FastPass Tiers and Tears

As we endured the 74th week of January last week, I was pleased to see it whizz by quite quickly. Work was busy, and so that hecticness stole away some more hours of my life I’ll never get back. As I hurtle towards my half century I have come to the realisation that most of my life now seems to be spent either communting or recycling.

In the whirl of normal life, I remember seeing some news that the FastPass+ tiers have been amended at Hollywood Studios. That was pleasing but you have to remember that it usually doesn’t affect us as our account on My Disney Experience has been blacklisted for all the rides everyone wants FastPasses for.

You may remember me from such films as “Flights Of Passage? Are You Having A Laugh?” and “Slinky Dog? I Should Cocoa!”. But, like Charlie Brown, once again trying to kick the football as Lucy holds it, I’ll be there on the relevant days going through the motions anyway just to fail spectacularly.

It’s a Safari FastPass for you!

Sumggler’s Run has now been opened up to FastPass bookings which is nice. That and Slinky are grouped together so I suppose the upside is that we may finally stand half a chance of getting one for Slinky Dog. We did ride it last year, but to date have not been anywhere close to a FastPass.

At this rate, we’ll be easily snagging FastPasses for Rise Of The Resistance when we go for Freddie’s 18th birthday. It is the theme park version of the circle of life. I’m old enough to remember rides like Test Track and Soarin’, being THE ride to get a FastPass for. It was only five minutes ago that I was dad jogging all the way through Animal Kingdom to get an old fashioned paper FastPass for the Safari as that was the headliner at the time. These things come and go and if you are mature and sensible you’ll realise that and not spend your Sunday morning pissing and moaning about it in a blog post.

For anyone who missed it –

Tier 1 will include: Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run and Slinky Dog Dash. Guests will be able to pre-select one of these attractions as a FastPass+ reservation in advance of their visit to the park.

Tier 2 will include: Toy Story Mania!, Alien Swirling Saucers, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith, Star Tours: The Adventures Continue, Voyage of the Little Mermaid, Disney Junior Dance Party!, For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration, Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, Muppet*Vision 3D, Fantasmic!, Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage. Guests will be able to pre-select two of these attractions as a FastPass+ reservation in advance of their visit to the park.

So Tier 1 is going to be a bit competitive isn’t it? Not for us of course. We’ll just end up with the dregs, but it won’t affect me and I won’t go on about it endlessly.

We are 205 days out now. It won’t be long until we can begin the ADR process and we have a few to do this time. Disney are smart in allowing ADRs 180 days out. It makes the upcoming trip exciting earlier and for longer, having to imagine what and where you want to eat several months out. Then after me moaning about not being able to get some of them at the time or day I want them, a few months later I can do it all again because I can’t get onto a theme park ride without queuing.

Anyway, there’s no planning I can do right now, so I am away to tick off my list of Sunday chores. It’s amazing how upon opening my eyes on a weekend morning I can see a full day of nothing laid out in front of me and within moments it becomes filled with stuff that “need” to be tackled and tackle I must.

See you back here next week for more upneat musings and moaning.

Till the next time……

Planning By The People

There are times when I and certainly you may wonder, what is the point of these blogs each week. There will be several different answers to that question, many of which I wouldn’t want to share here, but one of the reasons was borne out last week.

Despite this blog being, I suppose, some sort of Disney blog, I never profess to be an expert and I’m certainly never up to the minute on all the stuff that’s going on. It’s a Disney blog, sometimes, by theme, audience and intent more than design. With that in mind, it is always useful to get the often more expert views of those hardy fools who persist in reading these posts.

When I lay out my plans for our next trip as I did last week I can always guarantee that I will get some feedback that will change my thinking and often the plans themselves. Last week was no different.

It’s funny how some eateries emerge from the pack at certain times as “the one” getting the buzz and reccomendations. The name just seems to crop up in conversations, blogs, vlogs and exchanges between like minded Disney foodies. That’s how we’ve discovered many of our favourites over the years. This time it is Rock and Brews. It got two or three seperate mentions from different folks as a place we should consider.

