To Siesta Key…And Beyond Tour 2017 – Day Thirteen April 23rd 2017

It was very upsetting to wake at 8.30. All those days on the bloody beach when I was awake at 7am and today with a theme park in my immediate future and I had lazed half the day away.

Never let it be said that I air brush these trips and only give you the edited highlights. In the spirit of full disclosure at this point in the trip Louise and I were not on speaking terms. I won’t bore you with the trivialities of the subject matter, as to be honest I can’t really remember, but as all long-term couples know, this happens from time to time.

Suffice to say that I of course would have been totally in the right and Louise would later issue a full and unreserved apology.

After exchanging dirty looks and mild insults as we got ready, it was decided best for all concerned that Louise didn’t join us this morning. After declaring our undying love for each other, I left the room with Emily, who was all disdain and eye rolls at our mature behaviour, with me deploying full flounce and we went in search of food. Of course, for all our moody tantrums and vitriol I had made sure Louise had money and everything she needed for the day, as of course deep down we both knew that at some point in the not too distant future it would all be sorted out.

We bought a breakfast from the Beach Club Marketplace. A breakfast sandwich and a bounty platter, which thankfully did not contain any coconut, were consumed outside within minutes and we were soon on our way to Animal Kingdom after a quick stop at the All Stars for some parents. At the entrance to the car park I reclaimed some of the costs of staying on site by flashing my magic band rather than handing over $50 or whatever the car parking cost that week.

My joy was short-lived as there was a huge queue to get into the car park. It snaked all around the perimeter, its size only matched by the size of my bottom lip. As Disney tend to do, they shifted a huge number of people in a short amount of time and we dumped the car in Giraffe 46.

We didn’t have long to wait for the tram and after a bag check, scanner and a queue at the turnstiles we finally got into the park just after ten.

The first FastPass of the day was the safari, so we headed in that direction. That’s a good old walk especially with two almost octogenarians in your party but it was worth the trek.

We had a great guide and saw a god amount of stuff. I have promised myself that I shall keep returning to WDW until I can manage some non-blurry photos on the safari.

It isn’t often these days that it happens so at the first sign of a huge horn I took a photo of it.

There’s a probably an animal somewhere in that photo.

Ah there it is…..

I’d tell you that this was a hippo….But that’s just lion…..

As is often the case, my milkshake brings all the birds to the yard….

Smile!

After returning from our two-week safari, we set off for our next FastPass which was to be Everest.

Since our last visit a stadium seems to have grown in the middle of the theme park.

Dad rode Everest with myself and Emily and we all loved it. It’s one of the rides that just make you smile every time. It is a good one to ride early in the day as it blows the cobwebs off, gets the adrenaline flowing and puts you in a great mood.

When we got home and looked at our Memory Maker we had a few random photos that very obviously not taken by me.

Like these…

We walked on around to Dinoland where Mum & Dad played some of the games.

Emily and I moved on to Primeval Whirl.The stated 30 minute queue turned out to be just ten which made us happy.

We left battered and bruised and now Emily joined her Nana in battle.

No prizes were won alas.

It’s Tough To Be A Bug was next on the list and with a standby wait of just ten minutes we walked through all the queuing bits, with me trying to snap as many of the animals as possible in the tree.

It went well didn’t it?

It is quite usual for there to be screaming in this show, especially as it comes to an end due to some of the effects used. However, this show started with that too, as we seemed to have another screaming kid being subjected to something they absolutely did not want to go through. For all new parents out there, as much as the theme of this show might seem kid friendly, it is absolutely not suitable for toddlers as this poor screaming soul was demonstrating. Of course the parents didn’t take it outside and when it is still in therapy well into its twenties, it can read this blog to find out why.

It was 1pm now. We’d done a lot hadn’t we? We needed a drink and a sit down so we headed for Starbucks. It took a while to get served as we were behind a large group of teenage girls, each ordering drinks more complex than the theory of relativity. The shapes and colours of their drinks were a mystery to all but themselves.

Mum and Dad had a strawberry smoothie and I continued to order whatever Emily did and had another iced coffee thing. See how Starbucks had to really try to not spell my name with a G.

We watched the world go by for half an hour waiting for our next FastPass slot to come round. It was to be the Kali River Rapids, but by the power of the app, I discovered it was down. Instead we wandered over to the Lion King for the two o’clock show.

I have raved about this show every time we have seen it, and this shall be no exception. What a stunning, talent filled feel good fest this is.

I have the same photographs of it many times over so I decided to just sit back and watch it this time…oh apart from doing a Facebook live…but that took no effort.

