The Coats, Boats and Little Scrotes Tour 2023 – Day Eight Monday 16th January 

Monday 16th January

Up at 7am to the horrors of packing. The plan had been to use one case for the three of us for the cruise, which was where we were headed today. We would then leave the other two in the car. It soon became clear that this would not work and we would need two cases.

It took over an hour to get everything strewn around our room into our cases and bags before showering, making a coffee and then heading to the car at 9am.

As ever, breakfast was a priority and we decided to go to an IHOP and the closest was up on the 192.

There was no wait to be seated and we chose –

Me – Split Decision

Louise – French Toast

Emily – Omelette

It was all very tasty and very good value.

It was still only 10.30 when we finished eating and we assumed far too early to be heading to the ship. We went for a bit of a drive around Celebration as we hadn’t been for a while.

We stumbled across some delightful properties.

Proper picture book stuff….

We left before we got arrested for taking photos of strangers’ houses.

We then set the sat nav for Port Canaveral, which showed an arrival time of 11.45. Our boarding slot wasn’t until 1.45pm, so we had no clue what we would do to kill that time once we got there.

This added to my overall feeling of anxiety at doing something new. I had no idea how any of this cruising stuff worked and I didn’t like it. Some research may have eased that anxiety but life had been busy pre-holiday so here we were, heading into the unknown.

We did the uneventful straight drive out to the coast.

In the photo above you can see our Toll Pass thingy. I would certainly say that the extra few minutes it takes to pick one of these up at the airport is worth it. You can just sail through the Sun Pass lanes and not have to worry about finding change etc.

Enough pictures of roads now?

Have some water instead.

Back to roads again.

As we neared the terminal, I naturally turned down the radio so I could concentrate and luckily was able to follow a Disney Cruise bus into the right place.

As we entered the relevant area at Terminal 8 someone directed us to a spot to drop off our luggage. We handed them over and in my “I don’t know what I’m doing” state, I handed over a $20 tip rather than the $5 I intended. If America could make the notes look different to each other that would be great. What do you mean $20 was correct??

We drove into the car park, paid $95 and left the car there.

As we headed for the check-in bit Louise of course needed a restroom so Emily and I stood with the cases starting at the entrance to the terminal, so close but yet so far.

After about six hours (I do not exaggerate) Louise returned and we made our way in. I need not have worried about killing that extra time before our check-in slot!

We were still a little ahead of our boarding slot but I figured we’d see how far we got.

As we got to one of the check-in cast members the first hurdle and therefore small piece of advice I can share is, they need a physical copy of your ESTA. I did not have one. Luckily I had mobile data on my phone and she had to wait whilst I logged onto the ESTA site, retrieved each one and showed her the copy on my phone.

Not stressful at all.

Next, we went through security before heading up to the place where you waited until your boarding group was called.

We sat for about an hour before that happened. Once group 22 was announced I had no clue where to go or what to do, so wandered about until we found the right place. We were boarding!

As we reached the entrance a CM asked for our surname and we were announced onto the ship. A lovely touch and the environment into which you arrive is really impressive.

It felt like we were surrounded by professional cruisers who were not randomly wandering about aimlessly like us. But we enjoyed the wander while waiting for our room, sorry cabin, to be available. Getting your bearings on the ship is probably the single biggest asset to getting the most from the cruise, so do more research than I did.

Eventually, we found our way up to deck 14 and took in some of the views.

At 2 we headed to the room. No luggage yet but we dumped our bags, including a very heavy Ryan, and headed back out to explore.

Any concerns about the size of the cabin, especially with three adults in it were dispelled. It was fine and our bed was probably the most comfortable one we had all trip.

We had some lunch in Marceline Market at 2.45. Just some chicken tenders and burgers with some beer, wine and rum for Emily. She was at sea now!

Sam, a UK chap behind the bar, somehow talked me into spending $16 on that beer glass. It was mine for the whole cruise (you get a card to redeem for a glass) but as I drink about three beers a year I doubted I would remember or have anywhere near enough beer to get any value from it.

We continued to explore.

I didn’t think we were getting to Nasa until tomorrow?

Ah, sorry it’s Nassau we are heading to!

We stopped in another bar called the Keg and Compass and I had a Guinness, Louise a wine and Emily another Rum and that took us almost to our sailing time. I appreciate that may not be the correct technical term.

Rather than join the crowds watching the sail away party we returned to deck 14 where it was more peaceful and had some fab views as we left port.

Whatever the coming few days had in store, at least we weren’t on that boat.

There’s something mesmerising about the sea when you live 50 miles from it. I couldn’t stop looking at it and taking photos.

Back in the room, it has to be said that Emily and I did not feel well. We had not yet established our sea legs and despite the huge size of the boat, we could feel the movement. We rested a bit and then got ready for dinner. We stopped in the Bayou (a bar) for a drink but I couldn’t finish mine as I had to go back to the room to take care of business and my upset stomach.

When I returned we wandered around the very posh jewellers onboard, expertly buying nothing before heading to the Marvel restaurant for dinner.

In another spectacular example of how little research I had done prior to doing this cruise, we were, it has to be said, shocked to discover we were seated at a shared table. Best efforts had been made to match us up with similar folks, in that it was another party of three, two middle-aged parents and an adult child in their twenties but that is where the similarities ended.

Don’t get me wrong, they were lovely people and we would get to know them better over the course of the cruise, as yes, you sit with them at every meal, but we may as well have been from different planets.

As we made awkward small talk and Paul Rudd did some acting all around us (not in real life), we had –

Me – Soup, Steak and a Sundae

Louise – Soup and Steak

Emily – Rigatoni and Gnocchi, who I thought played for AC Milan.

Not great photos, but you try explaining to three strangers from South Carolina why you need to take detailed photos of all your family’s food before they can start eating it.

The food was good and Edi, our server, excellent.

We got some sea-sickness drugs from the shop after the meal and that sorted us right out. We didn’t feel sick at all for the rest of the cruise.

We toddled off back to our room and had a welcome early night. The towel art was off to an impressive start.

Till the next time…..

The Coats, Boats and Little Scrotes Tour 2023 – Day Seven Sunday 15th January 

Following the only logical way in which you should do the WDW parks, naturally, today was to be Animal Kingdom. If you don’t do them in the order in which they opened, seriously what gives?

I was awake around 6am which gave me enough time to ready myself for the app shenanigans required before riding some rides.

When the time came I secured an (expensive) LL for Flights Of Passage at 12.35, but for once there were choices to be had and it wasn’t the experience previously seen, where you just smash all the buttons presented as quickly as possible and see what time falls out the back.

Of course, Genie+ was bought again accompanied by a good amount of resentment.

After making enough noise to wake everyone else up we left the room at 8.30. The nipple-hardening chill took me by surprise and as we walked to the car I did suspect I was a little underdressed for the conditions. A fifteen-minute drive saw us parked up and on a tram.

Somewhere amidst all this, I had booked a LL for Everest at 9.15 so we walked there first.

See how I expertly and effortlessly have the camera focus on the very important fence rather than the irrelevant characters in the background.

There was already a 40-minute standby queue so our previous trick, when old school FastPasses existed, of riding it once with a FastPass and then going through standby before the queues built up was scuppered.

It was as we made our way down the first hill on the ride that I realised this was going to be life-threateningly cold. We ended the ride with ringing teeth and bright red cheeks but with a smile on our faces.

Breakfast was required. None of the parks cover themselves in glory for counter service breakfast options and here was no different. We ended up at Yak & Yeti for some breakfast bowls.

They were tasty to be fair, yet a little spicy which would no doubt be resulting in some Rennie a little later.

It’s Tough To Be A Bug had no wait so that was chosen next. On the way, we got Emily a hot cocoa to avoid a trip to a medical facility. We walked all the way to the end of a row and enjoyed the show. I think only one small child needed taking out during it this time.

I had at some point secured a Lion King LL for the 10.30 show so that was our next destination. We entered the relevant queue only for Louise to come over all hot sweats and gripes. That is not a rap act, it was a condition that needed a restroom without any delay. She left us to attend to that so Emily and I loitered just before the entrance to the theatre hoping she would return before the show started. She did, but only just which meant we were sat right at the top of the bleachers.

The show, now back to its usual format and not the Covid version, was of course excellent.

Here, the show mirrors my oesophagus following that breakfast bowl.

We then caught the train up to Raffiki’s Planet Watch. It had been some years since we had done so.

It was too cold for the animals to be out and about so they were all sheltering in their heated stalls.

Look at that ass….

I chatted for ages with a Cast Member called Roy or Ray. He had been working for WDW for 39 years and had loved every day. We had a really interesting discussion about the animals and his career. I sent a cast compliment off as he was a proper gent and a gem.

We caught the train back at 12.30 for our Flights Of Passage LL and got there at 1.10. After a ten-minute wait, we entered the first room and eventually got on the thing at about 1.25.

We were all loving the ride and with about 30 seconds of it to go (we were literally coming in to land) the ride crashed and we were plunged into darkness. A CM appeared, released us all and then took us to another room where we immediately rode it again! It felt like we had got slightly more value from our LL booking!

We were heading for our LL for the safari now but stopped in Harambe for some authentic African cuisine. I had a pretzel, Emily a muffin and Louise some Lays.

Despite being LL, we still waited about fifteen minutes before boarding. It was mid-afternoon, traditionally a time of few animals when Florida is hot, but the very cool temperatures meant there were a good number of animals wandering about.

A show that has grown on us over the years is the Nemo one here at Animal Kingdom. Whilst never quite forgiving Disney for removing the Tarzan show, this is something we seem to enjoy more each time we see it.

This being my favourite bit…..I do have history with large turtle heads of course.

Louise was tired at this point so she went to have a sit down whilst Emily and I went off to ride Dinosaur. This is probably Emily’s least favourite ride in WDW, but I wanted to ride it so here she was.

As if the Disney Gods were smiling upon her, as we got to the entrance the CMs were announcing it was down. We still entered, hopeful the downtime would be brief, but after twenty minutes and with an impending ADR coming up, we gave up and walked over to Yak & Yeti to meet Louise for dinner.

We were seated immediately, upstairs.

Oddly, at this exact moment, one of my nostrils became unbelievably runny. No amount of blowing and sniffing would sort it. I feared I was coming down with some holiday illness, but (spoiler alert) I never did and this was just a very strange thing that lasted a few hours.

We started with Pot Stickers and yet took no photo.

Lo Mein for me and Emily

Sweet and Sour for Louise.