It may be sacriledge, but one of our all time traditional absolute rock solid eateries, Applebees, was wavering on the cusp of the plan. It has done nothing wrong, other than not cater especially well for vegetarians and with our group now including one, it has become a consideration.

With that in mind, a change has been made, and instead of our Applebees pilgrimage we are now going to try somewhere new in the shape of Rock and Brews.

If like me you’d never heard of it until about now, then the menu is here. Now, I don’t think it’s breaking any new ground in the culinary experience but that’s no bad thing. The menu looks interesting enough, with a decent nod to non meat eaters and it is local to our villa so fits nicely into our plans as an Applebees alternate without us changing our direction of travel.

The other joy from last week’s post came via Twitter from SchmeichelJFox .

We’ve both ignored our football incompatability enough over the years to follow each other on Twitter and this paid dividends when he slid into my DMs this week.

Apparently guests staying at the Hard Rock Hotel are allowed to enjoy the pools and facilities at Portofino Bay. As my DM read….

“Last time we stayed at Hard Rock (love it) we found out we can use all the facilities in Portofino Bay. They have quite a few pools to check out – one with an amazing bistro and waterfall that’s great for a chilled afternoon (more chilled than Hard Rock and a little more room to play with the kids). Also, the bay itself is a great place for ice cream and a beer watching all the boats and singers who come into the square…. We always had a pre city walk beer or two at the thirsty fish in the bay of the hotel in its “square”. A lovely way to maximise the value from your Hard Rock purchase. We were quite shocked how much was available at this hotel so far away from the parks and city walk.”

Now, I’m not sure my then 25 and 23-year-old kids will be wanting to play with me in the pool, but Freddie might. But more crucially, we are always on the lookout for stuff like this. This sort of venue sounds perfect for a just showered, slightly sunburned pre or post-dinner chilled out drinkie and so this sounds right up our street. Our time at Hard Rock is limited but we shall be trying our best to avail ourselves of that and maybe the pool option too should the Hard Rock be a little too “Magaluf” as it can get at times.

So all my planning last week was done by others. This was handy as work was inconveniently busy and it was a Mustard heavy week too. We had no gig, but we took the chance to slot in a rehearsal to get some new songs into the repertoire which take some time for my ageing brain and limited ability to soak in.

We also released a video. Yeh, I know!

Sometime in early December, we spent a cold, yet interesting and enjoyable Sunday in a local rehearsal room being filmed not actually playing some of our songs. Thankfully, the unwritten rule of the music world is that bass players cannot feature in more than 1% of the footage used and for that, I have to be honest, I am thankful.

The chap who did this for us has performed a “silk purse/sow’s ear” standard of miracle making five middle-aged blokes slightly beyond their best look almost acceptable. Now, that’s talent.

Should anyone require the services of a great band for a special occasion, then Mustard may be for you.

I will leave you with that pop perfection and see you back here next week when hopefully you have all improved my holiday plans again. You know it makes sense.

Till the next time……

Man With A Plan

OK, so we’ve done the Christmas, New Year and the moany back to work posts. Waistline aside, things are back to normal and so, with barely a mention so far of our new and exiting WDW plans for my 50th, it is well overdue that I drag you kicking and screaming through a day by day account of the plan as it currently stands.

I’ll be honest, it’s probably much more complete and finalised than even I imagined at this stage. In fact, moments after confirming the dates and flights, the day by day template was filled in and if it changes significantly between now and August I’ll be astounded. It would appear, that shockingly, I’m quite good at this now. Still, that won’t stop me obsessing over it at regular intervals and adding extra, unneccsary expense to it as we go. It’s what I do.

Last year was a “cheap as chips” we shouldn’t be going affair so we held back on the ADRs and on-site dining. There are no such restrictions this time around so you will notice much more going on in that regard.

