Disney, in the name of Gary Sinise’s hair on Mission Space, to make this stuff easier.

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We also got our MNSHHP tickets, which were surprisingly not flimsy paper based things, but rather sturdy plastic affairs that one could easily mistake for a theme park ticket. Not that a man of my experience might……anyway moving on.

We’re getting closer folks.

During last week I was inundated with a message from a blog reader asking if I was going to do a trip report for this holiday. With a surge of demand like that, who am I to say no? As it has been the case for the last few, I’ll be posting it here, probably one day per week, so it will last roughly half the time of the current series of Love Island and will contain me sporting my “Love Island” physique, after my gym exploits.

So spread the word, tell your friends, tell your family, tell all those folks who used to go on The Dibb! This is where it’s at. If you think “it” is a middle-aged bloke recounting another Florida trip with the odd knob gag shoe horned in. Build it and they will come….

Till the next time…..Save on Orlando's Best Theme Parks!

Bar Bar Bar, Bar Barber Rant.

Bar Bar Bar, Bar Barber Rant.

Before we go any further, you of course will know that today is Canada Day. If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you will understand my enormous affection for Canada based purely on my experience of the pavilion at Epcot. This does not me make me shallow and puerile!

As I do every year, join me as I commemorate the occasion the only way it should be….

If Mikey and Tom are reading this, as folks who have not been yet, that video will make absolutely no sense whatsoever, but don’t worry it soon will. Suddenly we find ourselves under 60 days away from the start of our trip and the thought of being able to experience that in person is getting to fever pitch.  This weekend has seen some significant milestones pass, mainly in the form of paying the balance on stuff.

Theme park tickets, Not So Scary tickets and the hire car are all settled up and  next week will hopefully see the very exciting event of the park tickets arriving through our door and everyone choosing the character they want to be, despite the fact that these days Magic Bands make that a little superfluous. Somehow, the holiday seems a lot closer. We go next month, the weather has been Florida-esque and there has been a real buzz (pun intended) around the opening of Toy Story Land. We’re all experiencing a level of excitement a few notches up from where it was just last week.

Speaking of excitement. I went for a hair cut last week. I know it may come as a shock to many of you that this is a requirement for me but hair grows sporadically and often in places one wouldn’t wish it to, so it must be attended to.

Having spent the usual couple of hours with my “stylist” discussing options, we dismissed the idea of a fringe as it wouldn’t suit me and I finally took my place in the chair and he began to work his magic.

As ever, that awkward conversation started. I’d rather sit there in silence to be honest, but he feels obligated and I have to pretend to be tolerant of people for the several hours it takes to craft my current hair style.

We have nothing in common. He rides a motorbike, vapes, and judging by his chat with other customers before me, spends his time at 90’s themed dance festivals and bike rallies. So once we had exhausted common ground in the first seven seconds, he was spent and had to resort to the stereotypical conversation that hairdressers are renowned for. Yes, he dresses my hair, stop singgering!

“Are you going away this summer?” he asks, not really caring about my holiday plans.

“Yes, we’re going late August”.

This distracted him. It clearly reminded him that he was closing for a week mid-August and keen for me not miss my pre-holiday hair appointment spent the next few minutes telling me about said closure and why he decided to close up for a week. I didn’t mind. I thought this distraction had prevented me giving him any details of my upcoming trip.

A few more minutes went by cloaked in uncomfortable silence.

“So…..where are you off to?” he asked as if interested.

Inwardly I groaned. Should I lie and tell him Majorca or Greece? Knowing my luck he’d be an expert on both and I’d be speared on my white lie within seconds.

“Florida.” I said, hoping that might be the end of it.

“Ohhhhh, Florida” he said in a way which suggested I might not enjoy the next few minutes.

He went on.

“Have you been before?” he asked.

What do I say now? “Yes, I have been going since 1980 and have spent huge swathes of every waking moment thinking about going, planning each meal like a military operation and writing about it for strangers on the internet”.

“Yes, a few times” I say instead.

The pain was not for abating.

“Yeh, we went in 2009. Didn’t do Disney of course as it was just four adults….”

“We did Busch, Sea World, Universal and Wet & Wild.”

My forced smile just about held up.

“So you like all that theme park stuff then?” he continued.

Now at this point I can either come up with some pithy response or batter him to death with his shaver.

“Yes. We’ve done all sorts over the years, but this time it’s all Disney. We’re taking our Grandson for the first time”.

Why do I feel the need to justify this to him?

“My idea of hell that.” he said with a lack of regard for another person’s feelings I can’t fathom. I never understand folks with a point of view so ill-formed yet so forcibly expressed. Mind you, have you read my tweets?

“We’ll have to go back” he says, as if he’s referring to a colonoscopy and not a holiday. “My daughter’s getting to that age where she’ll appreciate it now”.

Thankfully, my “look” was complete at this point, and I went through the ludicrous routine of looking at the back of my head in the mirror he was holding up and saying something like..

“Yep, looks great thanks”. The last time any part of my head looked great was sometime in 1993.

We parted ways with an exchange of monies for his efforts in creating the masterpiece which I now sport and he reminded me when he would be closed in August so I didn’t miss my holiday hair cut.

I can’t wait.

I know Florida isn’t for everyone, I know out of the two of us he’s the “normal” one, and I know holidays probably shouldn’t be an obsession, but I’m still absolutely right. I know we’re a strange breed and should I ever have to confess the true level of the obsession and the efforts that go into each trip I may be barred from his and all hair establishments in the area. Still, if they insist on asking predictable questions like that, it’s their own fault.

Anyway, 59 days…..

Till the next time…..


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