A Passage To Whingier

So how’s your week been?

I can summarise mine like this….

So mainly I have been fighting the rising resentment of not being able to get a FastPass for anything built after 2010. Talk about first world problems right?

Of course, but it still ticks me off. It must be some sort of unwanted special achievement to book FastPasses for a full two week trip and not get a single one of the FastPasses you really wanted at any park? I don’t count Epcot in that as there is currently no “must have” ride and you can pretty much choose whatever you like, but wherever there is a tricky to get FastPass, I have failed miserably to get even one.

So having a daily sulk on this topic hasn’t detracted too much from seeing our countdown reduce to touching distance. Well, it has, but not enough to matter. With this huge chip on my shoulder, I doubt I’d be able to fit onto Flights Of Passage anyway so it’s maybe for the best.

Maybe this isn’t something worthy of my persecution complex? It could just be that the place is going to be very busy, with Galaxy’s Edge, Food and Wine and summer all happening at the same time. You see, I might believe that if I weren’t getting messages from kindly folks through the week telling me how they all got FastPasses for every ride they ever wanted, and in fact Disney hand delivered them to their UK address asking what time would suit them best. I’m not bitter…..

The new FastPass teiring system at DHS isn’t ideal either. Every ride you want to do is in the same tier so the choice is very limited. With Slinky always unavailable if your surname is Williams, after choosing one “headliner” the second and third choices are all for things that you’d rarely need a FastPass for, like Muppets, Indiana Jones or Frozen Ever After. Hopefully they will readjust that once the Galaxy’s Edge thing has opened and clamed down a bit.

Perhaps this is just Disney’s strategy to encourage folks to stay on site. It seems I have proven that it is impossible to secure first choice FastPasses at 30 days out (please don’t tell me that you got all yours at 30 days, I want to wallow in my own self pity). The thought of staying on site for at least part of next year’s trip has crossed my mind already so maybe it works. I get it. They spend a fortune on new attractions and if you wanna ride it, fork out for an on site stay fat boy or just suck it up on Journey Into Imagination and Carousel of Progress with the rest of the muggles.

In better news, on our commute home on Wednesday I was fighting the urge to run the car into the central reservation as we battled another shitty overly long journey home, when Emily emerged from her cataonic state in the passenger seat to share some exciting news she had just discovered on some social media thing. Reservations were open for some Galaxy’s Edge stuff.

Neither of us knew anything about what might be available but that didn’t stop Emily immediately going onto the My Disney Experience app to see what was going on. The initial signs were not good as there was a message saying that dining reservations were not available via the app due to high demand and they had to be booked on the main website.

Emily followed those instructions, managed to remember the relavant password and started frantically searching for the relevant dates. As we expected to get nowhere near Galaxy’s Edge this year we have done zero research and had no idea what was what, so we had no clue what we might be booking. There were several minutes of tension and stress as we lost 4G for a while mid-booking and the site died a bit but Emily valiantly succeeded in her quest.

As a side note, how far have we come in recent years? There we were doing 70mph on the M60….well probably more like 25mph, but the potential is there, booking stuff via a handheld device for a trip we wont take for a few more weeks. It was only ten minutes ago that I had to speed march to the FastPass ticket machines around the parks elbowing small chldren out of the way to do so. I miss that, it was fun!

So on our first day at DHS we now have a “lunch” reservation at Oga’s Cantina. I say lunch, but the menu looks to be mainly alcohol with some token nibbles but I’m not that bothered. It’s just a way to get us into the general area, in case they start restricting access, so we can have a look around.

In a world where our account has clearly been blacklisted and blocked from getting access to any recently built attraction, I’m calling this a small victory. I have zero expectations of being able to do anything other than that reservation and look round some shops, but we’ll take in the theming and do what we can.

In other trip related news, Rebecca and Tom, but mostly Tom, have been busy creating Freddie’s MNSSHP costume. He has played a blinder and the cuteness is, as the kids say, off the scale.

Up is currently one of Freddie’s favourite films to watch so it is apt too. Just wait till he discovers you get unlimted free sweets on the night too.