Day One

We fly on August 26th from Manchester with Virgin. We are bubbling as we enjoyed that so much the last time we flew with Virgin. I’m pleased to say we take off (around) 10am (no plane has ever left the tarmac on time in the history of mankind) and land at a very sociable 2pm at MCO. We didn’t enjoy the later flight times last year as it meant getting into Orlando at 7pm, and by the time we’d got to the villa there was no time to go out and eat. See where our priorities lie?

I’ve hired an overly extravagant car from Dollar. I have shunned the mundane mini-van for some sort of monster truck equivalent that will take up three parking spots wherever we go. I’m only 50 once, if at all.

We will be picking that up and leaving the airport more quickly than the It’s Orlando Time group left Facebook, but under less suspicious circumstances.

Our villa is a doozy, again an absolute extravagance, near Formosa Gardens. We should be there some time around 4pm, and after a little unpacking and a trip to the supermarket, taking our seats at the Outback Steakhouse as tradituon dictates some time around 9pm UK time.

Day Two

If you don’t know by now that our first day is spent at Magic Kingdom, I can’t help you. With a more civilised arrival time on day one, we should be fed and in bed by a sensible time, meaning we are fully rested for day two and a full day in the park. The plan is to last until late afternoon/early evening and then go to the Polynesian for our (hopeful) ADR at O’hana.

Day Three

Traditionally a rest day but in recent times we have chosen to spend it in a water park. This works well as those who want to can rest up and those who get bored after an hour around the villa pool can go off and risk life and limb on the slides and stuff.

We are going in strong from the start food wise with a trip to Teak Neighbourhood Grill planned for our evening meal.

Day Four

Hollywood Studios today. Hopefully Rise of the Resistance has calmed down a bit and we won’t need to be outside the park gates at 6am. I can say with some certaintity that whether it has calmed down or not, we won’t be doing that!

Again, like some dining greatest hits collection, another firm favourite for many years is on the plan for tonight, at Bahama Breeze.

Day Five

Animal Kingdom. We didn’t see Rivers Of Light last year, mainly due to time pressure but also because we suspected Freddie wouldn’t sit through it. With another 12 months under his belt he might so we’ll try to give it a go.

The hits keep on coming with Yak and Yeti for dinner (by that I mean tea but I’m aware people south of Birmingham read this).

Day Six

As tends to happen every year, this will be my birthday. It’s a big one, and not only does it mark my passing into my 50’s and no doubt another pants size, it also marks the 40th anniversary of my first ever trip to Florida. I spent my 10th birthday in Miami all those years ago, and look what’s happened since! We drove up to Orlando for just two days at what was only the Magic Kingdom then. It was clearly enough to create the monster I now am.

Epcot of course. You knew that, but we are cramming more food than is wise into the day with a character breakfast ADR at Cape May (we can then park at the Yacht & Beach), a wander around World Showcase and then probably back to the villa to get something vaguely presentable on. That’s because I am hopeful of securing an ADR at California Grill, followed by a re-mortgage and a viewing of the fireworks from the viewing deck.

Day Seven

Something new today. We are doing a few days at Universal, and the first part of that will be to give the “new” water park Volcano Bay a go. I need to do some proper research and vlog watching on this as I have very little clue as to what goes on there and the best way to tackle it, but, again it serves as a rest day after the excesses of yesterday’s celebrations and a chance for the more adventurous members of the group (Tom) to go and play.

To keep that theme going, for dinner we are going to try the Ford’s Garage place on the 192 for the first time. If you’ve been and think we shouldn’t, now is the time to tell me.

Day Eight

So now we start our holiday within a holiday and check into the Hard Rock at Universal. This is one of our most favourite places in Orlando and despite probably only needing one night to get the required front of line passes to complete both parks, we’re doing two. It gives us more chance to experience the parks, especially as it is Tom and Freddie’s first time and hopefully rest around the pool.

We will start in Islands of Adventure today.

