My Way

I quite often get asked to give advice to folks considering a Florida trip. I’m sure this is the case for many of us that have been a few times. I do my best, but often find that a lot of what I offer is pretty much ignored. It’s fine…no honestly…IT’S FINE!!

Everyone is different, and even when you get to some level of expertise, everyone does it differently. Everyone else is wrong of course, but you knew that anyway. So that could well be the reason that my wise words are not followed to the letter. Either that, or it could be that those asking for advice are expecting a couple of sentences about how to book cheap flights, the best places to stay and the best time to go, but what they get is an indexed, fully formatted word document with a word count just a little lower than the Brit’s Guide To Orlando.

I like to be thorough, and there are angles that I cannot leave uncovered. That risks them doing Orlando wrong and I can’t be having that.

By the nature of the request most of these folks are first timers and at the risk of sounding really patronising over what in reality is “just a holiday” they have no concept of what they are asking. The sheer scale, complexity and endless nuances of a trip to WDW and beyond is (in my opinion) incomprehensible to people who haven’t been. There are a couple of chapters in my word document about acronyms, so they know to get a FP for BTMR before  heading to Epcot for ROE.

The frame of reference for first timers is typically Alton Towers and when you drop the bombshell that WDW is the size of Greater Manchester you get a knowing smile and a look that tells you they think you are bullshitting.

It’s not their fault they haven’t been before, of course, and you often see questions on these Facebook groups like “Is Disney Springs easily walkable from (insert location)?”

The answer to that is of course that nowhere is walkable from anywhere. It’s a tough ask to walk to the car park of most things, never mind to a whole other location.

We’ve taken a few newbies in recent years and we have some more coming along this time. We’ve tried our best to explain what things are like and what to expect before we go. We’ve spent evenings sharing what we think are relevant vlogs and stuff, but in themselves, with no context, I guess it is hard to grasp what is going on.

So I think I spotted a gap in the vlogger market (Hey Guys!). This may well exist already, but the three minutes of extensive searching I had the patience for has surprisingly failed to find what I’m looking for. What is needed is some sort of beginner’s guide. An overview of the whole thing, outlining the scale etc, then a dive into each park and attraction and then maybe further down the line, some more advanced level stuff about the Magic Band, My Disney app, etc etc etc. This may be a whole series of vlogs due to the amount of stuff to cover. It could be a dream topic for a UK based vlogger as it doesn’t necessarily need them to be in WDW, but it does need a good knowledge of stuff.

So this is where I know get bombarded with such content with messages suggesting my searching skills are slightly worse than my patience levels with YouTube.

So come on, who has done a “So you’re thinking of going to Disney for the first time” vlog? If not you, have you seen one you thought did the trick? If not, why not make one purely for my benefit so I can share it with folks who ask me what it’s all about!

I know there are lots of vlogs based on lists such as the top ten things to do etc etc, the top ten things not to miss and all that. But I’m looking for a explainer video, which starts with a map view of the whole place, a little history, a bit of background on the climate through the year, a bit of on site vs offsite debate…you know, a short concise video that condenses decades of experience and expense into a digestible form.  Can’t be too much to ask surely?

I wait your links and disdain for my lack of patience and poor searching skills.

Till the next time…..

The Smelling of Roses

Welcome to the third in a series of posts all about avoiding blogging about real life, and instead clinging to WDW like some half inflated lilo three miles off the coast of France.

Rebecca’s friend, Sarah, who will joining us on our next adventure came round last night. The first words out of her mouth to me were “How many days till we go?” I may adopt her. The answer was 200, and her excitement levels are impressive for someone who has not been before. I say that, as by default, first timers cannot usually get excited enough as they do not know what they are about to experience.

She really is very, very excited. It’s lovely to see.

It struck me recently that it has been a very long time indeed since we have been with anyone going for the first time. Members of our party are all veterans by now, and so things happen like clockwork. For example, I say we have to be out of the villa by 8.30, and like clockwork we leave just before ten. When we arrive at Animal Kingdom, we all use our tickets to get in, and then they are handed back to me in a silent ceremony before we all set off at top speed to secure Everest FastPasses (old school paper ones!).

It just works. So this time we really must recognise the huge responsibility we have to make sure that we make time and allowances for Sarah, and do not rush past the proverbial roses just because we’ve seen those roses a dozen times before. There is something truly magical about watching someone see this stuff for the first time, and I’m sure we’ll love seeing that wonder in her eyes.

So, as I seem to like lists at the moment here are some things I thought of that we must not breeze past and stop Sarah from appreciating them.

6. The Fireworks.  Whether it is Wishes, ROE or Fantasmic, these spectaculars are still impressive after all these years. Someone seeing these for the first time must be given the time and space to appreciate them in all their glory. These are quintessential Disney, and right at the heart of the Disney experience.

5. Main Street, Magic Kingdom.  Now, I’m not suggesting anything stupid like wandering through shops as we first arrive, as there are rides to be done. However, this walk up Main Street is special even for us, despite our numerous visits, so we must give her the time to soak this in. Later in the trip when time is not as important as our first morning, explaining the names on the windows, wandering the shops, getting a Starbucks and literally smelling the roses is something we must do.

4. Characters. I’ll be honest, it’s been a good few years since we have invested any time in waiting to meet characters. Should an opportunity present itself we take it, but they are rare. I think it is only fair that we set some time aside to introduce Sarah to the whole character experience. I doubt we’ll do two hours (and the rest) for the Frozen girls, but if she doesn’t go home with a good few character photos we won’t have done our job right.

It's been a while

It’s been a while

3. Resorts.  We are big fans and advocates of spending some time in the Disney resorts and I would assume this isn’t something most first timers would do. Wandering the Yacht & Beach and the whole Boardwalk area, especially of an evening is another side to Disney away from the hurly burly of rides and attractions that we should share.

2. Food.  No list on my blog would be complete without it. Sarah can eat, and isn’t one of those young ladies who picks at a salad like a budgie, so she will be in her element in Florida. We have lots of lovely places lined up, with a few new ones even for us. Little things that US folks take for granted, like free refills, outstanding service, great quality and quantity and every meal being an event should make this first experience of US eating a good one.

1. Parades.  Again, having been a lot we don’t tend to invest much time in parades these days. If we happen to be in the right place at the right time we take advantage, but we often do the rides whilst it is quieter and avoid the crowds staking out a section of kerb. For a first timer though these are an essential part of your early WDW experiences. I don’t care if you are eight or eighty, if we didn’t show her these ultimate Disney spectacles at each park we would be letting her down.

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I’m sure there are hundreds more that won’t come to me until we are there, but if you have any experiences a first timer shouldn’t miss let me know.  With Sarah and Rebecca unable to drink in the US they can embrace their childhoods once again and I hope Sarah throws herself into the whole experience head first. With those two together, I’m not sure WDW will know what has hit them!

Till the next time…..