There are a few good things about these weekly blogs. Often I search my blog to find out when something happened when my memory fails, and then there’s the weekly amusement of seeing people still coming to my blog after searching to see if Olly Murs had a hair transplant.
Go on, google it, you’ll see.
One downside is that it is an almost permanent reminder of all the times I talk absolute nonsense or tell fibs. It was only a couple of weeks ago when I was justifying to myself how our plan to go this year would be fine as we’d do it really cheap. We wouldn’t be doing any ADRs and we’d be in a cheap as chips villa just north of Miami.
So, last week I booked two ADRs. One reason for that was that I got a bit over excited that I actually could. Booking so close to the trip comes with perks like that. The first ADR I blame on Freddie. Clearly, you can’t go to WDW with a toddler and not do a character meal, right? So Chef Mickeys was added. Rebecca made that choice on his behalf and we’re both pretending that it really is for Freddie when we both know different.
That will of course be an expensive breakfast, but, all the main characters will be there and it will be a civilised and sugar filled way to meet them without the hassle and queues in the parks. See, I can justify most WDW related expenses.
That was going to be it. We have a long, long list of eateries that we wish to go to and none of them are on site. So, the reasoning behind our second ADR booking is frankly a little more shaky. I think the best I can do is, I wanted to go.
It came about in a chat during a Rebecca, Tom and Freddie visit. I can’t remember the exact details of it, but it involved food, specifically large amounts of food, mashed potato and deep-fried chicken. Anyway, a day later this happened.
Your dining reservation is set.
Trail’s End Restaurant Dinner
Sunday, September 1, 2019(6:25 PM, Dinner)
I appreciate that is a bit of a random selection. We have history there though and have loved it each time we have dined there. The journey there, if done by boat from the Contemporary or Magic Kingdom is delightful too. Freddie will love the boat ride I’m sure and seeing the huge horses at the camp ground too. See, any expense you like and I can justify it. And, mashed potato.
That day is an official rest day on the plan. That’s right, I have a day by day plan already, what of it? You know how our rest days go, so we’ll probably be getting restless by mid-afternoon so we can get ourselves ready, head to the Magic Kingdom and get the boat over from there. After eating, assuming I am not close to an over indulgence related coma, who knows, we may scoot back over to the Magic Kingdom for an evening stroll around the twinkly lit delights. There’s something vert different about the parks in the early evening darkness and that applies especially to the Magic Kingdom. These types of visits come without the pressure to ride anything, and just allows time for a bit of rose smelling and lovely memory making stuff like the dance party over in Tomorrowland.
It will be Labor Day weekend so if the crowds are too heavy it matters not, we can leave them to it and take our food babies home.
It also allows me to work off everything I just consumed by walking around for twenty minutes. That’s how it works right?
I think that’s it for ADRs though. Honest. We don’t have any room for them to be honest and of course we are on a budget. The only other place that tempted me was Via Napoli. We had lunch there last year and the pizza is sensational. They do a counter service though so we may grab a slice from there. Confession time. It won’t be a bloody slice, it will be several. Seriously, who just has one slice of pizza?
So we’re settled into the countdown now, and indeed, have a good old-fashioned visual of that on our fridge. It’s the small things….
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.
After all the moaning about being tired yesterday, it seemed our collective bodies now hated us as many of the group had spent the night awake and ill. Louise had a crappy cold and nobody in Rebecca and Tom’s room got any sleep as Freddie was up coughing all night.
We were a weary and sickly bunch this morning. The plan had us all down for a character breakfast at O’hana, and that, by jingo, would still be happening, but only after a count of survivors fit to travel. That came down to the hard-core of me, Emily and Mikey. I amended the ADR via the app and we set off for the Polynesian leaving everyone else to get themselves better for the MNSSHP party later.
This is a lovely resort, and of course, if somebody wants to gift me a stay at it, I’d be grateful but it doesn’t feature in my list of places I’d love to stay at. The villas look awesome out on the water but I think I would put Wilderness Lodge, Beach Club and (just to say we’d done it) the Grand Floridian above it on my list.
The queue to check in for our meal was the longest of our trip so far. What can people be talking about for so long to the poor patient cast member?