With wine and cocktails for those that could the bill came to $165.

We endured a very chilly walk back to the tram and drove to Walmart and spent $58 on things for my nose and other bits. Once back at the resort, I went to put a wash on, despite my severe illness and ate the rest of Louise’s Gideon’s cake whilst I waited for it to finish. I went to sleep at ten with a tissue up my nose.

Till the next time…..

The Coats, Boats and Little Scrotes Tour 2023 – Day Six Saturday 14th January 

Saturday 14th January

Usually, I might moan (who, me?) about being awakened by an alarm, but after my recent sleeping woes, I was quite pleased to sleep until it went off at 6.45. Nothing says I’m on holiday more than setting the alarm for 6.45 right? Thanks Disney.

With us heading for Hollywood Studios today I knew I had to be up at that time to try and give them a load of money to ride something I had already paid for and to get Genie+. I have moaned extensively already that this park is really struggling currently and always has horrible wait times.

I did what was needed and handed over the money to experience Rise of the Resistance and secure Genie+. $120 lighter (yes, you read that right) we all got ready, layering up for what was forecast to be a very chilly day. It was currently 5 degrees.

We took the car today as we didn’t want to be waiting for the Skyliner in very low temperatures later tonight, which was a shame as I really enjoyed taking advantage of the Skyliner. We parked in Mickey 305, right at the top of the row. We made it into the park behind yet more ticket and finger incompetence and made our way in.

Breaking every rule of theme park touring, we all agreed that we needed food before anything else could be considered. We walked over to Toy Story Land and for the first time tried Woody’s Lunchbox, which I think is a film you can find on the dark web if you look hard enough.

We ordered two breakfast bowls and one Plant Totchos. Everything was very tasty. We got hot drinks too.

It was about $40 and we sat outside in close-to-freezing temperatures because we were on holiday.

Because the Genie+ system works so well, I was forced to book Slinky Dog for 3.40pm before all the slots for the day went and this now meant that I couldn’t book anything else for ages. Every ride already had a really long wait time (yes, I know we should have ridden something before eating!) so all we could do was wander around Galaxy’s Edge for a bit.

In the end, we did a full loop of the park, basically killing time until we could use Genie+ to get on something. We were, it has to be said quite frustrated at this point.

We were headed for One Man’s Dream to kill some more time when Emily spotted that the wait time for Rock N Rollercoaster had dropped to twenty-five minutes from over an hour. Sceptical, yet hopeful we headed over there. It would appear that half of the guests in the park had spotted the same thing and were also heading there. Surely Disney would not post a false wait time to drag guests to another area of the park?

There were a lot of big school groups in the parks today so if you timed it wrong, the queue you entered could be adversely affected just by one of those if they were in front of you. We joined the standby and it took about 35 minutes to get to the alley. Not bad for a busy Saturday morning.

We returned to our previous plan and headed to One Man’s Dream, and on the way, finally able to make another LL booking, I booked Toy Story Mania for 11ish.

We hadn’t watched the film for a while so it was lovely to see it again.

It was nice now to make use of some of the money I’d spent on Genie+ and to get inside where it was warm as I inflicted a crushing defeat on Emily on Toy Story Mania.

181,000 was the best in our car and still woefully short of troubling any records for the day or week.

Our slot for Rise was approaching so we went back to Galaxy’s Edge and stopped for a drink and a sit-down.

Emily was excited to finally get to experience Rise for the first time as we waited for our slot to roll around. We finished our drinks and I got a notification from the Disney app. Rise was down and our booked slot had now been turned into an “any time today” slot. FFS.

You can imagine what this did to the wait times everywhere else, as everyone who should have been waiting for Rise looked for other things to do. With our LL booking ability still tied up, we found ourselves with another hour with nothing to do unless we wanted to spend it all standing in a queue. As we walked past Rise the CM outside was pretty much saying this felt like an issue that could take a while to fix so it would be best to not hang around and wait.

We consoled ourselves with some Gelato from the cart outside the Muppets. We people-watched for a bit until it was time for our lunch ADR at Hollywood & Vine, booked solely to get us into Fantasmic again without a long wait.

We were seated at 1.50. We hadn’t been there in years either. The food was decent and plentiful as were the characters. Being an all-adult group, we sacrificed Emily as tribute and she was the one to stand up and get photographed with them all. She was not too upset by this.

It had been a while too, for all kinds of reasons since there had been any character hugging. It was nice to see that again.

We each constructed plates of oddly thrown-together food combinations and filled ourselves up.

During lunch, I had booked Smuggler’s Run for 2.50 so that would be next. On the way, we called into the droid shop to pick out Freddie’s present. On a recent Facetime, he had expressed an interest and desire for something Star Wars and robot-related. Whilst we didn’t do the build-a-droid thing we did get him a talking droid soldier which would be very tricky to get home. Louise seemed not to care and made us buy it anyway. It was about two feet hight. I do have a bit of a catchphrase in WDW shops when Louise points at something…

“But how do we get it home?!?”.

It has saved thousands of dollars over the years. It didn’t work today though.

We rode Smuggler’s Run, and each time we do I manage to take in a little more of the story and detail. I am even beginning to have a clue what the aim of the mission is and how to do better at it.

Now, the Genie+ famine turned into feast and our Slinky LL, made hours ago, was due so we went straight onto that.

These people here demonstrated exceptionally bad skills when trying to undertake the complex task of scanning their magic band to get in.

We went past them as they all stood trying to figure out what the thing on their wrist was but as we got into the LL queue further up it turned out we had managed to get ourselves in the middle of their group so Louise let the incompetent stragglers past us much to my annoyance.

Having somehow wrestled the two-foot droid I was carrying into the very small seating area, we rode.

By jingo it was cold.

Whilst doing all of the above I booked us a LL for the next Indy show at 4.30. As we left Slinky I saw on the app that Rise was back up and it looked to have just done so. We altered course and marched straight there. The LL queue was snaking for miles already but we joined it, as we were riding this bloody thing if it killed us.

In the end, we waited just ten minutes to get on. I think some part of the ride was missing, but at least it was up and Emily got to experience it. It was, is and probably always will be an awesome experience.

We took advantage of the aforementioned booking for Indy at 4.30.

Before returning to our new favourite, the Tap House, for a drink. Whilst doing so I was amused and horrified to see…

Whilst enjoying that and layering up for Fantasmic (Ryan had been bulging all day with extra clothing) I eeked out a little more value for money from Genie+ and booked Star Tours for right now, bypassing a 30-minute standby queue.

Once we were done we walked down to Fantasmic. We were in at 7.15 and grabbed a box of popcorn for the wait.

Another awesome show was enjoyed and after a painless exit from the show and the park, we were quickly in the car and back home by 9pm. We got changed and headed for a club until about 3am.

No, sorry, I mean we were in bed moments later.

Till the next time…….

The Coats, Boats and Little Scrotes Tour 2023 – Day Five Friday 13th January 

Friday 13th January

Here we go with another one of our infamous “rest days”. No parks today so there was no rush to be awake, up or dressed. That did not stop my body being aroused (not like that) annoyingly early again. We lazed in bed for some time before hunger drove Emily and I to get up. Louise wanted to stay in bed so we got ready and walked over to the main building at the resort in search of breakfast.

Being a master of multi-tasking, on the way to eat we dropped off a washer load of dirty clothes into a suitable machine and left that to do its thing whilst we ate.

I had left the camera back at the room so you are spared more blurry food photos of Emily’s Avocado on Toast and my Bacon & Cheese Bagel. Both were very acceptable for food court fare and we set off back to the room, with another bagel in the bag (literally) for Louise. It was coldish and a bit drizzly on our walk back but still significantly warmer than back in the UK.

Whilst Louise ate and got ready I transferred the washing to a dryer and then when that was done, collected it and brought it back to the room.

Our plans today were Disney Springs, mainly as the weather meant we couldn’t do anything related to sitting by a pool. We parked in Lime as ever and I once again got pulled at security.

After watching more vlogs on it than probably any other subject in the last few years and still having never done it, our first job was Gideon’s. It was now, as we stood by the fountain at the bottom of the stairs from Lime garage, that I realised that I had absolutely no clue where it was. I broke Google Maps out and followed it.

The virtual queue was “only” an hour so we checked in. Not having a US phone number meant we could not get a text alert, so we just had to come back at the relevant time.

To fill that hour we walked down towards Splitsville and browsed stuff in that area. We got Freddie a T-shirt and Facetimed Rebecca from outside of the M&M store.

We walked back to Gideon’s at the appropriate time and waited a few minutes in the queue to get our cookies. Mad isn’t it?

Well yes, but they are spectacular and the shop is very well-themed and interesting.

These were our choices.

I had the Pistachio Toffee.

Emily the Banana Bread Chocolate Chip.

Louise had a “piece” of cake. The Peanut Butter one….

Emily and I had the Peanut Butter Nitros just in case there wasn’t enough sweet stuff going on.

Is it worth all the hype and waiting? Well, yes, if you take it in the right spirit. This is an experience, not just grabbing a cookie. They are superb and very, very delicious. Of course, it is expensive but as a one-off “on holiday” thing, yes, absolutely worth it. We sat on a nearby bench and enjoyed them. I finished mine, but Emily and Louise saved a good deal of theirs for later. I will save you the bother of wondering. I ate the rest of Louise’s cake at some point in the coming days.

We continued to browse many shops and bought very little. Some hours passed (yep, I don’t make good notes about shopping), and around 3pm we had a “light snack” at the Earl of Sandwich.

I seem to have taken one photo and have no clue which one it was so….

that was either a Veggie (Emily), Chipotle Chicken (Louise) or an Earl (me). We sat inside as it was still a bit chilly, mainly wondering how we were going to get ourselves hungry for our dinner reservation in a few hours.

A bit more browsing happened as we made our way back to the car. Back at the room, resting and napping happened before we got ready to go and eat again. At around 7.15 we set off for the Skyliner for what would be one of the most well-executed journeys ever conducted on Disney property.

It was proper cold by now which made everything blurry.

We boarded a Skyliner gondola heading for Epcot, on our way to The Swan for our reservation at Il Mulino at 8pm. The ride was a little rocky as the wind was getting up, but we arrived safely and we were ready for the chilly stroll around to the Swan. As we came down the exit ramp we spotted a Friendship boat boarding and decided to get on that instead.

As we sat down, the doors closed and off we went. It was getting close to 8pm now and I figured we’d be a few minutes late arriving at the restaurant once we had called at the Boardwalk and Yacht Club. It’s always lovely to travel around this area at night, no matter how you do it, so we enjoyed the ride.

