To Siesta Key…And Beyond Tour 2017 – Day Thirteen April 23rd 2017

It was very upsetting to wake at 8.30. All those days on the bloody beach when I was awake at 7am and today with a theme park in my immediate future and I had lazed half the day away.

Never let it be said that I air brush these trips and only give you the edited highlights. In the spirit of full disclosure at this point in the trip Louise and I were not on speaking terms. I won’t bore you with the trivialities of the subject matter, as to be honest I can’t really remember, but as all long-term couples know, this happens from time to time.

Suffice to say that I of course would have been totally in the right and Louise would later issue a full and unreserved apology.

After exchanging dirty looks and mild insults as we got ready, it was decided best for all concerned that Louise didn’t join us this morning. After declaring our undying love for each other, I left the room with Emily, who was all disdain and eye rolls at our mature behaviour, with me deploying full flounce and we went in search of food. Of course, for all our moody tantrums and vitriol I had made sure Louise had money and everything she needed for the day, as of course deep down we both knew that at some point in the not too distant future it would all be sorted out.

We bought a breakfast from the Beach Club Marketplace. A breakfast sandwich and a bounty platter, which thankfully did not contain any coconut, were consumed outside within minutes and we were soon on our way to Animal Kingdom after a quick stop at the All Stars for some parents. At the entrance to the car park I reclaimed some of the costs of staying on site by flashing my magic band rather than handing over $50 or whatever the car parking cost that week.

My joy was short-lived as there was a huge queue to get into the car park. It snaked all around the perimeter, its size only matched by the size of my bottom lip. As Disney tend to do, they shifted a huge number of people in a short amount of time and we dumped the car in Giraffe 46.

We didn’t have long to wait for the tram and after a bag check, scanner and a queue at the turnstiles we finally got into the park just after ten.

The first FastPass of the day was the safari, so we headed in that direction. That’s a good old walk especially with two almost octogenarians in your party but it was worth the trek.

We had a great guide and saw a god amount of stuff. I have promised myself that I shall keep returning to WDW until I can manage some non-blurry photos on the safari.

It isn’t often these days that it happens so at the first sign of a huge horn I took a photo of it.

There’s a probably an animal somewhere in that photo.

Ah there it is…..

I’d tell you that this was a hippo….But that’s just lion…..

As is often the case, my milkshake brings all the birds to the yard….

Smile!

After returning from our two-week safari, we set off for our next FastPass which was to be Everest.

Since our last visit a stadium seems to have grown in the middle of the theme park.

Dad rode Everest with myself and Emily and we all loved it. It’s one of the rides that just make you smile every time. It is a good one to ride early in the day as it blows the cobwebs off, gets the adrenaline flowing and puts you in a great mood.

When we got home and looked at our Memory Maker we had a few random photos that very obviously not taken by me.

Like these…

We walked on around to Dinoland where Mum & Dad played some of the games.

Emily and I moved on to Primeval Whirl.The stated 30 minute queue turned out to be just ten which made us happy.

We left battered and bruised and now Emily joined her Nana in battle.

No prizes were won alas.

It’s Tough To Be A Bug was next on the list and with a standby wait of just ten minutes we walked through all the queuing bits, with me trying to snap as many of the animals as possible in the tree.

It went well didn’t it?

It is quite usual for there to be screaming in this show, especially as it comes to an end due to some of the effects used. However, this show started with that too, as we seemed to have another screaming kid being subjected to something they absolutely did not want to go through. For all new parents out there, as much as the theme of this show might seem kid friendly, it is absolutely not suitable for toddlers as this poor screaming soul was demonstrating. Of course the parents didn’t take it outside and when it is still in therapy well into its twenties, it can read this blog to find out why.

It was 1pm now. We’d done a lot hadn’t we? We needed a drink and a sit down so we headed for Starbucks. It took a while to get served as we were behind a large group of teenage girls, each ordering drinks more complex than the theory of relativity. The shapes and colours of their drinks were a mystery to all but themselves.

Mum and Dad had a strawberry smoothie and I continued to order whatever Emily did and had another iced coffee thing. See how Starbucks had to really try to not spell my name with a G.