As I wandered around today I noticed quite a few folks staring at my torso. Now, this is pretty normal when you have a physique like mine. But even for me, today it was noticeably more frequent.  Disregarding the usual number of pestering females undressing me with their eyes, I think everyone else was admiring my T-shirt, which is one of my faves.

You’d think after all our visits that I would know the official name for all the rides and attractions. I don’t. Apparently according to my notes we did the “Gorilla Trail thing”.

and eventually the trail led to an actual gorilla.

For the first time in many years next we took the train up to Rafiki’s Planet Watch otherwise known as the place where you pet goats.

However, as nice as the goats were, this guy was my favourite by a mile.

Next, we stroked a cow with horns, which is not a euphemism.

During our safari, our guide had told us that the restrooms at Rafiki’s Planet Watch were the best in all of the theme parks. I therefore felt duty bound to test that theory. I’d give it five minutes if I were you.

They may be the best but they still had that huge gap at the bottom of the door which mean that passers-by could see my knees. Spladosh!

We caught the train back and headed for Yak & Yeti. Louise had been in touch and said she would meet us there. This was no doubt as she had realised he error of her ways and realised her undying love for me. Either that or she really wanted to eat at Yak & Yeti.

As we made our way there, I demonstrated one of my top tips. If you see a huge queue to meet a character, simply take a picture of it with a random child and save yourself half an hour of waiting.

For those of the nerdy disposition, these, I think, are the projectors used for the new tree show thing. They are huge.

As we approached the restaurant, Louise and I spotted each other from a distance and ran in slow motion towards each other, meeting with an embrace and from somewhere romantic music poured out over us.

We waited for about twenty minutes before being seated upstairs.

We ordered some appetizers of Egg Rolls…

and Dad had some Firecracker Shrimp, which I think was due to some tight shorts.

Various strange lemonades and some wine for Louise arrived as we ordered….

Me – Combo Lo Mein

Dad – A Salmon Thing

Mum – Sweet & Sour Chicken

Louise – Teriyaki Chicken

Emily – Honey Chicken

The food was superb again. It was $225 including a healthy tip.

We consulted the app to plot our next move and seeing the safari was just a ten minute wait we decided to do it again for the benefit of Louise. See, I am so kind and considerate ever when she has been totally in the wrong.

There weren’t as many animals out and about at this time which frankly serves Louise right.

You lucky lot, getting two lots of blurry safari photos in one day!

We then walked all the way back to Everest. Louise, Emily and I rode using our recently acquired Fastpasses and then I let Emily and Louise use Mum & Dad’s FastPass to ride again. Again, how lucky is Louise?

As dusk approached we had to get ourselves in place for our first viewing of Rivers Of Light. We thought we could just wander across from Everest to the entrances we could see but no, they were for folks who had made a FastPass for it. Instead, we had to walk about six miles to the other side of the park to the muggle entrance.

We sat for just under an hour waiting for the show to start. That was fine as we were tired and it gave Louise more chances to apologise to me. Having just eaten obscene amounts of Chinese food we had a thirst that was life threatening. It was also very hot of course. It was a bit gutting not to see one drinks vendor wandering about. If I had wanted to buy some plastic tat that would light up, I had vendors walking by every few seconds. But if I needed life saving water, I would have to wait it seems.

There are few better places to be on the planet than a Disney park at dusk.

The show itself was very good. I suspect we’ll need a good few viewings to take it all in.

After the show we spilled out into Dinoland and we immediately bought lots of water and drank it as if we’d be wandering in the desert for a few days.

Louise needed to restroom so we sat for a long while waiting for her to release the chocolate hostages. Once she had returned we wandered slowly through a now quiet park.

We trammed back out to the car and dropped Mum & Dad off at their hotel before heading back to the Beach Club. We read and phoned for a while until sleep took us.

Minor domestics aside, that was a properly good full theme park today. We left satisfied that we’d done a lot.

Till the next time…..


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Who Ya Gonna Call?

I had reason to call Disney this week. It’s an incredible compliment to their brand experience and customer service that having a problem that necessitates an actual phone call isn’t seen as a negative. I even had to hold for over ten minutes to get through to someone and I didn’t mind. I sat and listened to the hold music with my phone on speaker so that Emily could enjoy it too.

When the dreamy American accent on the other end of the line eventually answered, the warmth of the greeting was like a Floridian summers day. I immediately had to put on my “I’m talking to an American” voice so that they would stand a chance of understanding me.

I explained my issue feeling genuine regret that I had to trouble them when I’ve only spent the value of an average house in the UK with them in my lifetime. The agent sounded as if I had just explained that half of my family had passed away and her regret and genuine concern comforted me in its warm embrace.