We docked at The Swan and walked into the restaurant, arriving at 7.59. This journey will be written about in the history of WDW as how to perfectly execute a multi-vehicle trip. Feeling very proud of myself I checked in and we were seated in a few minutes.

If you read about our experience here during our last trip you will know that we loved it, twice. It’s funny how an experience can change on different visits. We still very much enjoyed tonight but had it been our first time we would not have raved about it, as we did previously.

The place was much busier/noisier for a start and we were sat in a different part of the restaurant which didn’t feel as intimate. The food was still fab.

Bread service to start and I of course ordered the Rice Balls, as I have on every visit now as they are superb.

Louise had the same and Emily just polished off the bread. Emily and I had a Corona and Louise ordered a bottle of red.

I failed again with the food photos.

Louise and I both had the Rigatoni Funghi and Emily had Ravioli. We thought we were ordering the same as we had last time, but it didn’t seem to be when it arrived. Again, it was lovely, just not what we experienced last time.

I ended with some Gelato.

It was a dear do at $230 including a tip. Again, the service tonight was fine, just not exceptional as we found it last time.

Fighting every urge to just go home and let our tired, full bodies go to bed, we undertook a very chilly walk to Jellyrolls.

There were no tables free so we loitered at the back near some stools (honestly, the cleaning standards in WDW these days!!) having a drink and enjoying the music.

After a while, a table looked to be becoming available as the folks on it started to get ready to leave. I made a bee-line for it, feeling slightly guilty for the people I excused myself past who were discussing if they should go and sit there.

The view was better. Overall we stayed for a couple of hours before making our way out. I was aware we had a theme park day tomorrow and didn’t want us to be out too late.

Using the Lyft app, I ordered a Minnie Van from the Boardwalk entrance which arrived in seconds. We had a lovely driver in a stunning Suburban. I thought I wanted one until I googled how much they are. She took us back to the resort via some back roads through Pop Century I think and it cost us about $30.

Despite being in a foreign country, and being driven by someone who does it for a living, I could not fight the urge to mansplain to our driver that actually we were staying at Caribbean Beach and not Pop Century and she was going the wrong way. Bless her, she explained that she knew a shortcut ever so politely and managed to save her cursing of me until we left the vehicle no doubt. We were home and in bed by 12.

Till the next time……

The Coats, Boats and Little Scrotes Tour 2023 – Day Four Thursday 12th January

Thursday 12th January

I won’t go on about how I was awake at 2.40am. I’ll just mention it once. Nobody wants to hear about my interrupted sleep pattern, do they? Granted, that was very early, but I should just crack on and not linger on this boring detail. Especially as, after a pee, I slept on until 5. Yeah, best not to mention it.

That was just my body clock naturally making sure I was awake in time to undertake all the admin required on the Disney app to try and get on some rides. When the relevant time slots came around I bagged a boarding group for Guardians and bought Genie+ again. Disney, you robbing bar stewards.

We were all ready and out of the door by 7.45 and did the short drive to Epcot. We were one of the first to arrive and parked right down at the front. There was, it may not shock you to learn, a decent queue at the “turnstiles” so we picked a line that would naturally move slower than all the others.

Our ability to select the line that sees the party ahead of us have issues with their tickets, fingers, magic bands and competence levels is top-notch. At one point the CM was taking photos of them all with their iPad thing, hopefully, to go on their criminal record for holding us up. We used an alternative scanner thing, leaving them there. I still don’t think they are in the park.

We arrived at the front, scanned a band, laid a finger down, and were in.

Early entry time again so we waited about ten minutes for a rope to drop and headed, at a brisk walking pace, to the Land with Soarin’ on our minds. This chap was on the scrim boarding near the rope drop.

Despite hordes of folks heading the same way as us, very few actually turned into The Land which surprised me. Where were they headed? Probably up to O Canada to wait for it to open at 11, right?

Despite knowing by this stage that we would be able to just walk on to Soarin’, the urge to walk faster was almost irresistible for me. Louise loves that.

We did indeed walk straight on and after a briefing from Patrick, we took our seats.

Join us as we ride Soarin’.

I allowed breakfast now. We went to the only just opened food court in The Land and got three breakfast sandwiches, one without Ham for Emily and I had some overnight oats. I’m sure CVS have a cream for that though. $38.

With Genie+ in the bag and a feeling that today wasn’t going to be that busy, we went on Living With The Land for the first time in about two decades. It was very interesting and much better than we remembered.

It would turn out that our Genie+ purchase today wasn’t essential. The only queues all day looked to be Remy and Test Track. We walked down to Spaceship Earth next and tolerated a fifteen-minute wait to board. There should be a refund option by a certain time of the day in these situations.

Restrooms next for Louise so Emily and I went into Club Cool and tried a couple of weird sodas.

Once we had Louise back we walked over to the Seas and rode Nemo. That’s the sequel you won’t see on Disney+.

A ten-minute wait for the shells. We disem-shelled and didn’t do anything else in there as we normally might as our LL for Test Track was now imminent. On our journey over there we could see the progress on the build of the “Moana thing”. It’s this level of detail that you read this crap for, right?

and whatever this will be.

I also booked another LL as we walked, this time for Mission Space, for “now” so we could ride that immediately after Test Track.

We didn’t bypass too much of a standby wait before joining the main queue to design our car.

Once that was done we spilt out of that room into the next part of the queue which is a real mess. All the doors dump you into a corridor where you have to jostle for position and everyone tries and fails to keep their parties together whilst not wanting to appear rude.

After enjoying the ride we made the short trip across to Mission Space where it was absolutely fine that Emily chose the Orange side and not the Green, honestly.

I still miss Gary Sinise’s hair in the old briefing, to be honest, but I was just glad to enjoy the ride and not feel like I wanted to revisit my breakfast afterwards. We got a couple of coffees and a water and had a sit down for a bit near Guardians and did some people watching for about forty minutes. We were just killing time until our boarding group came up and that happened at 1.25. It took about half an hour to get through the queue and pre-shows. Having ridden it once before we knew that it’s better to be over on the right in the pre-show room as that is where the door opens.

What I had forgotten was that there are two pre-show rooms. In another episode of “you couldn’t write it”, I was standing up against the door on the right in what turned out to be the first of two rooms (I had forgotten that fact from our one previous ride). As that show came to an end, literally to the second, behind me the doors opened and I turned ready to Dad walk to the ride. Turns out that a CM just happened to be coming in through that door at that exact time and said, politely, “Where are you going?” as I tried to go into what was clearly a backstage area.

I assumed the same position in the next room and did manage to get us down to the ride ahead of 95% of the folks in our group. Top tip, stand to the right, but in the second room.

Anywho, the ride was tremendous again and we got Tears for Fears this time.

Having conquered most of Future World, I allowed us to walk up to World Showcase now. Being the Festival of the Arts, we wandered past a lot of art.

Breaking every rule in the book, we bypassed several countries and went to China. Louise needed food for her medication and the quick service in China seemed the best option based on the queues we saw in Mexico and there only being cakes in Norway. Today was not our official World Showcase day so it was almost OK to do things abnormally.

We were amazed to find zero vegetarian options for Emily other than a full meal of a veg stir-fry thing. Louise and I shared some pot stickers and egg rolls which allowed her to take her tablets. I may have over-ordered.

Conscious that Emily hadn’t eaten in at least a few hours, we left Louise to finish up and Emily and I speed-walked over to Italy with the intention of getting Emily a slice of pizza from the window at Via Napoli. It was of course closed. Onwards we marched, determined to find something that did not include meat. You can imagine that the BBQ place in America was not the one, but just past that Emily settled on a funnel cake as a nutritious way to fill a gap. I left her to buy that whilst I restroomed. I may have helped finish it off as we sat at a table outside the American pavilion and we messaged Louise to tell her where we were, which was not Italy as we had said. She didn’t reply for a worrying amount of time so we walked back to Italy hoping to find her there.

We did. She was oblivious to our search around the world for food, as her phone was in Ryan and he was on my back.

We went back to America again as the Voices of Liberty were due to start. We even managed to get a seat.

I did a Facebook live of this if you wanted to watch their show.

After watching this and the drummer folks in Japan, again this was starting to feel like “old WDW” may be returning in some ways.

We continued our wander around World Showcase.

We just browsed in most pavilions along the way.

before making our way down through the park to the exit.

We drove back to the resort for showers and readying and headed out for tea at Bahama Breeze. We were not starving it has to be said but we’re on holiday so who cares.

We were seated immediately and served by a Scottish chap called Euan who we struggled to understand so heaven help the Americans.

Cocktails for the ladies.

and a lovely Diet Coke for me.

No appetisers tonight, just straight to the mains.

Me – Chicken Tostada Salad (again).

Emily and Louise had the jerk pasta, one without chicken.

The bill was $119ish and we paid using the device on the table as we needed to be on our way. We were headed to Port Orleans to watch Yeeha’ Bob!

We were incredibly lucky to find just one table left in the bar as we arrived so we bagged that and ordered some drinks. Bob did his usual wander around the tables gathering information on where folks are from etc.

I had Pomegranate Lemonade, Louise, wine and various cocktails for Emily.

If you want to see videos of almost his entire show, head over to Louise on Facebook, as she posted them all there!

We loved the show and Emily enjoyed it for the first time.

We did witness some absolute shithousery from a couple in front of us.

Not long into the show a table emptied and a couple came to claim it. It was a large table which could easily seat eight people. It was in fact two tables pushed together. Not long afterwards another lady wandered up and very politely asked the lady from the first couple if she minded if they took the other half of the table.

Well, the first lady did mind, very much, but couldn’t bring herself to say so. You could see her mind racing, looking for a reason to say no, but she could not. Instead, she just literally said “Whatever” and then proceeded to try and wrestle the two tables apart for about five minutes, failing miserably. She sat there with a face like a slapped arse.

Her partner returned to the table and they proceeded to look at the food menu. After quite some time and several chats with their server, the chef appeared. He had a long conversation with them, taking copious notes and nodding earnestly as this couple talked at him. He went way to construct what would no doubt be the world’s most complex meal, despite the menu only offering bar snacks.

Then their server brought their drinks. That order had taken about ten minutes too and the minute the drinks hit the table the man took one sniff (yes, sniff) of his drink and handed it back. The server showed him her pad where she had clearly written down his exacting request, but no, he was not having it.