Once we had finally got to the desk and spent about twenty seconds checking in, we took a seat in the lobby for two minutes until we got our text to say the table was ready. Our seater, (is that a word?) in the short journey to our table had discovered where we were from, asked several questions about it and then described a summer she spent in Bury St Edmunds. I guess she does that a lot.
Once seated we were juiced up and served this delicious pineapple bread thing.
We destroyed that whilst waiting for our platter to arrive….
We all declared the waffles the pick of the platter but happily tucked away everything we had been brought plus selected seconds.
The timing of the meal was great. Character meals can be rudely interrupted by characters, but this morning, we were left in peace to eat and only as we were feeling so full we may be sick did some friends turn up.
Stitch was great fun and really demonstrated how character interaction should be done.
Vowing never to eat again (spoiler – we did), we strolled back to the car and drove back to the villa.
Everyone was resting up around the pool and Freddie was having a sleep making up for what he missed last night.
I had a quick dip and a read, but not at the same time.
Having missed out on the huge breakfast and having to have made do with whatever stuff we had in the villa for their breakfast, Rebecca and Tom were starving now and itching to get going. It was 3pm by the time everyone was ready and of course on the way we stopped at Walgreens. This time it was for cough medication for Freddie and to collect my one million point loyalty card reward.
We parked up in the Magic Kingdom car park and trammed it into the TTC. Freddie needed a quick change so we enjoyed the raging heat whilst waiting and, with no immediate rush to be on any ride, I allowed us to take the ferry instead of the monorail. This was mainly due to the fact that I could see the ferry sat waiting for guests and there was a queue on the ramp up to the monorail.
We set off on the short walk to the ferry and with about six steps remaining to the gate, the cast member shut it and said we’d have to wait for the next one. The four minutes we had to wait for the next one would of course, in my mind, ruin the whole day.
Still, I’ve waited in places with a worse view I’ll admit.
We were on board soon enough and ready to set sail.
Once in the park we were directed right just past Tony’s to an area where we would collect our wristbands and candy bags, who, I had mistakenly thought was a 70’s porn star.
We picked up our first lot of candy, sampling a couple of pieces as we headed to sort out the hunger issue properly at Casey’s with various shapes of hot dogs.
We ate outside, fed the ducks a bit and admired the costumes some folks had put a huge amount of effort into.
The first order of business was our Space Mountain FastPass so we headed over to Tomorrowland.
Sorting out the rider swap was a right pain in the arse here as the magic tablet they normally use was broken. The cast member had a huge group of folks gathered around her trying to sort things out and she was having to remember faces to allow folks to ride once the first part of groups had done so. It was almost a longer wait to do this than it was to do the standby.
Eventually we were seen and Rebecca and Tom rode first. It took quite a while, more so as the (I assume temporary) exit now is right around the back and it’s a fair old walk back to the entrance.
It was 5.50 by the time the second lot had ridden and restrooms were needed by some weaker members of the group. This meant that we missed our FastPass for Peter Pan which ended at 6, with the park closing then for the party. As penance for needing that wee Louise then watched a sleeping Freddie whilst the rest of us headed to the two mountains in Frontierland. They were both walk ons.
We had arranged to meet up with Ceara again this evening so we did this now before heading back to Louise who was in Liberty Square.
Next it was Haunted Mansion which I guess is a must do at the Halloween party. It was busy but Ceara worked her cast member magic and literally got us in the back door to avoid a twenty-five minute queue. Freddie needed changing and Mikey needed the loo so we rode without them.
I don’t know why but I thought that this chap had a very fetching hair cut.
As we exited there were some actors up on the lawn who were very entertaining.
We watched them for a little while before reuniting with the others and bagging some more candy in Fantasyland. We then took in Mickey’s Philharmagic and did some actual buying of some stuff in the shop at the exit.
It was raining quite hard at this point and we walked over to Small World hoping to ride and avoid the wet stuff. There was a fifteen minute queue but again Ceara had us whisked through to ride immediately. I did feel a bit guilty walking past the queue. We got some strange looks as of course there are no FastPasses during a party night so everyone was probably wondering what we were doing.
I figured over the years, I’ve paid Disney enough cash to warrant the odd bit of good fortune.
Having ridden this countless times, tonight we experienced a first. It broke a bit and the music stopped, as did our boat and we experienced it in silence for quite a while. Some may say that was a blessing. It extended our ride anyway which Freddie was happy about as he loved this one.