It also opens up some of the excellent dining options on City Walk and we HAVE to do Cowfish as the Cheeseburgerooshi is the most delicious thing on the planet and that’s where we will head on this evening. Toothsome for dessert may be an option or perhaps Voodoo Doughnut’s taken back the room for an orgy of excess.

Day Nine

Universal Studios today, with perhaps some pool time followed by a meal at Antojitos, which is a Mexican most of us have never tried but Emily recommended it after eating there during her CRP stint.

Day Ten

We checkout from the Hard Rock but of course sill have front of line access so we will park hop and re-do anything we want to. Once we’re done we will head back towards the villa and eat at Applebees on the 192.

Day Eleven

All I have so far for this day are food plans. They are BIG food plans, and I’m sure we will fit something inbetween them, but after three park days, some relaxed down time filled with calories will no doubt be required.

Breakfast/Brunch will be at the excellent Hash House a Go Go. Several hours of moaning and swearing that we’ll never eat again will be followed by dinner at Sanaa at Kidani Village where there will be literal fist fights over the bread service. We all do like us some bread. Hopefully we’ll also be able to show Freddie some of the animals wandering about out the back.

Day Twelve

Back to Animal Kingdom today. We loved our light lunch at Tiffin’s last time out so we may wander back there for cocktails and food around lunchtime. With that in mind, I just have Homecoming at Disney Springs in my plans for dinner, as that is known for it’s light, healthy menu!

Day Thirteen

Our second day at Epcot. It feels late on day 13, but that’s how things work out sometimes. Tonight will be our chance to watch whatever they have seen fit to replace Illumnations with. No pressure.

With that in mind, we will return to Via Napoli as we have loved it on our past two visits.

Day Fourteen

As we will have 14 day tickets for all the Universal stuff I have pencilled in a return today. We won’t have front of line of course, but we can have a more leisurely wander and ride anything that doesn’t have horrible wait times. By this time in the trip, we will be well into September, past Labor Day and hopefully, there will be sufficiently low crowds to make this worthwhile.

Our dining option of choice tonight is Cheesecake Factory. This is another awesome eatery and we were all gutted not to be able to fit this in last year.

Day Fifteen

We are lucky enough this year, due to my 50th splurge, to be staying a little longer. We return to Hollywood Studios today with little more planned than that. Olive Garden is pencilled in as our eatery.

Day Sixteen

Our last full day is of course spent at Magic Kingdom. Last year we popped out to eat off-site at Romano’s Macaroni Grill and were delighted we did. We hadn’t been for a few years but if you haven’t been, you must. With that in mind, it is planned to do the same this year, but if other events take our fancy we may do those instead. Who said I was a planning obsessed overweight ball sack?

Day Seventeen

Travel. Enough said. We’ll do a huge breakfast somewhere and then fly home after buying gifts for people who have hundreds of Disney gifts already.

The only positive about today is that I managed to get us into Premium for less than economy so we may get some comfort/sleep on the way home.

So there you go. I’m tired after typing that out so who knows how we will cope with the real thing.

If you have any advice or suggestions on new places to eat that we should do instead of returning to past favourites I’ll be all ears.

Till the next time…….

That Was The Week of Woe

Often of a Sunday evening, the black dog will find me. The looming presence of another Monday steals a part of my weekend and I spend more time than I should “fearing” going back to what I’d rather not.

Most times, of course, this is silly and unfounded and the worst thing I have to contend with is the commute and having to make my own brew. I then promise myself I won’t be so foolish in future until it all happens again the next week.

Last Sunday, following a tremendous two-week break, and the opportunity to almost totally unwind, this Monday phobia was strong. In the back of my mind I was assuring myself it was all unfounded and all would be well.

I was wrong. Holy moly, the week just gone was a struggle. Physically and mentally it felt like I was dragging myself along on my xmas inflated belly towards the finish line of the end of each day never mind the weekend. Monday, with the clock only having edged to 12.30, saw me seriously wondering how I would actually make it until 5.30. It was not good. My brain struggled in a similar manner, and I felt like I had been parachuted into my seat and told to do a job I had never heard of never mind done before.

