Freddie’s First Florida Fiesta – Day Fourteen 11th September 2018

Freddie’s First Florida Fiesta – Day Fourteen 11th September 2018

Here we go then, with the mixed emotions of the last full day. I salute both of you that made it with me to this point. It feels like this holiday has lasted for months and indeed via the medium of this weekly bloggage it has.

It will end next week, perfectly timed as the last one before Christmas, in a blaze of  travel day melancholy. Then at some point after that, in the haze of Christmas holiday days off, there will be lots of self-reflection, self-criticism of the many planning faux pas, and joy that we were able to share Freddie’s first trip. He made the whole thing very special, but I shall not steal my own thunder as God knows, now the trip is done I will need stuff to write about each week. I’m not sure I remember how to write a weekly blog on non Disney trip subjects. Based on the last couple of months, I am also fairly sure I have forgotten how to do trip reports too.

We rose today intent to wring every last drop out of it, and I had, a few months ago, booked us into Be Our Guest for breakfast as a last day surprise for Rebecca. Beauty and the Beast is her jam (I believe that is the correct lingo) and with this trip being a treat for her 21st birthday, then it felt right to do so.

Our last quick service visit to BOG was not brilliant to be honest, but that was more down to misaligned expectations and to allow Rebecca and of course first timer Tom to experience the theming, breakfast felt like a risk worth taking.

I had already of course had to move our reservation back a bit as there was no chance of being there for the overly ambitious 9am I had foolishly selected back in the UK. It was now a more sensible 10.20 and as such, I had declared that we absolutely had to be pulling off the drive at 9.

As we pulled away at 9.20 I wondered where my authority might be. Again, I had to leather it a little to make sure we did not arrive late and we abandoned the vehicle impressively by 9.45 and got on a tram.

Security and a monorail later and we were in the park by 10.

As we entered Main Street the parade was on. It’s called something like flex it, move it, tight Lycra I think. We watched it from the corner of our eyes as we yomped at pace up towards Be Our Guest.

With that parade thing in progress, our progress was stunted a little and Mikey was prohibited from stopping for a wee to ensure we got to check in by 10.10. Well done me.

We were herded into the queue which reminded me of all the reasons why the quick service thing isn’t that great here. The family in front of us had too many children. So much so that one of them just wandered off towards the back of the queue and neither of the parents noticed. Eventually I tapped them on the shoulder to let them know that young Darlene was somewhere close to Atlanta in a van with blacked out windows. The Mum scuttled off after her and returned full of sheepish thanks and firm holds on the kid’s neck.

It took ten minutes to get to the ordering kiosk things and I did the pressing of the buttons as clearly I was in charge. I executed it flawlessly and then we, somewhat less flawlessly, searched for a table large enough to accommodate us.

All I would say is that having just blown $170 on breakfast it would have been nice not to have loiter next to some party who looked close to finishing and then having to push their post dining carnage to the edge of the table whilst waiting for someone to clear and clean the table. Anywho, with all that done, we were in, seated and you just can’t knock the surroundings.

Although these are quite disturbing to be honest.

I had a Croque Madame, but I was able to walk it off.

Everyone else had Gaston’s Feast, which was not, it turned out, a large ice cream covered in chocolate and nuts.

These were accompanied by pastries.

The food was good and as experience dining goes, you don’t get better surroundings.

We left at 11.10, eager to use our first FastPass of the day which was for Ariel.

This was one of Freddie’s favourite rides. He will carry the Ariel torch for me when I can no longer.

As I now stated as we exited, it was only right that the first timers with us got to experience the pinnacle of Disney magic and so we headed directly to the Country Bear Jamboree. There was, amazingly, no wait for the next show starting a few minutes after our arrival.

Tom and Mikey were, as you can imagine, suitably impressed.

Next, we rode Aladdin’s Carpets, which is a ride I haven’t been on for many a year.

With that done, Pirates looked to be a walk on so that is exactly what we did. At the entrance a show was underway so we watched Jack Sparrow for a little while.