“I never usually send things back,” he said as the server wandered away back to the bar.

Eventually, he was happy with his drink and their food arrived. What had been the result of their long consultation with the chef?

Wings.

Look, I know folks have allergies etc, but these two were bellends who just wanted to feel important. Their entire demeanour was horrible and there was just no need for it. It’s nice to be important but it’s more important to be nice, right?

Thankfully they buggered off soon after, leaving the other family on the table to enjoy the rest of the show.

Whilst that was an interesting diversion it did not stop us from enjoying Bob’s show and we left around 11pm. The drive home was thankfully short and sleep did not have trouble finding us.

Till the next time……

The Coats, Boats and Little Scrotes Tour 2023 – Day Three Wednesday 11th January

Wednesday 11th January

At the risk of these becoming a daily journal of me moaning about my sleep patterns, again my rest was fitful. I was awake at 2.40am, went to the loo and then managed a glorious sleep until 8am. Today was a rest day so this was fitting.

I say rest day. Regular readers will know this is seldom the case for a full day. It was a relaxed start to the day, so we lounged in bed for a bit. In fact, it was 10am before we were up and doing stuff. That stuff involved showering and thinking about where we may go for breakfast with no park to go to…yet.

We kept it simple and went to Dennys. It was the one next to the Olive Garden we went to a couple of days ago at Lake Buena Vista. There was no waiting for a table and we were in and ordering by 10.30.

Louise – Some skillet thing

Me – A dipping beef sandwich thing

Emily – A Beyond Cheeseburger

It was very tasty and as we were finishing up we Facetimed Rebecca. As we were doing the obligatory silly noises and waving at Dougie, our server returned to the table and joined us in doing so. She was lovely and earned herself a 22% tip, which still only made the bill $65. It isn’t fine dining, but if you want filling up with decent food for a good price, Dennys will do that for you.

Whilst we had dined, discussions turned to Louise’s ongoing condition. She had an ear infection and despite going to the doctor a few days prior to travel, had not been able to secure any antibiotics, probably as the UK seemed to have run out of them! It was causing her some grief and we made the decision to bite the bullet on this rest day and go and see our old friends at Centracare which was across the road from where we were eating. It would be good to catch up with them all again and use our frequent visitor discount!

The whole thing took 90 minutes and $336 but we emerged with what turned out to be the strongest antibiotics known to man and they sorted Louise out in short order in the coming days. Despite being told by our UK GP that “it would clear up by itself” the American doctor assured us it wouldn’t and it needed killing with fire, or with the more powerful drugs they prescribed.

We went back to the resort to “take care of business” and we were out again around 1pm and heading for the Skyliner. It was a ten-minute walk from the room and we were headed for Hollywood Studios. I had secured a Fantasmic Dinner Package for today so the plan was to do that around 3.30 and do what we could in the park until the show later that night.

The journey to DHS was short and enjoyable. It was Louise’s first Skyliner experience and despite her absolute fear of heights, all went well.

After a nice journey to the park, once we got in, the place was a mess. The wait times were horrific for everything and my conclusion now is that of all the parks, DHS suffers the most from Genie+ and whatever else is going on.

The only thing we could do was Muppets so we did.

With every other wait time being over an hour at best we decided to go to the Tap House for a drink and sit down.

I had a beer flight as the Skyliner meant I was not driving.

The ladies had some Tequila thing.

We stayed there until about 3.30 and it is a lovely place to “hang out”. It was time for our ADR at Mama Melrose so we wandered over there and checked in.

We were seated immediately

and our Dinner Package included two courses. We were still pretty full from Dennys earlier but if we’d paid for two courses, we were eating two courses. We started with Fried Mozzarella

oh, and a bread service!

Me – Chicken Parm

Emily – Mama’s Pasta

Louise – Meatballs

It was all very tasty but a bit quick and we were out in less than an hour. The Fantasmic Package is $54 each. A bit pricey for the food involved but it saves any long waits to get into Fantasmic and you have good reserved seating right in the middle.

Our early finish meant we could make the 5pm Beauty and the Beast show so we walked over to that now. We stopped on the way to get some water so that Emily could take some painkillers. Her face had gone inexplicably flushed and we could only put it down to the Tequila thing she had at the Tap House.

We were sat behind the desk so I could check that they started on time, and they did.

The wait times for almost everything were still silly, but Star Tours was down to ten minutes so we did that next.

The ride was ruined by some kids behind us. There were four of them, probably ranging from six to twelve, riding with their parents who managed to ignore them despite their ridiculous racket. It’ll sound like I’m over egging it now, but they literally screamed and shouted at the top of their voices for not only the entire ride, but the queue and the pre-ride instructions. Once we got going we could hear nothing but…

“Aurora!” screamed by the boy of the group repeatedly and endlessly at a decibel level not good for human ears. I know they are kids at WDW and probably excited but these were just horrible and well done to the parents for completely ignoring them ruining the experience for everyone in that “ship”.

After that, we needed a drink so we went back to the Tap House.

Emily moved away from the tequila and had California Sunsets instead. I had a cider.

Despite the cooler temperatures, this was still a lovely place to sit and people-watch from.

We stayed there until 7pm. I had a wee and we wandered down to the Fantasmic “stadium”. The wait times were still silly by the way.

We waited for about half an hour.

We got a bit bored and demonstrated why we don’t include many photos of ourselves in these posts.

At 8pm the show started. Now, I have to admit that emotions were felt. Emily blubbered through the entire thing and I have to say I felt a lump in the throat. This felt like “old school” Disney and our trips in the past. My Dad came to mind.

I posted a couple of videos if you wanted to see some of them. The start of the show and the end.

This was another sign and reminder of WDW getting it right again and nobody or nowhere else being able to come close in my view. Did I mention that we loved this? The changes to the show have also enhanced it. It’s punchier now, with less of the water projection stuff and more live action.

We did the slow shuffle out of the show in the big crowds, feeling all warm and a-glow.

There was a decent queue for the Skyliner but it was soon over and we were airborne and on our way back to the resort.

On the way home we could see the Epcot fireworks going off and I photographed them badly.

We were back at the resort and room in no time. I managed to read until all of 10pm, until sleep took me.

Till the next time……

The Coats, Boats and Little Scrotes Tour 2023 – Day Two Tuesday 10th January

Tuesday 10th January

There’s no such thing as too early when it comes to being awake, up and ready to get to the theme park on your first day to maximise that time difference. Unless it’s 2am. Then it stinks.

I managed to get back to sleep until 3.45 and that was it. Emily and Louise started getting ready around 5am and during that saga I was on the app booking expensive stuff in the hope of a decent day in the park. For reasons I cannot explain I was able to buy Genie+ at 6.15 and not 7am. Once 7am rolled around I booked our first LL. We were out the door by 7.20 and did the short drive to Magic Kingdom.

I know we’d been awake for hours now, but it was still pleasing to be at the TTC at such an early hour. As you can see, my post-wake-up exercise regime had already burned an impressive amount of calories.

Whether you were last here a few months ago or a few decades, there is something quite special about that moment when you get through the turnstiles and see this.

Prior to this, we had walked in from our very near the front parking space (Aladdin) and I had been pulled at security again, this time due to a glasses case and we had taken the monorail, which involved no queue. A good sign compared to last year.

We did the usual walk up Main Street, full of smiles, relief and anticipation for the holiday ahead and took a clumsy Facebook live video which you can probably still see on the Mkingdon Facebook page if you wish.

We were using our special on-site early entry access at this time. This is not something we have been able to do too often over the years as we are typically off-site idiots and treated accordingly by Disney. So I was pretty excited to get at least a dozen rides in during this half an hour special period.

My conclusion about Early Entry? It’s bobbins. Here’s how it went.

Because we had the audacity to wander up the castle and have a look around, there were huge crowds gathered at all the rope drop locations by the time we figured out this was a thing.

We joined the back of one of the rope drop crowds and waited about fifteen minutes for 8.30 to roll around. At that point, it quickly became apparent that only a handful of attractions were open and they all immediately gained huge queues as all the on-site folks piled onto them. The Seven Dwarves coaster for example saw its queue end somewhere around Dumbo within minutes of the rope drop. We walked down towards Haunted Mansion, seeing any ride that was open being attacked by a swarm of on-site early entry folks only to discover that it was not on the list of rides opening early and so we joined another rope drop crowd until 9am.

We were right up at the rope for this one, so we were within the first dozen or so folks to get onto the ride that day. Come on Disney. Either do Early Entry properly or don’t do it at all. This is a chocolate teapot for most people. It should be for an hour and all rides should be open. Unless I’m staying off-site then it shouldn’t exist at all. Capiche?

Having been on WDW property since around 7.30 and having conquered zero rides in early entry and one by 9.10, breakfast was the next priority. There was literally nowhere to get food anywhere in Frontierland or Fantasyland so we walked back to Sleepy Hollow and joined a very large queue there. Why have early entry and have nothing open?

We eventually got one of these each and a coffee.

I had made a 9.45 LL for Splash earlier so that was our destination now. It was a priority as we knew its days were numbered. Louise decided not to ride as she did not want to get wet in the current temperatures.

I took more photos than I normally might for posterity, which did nothing to improve their quality.

I was particularly proud of this one.

Now moist, we headed over to the Buzz LL I had booked since entering Splash. You just have to be constantly thinking about when and what you can book next to get any value out of the extra expense for Genie+.

I moan about this a lot, but again on this trip, we were beset with line ditherers. This is people approaching the LL entrance with no clue or concept as to what they were doing. They engage in endless conversations with the CM on duty about who knows what, causing us to stand and twiddle our thumbs waiting to get in.

You either have LL or you don’t. There is no conversation. Also, have your tickets out ready to scan, or FFS get a magic band. The number of people we stood behind whilst they searched desperately for their park ticket at the bottom of the largest bag on the planet was incredible. Just a little bit of thought and preparation means that everyone gets on stuff nice and quickly.

So yes, this happened now at Buzz.

Here he is recreating my expression whilst we waited for a family of 27 to try and scan their blockbuster video cards at the entrance to the ride.

All this vexed me enough to inspire my highest-ever score (I think).

Emily and Louise accepted defeat graciously. Emily and I walked over to Philharmagic now as Louise needed to evacuate and it was wise to be as far away from that as possible. We grabbed a water on the way and booked another LL, this time for Pirates for 12.15 and then sat on a bench waiting for Louise.

I like to get a lot of stuff done whenever we are in a park, but it is also nice to sit and people-watch at times. Just for a few minutes though and then we have to get back to it!