The trip is now playing on my mind constantly, mainly as I grumble inwardly about not getting certain FastPasses, but I am mentally remembering and reminding myself of all the things I need to do, sort out and remember to take. You’d think this was all second nature after so many years of practice but no, I still manage to find a way to worry about this stuff.

There are two weeks left at work and my only hope is that the two weeks of our trip last as long as these next two will.

Till the next time…….

Little Cards Of Joy

We have defeated the 80’s and we are at 79 days folks. FastPass day approaches more quickly than my ulcer and with that in mind a welcome and significant delivery came this week.

These little bits of plastic were a very welcome distraction from a week at work I will long remember and yet wish to forget. It was a busy one.

That photo also demonstrates how dirty my laptop is. That’s a result of spending its three year life with me eating my lunch whilst working. There’s probably a whole sandwich somewhere in that keyboard.

Along with the tickets and their inherent ability to get our FastPasses sorted in a bit came news, well more rumours, of a tiered system at DHS. The theory is that all rides will be Tier 1 and all shows Tier 2 and you will only be able to book one Tier 1 and two Tier 2s. Now, I have my doubts that this is actually going to happen, as rumoured, when Galaxy’s Edge opens, mainly as Disney have already said that there will be no FastPasses for Star Wars stuff, at least initially.

It doesn’t sound great though, especially for those long time visitors who have seen all the shows a lot and prefer to do the rides, but I think this may be a symptom of the fears Disney have over the crowds they are expecting and how to control them.

For us, certainly whilst Freddie is so young (and short) it won’t affect us too much. He (and Tom) are still relative newbies, so doing the shows is fine and many of the rides Freddie can’t do yet. Disney will do what Disney will do, and some of the meltdowns I’ve seen on those very sensible and level headed WDW Facebook groups over this is just another reason why I very rarely contribute to any of them.

This year is very much a bonus, we shouldn’t be going year, so I am going to try and be as sanguine as possible when the time comes to get our FastPasses. I will of course fail and be sat at my keyboard, with war paint on and wild eyes, hammering sandwich riddled keys whilst screaming about how shit the My Disney Experience web site is as it crashes for the seventh time that morning and it’s only ten past seven……

Sorry, I just had a flashback to last year…..

If we can get on some stuff, and maybe benefit from the DHS crowds by bagging Pandora related rides, which we couldn’t last year, then all will be well. What will be will be……well, I almost believed that myself.

So 49 days till FastPass fun and games. I’m at the stage where I’m looking for ways to make the holiday seem closer than it is. For example, there are only two more pay days until we leave. See, it’s sooooo close.

In less frivolous news, Louise endured a trip to A&E during last week. The pain levels she was experiencing led to suspicion of a stone of some variety. X-rays, prodding and tests of all her liquids over many hours seemed to rule that out and a follow up visit to out patients a couple of days later confirmed that. As welcome as that news was it didn’t really explain the root cause, but she’s slowly getting better, and should be back at work tomorrow.

She is of course now on trial, having to prove her fitness to travel to Florida without the need to visit our friends at Centracare. As much as our Platinum reward card comes in handy, its to be avoided if we can.

Till the next time……

Every Little Thing About The Magic

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

Not long now.

Anyway, onwards with that over sharing, yes?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Under the Sea ~ Journey of The Little Mermaid

Splash Mountain

Thunder Mountain

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

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

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

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

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

Enough now.

Till the next time…..

Skecher Buy Golly Wow

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

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

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

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

Firstly, the important stuff.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The following day saw similar levels of thought and….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Till the next time….

Book Cover

FastPass Fiesta

FastPass Fiesta

Before we begin, sometimes I share with you some of the great search terms folks get to my blog with via a search engine. Usually it is some mis-spelling of mkingdon, or other random phrases that I’ve blogged about in the past. Well, this new one beats them all and if I have achieved nothing else in my blogging “career” (and I haven’t) this shall be my pinnacle. The search term was…

Dwarf sex blogger

I am proud to know somebody came to my blog after searching for that. God bless you.