I suspect that isn’t the most flattering photo he’s ever had taken, and we shouldn’t judge his resemblance, or lack of it, to Johnny Depp based upon it.

This the new redhead scene, where to bring it up to date with modern ways, sees her taking a selfie, adding a filter and moaning at the bloke for not leaving his avocado encrusted plate to soak before going into the dishwasher.

We needed a rest at this point. We made it across the way to the shaded seats and sat with a drink for about half an hour. By then it was time for our next FastPass on Splash Mountain. Louise stayed with a sleeping Freddie whilst everyone else rode.

We saw that Big Thunder had no wait at all so we fitted that in quickly before moving on to Splash.

It was 1.55 by the time we had done both of those mountains and the parade was about to start. I power walked back to Louise and Freddie to collect them and told the rest of the party we’d meet up after the parade. We found a spot for the parade which was unintentionally directly across from everyone else. Spooky.

By jingo it was hot, and we experienced a little piece of Disney magic as the cast member on a nearby stall came over and handed us a couple of water bottles for free. Our spot had Freddie nicely tucked into the shade and enjoying a cold wet towel.

Here you can see Anna and Elsa drinking in my sweaty sexiness.

“Hmm, look how the sweat stains from under his arms are almost meeting up with the one down his back!” Said Elsa

“Dreamy” agreed Anna

“Look how those shorts don’t leave much to my imagination….” said the one from Princess and The Frog, using her arms to emphasis the point.

And here, if ever a Disney character reflected my appearance….

As the parade ended we were literally melting. It was ridiculous and we just needed to cool down a bit. We headed into the nearest shop and just stood in it for ten minutes until our sweat started to dry.

Feeling a little better we headed off for a Disney first. In all these years we had never tried a Dole Whip and now we headed off to put that right.

It was delicious and very welcome in the scorching heat.

We headed for Jungle Cruise next and encountered the longest queue of the trip. It had to be endured as of course we wouldn’t get another chance this trip to ride this one.

On the trail of tidying up the other stuff we hadn’t done yet, Monsters Inc was next, so we headed in that direction.

With Louise having sat out with Freddie a lot, I volunteered to miss this one and I took him over to some benches near Space Mountain whilst he snoozed in his stroller. I left the camera with the girls though, who captured Tom starring in the show.

Whilst they enjoyed the show I sat under the People Mover listening to the same announcement every ten seconds. Another few minutes and I may have cracked. Luckily the return of the others saved me and we moved away.

Freddie now needed a feed and like everyone on this trip, food makes him happy.

Whilst he was being fed we did some wildlife photography.

We did a baby swap for Space Mountain next, with Rebecca and Tom going first. As we waited Louise used the personalised merchandise counter thing to get a new phone case done with her name on it. It would have been handy to take a photo of it to show you here but I didn’t.

We had to wait about twenty minutes for that to be made so everyone else walked down to Main Street to do some last day shopping. We caught with them, did some shopping of our own and took the last photos of the castle for this trip. The dark clouds perfectly reflected the feelings of leaving Magic Kingdom for the final time on our trip.

With a Halloween party that evening we couldn’t, as we would usually, spend the last evening in Magic Kingdom and we were headed over to Epcot for Reflections instead. It didn’t make it any easier as the monorail pulled away.

To prolong the pain, the resort monorail we were on was delayed due to some local lightning. I was starting to get concerned about our reservation at Beaches & Cream for tea as it was currently 6.10 and we were booked in at 7.20. By 6.20 we were off and we smoothly moved from monorail, to tram, to car and sped across to the Beach Club to park the car.

I’ll be honest, most of the motivation for eating at Beaches & Cream was to be able to park there so we would have a much easier exit after the fireworks. The other reason was of course the food…

That was my Reuben and it was excellent.

Louise and Mikey had a burger…

and we all had cheesey fries.

We were split over two tables, so I was too far away from the others to annoyingly take photos of their food.

Once full we walked out into the darkened delight of the Boardwalk area at night.

We made our way to International Gateway and we took up “our spot” at 8.40, feeling some last night feels.