After Philharmagic it was parade time so we walked over to the Diamond Horseshoe to watch from there. I went live on Facebook again, so you can watch the parade if you wish.

We made the short trip across to Pirates next. You’ve probably already spotted that today has been a much easier and more pleasant experience than last January? The post-pandemic calm-down seems to be happening and whilst there are still lots of things “not quite right” yet, the signs of a return to what we all know and love are growing. One of those little things happened now.

As we were approaching the ride Emily got a tap on the shoulder and Captain Jack was there, asking her what “that thing in her nose was” (she has a piercing). Despite Emily going as red as a beetroot, this brief interaction and thirty-second chat were lovely. It just couldn’t happen last year (in my view) as things were so busy and of course, characters being out and about at that time wasn’t a thing. It put a smile on all our faces and was a really encouraging sign that the future may get close to the past.

Once we had ridden, getting much wetter than I can ever remember due to those canon shots, food was next on the agenda. I mobile ordered from Caseys as we walked in that direction and waited about five minutes for it to be ready once we got there. Louise went off to search for a table and found one over by the Plaza across the street.

Me – Corn Dog Nuggets

Louise – Chill Cheese Dog

Emily – Plant-based slaw dog

It was all very tasty. Over to Tomorrowland now and Laugh Floor. In between the LL bookings, we were able to mop up the show-type stuff, which typically were walk-ins, so this was working pretty well, with the exception that we shouldn’t have to pay extra for Genie+.

Emily considered Laugh Floor a success as once again we managed to avoid getting on camera.

Onto the People Mover now and the longest queue of our day at 20 minutes.

Everyone was grateful for the sit-down.

As ever I tried to capture the latest shots of Tron.

It feels like this has been in construction for about a decade now.

Of course, we now have an opening date which is awesome.

Continuing our tour of stuff that usually has no wait, we did Carousel Of Progress next and experienced a first. Due to technical issues, we had to watch the first scene twice.

See….

It extended the resting for us and I think I almost fell asleep at one point. I was able to do so as we had walked all the way to the end of the row, despite the attraction not being full and therefore I was at peace.

Earlier I had booked Space Mountain for 2.50 so Emily and I went on that next. Louise declined due to the rides increasing roughness or maybe that’s our increasing age.

I was convinced the seats had changed recently?

Regardless, the need to clench for the entire ride has not changed as you can see. I’m not sure what the chap behind me is sat on, but it seems I had a lucky escape.

At this point, we were done and headed for the exit around 3.15. We browsed some shops on Main Street and took the monorail over to the Poly.

We were hoping to get a drink and sit down for a bit. We tried Trader Sams’s but there was a three-hour wait to get in, so instead, we went outside onto the patio area and ordered some drinks. I was on the mocktails but the ladies had a number of harder options.

This was our view.

My pretend cocktail

and real ones

I think we had three, maybe four rounds of drinks. Perhaps it’s because I don’t drink much at home and I am out of touch but I do find the cost of drinking in WDW especially a bit crazy. Those rounds cost us $170!! We were to experience similar on the cruise later, but I’ll moan more about that at the relevant time.

We got the monorail and looped all the way around to the TTC.

After a cocktail-induced restroom for Louise, we walked out to the car. We had a reservation at The Cheesecake Factory for dinner and those Nachos were calling. We were actually an hour early for our reservation but bless them they seated us within five minutes. We were served by the excellent Jo and started with the bread service and more drinks.

This was my lemonade.

We ordered two lots of Nachos, one with meat and one without between the three of us.

More cocktails….

and absolutely no room for dessert. We were ashamed of the lost opportunity to have cheesecake. The bill, including wine, cocktails and food was $110 including a good tip. We drove home, full and sleepy. I don’t know how the other dwarves got home though.

We were in bed by 8.30! It had been a long day.

Till the next time……

The Coats, Boats and Little Scrotes Tour 2023 – Day One Monday 9th January

Day One – Monday January 9th

Here we go again. In case anyone missed the one post I was able to cram in about this trip before we went on it, the runners and riders were myself, Louise and Emily. The plan was a mix of on-site Disney hotels and an all-new (to us) Disney Cruise experience.

I should explain the title I suppose? Well, despite having lovely weather for January we did have a couple of very chilly days when almost every layer we had taken with us was worn, Joey from Friends style, so that explains the coats element.

Clearly, a big boat played a large part in this trip so that bit is obvious and the little scrotes part relates to the seemingly never-ending collection of screaming/naughty/noisy kids that haunted us at every turn.

Now look, this isn’t our first rodeo, and of course, you go to Disney, you get kids everywhere. At times we’ve even taken some of our own, but this time it felt different. Never have we encountered such a collection of screamers, shouters and all-round nuisance kids. I won’t be documenting each episode of this along the way as nobody wants to hear that, but trust me, we suffered, in a first-world problems kinda way.

Having gone through the usual pre-departure stresses and strains, mainly around Louise ironing everything in the house and cleaning anything that stood still long enough, we managed to get to bed pre-midnight, having been to pick up our house and zoo keeper Jack in the early evening. He would have his work cut out managing our menagerie and I spent most of the evening passing on instructions on all the weird stuff our house and pets do.

Alarms were set but not needed as Louise was up before them and therefore so was I. I had my usual stresses and worries about cases shutting and being overweight, but it was too late to start any diets now.

Having let the dogs out for very early wees, I put them back to bed with Jack and we made our escape after I had got a nice sweat on loading the cases into the car.

We were of course fifteen minutes later leaving the house than I had requested. We could only hope they would hold the plane for us.

Very few of you will know/remember or care what the weather was like in the early morning hours of January 9th, but let me tell you it was bloody awful. The drive to the airport was horrific and it felt like I held my breath the whole way there. Strong winds and sideways rain, in the dark on a motorway does not lead to pleasant motoring. I was very grateful to pull off the motorway and down the slip road to Terminal 2 at Manchester airport.

Entry into the car park was painless and despite it being full as always, as we had driven just one level up a car was pulling out and we gratefully accepted this gift, whilst at the same time cursing whoever made UK parking spots so narrow and/or cars so wide. The cases were released and as I always do, I took a photo of our location for when I have no memory of parking a car at all in two weeks time. A brief walk to the terminal and no queue at all for Premium check in. Yes, we are “those people” on this trip.

Security too was easy enough. No long queues which made me punch the air at not having spent all that money on a FastPass for it. Little wins!

Then as we waited for our stuff to emerge from X-Ray, we saw two of our trays had made it to the dark side. The side where a human needs to do things to it. So we waited.

Imagine about 30 minutes passing at this point……

There were two members of staff doing this checking and each bag seemed to take about a week to check. They were not, it is safe to say, busting any guts either.

Eventually our trays got to the front of the queue. Louise had a small tub of Vaseline in her bag and that was quickly resolved. Ryan on the other hand was to undergo more tests than a Russian athlete. The end result was a small bottle of talcum powder had caused all the fuss and there had been no reason to hold Ryan back after all. How we laughed.

Still, better that they are over cautious so we don’t get blown up mid air I guess.

With food and toilets on our mind we pressed on. With one of those taken care of we joined what now seems to be a customary queue to get anything to eat. I am not a fan. Open more restaurants FFS.

After twenty long minutes we were seated in San Carlos. From this menu….

We chose our breakfasts. To be fair we had chosen them about 18 minutes ago whilst stood in the queue.

Me – Full Works Sandwich

Louise a (not as good as the ones I make) Eggs Benedict

Emily – Avo on Toast

We had both coffee and juice as is the rule for airport breakfasts and quickly scoffed the lot. Still being hungry, we then ordered some toast too.

£54 lighter we set off to the shops where, despite having weeks to plan and pack Louise felt the need to buy a swimsuit at the airport for the highest price in the North West of England .

With more than enough shopping done we set off on the long walk to Gate A4. Boarding was both delayed and happening right now, so Louise’s need for evacuation had to be curtailed with a few encouraging messages from me along the lines of, “suck it up or stay behind”, and she appeared just in time for us to be the last to board.

Our first look at Premium revealed that it was all very nice. To be honest, it’s probably what Economy should be like as the seats are comfortable and your knees don’t touch the seat in front, but we were more than satisfied. Our plane today was Miss England, but we probably wouldn’t.

There was Prosecco and juice as we waited to push back at the obligatory later time than promised, but at around 10.12 (I checked) we left the gate and did the usual two and half hours of taxi-ing to the part where we actually took off.

Drinks were served and I watched a film called Unchartered with Tom Holland. I don’t know what he was doing on our flight but it passed about 90 minutes. I was inexplicably thirsty all flight and had to request three waters. I could have drank thirty but did not want to be a pest.

Safe to say our first “screaming child experience” happened for the entire flight. I’ve been told a million times that I can exaggerate too much, but that statement is fact. Food came.

I know it looks like apple crumble but it was Shepherd’s Pie and it was decent.

Louise had the same and Emily some meat free pasta thing.

I read a bit.

I played Solitaire on my seat back screen, no doubt annoying the person in front as I tapped away.

A bit later I watched another film, Bullet Train, which was much better than expected and that passed a lot of time quite nicely. We were about an hour out now and snacks arrived. Sandwiches and scones.

I played Solitaire again for the entire descent and all in all the flight passed quickly and was very good. The plane of course was a petri dish of disease. How much more are we aware of this stuff post pandemic?

Every cough (and there were so many) is noticed and it seemed 90% of the passengers were carrying some form of disease. Louise included, but more of that later!

We touched down at 19.30 UK time and we were one of the first off the plane, speed walking to immigration. We waited just a few minutes there and a few more for our cases before setting off on the frankly silly route to the main terminal. We had not, as I expected we might, arrived in Terminal C, and I had remembered to go to the A side as that is where the Toll Pass booth is. On the way we had to stop at Firehouse Subs in the food court for a drink as Emily needed to take some pills. Nine hours of a screaming child can do that.

There was no queue at Alamo. Has that changed? I seem to remember back in the day that you’d wait for ages to get your hire car. The last few trips there has just been me at the desk. I also no longer get any attempt at upsell. Maybe they sense my Jedi like powers and experience?

Over to the garage and we were pointed at the relevant row of cars. We did spend a good amount of time picking our transport and we did very well. In fact, I’d say it was one of the best cars we’ve ever had. I loved it. A Jeep thing. Here’s a photo taken much later in the trip.

It was in great condition and was a lovely drive.