This week was FastPass+ week. Since the last time we booked any I’m delighted that the time they open up has changed from midnight Orlando time as it means you don’t have to be online at 5am. Instead, it’s a civilised midday start. As many of you reassured me, as soon as it was 60 days from the start of our reservation, the dates opened up and away we went.

I did have a senior moment initially when I forgot that onsite special folks can book all of their FastPass+ rides for the entire trip once you get to 60 days. Having been off site scum for most of our trips I had put notes in my diary each day to book some more. Having overcome that brief dance with incompetence I was down the rabbit hole of ride selection for quite some time.

Of course, despite there being loads of availability for all rides and attractions this far out, you can never book exactly what you want as they put many of the headliners into the same category from which you can only pick one. I also have to say that Disney could make this selection process a little more intuitive from a web site perspective. I like to think I know how web sites work as that’s been paying the bills for a good few years, but it took me a while to get my head around it. Should anyone from Disney wish to pay me huge amounts of consultancy I have some really good ideas on how to make it better.

So here are our selections

Saturday April 22nd – The day we drive back to Orlando from Siesta Key, so we have gone for all PM times in Epcot.

Mission Space – 11:55

Turtle Talk – 1:00

Soarin’ – 2:10

We had an ADR at Sanaa that day and for reasons I couldn’t remember, that was at 5.15pm. To give us more time in the park I moved that back to 8.20pm after which we may do Jellyrolls.

Sunday April 23rd – Animal Kingdom. An aspirational early start, especially if we’ve done Jellyrolls!

Safari – 10:35 (I’d hope to get an early Everest walk on in before this)

Everest – 11:40

Kali Rapids – 1:40

We have an ADR at Yak & Yeti around 5pm. After that we hope to do Everest again but in the dark for the first and if time allows maybe even a night time safari, before Rivers of Light.

Monday April 24th – A nominal rest day, with a morning at Stormalong Bay and lunch at The Fountain but with minimal time in the parks we’ve booked some afternoon Epcot rides as it’s next door to us.

Mission Space – 2:35

Frozen Ever After (for the first time in forever!) – 3:40

Spaceship Earth – 4:40

Tuesday April 25th – Hollywood Studios

Toy Story Mania – 10:10. Again, I’m hopeful of an early Rock n Rollercoaster prior to destroying all my rivals on this.

Tower of Terror – 11:25

Star Tours – 1:00

Wednesday 26th April – Magic Kingdom

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (with no dwarf sex I would hope) – 9:50. This will be our first time on this ride which after all these years is always a welcome bonus. We should be able to sneak in a Thunder Mountain and maybe Pirates before this.

Splash Mountain – 11:05

Buzz Lightyear – 12:35

We have dinner at Trail’s End around 5pm, so we might be able to book more FastPasses for the afternoon once the last one opens up. Whatever happens we’ll be back in Magic Kingdom at dusk getting ready to watch Wishes for the last time ever. There will be tears.

Fitting planning of this precision into the madness of everyday life is, if I may say, truly impressive. I have more plates spinning than Platey McPlate Spin of Plate Town.

Outside of these FastPass+ bookings I am going to have to have a strong word with myself. We don’t need to charge round the parks like idiots Craig…we’ve done the rides many times before and we can take our time, do what we can, and if things get too busy we can retire to somewhere less busy and smell some roses. I wish myself good luck with that.

Till the next time…..

Studio Here We Go!

Despite a very tiring day on Saturday, we embraced the theme park commando ethos, and Adam made a point of setting his iPhone alarm for 8.00am.  However, with the whole clocks going back thing, this all went wrong, as Adam manually adjusted his phone before going to sleep, only to find the iPhone then adjusted itself during the night.

All this confusion meant that when his alarm went off it was actually 9am, and not 8am.  As welcome as the extra hour of sleep was, this now meant that all our plans of getting to the Studios early lay in tatters amongst our twisted duvets and dirty clothes.