We waited for a bit for the torches to be blown out…

And then it started…

Freddie was fine with the noise, completing a trip where he just dealt with everything like a professional. He had been an absolute star.

There were tears, lumps in throats and all the usual emotions. It was a quiet walk back to the car, for me especially. I find this bit tough. I won’t be able to articulate it here but it won’t stop me trying. It’s memories and nostalgia from previous trips, wondering if we’ll make it back to see all this again added to thoughts of going home and the mixed feelings of seeing family members and pets, yet knowing work is on the horizon. Let’s just say this is not the favourite part of the holiday.

We made our way home by 10pm (that’s why you park at the Beach Club!) and we all retired to bed.

Till the next time…..

 

Party Of Seven

Party Of Seven

I shall start with what the kids these days call a shout out! It is a double one in fact as today is not only Mother’s Day, but also my Mum’s birthday, and a significant one too. Happy Birthday Mum and Happy Mother’s Day to you and all the other Mum’s in my life, Louise, Mary (Mother in law) and Rebecca. You are all awesome and I’ll be seeing you all later to state this in person.

It’s been a busy week of organising what we’ll be eating in 180 days time. This is completely normal. I don’t know what we’re having for tea tonight, but I do know our dining arrangements for late August/early September.

Last week’s post brought news of our first ADR at Whispering Canyon. So far that successful streak has broadly continued despite some hurdles along the way. My spider senses were spot on with my concerns over trying to book Beaches & Cream for a party of seven. My first few searches resulted in a quack quack oops (ah, DLT, may God have mercy etc) and this was disturbing as I really want the Kitchen Sink experience for the newbies in our group.

By reducing our party size I did begin to see some options appearing and eventually booked a table for three at 3.50. Once that was secured, I went to edit it and tried to up the party size to seven. It was having none of it, but it did let me increase it to four. In an act of desperation I fell on my sword and had to make *that* phone call to Disney. Now, I haven’t phoned for an ADR in years so can someone please explain how I remembered the phone number, international codes and all? I spoke with an actual cast member, put on my best Hugh Grant accent and asked for a table for three around the same time. The cast member was lovely, but had nothing. Ah well, at least I had exhausted all options.

So the plan is for four of our party of seven to go and do that and Louise and I, with either Freddie or Mikey to walk up to The Fountain at The Dolphin for a similar soda shop experience, if of course we can’t secure a walk up around that time.

The next day was relatively straight forward in comparison as we were not trying to fit a party of seven into a restaurant the size of our front room. Via Napoli, Emily’s choice, was our aim and albeit a little earlier than we had originally planned we snagged a table for seven at 3.40. I’m fairly happy with that time as by the time we finish, it won’t be long until dusk, when Epcot’s World Showcase transforms from one of my favourite places in the world to one of my favourite places in the world with twinkly lights and fire torches.

Having stated on several occasions that “we don’t need many ADRs” the next day was our first ADR free day so there was no booking to be done. For those who care, it is a day filled with Toothsome for lunch and Applebees for tea (dinner). I see no issue with that, and that may indeed be a problem.

We are now up to the 3rd of September and the plan says it contains one of the few full theme park days. We will be Hollywood Studios and there had been a request from Louise to dine at the Hollywood Brown Derby. With food, as with her men, her taste is for the classy. Now, I had done a little research into the Fantasmic Dinner Package. Despite several years in the noughties where we booked this thing at vast expense only for Fantasmic to be rained off, I am a glutton for punishment and wanted to book that again. Not having to sit on those bleachers for an hour with a numb bum and a bored ten month old appealed to me.

I don’t know why, but currently there are no dates beyond August for booking this package. Whilst this raises a small concern about Fantasmic being down (surely not), for now I have booked us an ADR at The Brown Derby and I’ll keep an eye on things and swap that to the package as and when it becomes available.

Onwards to the next day which again is a non ADR day with just some light bites at Keke for breakfast and Cowfish for tea. I may have a problem. I admit that.