We were going to ride the Mine Train next but it was down due to the weather so Ariel was the alternative.
Another Freddie favourite.
Next, Rebecca and Tom took Freddie on Dumbo and the rest of wandered the huge shop nearby. Somehow I emerged with huge Rice Krispy treats and slushes for all which we all enjoyed before returning to the now functioning Mine Train.
Freddie was alseep again after all his riding exploits so Rebecca and Tom sat out with him whilst the rest of us rode. This is an excellent ride and very smooth. I think it feels better in the dark too.
We did another candy stop and then made our way to the castle for the 10.45 show featuring the Sanderson sisters. We found a place to stand in the crowds and waited.
We waited some more and it became clear, mainly due to it being announced several times, that the show was delayed due to the weather. It wasn’t raining now but the stage was wet and an army of folks were on it trying to dry it out.
Eventually they declared that the show couldn’t go ahead but the sisters did come out and they performed one song to avoid riots breaking out in the crowd.
We stayed where we were waiting for the parade.
We took the opportunity to take some pictures in front of the castle with the crowds now moving away to bag parade spots. This was one of those moments you can’t plan for. We literally had the area in front of the castle all to ourselves and it was lovely to let Freddie explore a bit and take too many photos.
The parade was excellent and we had a great view despite not staking one out.
After the parade, Freddie dropped off to sleep and knowing that the impending fireworks would wake him up, Rebecca and Tom decided to walk back to the car with him.
With a now dry stage the 12am Sanderson sisters show went ahead without a hitch. The three sisters really are excellent.
When the show finished we decided not to leave with the crowds and we hung back instead enjoying the castle.
After a while we started to make our way out through the shops, buying more stuff and by the time we got to the exit it really was getting late now.
We got the resort monorail and the tram back to the car at 1.15. We dropped Ceara off at her apartment and made it back to the villa at 2am. We were all beyond exhausted but I think everyone agreed that this party was a massive highlight of our trip. I don’t know it took us until now to do it, but it won’t be the last time for sure. I also have my eye on the Christmas party at some point!
After the very fine and full day yesterday, the plan recognised the need for some R&R. So there was no rush to be anywhere this morning and folks were allowed to get up when they wished.
I might have wished to be in bed until about 10, but my body clock had me up earlier than I might have liked. Resisting breakfast, knowing what the plan was, proved tricky. We were all ready to go at 10.50 and the sat nav was programmed with the location of a new eatery for us, Keke’s. We hadn’t had a US style, rib busting, double chin causing, T-shirt stretching, guilt inducing mega breakfast yet, so today was the day.
Now, we could have just driven a few minutes up to the 192 and done some pancakes and stuff at a Dennys or similar, but dining is an event on our holidays, and based on a fair amount of online praise and some blog reader recommendations, we had been salivating over the menu at Keke’s during the planning phase for many months.
So we did the half hour drive and arrived to endure a ten minute wait to get a table.
I’m not sure you can read this, but we reminded ourselves of the menu choices…
I had been pretty sure that I would be going for pancakes. The other stuff looked very appealing but there is always a mild concern that the other dishes might not contain the girth I was looking for. Size is important.
We ordered coffees and juices, in most cases one of each, and Emily had a hot chocolate.
and then we ordered…
Me and Tom – Blueberry Pancakes
Louise – French Toast with some sides that I didn’t write down
Mikey – Pancakes & Sides
Emily – Stuffed French Toast
Rebecca – Chocolate Chip Pancakes
I truly can’t believe that I didn’t photograph those and I suspect my camera or SD card has “lost them”.
My word, those pancakes were thick, satisfying and a perfect demonstration of my stupidity and bad relationship with food. I loved them.
We did feed Freddie, don’t be fooled by the manic longing in his eyes.
Those pancakes soaked up maple syrup at an alarming rate and we went through a huge bottle between us. I didn’t finish all of my pancakes to be honest. Knowing I had to drive home I thought it best not to pass out and/or vomit over the steering wheel. Tom made a very valiant effort, especially when he went for the large portion size of four pancakes compared to my meagre three!
After parting with $130 and any chance of ever fitting into my “smaller T-shirts” ever again, we waddled to the car and it was a subdued journey back through a few scattered rain showers. Louise suggested that we detour through Celebration to show our newbies, so we did. Who says my planning is not flexible?
