Monday 19th September 2022
It had been a stressful build-up and countdown as you know. But here we are, with the alarm going off at 5am rousing us from our sleep to begin our journey. In the early stages of packing, with there just being the two of us, we had played with the idea of just taking the one case. Now, with minutes to go until we needed to leave, I was wrestling with two very full cases, arguing with Louise about what she would need to sacrifice for us to stand a chance of getting on the plane. A handbag and a large make-up case were jettisoned. I wouldn’t need them anyway.
Having let the dogs do what they needed to do outside, I launched them into Emily’s bedroom and said our goodbyes. Knowing it could be at least an hour or two until food, I fuelled up with some toast and a coffee whilst Louise took the customary half an hour longer to get ready than was desired. I had wanted to leave at 6 and ahead of schedule, we left the drive at 6.24 am. The first of many weird things about it just being the two of us on this trip meant there was nobody to take a “door photo” of!
The drive to the airport was problem free but I think we both thought that it didn’t feel real.
We arrived at the airport at 7.10 and headed for T2 West car park which I had now used twice and that familiarity would make things easier. As I pulled in, oddly, the machine at the entrance spat a token at me. Bit weird, but OK. It was busy and we had to journey up many, many levels to find a spot. I pulled the cases from the car but couldn’t shake the nagging doubt that something was wrong. Yep, it was me, I was wrong. Upon checking my booking confirmation we were in the wrong car park. Somehow, I had managed to book some meet-and-greet nonsense in another car park. I have no idea how this happened as I avoid meet and greet like the plague. I do not want my car being rallied across the UK by some bloke in a high-vis vest for 2 weeks.
So we loaded the cases back into the car, went down all the ramps we had just come up, paid the £6 fee and started looking for the correct car park. I’m not saying this was stressful or that my nerves were shot after the fraught countdown to this trip, but I almost pointed the car back at the motorway and went home.
After a few minutes, we spotted T2 East, which had a meet and greet sign over it and we queued, yes, queued to get into it. Once inside we were directed up to the right place, parked the car and spent a frustrating amount of time inside the terminal waiting for and then figuring out the ridiculously complex mechanism to drop your key off. Safe to say, I will make sure I never make that mistake again.
We arrived at the check-in desks once again to be astounded by the fact that nobody else seemed to have checked in online. What is wrong with these people? When I was doing that the day before, the Aer Lingus website crashed so I assumed everyone was doing the same thing at the same time. Apparently not.
We were diverted to a kiosk and without too much assistance from a human had our cases labelled up. One of the two was over 23kg so we had to do a quick reveal of some underwear to the terminal as we opened up one case to transfer some stuff to the other. Now the plane would be safe to take off!!
We then couldn’t find the luggage drop-off point (what do you mean I only did this in January and should know the drill??) and we had to get more human help to sort us out.
Cases dumped, we headed for security and used my fast track thing to bypass no queues at all. Despite being fairly regular travellers we still never know exactly what electronics go in the tray on their own and do we take our shoes off and do I need a full internal.
This whole pre-departure process is just overly stressful and unnecessary.
There is always a sigh of relief once security is done, mainly as next comes food. I had an unavoidable wee before joining the queue at San Carlos for a table. This took twenty minutes but felt like one hundred and twenty. Finally seated, with the bonus of having a window seat, we ordered.
Eggs Benedict for Louise (half eaten).
Breakfast Sandwich for me
Juice and coffee for me and two Mimosas for Louise. The bill was £37 and whilst we waited to pay, we Facetimed Rebecca to say our farewells.
Some shops were wandered. My shaver for the trimming of my manly beard and bald head had broken yesterday, thankfully before I started shaving things and not half-way through, so I needed a new one. Not one shop sold them. I would have to search one out stateside.
We bought some books, as of course we would not be doing theme parks this trip aside from a few days at Universal, so we would need something to entertain us on the long relaxing days around the pool. Right?
Louise went off to release a chocolate hostage and I wandered about a bit, stumbling across this chap, who I think was off on international duty with Belgium.
We moved down to the gate area around 10.15 in good time for our 11am departure. Boarding started at 11am so getting away on time was going to be a struggle! We marvelled at the queue as we do every time and boarded last.
Being the day of the Queen’s funeral, which was of course a surprise to the management at Manchester Airport, once on board and already very late in getting going, the pilot announced that all take-offs and landings had just been unexpectedly halted as a mark of respect, as the funeral had just started, so we sat some more. We finally pushed back from the gate at 12.15 and left the ground at 12.30.
This will sound mean and derogatory but I spent much of the first hour watching a woman across the aisle playing Bejewelled on her seat back TV. I say playing. Honestly, in that hour she did not move one “jewel” and just kept whacking the screen in frustration as she just could not work out how the game worked. It took all of my willpower not to lean over and show her how to do it.