We watched the world go by for half an hour waiting for our next FastPass slot to come round. It was to be the Kali River Rapids, but by the power of the app, I discovered it was down. Instead we wandered over to the Lion King for the two o’clock show.

I have raved about this show every time we have seen it, and this shall be no exception. What a stunning, talent filled feel good fest this is.

I have the same photographs of it many times over so I decided to just sit back and watch it this time…oh apart from doing a Facebook live…but that took no effort.

As I wandered around today I noticed quite a few folks staring at my torso. Now, this is pretty normal when you have a physique like mine. But even for me, today it was noticeably more frequent.  Disregarding the usual number of pestering females undressing me with their eyes, I think everyone else was admiring my T-shirt, which is one of my faves.

You’d think after all our visits that I would know the official name for all the rides and attractions. I don’t. Apparently according to my notes we did the “Gorilla Trail thing”.

and eventually the trail led to an actual gorilla.

For the first time in many years next we took the train up to Rafiki’s Planet Watch otherwise known as the place where you pet goats.

However, as nice as the goats were, this guy was my favourite by a mile.

Next, we stroked a cow with horns, which is not a euphemism.

During our safari, our guide had told us that the restrooms at Rafiki’s Planet Watch were the best in all of the theme parks. I therefore felt duty bound to test that theory. I’d give it five minutes if I were you.

They may be the best but they still had that huge gap at the bottom of the door which mean that passers-by could see my knees. Spladosh!

We caught the train back and headed for Yak & Yeti. Louise had been in touch and said she would meet us there. This was no doubt as she had realised he error of her ways and realised her undying love for me. Either that or she really wanted to eat at Yak & Yeti.

As we made our way there, I demonstrated one of my top tips. If you see a huge queue to meet a character, simply take a picture of it with a random child and save yourself half an hour of waiting.

For those of the nerdy disposition, these, I think, are the projectors used for the new tree show thing. They are huge.

As we approached the restaurant, Louise and I spotted each other from a distance and ran in slow motion towards each other, meeting with an embrace and from somewhere romantic music poured out over us.

We waited for about twenty minutes before being seated upstairs.

We ordered some appetizers of Egg Rolls…

and Dad had some Firecracker Shrimp, which I think was due to some tight shorts.

Various strange lemonades and some wine for Louise arrived as we ordered….

Me – Combo Lo Mein

Dad – A Salmon Thing

Mum – Sweet & Sour Chicken

Louise – Teriyaki Chicken

Emily – Honey Chicken

The food was superb again. It was $225 including a healthy tip.

We consulted the app to plot our next move and seeing the safari was just a ten minute wait we decided to do it again for the benefit of Louise. See, I am so kind and considerate ever when she has been totally in the wrong.

There weren’t as many animals out and about at this time which frankly serves Louise right.

You lucky lot, getting two lots of blurry safari photos in one day!

We then walked all the way back to Everest. Louise, Emily and I rode using our recently acquired Fastpasses and then I let Emily and Louise use Mum & Dad’s FastPass to ride again. Again, how lucky is Louise?

As dusk approached we had to get ourselves in place for our first viewing of Rivers Of Light. We thought we could just wander across from Everest to the entrances we could see but no, they were for folks who had made a FastPass for it. Instead, we had to walk about six miles to the other side of the park to the muggle entrance.

We sat for just under an hour waiting for the show to start. That was fine as we were tired and it gave Louise more chances to apologise to me. Having just eaten obscene amounts of Chinese food we had a thirst that was life threatening. It was also very hot of course. It was a bit gutting not to see one drinks vendor wandering about. If I had wanted to buy some plastic tat that would light up, I had vendors walking by every few seconds. But if I needed life saving water, I would have to wait it seems.

There are few better places to be on the planet than a Disney park at dusk.

The show itself was very good. I suspect we’ll need a good few viewings to take it all in.

After the show we spilled out into Dinoland and we immediately bought lots of water and drank it as if we’d be wandering in the desert for a few days.

Louise needed to restroom so we sat for a long while waiting for her to release the chocolate hostages. Once she had returned we wandered slowly through a now quiet park.

