To Siesta Key…And Beyond Tour 2017 – Day Fourteen April 24th 2017

My celebratory tone at returning to a theme park and more specifically WDW was to be short lived. For reasons best known to those in charge and not me, today, we would rest. Yes, yes, I know we just spent what felt like three and half months on more white powdery stuff than was seen at an Amy Winehouse party, but these two very heavy theme park days had resulted in “tiredness” and the need to do nothing for bit.

You know me. I can moan about anything in even the best situations and locations and I will. But, should I need to not visit a theme park when one is located just a few hundred feet to my left, then I suppose an acceptable place to do so is around Stormalong Bay at the Beach Club.

Having no particular place to go, the 8am awakening was mildly annoying. I took as much time as I damn well liked after I had showered putting on my shorts and T-Shirt before wandering the long corridors from our room to the shop in the lobby for breakfast.

Having listened to endless apologies from Louise yesterday I granted her permission for her to join us today and so we ordered a breakfast platter for Emily and a Breakfast Sandwich for me and she who was so very wrong.

There were no seats available outside so we wandered into the solarium to eat.

Whilst eating, we had a quick chat about what our next trip might look like. We all agreed again, that Louise had been very wrong to only allow us such a paltry amount of time at WDW this time around and all future input from her would now be forbidden, leaving Emily and I to do all future trips properly.

After breakfast we wandered out to the pool, picked up some towels and found some suitable beds. This involved Louise calculating wind speed, the trajectory of the sun and the local plant life to ensure that she would be able to capture the optimum levels of sun.

Once she was happily prone, I assumed the position.

It was, as you can see, fairly quiet today. There was still a Cast Member checking that you were resident before allowing into the pool area. We rested and read for a bit until Louise and I ventured into the pool. This was followed by a couple of cocktails for the ladies from the wandering waitress.

The early cloud cleared up nicely….

We then Facetimed Rebecca…

She is there, honest.

It was, quite frankly, a real bummer not having her with us. We shall remedy that on our next trip!

We went back to our room at around 2pm to get ourselves ready.

Mousekeeping had been in….

Whilst Emily and Louise took far too long to get themselves decent, I picked up Mum & Dad from the All Stars, driving back to the Beach Club to be disappointed that they still weren’t ready.

With some mild tutting and polite herding, I was eventually able to seperate them from the hairbrush and other such faffing and head into Epcot via International Gateway.

Yes, I know I take the same photos every time I walk this way….what of it?

This picture reminds me that in the first version of the plan for this trip (one of very many indeed) we were booked to stay at that hotel. When we had to move dates and everything else it was no longer available and we ended up paying a fair bit more to stay at the Beach Club. I’m perpetually tight, but right at this moment I didn’t begrudge a penny.

Oh, I can now also explain why we had to move our dates. Shortly after booking the trip Rebecca discovered that she was pregnant and was due too close to our travel dates for us to risk it. So we moved the dates back by a month or so into April. Unfortunately Rebecca then suffered a miscarriage and began a heart breaking few months of that happening more than once. So in the end we needn’t have moved dates but some things are more important than when we holiday.

Thankfully, Rebecca is now well into a pregnancy with our first grandchild due this November.

Here is little Freddie cooking nicely.

We wandered around World Showcase, starting at France, heading towards Norway for our Frozen Ever After FastPass.

Thankfully we only went into one shop and that was Italy. It draws Louise in like a pasta based tractor beam on every trip and once again, we left much poorer, Louise the proud owner of a new necklace. Her other 612 seemingly no longer ft for purpose.

I think that at some stage of a Florida trip we have all felt like this young man….but speaking honestly, this is how I feel on most Monday mornings back home.

I applaud the mother for quite clearly tweeting that rather than dealing with it.

Here again, rather than queue to meet a character, a distant photograph with random strangers does just as well.

Arsene Wenger…..

Nope, I have no idea what Emily is doing with her hands either.

That’s better.

Once at Norway we scanned our bands and joined the FastPass queue.

The standby queue was like a scene from Ghandi.

Louise proved that it wasn’t my fault that a lot of pictures were blurry.

We waited about ten minutes to ride.

It’s a nice ride, obviously using the exact same track as Maelstrom. It won’t change your life but it’s lovely and must be magical for the young children.

We completed the World Showcase loop stopping at Mexico. Green Day haven’t aged well.

I had maracas to shake. I think my shorts had shrunk.

By now I’m sure this has been said a million times, but here, in Epcot, Donald got his wall at Mexico.

We walked down into Future World, making the long trek to Spaceship Earth for our next FastPass. It was very hot today and we needed a drink and sit down half way there.

