Scary Stuff

Before I begin, it’s only right that I share with you the results of my very scientific poll last week. For those who didn’t read that post…..get out…go on…if you aren’t here every week, begone, I hold no truck with part timers….ahem…

The poll was asking if the charges for parking your car at Disney resorts would make you reconsider staying on site. Turns out, for most it would…

I suspect there may be larger, more representative polling mechanisms than me asking my two readers, but it does seem that this new policy is causing folks to pause and consider their options. It’ll be interesting to see how it pans out. The entire Disney board, who read this blog every week, will no doubt be holding emergency meetings this week as a result of this.

On a journey that started in 1980 and has included more trips than I can remember (true story) it isn’t very often that I get to experience new Disney stuff on one of our Florida trips. Sure there are new eateries, and new rides along the way, but to do new stuff that we have never experienced before, we usually have to venture further afield.

The Keys, Daytona, Vero Beach, Naples, and Siesta Key have all featured in the quest to find new stuff and to make sure Louise tolerates us going to the same place all the time. We’ve loved them all by the way, and should time and money permit, we’d return to them all.

This week saw the booking of our Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party tickets. In all these years we have never done one of these party events and I am definitely looking forward to it. On our typical end of August trips, Halloween bursts out all over the Magic Kingdom on our last few days and with this holiday due to start a little later than normal, right at the end of August, we get the chance to do the party night.

With a complete disregard for my plan, Disney conspired to make life a little difficult. Despite the park hours saying that Magic Kingdom closed at 6.30 on the 6th of September, making me assume that we could safely bank on that being one of the dates for MNSSHP, it was not. Or at least there are no tickets available for that date right now. So, I had to do some swift emergency surgery to the plan, rejigging several days as if it were some trivial task. Should anyone less experienced than I attempt such a thing, disaster would surely ensue.

A future blog post will once again outline this new plan in graphic day by day detail. Try to manage your excitement and anticipation if you can.

To cut a medium length story short, we are now doing Not So Scary on the 9th of September and for reasons I won’t bore you with, it looks like we’ve had to cut Edison from our dining plans as a result. That was caused by a chain of events and a line of thinking that you wouldn’t believe even I were to explain it. In summary, it was either Edison or Olive Garden for the chop and as the latter’s Lasagne is Emily’s favourite food on the planet it was a short decision making process.

Somehow this change meant that we needed somewhere to eat a late lunch at on the day of MNSSHP, off-site, so we could go back to the villa to change as we didn’t want to turn up anywhere in our costumes before heading to Magic Kingdom for the party! So on the 9th we will be resting poolside for the morning and then around 2pm, venturing out to eat before going back to the villa to change into our elaborate costumes. It has been decided that this shall be Miller’s Ale House on the 192. We’ve done it once before and their wings and cheesy fries are excellent.

The double edged sword of doing new stuff like MNSSHP is that, yay, it’s all new and exciting, but, boo, I don’t know what I’m doing so much. So research is needed. Or I could just be lazy and ask you lovely folks the current question in my mind…and that is…

It rings a vague bell that there are rules around Halloween/character costumes, and adults cannot wear “proper” costumes, I assume for fear that some guests may mistake other guests for characters? I can see the risk as even out of costume I am constantly assumed to be Gaston, Prince Charming and/or Hercules. It’s a bother. So what can we wear? I see pictures of folks in “full costume” when I look online but it would be good to hear from some folks with personal experience and/or real knowledge unlike me!

Beyond my plan to recoup the price of the ticket in the amount of candy gathered, what other tips would you give to a first timer at Not So Scary?

For those of you who enjoy a Freddie photo. Here is a significant one, his first passport photo. I think he will be happy with that for the next few years!

Returning to normal life, I picked up my new (to me) car on Wednesday. I am probably the least petrol headed male in the UK, but still, it is always nice to get a new car and enjoy that smell for a few days at least. It has some groovy toys like a reversing camera, which I’m sure is handy if you are not a parking God like myself. It also has heated seats, which will definitely be useful and used as it seems winter has come for good and we are destined to live on single digit temperatures for the next 27 years. I have had a hot bottom for years and this will only enhance it. Steady ladies!

Today, Mustard begin their wedding season. The first of our wedding bookings for the year happens today and I’ll be there for most of the day and night. By the time you read this, we shall probably be setting up our gear, sound checking and then hanging about for a long time. The actual playing of songs is always a small part of the life of a function band. Without roadies and an entourage, it is very much a “Do it all ourselves” approach with the highlight being the pleasure of packing everything up, getting it into the car and then unloading it back into the house at some stupid time in the early hours. Safe to say, we do not do it for money!

Enjoy your Sundays.

Till the next time….