The following day is another of those full theme park days at Animal Kingdom. This always has to include Yak & Yeti or Louise won’t let us go to Florida again. When trying to book this one we came up against the party of seven issue again. Not one option for that party size at all, so we had to search for a party of four. Having plenty of options for that and having booked for 6.30, another search for a party of three returned nothing, with a link to view my existing plans. This suggested to me that the web site knew I had a booking already and for that reason wasn’t letting me book another. We got a bit sneaky at this point, and we used Emily’s My Disney Experience account to search. Sure enough, she was presented with plenty of options and booked for three at 6.15. This seems a lot of faff for larger parties but as all Disney’s top executives read this every week, it’ll soon get sorted I’m sure. If for no other reason that as two seperate prties they can’t automatically add the 18% gratuity for parties larger than six.

Yesterday, I was looking at our plans for the 6th of September, when we plan to do the Not So Scary party. The plan says Olive Garden, but I had a tentative option of trying to get us into Be Our Guest. I was quite amazed to see an option for a party of seven and in a blur of excitement I booked it. It was only when the dust had settled that I realised it was Quick Service lunch at 2.30. With a second look, there are no times being offered beyond 2.30. Usually you can search for any time and just get no results, but there are no later times shown as a search option, so I’m guessing that’s because of the early closing of the park for the party.

Anyway, I cancelled that Be Our Guest reservation as we’ve done lunch there before and it doesn’t compare to the dinner experience so I’ll see if we can get that booking on another day.

So that’s been my week. I’ve somehow managed to fit in a really busy week at work and a gig this weekend too. I am impressed if nobody else is!

We are pretty much done now for ADRs beyond that vague intent to try and get into BOG at some point and Edison. However, if we get BOG, we may have to sacrifice Edison to fit that in. NASA have less complicated plans for space exploration.

I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted after all that.

Till the next time….

The Adults Only Tour 2015 – Day Three

Day Three – August 29th

The novelty of the 4am wake up had worn off at this point. I’m all for it on the first morning as the excitement of getting to a park for the first time numbs the pain of the lack of sleep, but by now, to be honest, I’d rather be sleeping.

Having said that, I was asleep by about 7pm last night so it was to be expected I suppose.

I tossed and turned until about 5am, which made a right mess of the bed sheets. I booted up the villa’s PC, made a brew and a bagel and came back to see it still trying its best. Once online I started doing what every male at a PC does when alone in the wee small hours. I tried to locate a shop that sold trainers. It’s an odd fetish, sure, but I’m not doing anyone any harm.

Louise had “forgotten” her trainers. When I was charging around the house on the day we left at another ungodly hour, before nipping out to pick Sarah up and ensuring that everyone who had been incapable of setting an alarm was actually awake, Louise had casually mentioned that her trainers were in the coat cupboard in the kitchen and could I put them in the case. I forgot/didn’t have time and now it was my fault that she had none and we had to go shopping this morning to get some.

Having located a shop that looked to stock cheap trainers, other folks started to rise around 6am. Rebecca and Sarah took a dip in the pool, which was allowed as we were not due to leave the villa till mid-morning. Traditionally day two is a rest day, but as we’d only been able to get a Be Our Guest reservation today, for lunch, we had to return to the Magic Kingdom, like it or not. The plan was to arrive just before lunch, do BOG and then pick up whatever rides we could despite the crowds.

Just the four and half short hours after I was awake, Louise and I left for the trainer shop. It was about a ten minute drive and after a similar amount of time we realised that the Payless Store was named such as it stocked shite I wouldn’t set on fire to keep warm, much less wear on my feet. Having been foiled in our quest for trainers we went to the next shop along. As the name of the Payless Store had been very honest about the stuff it sold, imagine my concern as we entered this next shop which was called Dicks! Thankfully, it was a sport shop. I did note a subtle difference to JD Sports in that a sign on the door requested that all guns should be left at Customer Services.