Muscle memory kicked in around Thursday and I began to feel that I wasn’t stealing a living and no doubt things will bet “better” next week. It all went to confirm that as fortunate as I am to have the job I do, with probably the best company to work for possible, this is not my calling, and should my lottery numbers drop at any point you will not see me in the local paper declaring that I will continue working. I will be emailing my resignation from my first class Florida bound seat within hours of the cash hitting the bank.

So with that horror now hopefully behind me, the new year has brought into focus two priorities for the year. Our holiday of course, which celebrates my 50th, but first, and more importantly, Rebecca and Tom’s wedding in May.

Stuff is organised and even paid for mostly. There is nothing major left to do, find or fund, but now we are into the detail. Guest lists, confirmed numbers, table plans, favours (whatever they are) and the little bits and bobs that I would never have guessed were part of a wedding.

Luckily, I have somewhat of a track record for planning stuff and Rebecca has inherited enough of that to be making a good job of things. The hen do plans are ticking along in the safe hands of Emily and I’m sure everything will fall into place helped by the huge efforts of all of us.

Yesterday, as Louise wrestled with her latest assignment deadline for her midwifery course, and Tom went to do his Ju-Jitsu, Rebecca, Freddie and I went for a wet and windy walk around what’s known as The Jumbles. It’s a country park/reservoir which holds a dual role in my mind. Now, it’s a lovely place for a walk right on our doorstep but formerly it was a place of horrors as this is where my school would make me do cross country in PE lessons. Tell me how it makes sense that because it was raining we weren’t allowed to play football but were allowed/forced to run miles around some water.

We spent some of the time going over what’s left to do, so that helped and things seem clearer now. We spent the rest of the time waiting for Freddie to pick up stones every three steps.

We saw a 17 week old Old English puppy which I immediately fell in love with and a Great Dane that was more horse than dog. We said hello to the ducks and got rained on quite a lot. A lovely afternoon.

So after a grim work week, the weekend has helped. Friday night was the Mustard Christmas do. Having had a very busy festive period, my bandmates and I went out for a curry and some dirty beer. We also took the chance to watch a couple of local bands as that’s something we seldom get a chance to do. Alas, they weren’t very good, but at least it made us feel better about what we do!

Today hasn’t a lot that I need to do, which is always the plan but seldom the reality for a Sunday. I have a small DIY job to do at Louise’s Mum’s house, but then the afternoon is mine to do as much or as little as I like….once I’ve walked the dogs…..and tidied the kitchen……

With that horror-filled first week back at work done, the wedding plans firmed up nicely, at some point between now and May I need to rid myself of the post-xmas paunch and should time allow later today I will fire up the Florida plan and start to put some flesh on the bones of our daily activities.

I shall probably share the current state of that with you all next week unless I forget or something more interesting happens in the meantime.

Till the next time…….

Christmas Is Over. Give War a Chance…

I’m going to keep this brief today otherwise it will just turn into a return to work moanfest and there’s enough negativity around without me adding to it.

I was desperately in need of a break as Christmas approached and I do feel better for my time off. Another few weeks away from the rat race would be nice if I’m honest for me to really feel the benefit but that won’t pay the bills so tomorrow I will resume my battle to beat the traffic and feign interest.

Our New Year’s celebrations were lovely if subtle. We enjoyed an excellent Indian meal at a restaurant called Akash in Darwen with Rebecca, Tom and Freddie. They went on to a family party at Tom’s brothers and Louise and I rolled home to watch Jools Holland, desperately trying to stay awake until midnight. I made it, just, having enjoyed the night.

So it’s been a traditional festive period, involving all the things you’d expect. There was a visit to the tip, impressive weight gain, and a chocolate mountain that we’ll be staring at until Halloween as we can’t now eat it as of course we need to lose the pounds that have found us in the last few weeks.