We managed to get all the cases and ourselves in and then Louise and I had an argument as she couldn’t adjust her seat and this clearly was my fault. I stopped programming the destination into my phone, undid my seat belt, went round to her side and found the relevant button and all was well again.

Our route took us down the 417 and took about 25 minutes. We had seen via the app that our room was ready and as we arrived at Caribbean Beach the security guard scanned my band (not a euphemism) and directed us to Trinidad 3809. I had requested a room close to the Skyliner and it was about a five to ten minute walk away.

Our room was lovely and much more to Louise’s taste than the very themed rooms at Port Orleans on our last trip.

Louise had to pick up her toilet business from where she left off at Manchester airport so whilst she did that I unpacked my stuff. Louise did moan that I had taken all the drawer space up, but you snooze, you lose. The laides decided not to unpack and driven by Emily’s hunger (her snack option on the plane was inedible) we went out to eat. We let Emily choose and she plumped for Olive Garden.

There was no wait to be seated and we looked over the (very familiar) menu.

Naturally we started with salad and breadsticks. It is the law.

Me – Shrimp Scampi (this was chosen as it was light on the calorie count. Travel day always tends to involve about seven meals across multiple time zones so I wanted to do what I could to limit the damage this early in the trip).

Emily – Five Cheese Ziti

Louise – Chicken and Stuffed Ravioli

It was all very good and we were all very full. I paid the £100 bill on the machine on the table and we went over to the food mart across the road to get some waters for the room. I think I paid $10 for 24.

Back at the room we were all ready for bed. As we started to get ready to do so, we realised that Louise, only having one job to do for the holiday (get everything and everyone ready for it) had forgotten toothpaste. So I put my shoes back on and went out in search of the main building and a shop. It was a decent walk, but I didn’t mind as it obviously would burn off all the food I’d eaten today, right?

I got toothpaste, plasters, wet wipes and pain killers. Essentials for any of our trips. I had a quick look around too.

By the time I got back to the room everyone was asleep so I spent some time with Matthew Perry before closing my eyes around 8.15.

Till the next time…..

The No Parks and Recreation Tour 2022 – Day Fifteen

Monday 3rd October

It won’t be too shocking to you to hear that Louise didn’t really sleep too well. She was up most of the night and I rose at my now regular time of around 6am.

We watched a bit of TV for a while and then got up, got ready and finished packing. I nipped down to Fuel again and got some coffee and breakfast. I had some overnight oats which I suspect are one of those things that are portrayed as healthy but probably have more calories in them than a Christmas dinner.

I had a look at our hotel bill on our TV and it was completely unfathomable. I am a man of moderate intelligence but the endless litany of debits and credits just made no sense whatsoever. I was in no mood to be picking over it, so I just clicked “Checkout” and thought any issues could be dealt with later.

We were out of the room a whole five minutes before the 11am deadline. By the time we arrived in the lobby I had already realised that I had left our keycard in the room and now had no means by which to get us out of the car park. So I had to go to reception and tell them this tale that they no doubt hear about 112 times a day.

Once in the car with all the luggage, with my freshly issued key card between my lips, I was delighted to see the barrier just rise automatically making my ten-minute wait in the queue at reception all the more worthwhile.

Of course, we needed an extra case as we couldn’t fit everything into the two we came with, so our first stop was Premium Outlet Malls to find one. We quickly found the Samsonite shop and discovered that the Premium in Premium Outlet Malls stands for the prices. $199 lighter, we left with an unremarkable averagely-sized case. Again, shopping around for a cheaper option was not something either of us felt like doing today.

Back at the car, we shoved the extra stuff currently loose in our trunk/boot into the case.

Our pre-airport meal was to be another visit to the Nachos capital of the world, the Cheesecake Factory. On the way, I stopped to fill the car up and a real sign of the economic times saw a $50 pre-payment not fill the tank from just under half full.

The place was empty but it was barely noon on a Monday.

Having learned our lesson on the last visit, we were just going to have some Nachos today, and possibly a slither of cheesecake too. We would play it by ear!

Isn’t that a magnificent sight? These were again all kinds of awesome and we cleared the lot.

With our return to the UK now imminent and a good deal of upset and unpleasantness in our immediate future, we battled on and got some cheesecake down us.

Mine was called an Old Basque for reasons that escaped me.

Louise had the Banana Cream Pie one. Can anyone say that without hearing Fozzy’s voice?

It was 1.15 now and having failed to fill the tank up on the first attempt, I stopped again for fuel and put another $10 in. The needle still didn’t look to be all the way to the top but that would have to do.

There was nothing left to do now and no time left to do it, so we headed for the airport. We arrived at 1.40 and returned the car with no fuss in car return B. I remembered to drop off the toll pass thing in one of the bins provided and we now had a bit of an adventure getting to the very newly opened Terminal C.

There’s a sign for Terminal C which says you can take the monorail and it will take five minutes or you can walk there in twenty. Unless you are running sub-four-minute miles this is nonsense. It is bloody miles to Terminal C. Even when you get off the monorail there was an enormous trek up and down multiple levels to get to the check-in area. I’m sure all this will improve over time but it was a real faff.

We waited about twenty minutes for check-in to open and we were headed home in Business Class. Aer Lingus invited me to bid for an upgrade before we left the UK and I did, bidding the lowest amount they would permit and we got it. We endured a large family group with many children making a load of noise as we waited. They were those parents who speak to their kids in a way that makes it clear they want everyone around to hear, and know what fun parents they are and how “entertaining” their kids are. Many of the party had those entirely amusing pink Stetsons on that you may see on a Blackpool hen do. Sure, I can be a snob when I want to be.

My tolerance for other people’s kids can be low at the best of times. Right now, it was not abundant.

Anyway, soon enough a camp man with an impressive tan opened up our check-in and we got a glimpse into what it is like to travel like wealthy people. I liked it. He really looked after us. He had a passing resemblance to Emperor Ming (ask your elderly relatives).

Security was empty and we were through to the new terminal. Most of it, not quite open.

I got changed into UK clothing in a loo before we checked into the Business Class lounge. That too was a bit makeshift, but we got free drinks and some seats in a quieter area behind some curtains.

To top the trip off we’d been hearing from Rebecca that Freddie was in the hospital! So we chatted to her to get updates and crossed our fingers that by the time we landed all would be better. In the weeks to come, he would be back in the hospital to undergo a scheduled operation to remove his tonsils as they were the root cause of an endless stream of infections and illnesses. Touch wood, he has been fine since!

We boarded at 5.30.

There was fizzy stuff and juice as we sat down and overall the experience was a good one. The food was a clear step up from the economy stuff. We had a very acceptable bit of steak.

The seat was able to go all the way down pretty much but neither of us managed much sleep as it just wasn’t that comfy, but that is churlish as the comfort levels compared to these night flights in economy was obviously much better.

The flight went pretty quickly thanks to a tail-wind and I have no clue what happened next as my notes finish there.

To say this was an odd trip would be an understatement. It was the first time Louise and I had been on our own and I have to say I really enjoyed the more relaxed, easier to plan and decide what to do element of that. Of course, I also enjoy the large family group trips too. They each have their merits. It was also just nice to have time for just us two.

Clearly though the trip was over-shadowed by firstly the hurricane and the now, in the context of later events, seemingly inconsequential disruption that brought upon us. Throughout the trip, we had the over-arching worry at all times about Mary and her respite care and of course, the worst happened so close to the end of the trip. Having cared for her at home for nine months prior to the trip, it was heartbreaking to lose her whilst away for just two weeks.

We returned home to arrangement-making, putting affairs in order and generally sorting stuff out for Mary. We weren’t to know that within two months my Dad would pass too. He had been a long-time prostate cancer sufferer and the bloody thing got him after 13 years, helped by Covid and a fall that meant he had to have a hip operation. He never came out of the hospital following that operation and his decline was shockingly quick. We are all still trying to process what we’ve been through this year.

It was that rapid decline of my Dad added to Mary’s passing that inspired us to return to Florida so quickly after this trip. We were very much in a “F*ck it, we have to do it whilst we are young and fit enough” mood, driven by what we had seen with our respective parents.

So almost immediately after getting this trip written up, we go again, this time with Emily along for the ride(s). Hopefully, we can enjoy a less stressful trip with no weather disruption and without the concern around Mary’s care and condition on our minds.

If you’ve not had more than enough already, it’ll be here for you to endure soon enough.

Till the next time…..

The No Parks and Recreation Tour 2022 – Day Fourteen

Sunday 2nd of October

We’ve experienced all kinds of things in Florida, the vast majority good of course, but you don’t visit a place as much as we do and avoid encountering upsets, arguments and downright upsetting stuff over all those years.

Today, however, is something I have no idea how to write about. Only my type A, OCD need for completing stuff sees me sitting at the keyboard and having to get through it. So here we go….

I was still waking up at 6am despite the holiday being almost over. Thanks, body clock. We watched another episode of Dahmer via Netflix and I think Louise nodded back off for a bit. Emily was with Mary back home and we were calling and messaging constantly with the latest updates etc.

At around 8.55am Florida time, Emily sent us two words. “She’s gone”.

She immediately called us, and Rebecca joined the call from her home too. We had all been preparing ourselves for this moment for at least eight or nine months since Mary had a stroke in December 2021 and had to come and live with us. There had been many times in those months that we thought she was leaving us, only to bounce back like the fighter she was, but all that preparation did not make it any easier now.

There were lots of tears, of course, accompanied by a numb feeling of disbelief. After a while, we all hung up and we began the process of informing those who needed to know and arranging things such as a funeral director. Thankfully, technology and much-improved roaming contracts made this much easier than it may have been a few years ago.

We also spoke to the nursing home and went through what would happen between now and when we would get home. As much as Louise feels incredibly guilty about being away when her Mum passed, any attempt to fly home earlier than scheduled, once we suspected we may not get back in time, would have seen us either in the air or in an airport at this moment, unable to make arrangements or speak with the girls as easily as we could now, so if there can be any good thing about a moment like this, we should cling to that.

Amongst all this, I had nipped down to Fuel in the Dolphin’s lobby, their take-out food option and got some breakfast and coffee, mainly as I didn’t know what else to do.

Once all the calls we could make were done, we had no idea what to do with ourselves so we just went back to the pool again around 11.30. Louise cried pretty much all day and I felt like a fairly useless spare part, lying there in the sun, feeling like we shouldn’t but not wanting to sit in the room.

More calls were received and made during the afternoon and I handled as many of those as I could to prevent Louise from having to.