A Peak At Planning

Right, let’s get the stuff you aren’t so bothered about out-of-the-way. I wrote a chapter this week. I appreciate that is not in the same prolific league as James Patterson, but with everything going on in my daily life that is a step forward and hopefully a catalyst for more. What I really need if I’m honest, is a good chunk of time to re-read what I’ve written to date and then do the book plan. I know that I have everything in my head somewhere, I just need to formalise it into some sort of structure, decide on the outcome of the book (no spoilers here) and that should enable me to write more freely once I know where I’m going.

I feel better about the whole thing now that I’ve broken the ice again.

Sadly, that huge investment of time did not leave me much (any) time for the planning of WDW stuff. All my plans start in the same format and always have. As soon as I know our dates I create a simple template of those dates in Excel with blanks to fill in…

There are some givens that go in before anything else happens…like the travel days and the fact that we’ll be in Magic Kingdom on the first and last day.

Then, I make a list of all the eateries we want to do. I appreciate that this may seem strange to some, but the importance of the food on our Florida trips cannot be over estimated. The challenge with this list is fitting in all the places we have fallen in love with and want to do again, whilst also trying all the new places that I’ve heard good things about. For this trip, with Tom being a first timer it has more of a greatest hits vibe as we want to take him to all of our favourites….and it looked like this…

Next, I try to allocate one of those dining choices to a day on the plan, bearing in mind how I want the theme park days to flow. Over the years we seem to have established a routine as to how we tackle the parks. We of course start with Magic Kingdom as this is the law, we then do Epcot, Hollywood Studios and finally Animal Kingdom. I suspect that this being the order in which they opened was not an accident to my subliminal planner self.

Of course, tradition dictates that our first meal on arrival day is The Outback at Formosa Gardens if at all possible, so that goes in first and the rest follow like this….

For this trip, due to the touring party make up, it’s a WDW only affair so there are many more rest days than there may have been for an adults only trip. This means we can have two days in each park and if needed do extra visits on the afternoon of rest days. It makes for an easier planning experience. However, it doesn’t solve the issue you can see at the bottom of the plan. Where on earth do I put Sanaa? We may have to just eat more on some days! I do have a gap for dinner on our first day. I’m reluctant to put anything in there that we need an ADR for as there is no way to know how young Freddie will be adjusting to the time difference and long flight so we may need to be flexible. I know Rebecca would just be happy with some corn dog bites from Casey’s.

On that note, we are going to try something new on our last day in Magic Kingdom. I have it down as a snack day. We’re going to take the opportunity to eat all the stuff available in and around the parks as snacks and counter service, such as the stuff at Casey’s and a couple of things we’ve never had in all these years, a turkey leg and a dole whip. Funnel cake may also be on the agenda.

So this is where I’m at right now.The only other piece of the jigsaw tentatively in place is the intention to do MNSSHP on Wednesday the 4th of September. Having had glowing reports from all last week, it looks like we have no choice but to do it and much of the advice centred around not doing it too early after it starts and not to do it on a weekend.

What happens now? Well, over the coming weeks and months I shall tinker and mess about with the finer details. At some point I typically transfer it onto the Vacation Planner tool on The Dibb. I don’t use the forums over there any more but that tool is useful. It is helpful as somewhere to record all your booking references, ADRs (Advanced Dining Reservations), flight details and that jazz.

What is bound to happen over the coming months is that I will come across some new dining experience that I desperately want to do and I shall wrestle with what to drop out of the plan….or of course there’s always the option of extending our stay! The latter won’t be a viable option this time due to the work/holiday restrictions of Louise and Tom so something will have to give should that be the case. I have already made the heart breaking decision to take Romano’s out of the plan and replace it with The Cheesecake Factory.

So there you go, this post turned unintentionally into a look at how I actually plan. I’m sure everyone has similar yet different methods. Let me know how you go about it so that I may shamelessly steal your great ideas.

Now, I must leave you as I’m off to a photo shoot this afternoon with Mustard. No, really, I am.

Till the next time….
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Scary Stuff

Scary Stuff

Well what do you know, it’s October. At this rate we’ll be heading to the airport in about ten minutes. Speaking of which my niece and her fiancée have done exactly that this morning as they head to WDW for their long-awaited holiday.

Have a great time Sarah and Tom!

However, not one moment of last week was spent planning due to the great inconvenience of having to work. Now, when I say there was no planning, that only means that I didn’t at any point sit down in front of a spreadsheet and the internet and formally plan stuff to do. Of course. subconscious planning happens at all times. For example, in the middle of some very tedious work related stuff, it popped into my head that Sanaa wasn’t currently on our plan. This is a grave issue. We love Sanaa, specifically the bread service, but as it stands there is simply no room for it unless we sacrifice something else.