We kerb crawled through the ‘burbs for a bit, picking out our lottery win houses, before heading back to the 192 and the villa. We were home by 2pm and we spent some time around the pool, but clearly not taking any photos! All this resting!!
Whilst we lay, read, swam and rested the pool cleaner came. We pointed out that one of the panels on the pool net thing was broken and she said she would let the relevant folks know. Indeed, a man was with us in double-quick time later that day to sort it. Freddie did some swimming and then was whisked away for a bath whilst the rest of us got ready.
We left, bound for Magic Kingdom at 5.20 after feeding Freddie. How he could eat at this point was a mystery to me. Due to reasons, tonight would be the only night we would be able to see Happily Ever After. A lot of nights at Magic Kingdom were taken up with MNSSHP so it was tonight or not at all.
Obviously, like an over eager, do it all knob, I had also shoe horned some FastPasses in before the fireworks.
We parked in Jafar 310 and trammed it in. A monorail ride later and we were into the park.
Oh look, I remembered to take a photo.
We walked through the castle and into Fantasyland.
We had a FastPass for Winnie the Pooh and this would be our first ride of this for many a year.
Perhaps it was better when I wasn’t taking photos….
Freddie definitely enjoyed the ride, but he enjoyed the shop at the exit equally.
I am ashamed to say that we were a little hungry at this point. We walked down to Tomorrowland and mobile ordered some hot dogs from The Lunching Pad.
It took an age and I was not happy about it. See how furious I am by the arch of my eyebrow.
We waited for a bit longer….
Until I reached my limit and wandered up to the counter. I asked a Cast Member who, I have to say was not the brightest I have ever met. She looked at the computer, found my order and pressed a button, and hey, look at that, my phone buzzed to say my order was ready. As the hot dogs we’d ordered were all pre-made and sat in a warmer, this should have been the case about ten minutes ago. Sigh.
We had an overly long conversation about whether we wanted cheese or apple sauce with our hot dogs. Another cast member had to step in to translate (she was an English speaker!) and despite the fact that anybody ordering apple sauce with a hot dog should be ejected from the park, finally I had my tray of food and I returned to our table.
We had hot dogs here a few years ago and they were excellent. It seems that they had shrunk by about 40% since then. They were still tasty but even after our frankly stupid breakfast, they didn’t fill much of a hole. At $10 a dog, this was challenging the Brown Derby for value for money.
Our FastPass for Buzz had opened up so Rebecca and Tom went to ride that followed by the rest of us when they returned. We got a churro or two whilst we waited as obviously we hadn’t had enough sugar today. I didn’t make a note of why we rode seperately but I suspect Freddie had dropped off. Whilst we rode Tom got himself another hot dog so that he felt like he’d eaten something.
We moved on to Mine Train now and it looked lovely in the increasing darkness. Rebecca and Tom rode first again, and we rode immediately afterwards aware that time was pushing on and the fireworks were looming. Again, a mixture of the wrong camera setting and my extreme incompetence produced some classics.
Take my word for it, riding this in the dark is excellent. By the time we exited it was 8.20 and there was just ten minutes until Happily Ever After. Emily and Louise walked ahead to bag a spot for us, but by the time we got to Main Street it was carnage and cast members were shouting at folks like us turning up at the last-minute to not stop there, and to keep moving, which was fair enough.
We never met back up with Louise and Emily who were somewhere near Caseys. Instead, the rest of us were marshalled up into the central hub.
We had a very good view if not a lot of room around us.
It was a great show and one I’d need to see many more times to take it all in. We shuffled our way to Caseys to find Louise and Emily who had, it turned out, had a worse view than us. Reunited we loitered outside of Caseys to watch the projection show on the castle.
That was lovely and full of Disney magic, we turned to shuffle to the exit.
I feel the camera and I almost redeemed ourselves with the last few photos.
Again, we chose the resort monorail due to the size of the queue for the other one.
There was still a fifteen minute wait but eventually we made it to the TTC. Boarding the tram involved a little bit of scrummage. Being so many of us, and with a stroller and Freddie, we were always open to over aggressive knob heads barging their way into a row of seats. Anyway, we all managed to get on albeit in various rows.