At around 5pm we went back to the room and had showers and got dressed. At some point during the day, I had looked for somewhere to eat this evening and just chose the closest thing I could find, The Yachtsman’s Steakhouse at the Yacht Club. We were booked in for 7.30.

We walked over there, the gorgeous surroundings feeling all the weirder at a time like this.

We arrived with a little time to spare so we went into the Crew’s Cup bar for a drink. Louise had red wine and I had a chocolate martini again.

On a day that probably called for it, we had a second round, this time I swapped to a beer.

We checked in next door at the restaurant at 7.25 and we were seated after a five-minute wait. It was odd to experience the world carrying on as normal, with the Cast Members doing their jobs and greeting us happily. We were served by Marty and during the meal, we chatted with the couple at the next table who were from Minnesota. They were frequent visitors too and it’s always nice to talk to other folks bitten by the bug and pick their brains about all the stuff you haven’t done yet.

We started with another lovely bread service.

I ordered the New York Strip.

Louise, the Filet Mignon.

We had creamed spinach and mushrooms as our sides.

We were too full for pudding, which was the second saddest thing to happen today.

We strolled back to the hotel slowly, soaking up the environment.

With some perfect timing, the Epcot fireworks started right at that moment and I took far too many photos of very poor quality.

You know I love this place and I lingered longer than was probably needed just to soak it in a little more. I always think about the horrid winter waiting for us back home and how I have to charge my batteries with the life force from this area just to get me through it.

We were back in the room and quickly asleep after a day we will never forget, full of all sorts of emotions. The next day would see us fly home.

Till the next time…..

The No Parks and Recreation Tour 2022 – Day Thirteen

Saturday 1st October 2022

I heard a line in a film once, I can’t remember which film now, but it has really stuck with me ever since.

The line is something like, “The greatest lies a man tells are to himself”.

Never is this more true than when you swear you will not be eating breakfast the next day as you are so full after a huge meal that evening.

We were awake early and out of the room around 7.30 on the hunt for food.

The Dolphin has a buffet breakfast option at a place called The Market so only requiring a light start to the day we thought we’d go for an all-you-can-eat buffet, which makes perfect sense. As the law dictates we ordered coffee and juice and our server directed us to the food. Now, I do not wish to appear greedy or over-anxious to consume large amounts of food (again) but these buggers have their buffet set up behind a counter with someone plating up your food. This means that you have to ask them for everything you want on your plate and will discourage the multiple-trip eater from doing so for fear of being judged. Shame on you Dolphin, I have contacted Trading Standards.

My one and only plate looked like this.

How I was supposed to survive until lunch on this was a worry.

OK, there were two plates as this stuff was self-serve.

We paid the $65 bill and left. We are getting to some tricky ground now in this trip which is hard to write about. It was today that we started to understand that back home, Mary was very likely coming to the end. Louise was talking regularly to the care home in a nurse’s language that often needed translating for me.

Literally whilst she was on the phone with them I was standing staring at my phone trying to find any viable flight options to get us home earlier. With Hurricane Ian having just passed and the airports and flights having been shut down for three days, it was very slim pickings and any flight leaving earlier than our scheduled one took so many stops that it would only get us home a few hours earlier than we would anyway. It looked like we were here until our planned return in a couple of days’ time. All we could hope at this point was that Mary could hold on.

What I write here may seem glib and disrespectful in light of this situation but clearly, I am not going to burden you with the very serious conversations and feelings that were happening from here on in. I’ll concentrate on the food and the stuff we managed to do in between.

Back home, the girls were tag teaming being with their Grandma and we of course joined them via video whenever that was possible. We went to the pool to lie in a state of, well, I don’t know what state it was, but it felt surreal and not very nice.

At around 2pm our time, Rebecca called us from Mary’s bedside. Whilst she was clearly not in a good way, she absolutely responded to Louise’s voice and this was both uplifting and upsetting in equal measure. Whilst Louise did that I was making calls to the UK to try and arrange for a priest to go and see Mary who was a practising Catholic, as we knew from conversations with her, that she would want this.

Somehow I tracked someone down and like an actual angel, we saw him arrive in Rebecca’s phone that we were talking to her on within about twenty minutes. We will be forever grateful to him for that. We and Rebecca left him with Mary for a few minutes to do what needed to be done.

We just sat staring at the pool for the rest of the afternoon feeling helpless.

At around 5.30pm we went back to the room and changed. In our current dazed state, there had been zero thought given to dining plans so for ease we just walked on auto-pilot back to Il Mulino across the walkway from the Dolphin. We were seated after a ten-minute wait, at the same table as last night weirdly.

I had the same starter as it was fabulous and I didn’t think anything else could beat it.

Louise followed suit with a repeat of meatballs.

Tonight though we both went for the Rigatoni which was the cheesy pasta thing Louise had last night. It appears to have escaped my camera so just remember it from last night.

Tonight’s bill was $165 including tip which tells you how expensive my steak was last night.

We then just went back to our room and watched some TV before sleep.

Till the next time……

The No Parks and Recreation Tour 2022 – Day Twelve

Friday 30th September

Another early rise which was a shock as we had been so active over the last few days!!

Some frantic phone checking was fruitless in the search for news of park reopenings at Universal. We were checking out today but if they were to open up we could still use a day of Front of Line to get Islands of Adventure done.

We got on with our packing hoping things would be clearer soon.

We like this hotel a lot, but frankly, at this point, we were both very much over the sight of the inside of this hotel room.

We were both showered and dressed by 8.30 and there was still nothing being said on any of the Universal social networks about the parks today so we had little choice but to check out and go and eat. We got a coffee from the market in the lobby and I paid a visit to reception to query a double charge on my credit card. At check-in, they had seemingly had issues trying to pre-auth my card for charging and had run it twice. Both times had worked it seemed.

I was reassured that would all be refunded automatically (we hadn’t charged anything) minus the frankly offensive parking charges and off I went. It may not astonish you to learn that neither charge was refunded and it took a good deal of faff, chasing and emailing to get that done once back home.

We left at 8.40ish and got the cases into the car before pointing it at Hash House a Go Go. If we couldn’t go and have some theme park fun we would go and eat dangerous amounts of calories instead. As we drove out of the hotel past the car park entrance for the theme parks we saw team members there with barricades up, preventing anyone from entering. This was as good a sign as any that they would be shut today. Why they could not put this out in an update seemed odd.

The car park looked empty and we were seated immediately.

There’s an unwritten rule that when having a ridiculous American breakfast you have to order two drinks, one hot and one cold so we did that in the shape of coffees and juices, mine Cranberry and Louise, Orange.

We both went for the French Toast.

It was magnificent and ridiculous all at the same time.

I just couldn’t fit those pieces of orange in though.

In the absence of any information from Universal, we decided to head to Disney Springs to get our gift shopping completed. The sat nav took us off the I4 a junction later than I might have chosen and we had an agonising ten-minute wait at some traffic lights waiting to U-Turn into Lime Garage. It was 10.10 and the queue to go through security was huge. Clearly, everyone was stir-crazy and with no parks to visit, here they were.

We started in World of Disney, which was unsurprisingly busy. We picked up a good number of gifts and moved on to the Co-Op Marketplace and Trend-D where more spending happened. Freddie’s latest obsession was Darth Vader so we got him a full costume. With Halloween approaching this would be his costume of choice for Trick or Treating in. Here is a glimpse into that future with Dougie taking on the role of Baby Yoda.

We walked all the way over to the M&M store for M&M addict Tom back home. Louise took a call from the care home and some family members who had been to see Mary. The juxtaposition of the blue skies and holiday activities versus what was going on back home was incredibly odd.

We were done shopping, so we walked back to Lime and pointed the car at the Dolphin, our final resort for this trip.

I self-parked and we checked in to find our room ready. We made our way up to room 1644W and dumped the cases and changed into pool attire. Our first impressions of the resort were very good.

I figured out where to get towels from and we did some hardcore relaxing by the pool, helped by a bucket of alcohol each.

We did very little until around 5pm when we went back to the room to get ready for dinner. Yes, we were hungry again despite that breakfast.

We were out by 7pm with no firm dinner plans. We wandered across to the Swan with nowhere in mind and stumbled across Il Mulino.

There was no wait to be seated and we were served by a chap called Howie, who was from the Wirral. Turns out he had done the Cultural Representative Programme about 18 years ago and never gone home, after marrying an American.

He looked after us excellently.

There was a phenomenal bread service to start, with some eggplant salad thing to dip stuff into. I appreciate this write-up is not one to trouble the food critics at The Times.

Louise started with Meat Balls.

I was busy devouring my starter, the Rice Balls, which was one of the best things to have ever been in my mouth.

You will already know that Louise had a “cheesy pasta thing”, but this one was exceptional.

If ever a photo did not do justice to a plate of food this next one is it.

I had the Tenderloin, which was not a condition for which CVS might supply an ointment, instead, probably the best steak I had ever eaten. It was stupidly expensive for a tightwad like me, but I really, really enjoyed it.

All in all, this was one of our best-ever meals in Florida. In all our years of visiting, this place had never once been on our radar and it goes to show that sometimes, despite all the planning and research, you just come across somewhere that is a delight. We would be back.

The bill was $205 including a good tip so this is not a cheap place to go, but as a treat, it was very much worth it.

Despite being fuller than a full thing, we soldiered on to Jellyrolls, resisting the huge temptation to just go to bed. We found an empty table, set up a tab and enjoyed the show. We hadn’t been for years and it was great to be back. We managed a very enjoyable hour before the desire to sleep was victorious. The last song we watched was If I Had A Million Dollars by Bare Naked Ladies, and if I did, I would eat at Il Mulino every night and then pop into Jellyrolls I think.

We even managed an episode of Dahmer back in the room before passing out.

Till the next time…..

The No Parks and Recreation Tour 2022 – Day Eleven

Thursday 29th September

I imagine you were excited about returning this week to read about another day spent in our hotel room watching weather happen in real life and on our telly? Yep, this is the good stuff. Buckle up.

I was awake at 6am, keen not to miss any of the excitement today. Rebecca called and thankfully Dougie’s A&E visit resulted in him being OK and back home again on the mend.

After some weather on the TV, we went down to breakfast and this time we were doing it properly, buffet style in the restaurant there.

I didn’t take many photos of the wide variety of things I put into my body but I did capture this breakfast staple before it went down the hatch.