However, we did not do anything stupid, like miss breakfast.  After quickly showering, dressing and packing, we made our way down to the restaurant to find a fairly long queue to get in.  This was a worrying sign for the day ahead.  We were soon shown to a table, and unleashed on the crepery etc once again.

After checking out, we joined the cast of Ghandi outside the hotel, who were all waiting for the next bus to the parks.  As it arrived, Adam trampled several small children and got on, but alas, I was trapped behind people who were quite frankly bigger than me, so I could not get past them.  No matter, the next bus was only five minutes away, and I met Adam at the train station, after he had checked that France actually had trains running today.  Luckily, today was one of those special non strike days in France.

Once again, the scrum to enter the park was large and unorganised, and we had to do it twice, once to get into the Disneyland park, and check our luggage in Guest Services so we didn’t have to cart it round all day, and then again to get into the Studios next door, as the latter has no facility to hold your luggage.  When checking in my bag I put my receipt in my back Jeans pocket, along with my mobile phone (which now has a full charge!).  That might be important later!

 

RC Racer
Don't get RC with me!

Adam was keen to try to ride the RC Racer ride first, as it was new.  Having not arrived at the park at first opening our fears for the queue situation were large and valid, as the posted time was 75 minutes.  As it was only likely to get worse, we decided to give it a whirl, and were then delighted to spot a single rider line.  We clambered through and over a couple of barriers to get to it, and waited around 15 minutes for me to get on first, shortly followed by Adam a few minutes after.

I took a video of Adam’s go, which is both the wrong way around, and the reason I then had minimal battery for the rest of the day again!

The ride itself was another one of those that looked less intense than it turned out to be.  I wouldn’t say I would wait 75 minutes for the two minute experience, but it was good fun, and worth the 15 minutes we waited.

Adam was not keen to ride Tower of Terror, and wanted to take some photos of the new Toy Story area, so I toddled off, VIP Fastpass in hand, to ride it solo.  I couldn’t spot the Fastpass entrance initially, as it had a queue all of its own.  I was shocked to realise that this queue was (mainly) French folk, waiting to speak to the CM, and see if they could get in now with a 2.30pm entry time!!  I floated gracefully to the front, with my timeless, uber Fastpass, and endured the hatred as I was allowed into the hallowed halls.  Once inside, I used local knowledge (from Orlando!) to stand at the right place in the library, allowing me to leave first and get to the loading area.

The ride itself is a good one.  There is no forward moving section as there is in Orlando, but the droppy stuff is just as good.

After meeting up with Adam in the gift shop, we made our way over to the Rock n Rollercoaster.  Another 75 minute wait is thankfully avoided with the magic pass, and again, a ride similar  to Orlando, yet different.  It was very good indeed, and brought out similar shrieks and screams all the way round.

Frank Father of the Bride
Hello Mr Bonks!

Next, was one of my favourite attractions of the weekend, Cinemagique.  This to me is a great example of what Disney does best.  I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone yet to experience it, but it is a live action and film show, brilliantly executed, and thoroughly entertaining.  As an added bonus for me it stars Martin Short, who I love in O Canada, and no matter how many times I see them, makes me howl with laughter, as Franque in the Father of the Bride films.

I did some extensive gift shopping in the area where last night Cast Members were “attacking” guests in a ghoulish manner.  Today was business as usual really, and in a typical Dad type shopping session, we are were quickly in and out of the shop area, equipped with two suitable presents for the girls.  Job done!

Having largely done the park now, in addition to what we covered last night, we headed for the exit, and across to the other park.  You may have noticed a complete absence of food since breakfast, so we remedied this at this stage with a welcome Hot Dog at Caseys.

Suitably refueled, it was time to do battle on Buzz Lightyear.  Being honest, my expectations of victory were low, bearing in mind Adam was a veteran of 35 previous visits.  We got through the first battle, which was the usual congregation of confused French folk around the Fastpass entrance, trying to negotiate with the CM, that it really was time for them to go in.