As another comment on the size of those hot dogs we called at McDonalds on the way home. I just had a drink but I think Tom and Mikey ordered food. They are young growing lads!
Naturally we also called at Walgreens for some water and “bits” before driving home and to bed at 11.15. Another relaxing rest day then.
I look at my notes for today and it says we had a lazy start. It feels like there was a lot of this already this trip. I do wonder then why, looking back now, that I was definitely the most tired I have ever been on one of these things this year.
Sure, I’m the oldest I’ve ever been, but without stealing my Jerry Springer style summing up at the end thunder, I may have pushed the pace too hard.
Anyway, lazy we were and there was some TV watching, Freddie had his toast for breakfast and everyone generally did nothing until about 10.30 when readying began. We left the villa at 11.30 and headed for what turned out to be a very busy I4. I don’t tend to think about things like this when planning, but we were heading for Toothsome for lunch, and if I were back home I would seriously question driving that far to anywhere for lunch. It’s different here and on holiday of course food is very much part of the destination not the journey for us, and there is only one Toothsome, so travel we must and did.
It took us forty-five minutes to get to a Universal car parking spot and, another thing I wouldn’t do at home, I spent $22 on parking without blinking an eye or ranting for three and half hours, which I definitely would do in the UK.
We were in Spiderman 455. We unloaded everyone and Freddie’s stroller and after a battle with some escalators and some elevators that weren’t working, or at least not quickly enough for my patience, we were on the moving walkways and heading into City Walk.
By jingo it was hot.
We arrived at Toothsome, and again, it’s a bloody long walk from the car to get there, just after 12.45. There was no wait and we were taken upstairs and seated immediately.
Now, we were here for food. The chap at the front desk clarified that, as they must get a load of folks rocking up just for milkshakes. Regardless of our dining intentions, our priority of course was a milkshake so we spent many minutes looking at a menu we had read many times before the trip, even watching a vlog about them all, to help in our decision-making process.
I still rushed it a bit, and ended up blurting one out feeling pressured by the waiting server.
Me – PB&J
Mikey & Rebecca – Celebration
I can only apologise for the blatant lack of a photo. There is no excuse.
Emily – Key Lime
Tom – Brownie
Louise – No milkshake, but some wine
They are absolutely bloody lovely. I know they look impressive and that is important, but the taste does not disappoint. I loved mine as did everyone else.
We sucked on these whilst waiting for our meals to arrive.
Me – Red Reuben
Louise – Houmous & a side of Onion Rings
Emily, Mikey and Rebecca – Chicken Sandwich
Tom – Burger
Freddie – Pasta
Imagine the fullest thing you can, double it and add a bit more and that was me. I was absolutely stuffed, bordering on hospitalisation. So a good meal!
We walked, slowly, back to the car in incredible heat wondering if we would ever need to eat again. (We did).
The plan stated that this afternoon was a non-theme park day and instead we were to go shopping. How this would make the day any more restful, I have never known, but we have always done some shopping so off we went. The location was to be the Premium Outlet Malls at Lake Buena Vista.
The fatal flaw in this plan was defined by the very reason for its existence. Today was Labor (sic) Day weekend, and as such, my plan was to stay as far away from theme park crowds as possible. It seemed that all of those crowds had instead congregated at this mall. We toured the car park for about twenty minutes before finally admitting defeat. There was just no chance of us finding a spot and so I left that traffic nightmare and drove straight into another. The queue of cars to get back to the Crossroads area (Benny says Hi….ask your granddad) past Bahama Breeze was just bobbins. We sat and waited for about half an hour inching forward slowly. Just as we got to the front of the queue some f*ck nugget tried to just indicate and swing in right in front of us. If Freddie’s first words are unrepeatable, this moment will be why. I can assure you, I did not let him in.
Denied of retail therapy at one location we headed to Disney Springs, where these days, the one thing you can be pretty sure of is a parking spot. We pulled into Lime, found a spot easily and disembarked.
We wandered some shops, I have to say halfheartedly. Emily got a hoodie but other than that nothing was purchased and enthusiasm for such was very low it had to be said.
Rebecca voiced those views first and said they’d rather be in a park. Faced with a fairly forceful sulk, it was agreed that we’d chance a theme park as they couldn’t be any busier than these bloody shops.