Louise tried on a few pairs of trainers, chose the most expensive ones available and we were on our way. But no, Louise spotted a discount women’s clothes shop and we ended up in there for the best part of an hour looking at bras. This morning was not as much fun as you might imagine it to be if you were told you’d be spending your time with Dicks and bras. To top off the fun, we trotted round Target to for more “bits” which included (for some reason I wrote this down) sugar and another bra.

We got back to the villa at 10.45. Amazingly everyone was ready. I walked out again, convinced I’d walked into the wrong villa.

We left at 11.15 and parked in Hook 77. Upon boarding the tram Emily shared her pleasure with the concept of mornings.

Others seemed more awake.

As we left the tram Rebecca had to restroom but at least she had the decency to know how wrong this was and apologise for her weakness. This did mean that we missed the ferry boat that had been docked invitingly for us as we left the tram. So we had a ten minute wait for the next one.

This allowed me ample opportunity to take some photos of the new cabin things at the Poly.

You may, I will admit, find better photographs of these elsewhere on the internet.

Running out of things to photograph, I was pleased that the boat turned up and we boarded.

We waved at folks on the other boat, and soon enough completed the crossing.

Main Street never gets old and I feel compelled to take (the same) photos whenever I set foot on it.

However, I do like the last two, with both the girls with Minnie Ears in front of the castle. I told you my photos were vert artsy.

Our first stop was at a FastPass+ kiosk outside Stitch. This is the closest you will ever find me to this “ride” as it is an abomination and should be killed with fire. I was trying to see if we could add/swap any of our FastPasses for today as they weren’t our ideal selections. Nothing was available so we were advised to come back once we’d used one of our currently booked ones.

We then made our way over to Be Our Guest for our lunch reservation. I’m pretty sure this was meant to be a photo of the Mine Train ride and not a very poor attempt at photographing Louise.

I checked in with a flash of my Magic Band and we were told to join the queue. Surely, the definition of a reservation was to not have to, but hey ho, join we did. Now, the last time we dined here was for dinner and it was truly one of the best experiences we have had at WDW. The theming was incredible, the service great and the food as good as can be expected in a theme park. After we had eaten we had left to an empty (closed) Magic Kingdom and had a lovely stroll out to the exit taking loads of photos and enjoying the peace and quiet.

Often when you try to recreate something like that it is doomed to failure, but Sarah and Nana and Grandad hadn’t been and we felt we should give it a go for them. However, a lack of knowledge on my part with some stupidity thrown in for good measure was to lead to what was a bit of a disappointment.

So this queue went on for an age and I had no idea why. We were given a menu in the queue and eventually once at the front, realised that there were a set of kiosks at which we were to enter our order before we found a table. I honestly had no clue lunch service was like this, so that’s my own lack of research, but I didn’t feel great about it.

Ordering in this manner for seven people is not the easiest task in the world, plus, as we’ve established over the years, I’m stupid. So as we got to our table and our sandwiches (that’s pretty much all you can get) arrived, we were missing one…mine. Yep, I had been so intent on making sure everyone had ordered theirs, I forgot to do my own. So I had to go back to a kiosk and ask the CM if I could sneak in and order one more, which of course they let me do.

The theming of course was still lovely…

However, by the time I had ordered mine and got back to the table everyone else had finished. Again, I know this is my own fault!!  Drinks were obtained from a McDonalds style dispenser and the whole thing was a bit like eating a football match. Had I known lunch was done in this way we probably would not have bothered. My own incompetence apart with the ordering cock up the whole thing felt incredibly mass market (yes, I know I’m in a theme park, but I know it can be done better than this….cos Disney do it!).

Add to all this that Louise’s beef sandwich arrived still mooing and had to be sent back, and we can declare this not to be our favourite dining experience to date.

I can however confirm that this stuff is indeed delicious.

We did a few photos as we left…

and headed over to Jungle Cruise for our first FastPass. It was very, very hot which meant that Louise declined the ride in favour of sitting in the sun. The rest of us boarded our second boat of the day.

I had to record the back side of water of course.

Our captain was good, but not the best we’ve had. It got a bit wet, but luckily I had some trunks to hand.