My issue was that even though I had linked all of our tickets to our party members, when I did a dry run of a FastPass booking to make sure we were ready to go, the app and web site errored telling me one of the party had no valid ticket. Yet I could see the valid ticket against their name elsewhere in the app.

The agent said she would speak to tech support if I didn’t mind holding. Mind holding? I was a few moments away from sending her my house keys and pension details. A few moments passed and she returned to apologise again that I had indeed linked everyone correctly but one hadn’t linked all the way through. She asked me to refresh my web page and there I would see that everything was now sorted. I was asked if there was anything else I needed today and when I confirmed there wasn’t she wished me a magical day and said she was looking forward to seeing us in April.

Emily at this point was close to tears and I felt like changing my will to make the Disney company sole heir to my debts. This does not happen when I contact other call centres. I know they are selling magic and most of their customers love the experience which is hard to match if you sell energy or mobile phones but how they manage to deliver such high standards consistently is truly amazing. In all of my dealings with Disney over thirty odd years I do struggle to remember a negative experience.

I was so misty eyed that I didn’t think to keep them on the phone whilst I tried another FastPass dry run and after putting the phone down I noticed that I was only being offered dates that are 30 days out, rather than 60 as we are on site elite uber customers. I couldn’t face the emotion of another phone call so I emailed them instead.

It may be that the FastPass window only opens to 60 days when you are actually 60 days out from your on site booking? If anyone of you who do the on site thing more than we do know that would be lovely. Otherwise I shall await the reply to my email.

In other news this week, it was announced that it will be the end of Wishes just after our visit. I cannot tell you how upset Emily was. She does have a complete aversion to things changing at Disney. Anything that she experienced during her childhood is not allowed to be amended in any way. I understand that of course but having seen more changes than she has, I know that these things have to happen to keep the parks interesting and of course keep the punters coming back.

Image credit Mousehints.com

Image credit Mousehints.com

She will observe a period of mourning and the usual guaranteed tears on our final day as we watch Wishes will be increased by a factor of about ten, as she knows she will never see it again.

With Rivers of Light also coming on line and opening dates announced for Avatar and Star Wars Land it’s been a big week for Disney. Anyone would think that Universal have a new park opening soon!!

Image credit wdwmagic.com

Image credit wdwmagic.com

I won’t bother with you with my pre-holiday weight loss progress. The least said the better.

Till the next time…..

I Don’t Care!

It’s been a busy week over at WDW, with several announcements, dedications and celebrations.

However, as I’m not going any time soon I couldn’t give a shit! That’s a little harsh, but it is amazing how my interest in such things wanes when there isn’t a countdown with my name on it.

From my casual glances at the internets this week it would appear that a dedication ceremony happened for the new Mine Train ride at the Magic Kingdom, and in it they confirmed it will open on May the 28th. In any normal year that would be perfect timing for our usual tour in the late summer.

So what else happened that has no relevance to my immediate plans?

Well, there’s been a birthday at Hollywood Studios. It was 25. Any time now it should getting to the age where it meets another park it likes and starts to reproduce smaller parks that will grow up too quickly. The fireworks were up to the usual standard of course, and I post them here with the highest possible endorsement. Emily says they are great!

As if that wasn’t enough to taunt me, Disney then go for the hat trick by unveiling some new fandangled night-time thing at the Animal Kingdom. That’s just rubbing salt in my wounds. Even in my sullen mood I can be thankful for this. Animal Kingdom was always the park that could be done in less than a day, and with its early closing, felt like it lacked something. Now, there’ll be something at every park that folks can start to reserve spots for just after lunch!

The Rivers of Light Nighttime Spectacular looks to be a Fantasmic style affair, with water, lasers and stuff. See, I can’t even bring myself to enthuse about it or outline any further detail.

This apathy has been apparent all the way through this barren no countdown period. There have been roughly six hundred and twelve thousand announcements and updates all about FastPasses and some new fandangled type of coloured bracelets. I know nothing, because I don’t need to. As and when the stars align and allow us another countdown I’ll be the one on popular Disney forums asking stupid questions about that, and all of the above. I shall try not to ask how much spending money I may or may not need.

If all or any of the above are relevant to you, as you have an impending trip, then bully for you. Really, I’m delighted for you, truly ebullient. Did that sound sincere? Well, I tried.

In other news this week, I picked up a flurry of Twitter followers following a mention on a book review blog. They all had about a gabillion followers, proper publishers and probably some actual talent for writing. I felt fraudulent and amateur and have been double checking the spelling of all my tweets since. Most of my tweets only contain four letter words so I think I’ve done OK. I shall say this though, if you think I over promote my writings via social media, then, as someone once said, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Don’t worry, I won’t emulate them by upping the adverts for the books. Besides, you’ve all bought them by now, right?

Till the next time…..