Drinks came, then some food. A surprisingly good Beef Stroganoff.
I watched some episodes of The Office as the film selection was very poor.
It took some time but I eventually managed to hand over some money to get access to WiFi. With the situation back home we couldn’t be out of contact for nine hours. Yes, we were and would be worried about Mary for the whole trip but also had our workmen at the house (no the work still isn’t finished) and needed to be in touch with Emily who was supervising them much to her delight.
There was some unavoidable expenditure as Louise “had to” buy a set of three lipsticks on a plane, despite having frequented every retail outlet in the North West in preparation for this trip, which made absolute sense. I had a wee before settling into the cheese-fest that was the new Top Gun film.
Despite now being chock full of cheese courtesy of Tom Cruise, like some mid-90’s Nicole Kidman, somehow, I was starving and it felt like an age until we were served some sort of Chicken Tikka pasty. It was inhaled. The rest of the flight was pretty bumpy and we eventually landed around 4.05pm local time.
That lady was still trying to figure out Bejewelled!
Of course, the airbridge broke at our gate so we sat waiting some more, being teased by all of the Orlando outside of the window that we could not get to.
We were the last off the plane at 4.35 and through immigration in about fifteen minutes. Our cases were already making their way around the carousel so I grabbed those and then of course waited for Louise to go to the toilet. As I did, the magic of these holidays was reinforced as a large family group, also probably waiting for someone to go on the loo despite having been sat next to one for nine hours, were arguing. I didn’t get the full context but Grandma was shouting at Mum something about “getting the F**king car seat”.
With Louise now empty, we made our way to the monorail and the very welcome greeting from the Mayor.
Upon alighting we naturally headed to the “B” side as we have every single time we have done this journey. In fact, I would say that until January’s trip I had been unaware that there was an “A” side where you can get your hire car etc.
I waited five minutes to get an Alamo person to sort me out and then all we had to do before hitting the open road was pick up our Visitor Toll pass thing from their kiosk. I wandered up and down for about ten minutes before asking someone who told me they only have a kiosk on the “A” side! Seriously, that is just nonsense. So I trouped all the way over there, got my pass and walked all the way back. Yes I did the same thing in January, what of it? My cognitive decline is a growing worry.
We arrived at the row of cars we had to choose from. We spent more time than we ever have previously sizing up our options, and despite that still drove out in a car that I wasn’t that happy with. Don’t get me wrong, it ran fine and was comfortable, it was just fairly old with high mileage and no sat nav. We should have chosen better!
I did manage to drive to the Yacht Club without electronic aid. It has only taken forty-plus years of holidaying here to accomplish that. Once through the security gate, I dropped the bags and Louise at the entrance and went to park the car over in the Convention Centre car park as things were busy. Bell Services took our bags as the My Disney Experience app said our room was not ready, which was very odd at this time of day. So I went to reception and gave them my name.
“Oh hello Mr Williams. If you would follow me please I will escort you to your floor”.
Bit weird but I suppose this is a deluxe resort. As we headed to the elevator the Cast member explained that we had been upgraded to Club Level.
I was vaguely aware of what this was, but it had been so far out of our price range on our previous trips with larger family groups that I had never taken the trouble to look into it.
We were left at the reception up on floor five where two cast members sorted us out, gave us our room keys and explained how it all worked. We had timed it perfectly as the afternoon “snacks” were ending in about fifteen minutes so they ushered us into the Club room with a couple of glasses of fizz (mine had a man in it!) and we ate and drank some lovely stuff, a bit dazed and confused.
We exercised some restraint on the eating front as we knew we wanted to go out and eat in a bit, so we headed to room 5231
and could not believe the view we discovered.
We were a little gobsmacked at the whole experience and just sat looking at that view and taking too many photos.
I had a quick shower and then booked an ADR for Ale & Compass in the hotel for a little later. We checked in at the podium and then went next door into the lounge for a wine and Sam Adams.
Our table was soon ready and we ordered.
New York Strip for me
A chicken pasta thing for Louise
My steak was awesome and had some magical, unidentifiable sauce with it. I loved it as did Louise hers. I went crazy and ordered a Maple Old Fashioned which was also lovely.
At this point I was triple glassing it.
The bill was $120 with a very good tip included and we wandered back up to the Club room for a coffee and two tiny desserts.
We grabbed a couple of waters and were back in the room by 9.00, tired, shocked and happy to be here. To top off the day, as we went out onto the balcony the Epcot fireworks were happening.
I’d apologise for so many photos usually, but we may never be that fortunate again, to get such a view from our room. I know you know, but this is one of my very favourite places on the planet.
Grateful, and also just full, we went to sleep around 9.30.
Till the next time……