With a wave of our “golden ticket” we were in, but still had a 10 minute queue or so before loading.  As expected Adam wins easily, however he was very gutted that we both achieved the same level (Level 4) even though our scores were miles apart.  I counted that as a creditable draw, and quickly moved on.

Star Tours was next, and this was almost identical to the one I am used to, apart from, of course, the fact that the pilot does the whole thing in French.  No matter.  Having ridden it countless times I knew the script anyway.

Castle
Dragon's Den

Next, we wandered to the castle.  It was very pleasing to see that they have actually used it for something more useful than just a restaurant, and a place for Tinkerbell to jump off.  There are shops of course, in which Adam bought a Christmas bauble, but they also have an area you can wander around, and do some sort of walking tour, plus in the basement, an impressive dragon in its lair.

After watching a few minutes of the show currently in progress in front of the castle, it was time to make our way out, and head for the train station.  Upon collecting our bags, I discovered that my receipt must have fallen from my pocket upon me taking out my phone to see how little battery I had left somewhere in the park.  Luckily, with some ID and a description of my bag, it didn’t pose a problem.

At the train station, Adam discovered that his original train was delayed by an hour, which would have meant he missed his flight, so after a quick review of the time-table he realised he had to take the train leaving, sort of nowish.

So a rushed thank you (from me) and good-bye, and he was off to his train.  This left me with nearly two hours to kill until my train, so I set off for a wander around Disney Village.  Having my bag with me, I was wanded at the entrance.  Beggars can’t be choosers!!  A touch more shopping happened, in which I picked up a present for Louise, and then had a general mooch.

Disaster was narrowly averted, when in a crowded shop, I turned around only to hear the bag on my back bash into a load of Disney mugs hung up in the aisle.  I closed my eyes, and prayed that no further sounds followed, which would signal the smashing of the mugs, and either a quick getaway or a painful use of the credit card.  Luckily, nothing fell to earth, and I quickly moved on.

Having exhausted my interest in retail, I went back across to the train station, bought a drink and sat outside people watching for quite a while.  I then wandered around the station, and frustratingly discovered a source of power for my phone in the waiting room, about ten minutes before I was due to board!!   A quick injection of juice, a tweet bemoaning the shocking battery performance of my phone, and it was time to go to the platform.

I won’t bore you with the details of the train journeys home, as everything was on time, and pretty uneventful.  I will comment on the delightful food I endured on the Eurostar leg, which was basically a microwaved pitta bread with a slice of dairylea and wafer thin ham.  It only cost me around £7, with a soft drink!

The walk from St Pancras to Euston was brisk, as the time between trains was short, but I made it quite easily, and took my seat in First Class (this is very cheap at 8.30pm on a Sunday night!!), and settled in for the last leg.

Louise picked me up just after 11pm, and I was more than happy to find my own bed about half an hour later.

I have to say that I really enjoyed the weekend, and would once again like to thank Adam, Juz and Craig (the DisneyBrit Podcast folk) for their generous prize, and of course to Adam for looking after me all weekend.

Having never really fancied or planned a trip to Disneyland Paris, I was pleasantly surprised by the experience.  Once inside the parks, they are of the same quality of the Orlando parks, and indeed some parts are better!  For me, my obsession is not just with the Disney parks, but now I realise it is with the whole Florida experience.  The whole place feels like a theme park!!  In Paris, I felt that once outside the gates, the “magic” did not pervade.  I’m not saying anyone was rude, or we had bad service by any means.  It is an intangible thing, that you just feel.

The one thing that did strike me was that unless you are careful, a weekend at DLRP, with the family could get very expensive very quickly.  With flights (or trains), hotel, park tickets, food etc you could easily be into a couple of grand.  I’m sure you can do it for less of course, with knowledge and experience, just like Florida, but I’m not sure I would want to invest that sort of cash into such a short break.

If money was not an issue I would gladly return, with the family, and have a really good time I’m sure.

Thanks for reading these unusual blog posts, and with these travel journals providing a break from sheds, garages, work and general Meldrew style moaning, normal service shall be resumed next time around.

Till the next time…..