It was a long slog but we finally made it to Spaceship Earth five big balls of sweat with tired legs……it was down! How I laughed.

In the desperate hope that it was a temporary blip we wandered the shop for a bit, used the restroom and loitered, but to no avail.

We admitted defeat and began the long walk back the way we had just come. We were distracted and cheered up by some singers on the fountain stage.

They were very good and improved our mood as we set off on the long slog back to International Gateway. Whilst watching them sing my mind was ticking over. The plan stated that we now must head out of Epcot to get over to Celebration for our evening meal. I was tempted to suggest we sack that off, stay in Epcot, eat where we could and just save us the hassle of the trek. I dismissed that idea only to learn that my instincts were correct, but a crystal ball was something I did not have.

We made it to our car, well I did, everyone else sat and waited for me in the cool porch of the Beach Club. Off we went then to Celebration for our evening meal.

Prior to the trip, I had been warned that one of our most favourite eateries, The Market Street Cafe, had changed ownership and was now a little bit pants. Being an idiot I ignored this advice and took us there anyway.

Celebration was still lovely though.

We were seated quickly and that’s where the quickness stopped really.

The service was a shambles from start to finish. John Barrowman’s more effeminate brother served us, not getting off to strong start by telling us they had just had a huge party in and he was tired and all over the place. We soon discovered he was correct.

We ordered cheesey fries to start as we had always loved those here. We waited an age and then they brought all the entrees out. We pointed out that we hadn’t seen our appetiser yet and they were taken away, no doubt to be kept lukewarm.

Eventually, said fries came, followed, unsurprisingly quickly by all the entrees again. Somehow Louise ended up with two lots of Nachos rather than the one she ordered, but worst things happen at sea.

We somehow ended up with –

Me – Fried Chicken

Emily – Chicken Parm

Mum – Chicken Wrap

Dad – Chicken Pot Pie

Louise – As you know by now…Nachos x 2.

He took some stuff off the bill for all the mess ups and as annoying as it was, he had tried his best so we pretty much put it all back on in the form of our tip.

We left having taken much longer than anyone should to eat a simple meal and headed over to Woof Gangs.

Alas, there was no sign of Otis, the huge Newfoundland we met on our last trip so we did a quick wander around the cinema and fountains…

Before jumping back in the car to get back to Epcot for Reflections of Earth. Our wandering time here had been severely curtailed by the overly long meal.

Mum & Dad were tired so we dropped them off home and headed back to the Beach Club. With all the delays to our meal we were now rushing to get there in time for the start of the fireworks, rather than having some time to wander World Showcase at night, which is one of my favourite things to do.

We rushed through security…

However, we then took up our usual spot on the bridge between the UK and France and didn’t have to wait long. Suddenly everything seemed right with the world again.

I shall spare you all the crap blurry photos I took.

As it ended, I turned to Emily and gave her a big hug as she was inevitably in floods of tears. Me being a very manly man I was nowhere near doing anything so silly.

We walked back to our room and quickly got changed as tonight, like me getting out of the bath, there would be Jellyrolls. The ability to do this is just fantastic and one of the best things about staying in this location.

We walked round and paid our entrance fee, with the door staff taking an age over Emily’s passport to confirms she really was 21.

It was busy and we started off on some chairs at the side but through the course of the night we table hopped as they became free. I was glad we did, as in our original seats we were right by a huge crowd of conference attendees who were leathered, loud and leary, dancing very badly right in our eye line.

We had a fab night. We started a tab with one of the waitresses and settled in. The performers are just superb and if you haven’t been, you must.

I won’t spoil this for those yet to go, but this is a highlight of the evening.

I think we were in there for over two hours. I’m really not sure. That’s because we spent $145 on booze. We left at around 1.30, very merry and highly satisfied with the time spent there.

I assume we then went to bed!

Till the next time……
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The Adults Only Tour 2015 – Day Six

Day Six – 1st September

In the history of bad nights’ sleep, last night was only surpassed in awesomeness by my level of illness. I felt like poop. I suppose by staying awake all of the night I was getting more value for my holiday buck, being conscious for more precious hours. Yeh, I’m not convincing myself either.

I got out of bed at 6.30 and waited for others to join me. Grandad was up first which was all that mattered this morning as today was golf day for the men folk. This is a tradition on my birthday, which I selflessly sacrificed yesterday for others. The benefit of being up so early was that I was able to get on the PC and look for a suitable golf course with a budget that matched my ability…..which is average. I settled on a course called Providence and after showers and some breakfast we were out at 8.40.

I could tell the choice of course was a good one even as we approached. The road up to the course was lined with newly built, quite impressive villas and as we pulled into the car park the club house looked pretty impressive too.