I’m not a fan of the whole new year, new you stuff. In a way, the new year thing feels a little bit like the most Mondayish Monday of all Mondays, and I rail against the stark U-turn in advertising from indulgent foodstuffs to gym memberships, weight watchers and fitness equipment. It all feels a bit too predictable and controlling for my liking.

The world seems to be sharing my dim view by getting 2020 off to a wonderful start. Australia is on fire and it is absolutely heartbreaking to see what’s going on there, and the man-baby in the White House seems intent on starting a distracting war to stop people concentrating on his illegal actions. As re-election campaigns go, it’s a bit predictable and it will certainly be expensive in all sorts of ways. I did say there was a good amount of negativity knocking about.

In brighter news, we are just 253 days away from our next trip and assuming we aren’t at war or on fire, we have some fine plans, almost exclusively (at this stage) involving food but you’d expect nothing less. Standby to be told about each and every element of that plan in excruciating detail in coming weeks.

I did say I’d be brief so let me keep that promise so I can soak in my last few hours of freedom before reentering the real world tomorrow. Once the horror of the first week back is done I may be in a more jolly space and able to blog at you more positively.

Till the next time……

Notes From No Man’s Land.

Greetings. Having spent the last fifteen weeks or so using my weekly blog to report on our latest US adventure, I find myself trying to use my now flabby and out of shape blogging muscle to somehow come up with something to write that isn’t based on rides and food. Bear with me as I ease myself back into the weekly discipline of thinking of something to write.

I am slap bang in the middle of a glorious two-week break from work. It felt needed, and of course, by the time I’ve relearnt how to do nothing, I’ll be heading back into the daily grind once again, rueing not spending the downtime more wisely by doing even less than I did.

Our Christmas has been gloriously unspectacular. We hosted on the day, somehow catering for nine, with only about eight hours of hard labour in the kitchen required and our house still hasn’t recovered, with pots, plates and presents still strewn about the place like the aftermath of a particularly wild party at Mary Berry’s.

I could post ten minutes of video here, showing Freddie ignoring every present but one at our house on Christmas morning, but it wouldn’t be fair to expect anyone not related to us to sit through that.

OK, I’ll post one of the clips at a mere five minutes or so which outlines the chaos of the unwrapping process with two dogs and the glories of the Bolton accent. Louise will love it…..

The dogs did, of course, get their own gifts, courtesy of Emily so it’s only right you see that too. There’s nothing like quality content and….well, you can complete the punchline.

Other than that we have had some lovely lazy days, doing not much more than hoovering up leftovers and clearing the fridge of all the stuff we overbought whilst binge-watching stuff. It’s what God and the baby Jesus would want.

I know I spent much of my trip report bemoaning illness, and in some ways, I have never fully recovered from that since my return to the UK. I have, it seems, been snotty, coughy and achy ever since. However, over the festive period, most of the family, and it seems most of the UK, have been struck down by cold-related illness, Freddie included, and it’s fortunate that we are off work to enjoy our respective conditions to the fullest.

If I were a proper blogger who spent time planning what spews onto the page this post would be a glorious retrospective review of the past year and indeed past decade, a decade for which I have blogged almost every week in its entirety.

Instead, I am stumbling around this Twxitmas no man’s land in a tired daze, wondering if it’s possible to eat yourself to death. Of course, should you wish to occupy your downtime in this festive wasteland, there are something like 450 blog posts from me you could wade through. That would save me having to apply any brainpower to looking back at all that time.

Having started blogging in November 2009 I have documented all manner of crap in that time. The decade about to end has, like with every one of you reading this, delivered some highs and of course some heartbreaking, soul-crushing lows. On the negative side, I will remember the decade for two of the most upsetting episodes in my life, which I won’t be sharing here, but, as you must, you suck it up, deal with it and move on. Of course, things could have been worse and we are blessed in many ways that I undoubtedly don’t appreciate enough.