Don’t worry, the pin had been removed from the back of this badge…I mean pin…no, I mean badge. There was nothing sharp on what Freddie was holding here is what I am saying.
Once back in the car we pointed the van at Magic Kingdom. He who dares wins.
We parked in…
At this time of day there was no army of Cast Members waving you to the bottom of a row so we drifted around the car park like it was the Premium Outlet Mall again until we found a spot.
We were by now getting quite skilled at the routine from the car, onto the tram and off again. Everyone had assumed a role, and we dismantled the stroller and boarded in a few seconds like on of those F1 pit land crews. We didn’t wear helmets though.
We monorailed in
Once in the park we consulted the app to see what horrendous queues awaited us and to confirm that no FastPasses would be available for anything.
I have to say, I struggled with the app this year. It was constantly flakey. Certain pages never loaded. For example, whenever I viewed our plans, unless I filtered by something, no content appeared. It froze a lot and was generally about as fast as an episode of Poldark. (Sorry my hatred for all Sunday evening period dramas seeps out now and again).
With every ride rammed we resorted to meeting a character. We rarely do this these days and hadn’t done any this trip. With Freddie with us, we should and we did. We struck out up Main Street heading for Tomorrowland and Buzz who was out doing a meet.
On the way, we passed “the purple wall”. If you “do” Instagram you’ll know….
Mikey, Tom and Rebecca joined the queue for Buzz for Freddie’s first ever official character meet.
We wondered if he would be terrified of them. It may run in the family as Louise is quite scared of other large things with weird heads.
As they queued I loitered ready to take a few photos once they got to Buzz. There was an Edna drive by…
We needn’t have worried about Freddie. Like everything else on this trip he took Buzz in his stride.
As did Mikey.
Whilst waiting I had used the app to book some FastPasses having found some actually did exist. The first of which was…
This is a ride I hadn’t been on since 2003 I think. After a pre-ride wee our FastPass time came around and we all boarded except Louise who I think thought it may be too thrilling for her.
After feeding Freddie, we now headed back to Tomorrowland (sure, I do know we just came from there…) and we did the old faithful rides when things are busy and you need something to do between FastPasses. First,
Even this had a small queue, but we were soon aboard, enjoying Magic Kingdom at dusk.
When you are “the planner” of the group there can be a certain pressure. Every time you leave a ride all eyes turn to you with a “What now?” attached. So I often find that whilst on one ride my mind is thinking of the next step or two. In this case, the answer was right in front of me and we did Carousel of Progress.
There was a holiday many years ago when Rebecca was obsessed with the song and we had it in the car for the whole fortnight. There is no greater testament of our love for her than the fact that she survived.
Our second FastPass was now due and thankfully it was for Buzz and not some ride at the other side of the park.
Again, the scores weren’t important. These competitive Dads who can’t just appreciate the joy of taking part with their family are a real source of dismay!
As we exited the ride the fireworks were on. This was a problem as Emily and I had been avoiding all online showings of Happily Ever After so that we could watch it for the first time live. So as we bolted for the exit, we did our best not to look up or indeed listen to what was going on! We must have looked a bit strange, head down, shouting instructions to each other, trying to avoid the gathered crowds whilst only looking at the pavement.
The other concern of course was that the fireworks would finish, and thousands of folks would start heading for the exit too, so this was a full paced extraction. We still took the resort monorail as the queue looked shorter and we were soon back at the car.
Right, time to get back on plan! Applebees it said and Applebees we would do.
We did the one on the 192 and were pleasingly seated immediately. More pleasing for those not driving was the news that it was two for one on most alcoholic drinks.
There were so many flying about that I lost track of what they were.
This one is actually Tom’s milkshake. He has an addiction problem, and this is it.
Freddie was alseep so we had brought him in still in his car seat. Applebees had an ingenious contraption that could be placed at the end of the table that we could rest that on so he wasn’t on the floor.
The fact that the only child in our party was out of it did not stop us from commissioning something from the wandering balloon person.
Yes, even at my age, I can still get Woody.
We ordered some appetisers as it had been several hours since our life threatening amount of food at Toothsome.
Me and Emily shared some nachos. Louise and Mikey had some Mozzarella sticks.