We trammed back out to the car and dropped Mum & Dad off at their hotel before heading back to the Beach Club. We read and phoned for a while until sleep took us.

Minor domestics aside, that was a properly good full theme park today. We left satisfied that we’d done a lot.

Till the next time…..


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The Adults Only Tour 2015 – Day Four

Day Four – August 30th

Every now and again, I get asked for planning advice for trips to WDW. This is usually from folks I work with as everyone who reads my blog and these reports probably know more about it than I do. These work folks have no idea of the level of my obsession with the whole thing and should they ever find out that I write detailed trip reports about my holidays then my so far stellar career may well be adversely affected. I have long since stopped telling folks about how big a role these holidays have played in my life so far as it is too hard to explain and instead I smile and nod as they tell me they will buy park tickets when they get there and might not do Disney as their kids are all grown up now at 11.

Anyway, the point of all that is to lead into my admission that we are today about to do our third theme park day on the trot and this is, as everyone knows, blasphemy, especially at the start of the holiday. I’m no big fan of rest days but the theme park legs (you know that feeling right?) and jet lag factor make this a very bad idea. Despite us having eighteen days this trip (that’s right, there’s a long way to go yet my dear readers!) for some reason that now escapes me, today had to be Animal Kingdom.

Thankfully this 4am nonsense was over and I didn’t wake until the glorious hour of 7. Breakfasts and showers were had, which doesn’t half make your bagel soggy (not a euphemism). Pleasingly we were out of the villa at around 8.30, the first time, then after someone ran back in to get what they forgot, I reset the alarm, sighed and rolled my eyes a few times, and we left just before 8.40.

As we were going to Animal Kingdom today we used Sherberth Road noting that those dodgy looking apartments just as you turn off the 192 have finally been knocked down. We arrived at the parking booth just before 9, just in time to sit behind some arse that was asking for directions to Disneyland or trying to sing to the cast member to avoid paying the charge, causing me to undertake the traditional ill-tempered scathing rant about idiots who take an age to pay for their parking. It’s all part of the magic.

We parked in Peacock 4 which was close enough for us to walk in rather than tram. Of course, any distance is close enough to walk, but you know what I mean.  Rebecca risked being sent home (and I mean to the UK not the villa) by needing a wee before we went through the turnstiles. I’d already lost several vital minutes by, as ever, choosing the wrong line at bag check and waiting for that one guard who is swabbing everyone’s bag for traces of anything you bought at Universal.

With Rebecca’s empty bladder we finally entered the park and started the march over to Everest.

We had a FastPass+ of course and we all went on apart from Nana who is not a big fan of the going backwards thing.

Now, I know I am not in the strongest of positions to comment on anyone’s choice of hair style, however, whilst waiting to board I had to capture this.

Twice.

Even the lady at the front of the queue stared in disbelief.

In case you were wondering, my trainers were still looking fresh!

This ride is a firm favourite of ours and we always take this photo of course.

Minus Grandad this time, we rode again via the now ten minute standby line. If it were possible, it was better the second time.

We left the ride full of smiles and pumping adrenaline and headed over to the Rapids so that we could get wet as early as possible. As we made our way over, we partook in what is a bit of a traditional game. It started years ago, and it entails Nana trying to get ice cubes stolen from a drinks cart down the back of the girl’s T-shirts.

Everyone joined in and in an over-zealous moment Sarah tried to get Rebecca who quickly spun round causing Sarah to land a perfect left hook on her nose. There were a few tears but thankfully no blood or recriminations. Again, Nana declined to ride as she had just dried out after her last ride of this in 2005.

Another tradition is that on all and every water ride the one person you do not want to be anywhere near is Emily. She always gets drenched. Louise foolishly gambled that this time would be different based on the law of averages. She was wrong. They got absolutely soaked.

Not satisfied with our level of wetness, Grandad, Emily, Sarah and I re-rode immediately with everyone getting their fair share of moistness. After two rides it was inevitable that I’d have a damp snake to photograph.

It was at least 11.30 by now and everyone wanted to eat but were afraid to admit it. I solved the issue by saying I was starving as we passed the Yak and Yeti counter service and we were probably the first customers of the day.