As we had done Small World yesterday we changed our FastPass for it now to Buzz. Yes, we did that one yesterday too, but Small World is a labour of love and need not be repeated. Plus, I had pride and revenge to seek out score wise.

Our next FastPass was for Peter Pan. Alas we were too early to ride so we went to get a drink at Pinocchio’s place. We sat outside under some brollies in the incredible heat letting our sweat run freely wherever it wanted to.

Soon enough, we could do Peter Pan, which funnily enough was something often heard when Jim Davison was in pantomime.

Next, we wandered over to Tomorrowland, with some clouds threatening to add to our moistness. It was so humid that frankly I was willing the heavens to open.

In need of some air con and a sit down we decided to go into Carousel Of Progress for both.

Grandad was asleep in seconds but the rest of us sang along like all normal folks are compelled to.

We had a look around the Merchant of Venus shop next and Emily got some sunglasses to avoid her looking so squinty in every photograph. At this point Grandad’s God Shoes (he meant to say Jesus Sandals but once he’d called them God Shoes once, the name stuck) broke. The strap at the back was hanging off and he was now hobbling around trying not to lose it! In an attempt to take his mind off that we went into the Laugh Club.

Rebecca was featured in the pre-show where they show audience members on the screen which delighted her almost as much as it pleased Emily, as it meant it wasn’t her up there. How two daughters raised identically by the same parents can be so different is mind blowing.

After another enjoyable show here we went next door for our recently acquired FastPass for Buzz. I scored a much more respectable 293,000. Louise left claiming something around 500,000, which frankly I didn’t believe.

Space Mountain had a wait beyond our tolerance, so we decided to step out of the crippling heat for a little while by venturing over to a monorail resort for a drink and a sit down. The Contemporary was the nearest so we ended up there, up in the Outer Rim bar.

We were all glad of the cool and the comfort.

I contemplated important things like the meaning of life, why I have more than one chin and why I gave Louise the camera.

The girls sat a suitable distance away from us so as not to be linked in any way to Grandad’s broken God Shoes.

We had a couple of rounds of drinks including beers and cocktails as the promised rain came down in some style. After two hours and a growing bar bill there was no sign of it stopping so we ditched the plans we had to go back into the park and headed for food and home in that order.

To prevent us getting drenched on the way I handed out the ponchos I had stuffed into Ryan earlier. It was a nice touch to find these in the garage at the villa saving us multiple dollars! What I didn’t know was that one of them was a child’s size and Sarah got that one. What followed was a hilarious few minutes as she tried to put it on only to have it stuck over her head for about two minutes whilst the rest of us laughed supportively.

Here she is, once again, able to breathe.

We got the monorail out to the TTC where it was as damp as we had expected.

We headed towards the villa not knowing where we would eat. I spotted a Black Angus at the junction of the 192 and our turning onto Old Lake Wilson Road and suggested that. We had a great meal at one of these back in 2004 or 2005, so of course that guaranteed the same tonight!

I did the gentlemanly thing and pulled the car right up to the door to let everyone out before I went off to park, knowing I would be soaked by the time I sat down to eat. As everyone was piling out I felt a bump and the whole car rocked. It turned out a chap reversing out of the disabled spot by the door had hit us. He was very apologetic and as no damage could be seen at all and more to the point it was absolutely pissing it down, we didn’t feel the need to get his details and we let him drive off, with him expressing his thanks.

My notes on what everyone had are patchy, but here goes.

Me and Emily – Southern Fried Chicken and Mash

Grandad – Steak (detailed, I know).

Nana – Burger

I have no clue what was had by everyone else but it all seemed to go down pretty well. Rebecca was struggling a bit with women problems so she didn’t eat that much and was a bit quiet and grumpy. With that in mind and our dampness this meal won’t go down in the history books as one to remember but it was fine.

We paid $160 and ventured out again into the rain. I ran to get the car and avoided any further collisions as everyone boarded at the door. The rain intensified as we drove home and the lightning was incredible. We were home and in bed by 10.

Till the next time…..