For mains we had –
Me – Thai Salad
Louise, Mikey and Emily – Various Pasta things
Tom – Club Sandwich
Rebecca – Boneless Wings
Who knows why I didn’t photograph those!
It was all superb. I know Applebees isn’t fine dining but it is good fun, great quality and at $200 including a 20% tip great value too. Full and tired I got us back home and we were in bed by 11.20.
For the second day in a row I was awake at 4am. I really, really tried to go back to sleep today but failed miserably and I was up and about by 4.30. Freddie and Tom were already in the pool. Tom had fallen asleep a couple of hours before I did last night so no doubt he had been awake for hours by now.
I had some cereal for breakfast and Tom had his Outback meal from last night. That’s the right way to start a holiday.
Freddie had some toast.
As ever, no matter what stupid hour we are awake on this first day we still end up leaving for the parks later than desired. Despite me knowing that a 7.45 departure was already behind schedule, as the car was half full of first timers I shunned the Sherberth Road route and went down the 192 to World Drive so that they could experience the sign on the first journey to Magic Kingdom.
Rebecca did a fine job of capturing the moment.
and other important landmarks.
We were early (but not early enough, which would be a theme for a lot of the holiday) and were able to park close enough not to require a tram. We walked in to the TTC and security took quite a while. We of course took the monorail as nobody should be taking the ferry on the first day unless, unlike us, you arrived with plenty of time!
Once off the monorail, after emotional first views of the castle, we were quickly through the entrance and soaking in those wonderful first morning vibes…yes, I said vibes.
As we got to the start of Main Street proper, there was a trolley show just starting. Whilst everyone stopped to watch that I nipped into the Emporium to secure all the badges we needed. Rebecca needed a birthday badge as this trip was her 21st birthday present and I also got three 1st Visit badges for Tom, Freddie and Mikey.
As I returned, the show was just ending and Rebecca burst into tears. The emotion of being back here got to her, and when asked she confessed that now having Freddie with her had pushed her over the emotional edge. Emily is normally the cryer!
“Now you get it” I said to her in my own special patronising way.
We all then went back into the Emporium for the procurement of magic bands. I was very happy thank you very much, with my grey plain one I got for free at the Beach Club last year. Everyone else, even those with previous bandage, seemed hell-bent on getting a new one.
With selections made, with a blunt reminder from me that time was limited and they needed to “just pick one”, we paid. The octogenarian behind the till was asked if he could/would link them for us. He didn’t refuse as such, but pointed out that we could do this via the app. Before I could stop everyone they were all downloading and logging into the app and trying to do just that. I was trying to tell everyone that it wouldn’t work as I had all the tickets on my account. A few error messages later and the task was abandoned as the show was starting at the castle. We would sort it all out later.
As the show ended, we headed left into Adventureland.
We arrived at what would be Freddie’s first ever WDW ride and Rebecca and Tom went off to park the stroller.
There was of course no queue at this time and we were soon riding with Freddie transferred to his contraption.
We had all wondered how he might react to the rides, with Pirates being a decent first test. It is dark, has some loud noises and a gentle drop or two. He was such a cool customer. He just took it all in with a great deal of curiosity.
We continued round to Splash next and Louise volunteered to sit out with Freddie whilst the rest of us took advantage of the walk on.
After riding, our plan to also do Big Thunder was thwarted by a thirty minute wait time so instead we wandered down towards Haunted Mansion for which we had a FastPass. On the way, we called in at the Ticket Office in Liberty Square. I had never noticed this before but I wondered if they could sort out our Magic Band woes from earlier.
They could. The CM there was incredibly helpful and armed with his tablet device he scanned and tapped away until we were all linked up to our bands and still retained all our links on my account so I could book stuff for everyone. I apologised for the technical incompetence but he said we’d been given a bum steer by the guy who sold us the bands and he should have either sorted it for us or asked a few more questions to understand what we needed to do.
We were a little peckish now following our very early breakfast so we stopped at Sleepy Hollow for sugarific treats.
I had a Churro sandwich and it was all kinds of incredible.
Mikey had a strawberry waffle
Emily a Nutella Waffle and Louise a Breakfast Waffle, both of which I failed to capture as I was in mid-churro orgasm.
Freddie was allowed a little piece of heaven.
So now, all smacked up on sugar snacks, we used our Haunted Mansion FastPass. Freddie again took it all in his stride and didn’t seem fazed or frightened by any of it.