Of course, one of those blessings has been the arrival of Freddie into our lives. It can be incredibly tedious to listen to someone pap on about their kids and grandkids, but hey, I’m not about to break the habit of a lifetime, but it has been THE highlight of this or any recent decade. What a fun-filled, joy-giving bundle of perfection he is and I apologise for my past and future Freddie related gushings.

A feature, and of course highlight of the last decade (or two) have been our Florida trips. We’ve been fortunate enough…no bollocks to that…we’ve worked our absolute arses off and endured all kinds of soul-crushing stuff to be able to afford them, and we’ve done all manner of glorious things and eaten all kinds of filthy nonsense. They have defined the childhood’s of the girls in many ways, and, fingers crossed they will continue to do the same for them and Freddie in the years to come.

So that’ll do for today. Hopefully, the new year and decade of blogging will see a glorious return to the incredible content I am renowned for producing.

Image result for spacey side eye gif

Look, I know I overuse this gif but it is useful in so many ways.

I hope the new year celebrations and whatever follows them are kind to you and yours and your WDW trips are frequent and glorious. Seasons greetings and best wishes for 2020 and beyond from everyone here at Mkingdon Towers.

Till the next time…….

The Dodging Dorian Tour 2019 – Day Fifteen

The Dodging Dorian Tour 2019 – Day Fifteen

The irony of sleeping in until 7.45, the latest lie in of the whole trip, on the day we fly home was not lost on me. It made it clear to me that in future I clearly need more than just two weeks of a holiday to allow my body to begin to adjust to vacation mode.

The next hour or so was filled with the unavoidable packing and tidying in preparation for our departure. It was relatively pain-free, to be honest. It’s almost as if we’ve done this a few times before and are finally getting the hang of it.

Tom and I collected all the now full cases and girded our loins for the task of forcing them into the back of the van. We struggled at the airport upon arrival so this was looking like a challenge and a half now our luggage contained several purchases and half a ton of plastic tat collected by Freddie along the way.

If anyone can explain to me how we slotted everything in with ease I’d appreciate it. The only rational observation is that upon arrival I was tired, emotional and a little incompetent and at least two of those can’t be true.

Breakfast was the first order of business and we pointed the van north towards the 192, happy to eat at whatever relevant establishment we saw first. Ideally, it would be a restaurant.

A IHOP caught my eye and we arrived like a SWAT team storming an embassy. I think we were hungry. It was busy but we were seated immediately so nobody got hurt.

We had a lovely server. Her chatting was pleasant at first, but as it stretched into more than three minutes, preventing us from eating, it started to lose its charm a little. At last we ordered –

Freddie had smiley faces, which would probably be the only ones seen today.

He made sure his Dad was cutting them up to his liking…..

I had blueberry pancakes and they were all kinds of awesome.

Rebecca had birthday cake pancakes and Tom had what you can see there. I didn’t capture its name…sue me.

Emily had chocolate chip pancakes and they were every bit as good as you might imagine.

Louise had something called a Split Decision.

With coffees and juices and a very nice tip the bill was $100.

Back into the van now and off to Disney Springs. We parked in Lime and spent more time than was ideal in Uniqlo. Things were purchased and then the pain was done. Next, the inevitable last-minute gift shopping in World of Disney. I think we spent an hour in there buying things for other people who already have nearly every possible gift from someone who has holidayed in Orlando. It gets harder each year.

It was another hot day so we found a shaded seat near a bar and listened to a chap with a guitar for a bit. There were some final cocktails consumed by the non-drivers and we sat and contemplated the horror of returning home.

We took Freddie on the little carousel there and he met one of his new friends again.

The view before us made the thought of the M60 on a cold, dark rainy Monday even more disconcerting.

For one final time, Freddie somehow got the camera again….

Just a few highlights there from the 78 photos he took.

With drinks consumed, we moved on to the Marketplace for some browsing of expensive shiny things.

Louise spotted a necklace she liked and I was really struggling to find a reason not to buy it. The Gods smiled upon me. As it was taken from the case for further inspection the assistant realised it was actually broken. I shed a small tear.