To be honest my thinking is that for Tom’s first time and with a small child at the table, Whispering Canyon and 50’s Prime Time feel more relevant and suitable. There will other times for Sanaa.

Even though we will be flying out in August, as WDW tend to do, by the time we get there Halloween will be in full swing. We are very used to the parks transforming into an autumnal pumpkin fest towards the end of our previous August holidays. In the past we’ve been pretty much on our last day when this happens, but next year we’ll be just arriving. As such, I suspect MNSSHP will be happening. For anyone not in the WDW nutter club, that stands for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. We’ve never done this so it makes sense that we take the chance to do so.

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Being in about three thousand WDW related groups on Facebook means that I am bound to get some mixed reviews of this event. For anyone who has done it, would you say it is worthwhile? My gut feel is yes for two main reasons.

  1. In all these years we never have.
  2. It will at least stop us having to leave the park early.

The tickets this year seem to start at around $74 each. That seems OK to be honest. In fact, in candy alone, Tom will break us even in the first hour.

If we go, then I don’t know if we’ll dress up. Again, any feedback on whether that is worth it or not would be welcome.

This time last week I said I had 20,000 words of the second book done. Well, this week I have a few less. Still that’s progress. I found about half an hour to open it and read some of it. This resulted in me editing out some words. So in this case I suppose less really is more. Having not looked at it for so long it was weird. It was like reading something that somebody else had written.

So not the most productive of weeks, outside of the stuff I am actually paid to do.

Louise is working again this weekend. It really isn’t fair. That means I have to do all the washing and tidying up. It really is rather inconsiderate of her. She knows I’m always a bit tired after gigging and Crumpsall lies in tatters this morning after Mustard blew it to pieces last night. She can make it up to me when she gets home later after eight days at work.

Right, I have to go, Liverpool are on TV shortly…erm, I mean I have lots of housework to do.

Till the next time…..


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Hard Yards and Halloween

When it comes to the discipline of writing a weekly blog, then these post holiday times are the hard yards. Times are tough enough, but then Louise makes me do gardening for chunks of the weekend and that is the very definition of insult to injury. It is not a recipe for inspiring the creative juices for the creation of captivating blog content.

The holiday to which I refer feels a long time ago already and a full and busy week at work involving too many motorways and meetings has jolted me back into reality.

The good news is (well, it depends on your view point) is that I have made a start to the trip report. Before you get too carried away, I opened the Word document, typed the title and a paragraph of text before having to get back to real life. If anyone has some spare hours and a muse knocking about, I will accept either or both. The title of it shall be an obvious one, reflecting the changing state of our family situation, The Adults Only Tour 2015. Don’t worry there won’t be too much content with an 18 rating!!

Amongst the grim reality of the daily grind there have been very welcome glimpses of metaphorical sunshine from across the Atlantic. We have shared, mainly via Snapchat, Emily’s week, which didn’t start very well, with her being ill with a nasty cold, but ended with a visit to MNSSHP and then yesterday with her meeting popular vloggers Tim and Jen Tracker in Epcot. She had a lovely chat with them at the Food and Wine Festival which by all accounts has attracted more people to it than the population of a small country. Epcot is busy right now!

MNSSHP was affected by the persistent rain for pretty much all of the night, but Emily reported that the fireworks and parade were both superb

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We have Facetimed her a couple of times this weekend, which has been the first time we’ve been able to since we came home as she has been so busy. It’s lovely to speak to her of course and to confirm that she is eating and taking medication for her cold etc etc. Twenty years old or not, she cannot escape the parental instinct, even by being on the other side of the Atlantic.

This week has also seen Louise and I begin life in what I believe is called an empty nest. With Emily already having flown the nest, albeit temporarily, Rebecca and her boyfriend Tom now have their own place together which has been some time in the planning. This week they have pretty much now moved in. It’s a lovely place about ten minutes from us and they are obviously very excited about the whole thing. Rebecca is well into forging her way in the world with her recently acquired job and we’re really proud of her get up and go.

Mustard also resumed gigging last night with a great night at a local pub. It was good to get back to it after a summer break whilst we all holidayed and everyone seemed to have a good time. Louise took a short video, which isn’t the best sound quality, and it is sideways too, but here you go. If you follow this link to the Mustard Facebook page (and hey, why not Like it whilst you are there?) you can see it as the most recent post.

You are not allowed to phone in work tomorrow with a stiff neck as a result of watching that.

So my goals for the week to come are, to do no further gardening at all, to somehow find my mojo and get on with the trip report and to get through the working week quickly and painlessly before a double header of gigs next weekend.

Till the next time…..