We availed ourselves of the Tangled toilets before making our way to It’s A Small World. There was no queue, and this, it seemed to me anyway, was Freddie’s favourite ride of the whole trip. We rode it a few times and he was totally engrossed each time.
As we retrieved Freddie’s stroller from it’s parking spot, as his body made contact with it, he fell asleep. The benefits of doing WDW at ten months old!
So again, Louise volunteered to sunbathe whilst looking after him. The rest of us piled into Philharmagic after a ten minute wait as a show had just started. It was weird having to describe what a ride/show was before going in when asked by one of our first timers. For this one, I think I went with Disney’s Greatest Hits in 4D.
As we exited it was raining so we loitered in the shop whilst messaging Louise to see where she was sheltering. She was under a brolly outside Pinocchio’s Village Haus so we scampered over there. We took the chance to lunch whilst it rained and we had some cover and I, for the first time, mobile ordered our lunches. We all had flatbreads or nuggets I think and it was about $80.
Mikey seemed to enjoy it.
Fed and watered (again) it was now time for our Big Thunder FastPass so we walked back that way. Rebecca and Tom used theirs first and the rest of us waited in the very, very hot sunshine. I parked Freddie up in the shade and loitered by his stroller so that nobody pinched him or thought him abandoned.
A Canadian lady had taken it upon herself to have a chat with Mikey and Louise, attracted by his 1st Visit badge. She was a veteran and shared stories of her travels and asked what he was making of things.
With Rebecca and Tom off the ride, the rest of us did the same.
There was some filming going on in and around the ride, and as we were about to board this lot were let on from the opposite side of the track, so they enjoyed one of my best glares.
The guy in front, with the Rays shirt, seemed to be regretting several life choices at that moment.
It surely is the wildest ride in the wilderness.
We had a message as we left saying that Freddie was having his lunch over at Tall Tales so we joined them there. Once he was fed (he is never really full!) we made our way down to Main Street (one of these times we might work out a route that doesn’t involve constantly crisscrossing the park) as we were going to get Freddie his first hair cut at the barbers.
We couldn’t get in immediately but I was able to reserve a slot for 2.40 which would follow on nicely from the parade. So we took our spot on the pavement outside, right at the end of the parade route just as the Grand Marshalls were coming past. Yeh, we were better at it.
Then the band came by.
And the rest followed.
Freddie was sweaty but happy watching it go by.
Ariel had missed me, it was clear.
Tinkerbell seemed to be regretting that Mexican last night……
With the parade done we made our way back to the barbers.
Freddie was soon in position.
Here is the video if you want to watch it.
With that done, we were all set and ready to go.
With first day tiredness creeping up on us we decided to head out and have a rest before our ADR at Whispering Canyon in a couple of hours. We got the resort monorail and headed for the Contemporary for a drink in the Outer Rim.
Cocktails for all but me and Freddie were ordered.
We sat and chatted and rested for a bit.
Soon it was time to head to Wilderness Lodge, so we monorailed back to the TTC and walked to the car for the short drive. Well, it would have been shorter had the new road system for Magic Kingdom resorts not confused me, but we did some sight seeing in the surrounding area and we were still on time for our ADR….just.
With a 5pm reservation we were the first in the place, so we were a little worried that the famous atmosphere may be lacking. However, it soon filled up and all was well.
We had an excellent server who looked after us very well with just enough shenanigans to make things fun. We all had the unlimited skillet thing and enjoyed it a lot.
Tom & Mikey took advantage of the unlimited milkshakes.
We had some Nachos to start, just in case an unlimited amount of food wouldn’t be enough.
Some salad arrived, sat around on the table for a bit until the server came and removed it again.
Then the real action began.
Special mention for the corn bread which we actually doggy bagged as we couldn’t eat it all.
Freddie was a fan.
And of his Dad’s milkshake.
Despite eating huge amounts, Tom and Mikey opted to have a dessert too. It was a chocolate something and they almost finished them.
Tired and so full we might die, we trudged to the car, called at the Pharmacy as we would seem to do at least once a day from here on in, and got home at 7.15.
Louise and Mikey went in the pool for a short while but everyone else took their food babies to bed very early.
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.
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.
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….
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.