We hired some clubs, bought lots of balls (I am always likely to need a good number) and boarded our buggy.

We teed off just after nine and it was already roasting hot. The temperature only rose as the standard of my golf decreased.

As we got to one tee, with the customary water nearby I caught sight of something watching us.

I didn’t get that close to it, I just have a decent zoom on my camera. What followed were two of the quickest tee shots in the history of golf.

On one hole we were caught up by a chap playing on his own with his wife driving the cart. As we let him play through (honestly, it’s as if I have done nothing else but play golf all of my life with all this golf lingo) we discovered he was from Chorley, which for those who don’t know is about twenty minutes from Bolton. When you are in Florida that’s close enough to assume you are actually related and we used our familiar accents to talk about home for a bit.

On the back nine (another technical term only known by superior golfers) we caught up with a four ball (see, this jargon is just so natural to me) and ended up waiting around as they took about twenty minutes over every putt. This meant that we were caught up again by another chap behind us playing by himself. We invited him to play in with us.

He was called Dave, from Virginia, and we chatted and laughed at my shots for the last few holes.

We were done by 12.40 and made it back to the pro shop as two slightly red balls of sweat. We even had some balls left which was a big enough victory for me. My performance can be summarised as patchy which I would have settled for before teeing off as I hadn’t played for two years and I was crap then too.

We drove back to the villa and arrived at 1pm. About one minute later we were both in the pool trying to reduce our body temperature to double figures. About five minutes later Grandad realised that he had left his (expensive) watch in the golf buggy so he called the golf club. It hadn’t been found but they said they would keep an eye out for it. It was never recovered so whoever parked and cleaned our buggy is now sporting Grandad’s retirement present from work. That left a bit of a sour taste in the mouth about that particular course I have to say.

We did lots of nothing for a couple of hours by the pool until readying started around 3pm. About ten minutes prior to departure I got ready too and I was gracious enough to drive everyone to Celebration where we planned to have our tea/dinner.

Market Street Café is a firm favourite of ours based upon a couple of previous visits. It was empty, as it always tends to be, which is a big surprise based upon its quality.

We were seated and ordered –

3 lots of cheesy fried and some Nachos as appetisers

Then we had –

Me – Taco Salad

Grandad – Beef Stroganoff

Nana – Chicken Salad Sandwich

Sarah – Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich

Rebecca just had cheesy fries as there were lots and lots of those.

The dessert menu is on one of these, which is good fun.

We were all so stuffed that we just got one Banana Cream Pie to share, apart from Sarah who had Brownies a la Mode.

The Banana Cream Pie deserves another photo as it is beyond awesome.

The bill was $160 including a good tip and we left vowing never to eat ever again. We had our usual stroll down to the lake….

and then over to the Woofgang bakery shop.

Next door to that was some sort of ice cream and cake shop which just made us feel sick to look in the window so I wandered off towards the fountain. As I did, I noticed a large dog being walked, so I made my way over to give it a stroke.

He was called Otis and he was awesome. As soon as I started to stroke him he fell on his side and his eyes went all funny, which is something I can relate to….

and he stayed that way for the next half an hour as he lapped up all the attention he was getting. Personally speaking, half an hour of being stroked is nothing more than a record I aspire to.

We chatted with his owner and couldn’t bring ourselves to let them continue their walk. Eventually she made a run for it with us continuing to take photos.

Apparently he is quite the celebrity in Celebration so do look out for him if you go, and you should.

We left Celebration and made our way to Old Town as we hadn’t been for years. We parked up and started to have a look around.

We very quickly realised why we hadn’t been for years. We did not enjoy it. It was tacky, cheap and one of the few places in Orlando that I was aware that I didn’t feel entirely safe. The lowlight for me was some “attraction” that involved a dummy being electrocuted in an electric chair in a very graphic manner. As we passed, slack-jawed in amazement that it existed, a large family were watching it, including small kids who looked absolutely terrified at the very realistic depiction of someone being filled with thousands of volts. Very odd and quite disturbing. I didn’t video it but found this on You Tube.

Sarah was seriously considering going on the catapult thing that flings you up in the air in a metal ball but Rebecca was less convinced having seen it up close. I was frankly quite relieved that they decided against it as the thought of them entrusting their lives to something hosted at Old Town was not something I was very comfy with. Am I giving off the impression that we were not keen on this place?

We walked around a lot of shops and saw a lot of tat. We lasted about an hour before deciding to leave and probably never return. We stopped at the Publix on the way home which was frankly more enjoyable and nicer to walk around. We were asleep by nine. Rock and Roll!!

Till the next time…..