On the way out we popped into Amorette’s just “for a look”.

It was good….

We could not put it off any longer. We boarded the van and pointed it at the airport at 2.50. It felt like they had built a few more tolls on the way back than we saw upon arrival. Undeterred we arrived at the car hire return at 3.20.

All sweat and regrets, we pulled the luggage out and headed for check-in. There was a ten-minute queue to do so. Security was a whole different matter. What a slow-moving, joy void that was. Just the tonic for those travelling home after a holiday.

We boarded the wrong sort of monorail and headed for the gate.

We wanted to spend our last moments in Orlando eating, as nature intended. We tried Bahama Breeze, but the wait was too long so we walked over to the Outback instead who were able to seat us immediately.

Alas, this airport version was a pale imitation of the place we enjoy so regularly at Formosa Gardens. A limited menu and virtually no vegetarian options whatsoever. They had to come up with some sort of attempt at a salad for Emily which wasn’t worthy of a photo.

I had an Asian Chicken Salad so that I wouldn’t put too much weight on during the holiday.

Freddie had a Grilled Cheese Sandwich.

Rebecca, Chicken Tenders.

Louise and Tom a Steak Sandwich.

All in all, the food was a decent reflection of going home from a WDW holiday. It was so underwhelming, I actually had a beer to console myself.

We boarded without incident or queue, as we waited for everyone else to queue up for their guaranteed seat before getting on last.

Freddie was changed into his comfy flying clothes and readied for take-off.

My notes end here. The flight wasn’t great, mainly as Freddie was a little bit unwell and had a temperature, meaning the he had a period of upset and crying about halfway home. Shout out to the family sat behind Rebecca, Tom and Freddie for complaining to the flight crew about Freddie crying and stopping them sleeping. You stay classy.

You don’t want or need to hear about our landing and endless waiting for luggage at Manchester. All I will say is that we were the last out of the place as one of our cases was missing. I had to fill out a load of forms about that before finally going to meet our now very tetchy taxi driver who had been waiting for over an hour. He took it out on me all the way home by regaling me with his right-wing, racist views, not stopping to draw breath. He was a message from the Gods as punishment for being so stupid as to leave Orlando. The return to the stark reality of the UK could not have been better signalled.

So we’re done. I would typically at this point wax lyrical about WDW, and Florida in general, as some sort of attempt to explain my relentless desire to return. Chances are, if you are reading this, you know.

Despite my never-ending illness, and the week-long threat of weather-induced devastation, I have to say this trip was a beauty. We all enjoyed it enormously, due in no small part to the thrill of showing Tom and Freddie something that means so much to us all. The joy of spending uninterrupted time with Freddie is just a happy and joyful bonus of course. He has brought so much happiness, fun and enjoyment to our every day lives, that being in WDW with him is just something we treasure. I contest that there is no better place on the planet to spend time together as a family. For those of a certain age, like me, who seem to spend more and more time looking back at the girl’s younger years and getting annoyed and upset that I can’t actually remember huge chunks of their lives, these overly detailed trip reports have been a godsend, in forever capturing at least some of our time together. Same goes now for Freddie of course.

So I won’t drone on. I don’t know how many words I’ve written detailing this trip, or how many hours I’ve spent doing so, but I could have saved us all the trouble by just posting these two twenty-second videos the day after we got back. They say it all.

Thank you for your perseverance for making your way through another one of our trips. After all these years it really is touching and mind-boggling that so many of you still care enough to read this stuff.

Unfortunately for you, we’re doing it all again next year as I celebrate my 50th in the only place I ever could. If you missed it and want to read about how that plan is going, this is the link you need.

Things have worked out very neatly with the ending of this trip coinciding with Christmas. So I will take this opportunity to wish you all a lovely one and if at all possible a Disney filled 2020. Every view, read, comment and like is always very much appreciated, probably more than you know. It’s a small corner of the internet, but I’m delighted you join me in it of a Sunday.

Till the next time…….