We had –

6 Honey Chickens with rice for everyone but Rebecca

1 BBQ Chicken Stir Fry for Rebecca

Some egg rolls were involved, and I even managed to remember to order my own food this time.

It was very tasty and we’d be full for at least twenty minutes.

Safari time now, so we made our way in that direction.

Having eaten Chinese food we of course had to stop for water about seventeen seconds later. Louise had borrowed Emily’s sunglasses as she couldn’t find her own!

We didn’t have a FastPass so we joined the alleged twenty minute queue. I am still awaiting my day in court with Disney as that twenty minute wait was closer to thirty. Despite the hour of the day, the safari was a good one and produced the usual collection of blurry shots of animals in the middle distance.

That last one is my only celebrity photo of the holiday. You don’t recognise him? It’s Neal….Rhino Neal.

We had a 1pm FastPass for the Festival of The Lion King and time was tight so we set off at a good pace to get to Camp Minnie Mickey. Thankfully we realised that doesn’t exist anymore and that the Lion King is about a five minute walk from the Safari before we’d walked all the way over there.

We were all still a little moist and it was a bit chilly inside the theatre as a result. Louise was fine though. After twenty years with me she is used to being perpetually moist.

The show was as incredible as ever. We always *know* it’s going to be good, but always leave somehow surprised at how good it actually is.

 

How this was the only photo I took during the show I do not know. I think I was Periscoping (not a euphemism), so that was probably to blame.

Keen to see Sarah’s reaction to the ending of It’s Tough To Be a Bug we headed there next.

As ever, there were birds hanging around wherever I went.

Sarah’s reaction did not disappoint and made the whole thing more enjoyable in a sadistic kind of way.

With three theme park days in our legs we were now ready to not do any more theme parking today. We left the park at 2.30 and headed back to the villa. It was so nice to sit on the lanai, drinking, snacking and reading with intermittent swimming.

A few hours later it was time to get ready for our evening’s plans. Later we would be creating shock and awe at Applebees with our eating exploits, but first we’d arranged to meet up with Beryl York and her family at the villa they were staying in at Clear Song. We’ve been Facebook friends with Beryl for years and we are past masters at meeting folks off of the internet in Florida but there’s always that nagging worry that they may be axe murderers who wear their victim’s skins as a coat.

With those thoughts in our heads and Sarah wondering why she had come on holiday with such weirdos who meet random strangers for no apparent reason we drove the short distance to Beryl’s villa.

Of course, within seconds we knew everything was fine and we were welcomed warmly into the huge villa they were renting. I think it was housing about 635 people as they kept coming out of rooms and saying hello. We had a tour of the villa and then sat and chatted for a couple of hours, stupidly forgetting to take any photos whatsoever. Beryl was lovely as were her entire family and their happiness at being in Florida with all of their families was more than obvious. We have met some lovely, lovely people through our Disney holidays and tonight was no exception. Beryl, thank you to you and your family for making us feel so welcome.

We made our way to the 192 to Applebees, stopping at our villa on the way for urgent wees from a couple of females who forgot to go at Beryl’s, apparently.

There was a twenty minute wait for a table at the restaurant so we studied the menu.

Once seated we ordered some Mozzarella sticks and some shrimp thing as appetisers. They didn’t last very long at all and soon we were on to the main event, some of which I even took photos of.

Grandad – Steak and Shrimp

Me – Something called a Hog Dare Ya which was pulled pork related

Louise – Nachos

Nana – Some Shrimp Salad thing

Sarah, Emily and Rebecca – Burgers

 

The bill was $155. The service wasn’t brilliant tonight, in fact the worst we’d had at an Applebees, which was reflected in the tip. Around this point in the proceedings I developed a cold which would remain with me for the rest of the trip. I battled on like a trooper of course, but as you read every day of the trip from here on in, set aside a minute or so to appreciate my struggle and applaud my selfless determination to not moan about it.

We stopped at the Publix ten minutes after it closed so whatever it was we wanted would have to wait until tomorrow. Bed soon followed as I battled with the severe illness, silently, selflessly and without mention of it for several seconds at a time.

Till the next time….