Suffice to say there were multiple trips along the buffet and we left very full. Again, it was not the best buffet we have ever had but it was the best one currently available to us so it had to do. The most offensive element was that items that ran out were left not refilled for long periods. Eggs and pancakes being the things missing from the selection for all our visit. This is a grave sin in the world of buffet.

We went back up to our room and felt inexplicably tired, so we dozed or a bit.

At some point later, (the days were merging into one never-ending hotel room experience) we got up and showered. With the worst of the weather having passed over us last night as we slept, we thought we’d get some fresh air and go for a walk around the hotel grounds.

We started out on the bridge near the entrance to get a feel for what conditions were like.

One of those windows was our room. Look, there’s nothing to write about so details like this matter!

Whilst our immediate area seemed to have escaped the worst of the hurricane, I am sad to tell you that Shania Twain did not make it.

Satisfied that death was not imminent, we had a walk around.

We found ourselves close to Sapphire Falls.

So we had a wander inside for a nosey. These hotels are huge. This was just one of the many conference rooms.

We found our way up to reception where a lot of people were hanging around. This is a random photo of some stairs there.

We bought some gifts for folks back home in the gift shop and just wandered around a bit. Outside the weather was still very wet and windy but not dangerous.

We went back to Royal Pacific and had a drink in the bar there.

With all other options exhausted, we went back to the room and got ready to go and find some food. Whilst Louise ran the hairdryer for about four days I spoke to Mum & Dad for a bit.

We headed down to Jake’s feeling peckish. There was absolute heartbreak as we were greeted with a two and half hour wait time for a table. Not having any desire to revisit the Islands Dining Room we were a little stumped for ideas as venturing out was still not an option.

In the end, we had to resort to the Market counter service place and we had a hot beef sandwich (not a lady’s medical condition) and a pizza. There were barely worthy of a photograph.

Feeling deprived of food-based loveliness, we went back to the Market, bought a lot of chocolate, and went back up to our room. All weathered out, instead, we watched some real crime documentary things for the evening and tried to find information on whether the Universal parks would be open tomorrow, but there was no info to be found. We fell asleep not knowing what we would be doing the following day other than packing and leaving to move over to the Dolphin.

Till the next time…..

The No Parks and Recreation Tour 2022 – Day Ten

Wednesday 28th September 2022

This may not take long! Our activities today were severely curtailed by Ian.

I was awake at 6am and put the news on immediately to see what was happening. All the parks were closed today, so this was to be the way of things for the foreseeable. The worst of the weather had not reached us and we still had a good twelve hours or so until that would be the case, but of course, that did not mean the news channels would not spend every minute until then talking about it.

I nipped down to the Market in the lobby to get us some breakfast and I picked up some hugely over priced snacks for later on.

That was pretty much our day to be honest. Eating and watching reporters stand in bad weather in places we had never heard of.

Outside was looking like this.

To get a feel for our day today, imagine lying on your bed for many hours watching rolling news. Much time passed……

The worst of Ian was due to arrive overnight but by around 4.30, when I took this video, things were just beginning to turn nastyish.

Late in the afternoon I showered and got ready to find somewhere to eat. There are two restaurants at Royal Pacific and we did the other one last night so after a ten-minute wait, we had a table at the Islands Dining Room around 6pm.

Oddly the weather outside was still looking relatively OK saying that the entire state was petty much locked down.

Having spent all day in our room, clearly, we had gone a little stir-crazy as we somehow ordered a bottle of wine that cost $60. I suppose we had not spent any cash on anything else today.

To start we had

Me – Pot Stickers

Sure they look like something served in a bush tucker trial, but they were very tasty.

Louise had spring rolls

I continued with Street Noodles.

Louise had a sweet and sour chicken thing, which seemed very nice. She could not finish it and offered me the last piece of chicken. It was a large one, so I cut it in half only to find it was very much raw inside.

For those with delicate stomachs, look away now.

Louise was obviously concerned that she had eaten the rest of it and we feared impending illness but she was fine. I suspect this piece, being so much bigger than the rest had just not cooked, whilst the smaller ones had.

We, of course, told our server about the problem and he removed the item from our bill and apologised profusely.

With nothing else to do before getting back to the weather channel, I ordered a dessert. It was a coffee cake of sorts and was, to be frank disappointing.

This restaurant is not on our list of places to which we must return.

We headed back up to the room for more TV, and with the storm getting very close to us now we watched with more interest. We’d also heard from Rebecca around this time that Dougie (youngest Grandson) was in A&E and was not very well. This took precedence over the hurricane in our worry league table. Sleep came at some point to end an eventful yet uneventful day.

Till the next time…..

The No Parks and Recreation Tour 2022 – Day Nine

Tuesday 27th September

After over two decades of family trips to Florida, you’d imagine that everyone in the Williams/Mkingdon tribe would understand the five-hour time difference by now. Rebecca ringing us at 6.30am local time did nothing to support that theory. Why yes, it was the first time this trip I had slept past 5.30am, why do you ask?

We spoke for a while, then dozed a little and got up and packed for our move to Universal. We were out of our room by 8 and undertook an unremarkable journey up the I4 to Royal Pacific. I self-parked, checked in and was delighted to find our room ready. Maybe a symptom of the incoming Ian that rooms were available at this early hour? We made our way to room 1247. We dumped the cases and walked out to the water taxi. We were met with no wait and a captain that looked a bit like Tom Hardy. No, I didn’t take a photo, he isn’t a piece of meat!

We chose to do Universal Studios today as we wanted to try the “new and improved” Mummy ride. Knowing that all our decisions work out perfectly, what could go wrong? This was one of the attractions not included in our Front of Line pass, so we thought we’d get this out of the way first before the queues built up. As we entered the park the app was saying it had a 15-minute wait, but that was just to get your locker! I hate the locker crap at Universal.

We made our way into and through the park and no, I cannot explain this photo.

There was, as the song goes, dancing in the street.

and people….

By the time we got to the ride, it had a 35-minute wait, but we figured it was still very much worth doing it now. We lockered our stuff and entered what was a very slow-moving queue. Eventually, we made our way up to the front of the queue and we could see the vehicles now, so we’d be on in just a minute.

The ride broke down.

I seethed considerably as we waited about 20 minutes with nothing happening and the team members encouraging everyone to leave. We waited them out and at around 9.55 we were the first to board the (hopefully) now-repaired ride.

Other than the queue taking you up some stairs now, I have to say I couldn’t determine any major changes to this ride. It’s been a while since we did it, so maybe I just have a bad memory. Anyway, it’s been an equally long time since it took me almost an hour to ride Mummy. (Obligatory joke whenever we do this ride.)

We left in need of breakfast and stopped at Starbucks for a coffee and sandwich. Yes, the ones in Magic Kingdom were very average but why would that stop us from having them again? We sat outside eating, people-watching and feeding the birds our average food.

With food onboard, we made our way over to Gringotts.

Imagine some fire in that photo. I couldn’t be bothered to wait for it.

Delightfully we had Front of Line here and we sailed past the extensive standby line so quickly that I didn’t take many photos of the back clerks etc. Even with our specialness, it took 15 minutes to get onto the ride.

This is a very impressive ride and I think I’ve done it a handful of times now. Not once have I ever heard or understood what the story is meant to be about. It does not reduce my enjoyment of it though.

Onwards to Men in Black now.

We were sat as a two on a row made for three. To prove that I am in no way overly competitive I picked up the spare gun and shot two-handed all the way around. I scored 140,000 but this could not prevent a loss for our car as my colleagues, were, let’s say shite. Not one of them in the front row of our vehicle scored over 10,000.

We wandered now round to the Simpsons Ride. Somehow Louise had never ridden this before.

Being September we were seeing the Horror Nights stuff throughout the park.

An enjoyable ride if not a little rough, again, no doubt a symptom of my now advanced years. We stopped in the shop to get Emily’s boyfriend a particular T-shirt he wanted before making our way over to Rip Ride Rockit.

This is a ride that I know is not going to be good for me, but I ride it regardless. For this one, you have to almost strip naked and deposit everything into a locker before entering through airport-style detectors. We boarded, and it is typically during the vertical climb to start this ride that the familiar feeling of regret rushes through me. The clenching that had to happen during that climb is enough to do me a mischief and that is followed by unprecedented screaming for the duration of the experience. It’s a violent ride but in a good way.

In need of a gentler experience, we headed for Fallon, using our Front of Line to bypass no queue whatsoever.

That is one of those photos that, if you look at it in a certain way, Jesus appears in it.

We paused for a drink at this point getting water and a beer from the cart outside of Fallon. We sat in the little garden there and rested a bit.

We were both feeling a bit weary at this point but we had to push on as Ian was coming and we had no clue what if any further time we may get in the parks over the next few days. So Transformers it was.

I stand by my summary of this ride from January. It is Spiderman with a different film and vehicle. Good though despite it being one of just too many of these simulator-style rides at Uni.

Appreciating the ability to sit down in it, the Horror Make-up Show was next on our list.

This is a little gem, please don’t miss it out of your Universal day.

Minions next (how good is having Front of Line?) and we were straight in.

We followed this with a sit down for five minutes, looking at weather apps and the skies. Then we planned to do the Bourne show but made the mistake of walking to it via some shops. Louise got distracted, bought some stuff and by the time we got to the show it was full. I did not mind at all. It’s not as if we have never seen it!

The next show wasn’t until 3.45 and the rain was about to arrive so we decided to get a water taxi back to the hotel and hunker down.

We waited ten minutes for a boat and once back in the room rested and watched the non-stop coverage of Ian.

Not wishing to venture out of the hotel I had booked Jakes Bar at 6pm for dinner. Not one we would choose in normal circumstances but at this point, we were grateful for it and the staff manning it, allowing us to eat.

We shared a Mediterranean platter to start.

We both then had the New York Steak.

We shared, well, Louise had at least one bite of, a cheesecake.

It was a pricey $180 including tip. We did have wines and beers too.

We shopped for some snacks for what might be an interesting day or two and were back up in the room by 8.30. I couldn’t figure out a way to cast my phone to the telly, so no Netflix tonight. We watched more news before going to sleep around 10.

Ian is coming!

Till the next time…..

The No Parks and Recreation Tour 2022 – Day Eight

Monday 26th September

Two parks days on the trot, on a trip that was not supposed to include any WDW parks. Madness.

I was awake at my usual 5.30am and when 7am rolled around I was onto the app doing the required admin to have some fun. Cheers Chapek!

I secured a LL for Flights Of Passage and Genie+ for the day.

Around this time, after this vast expense, Louise informed me that she wasn’t feeling too well. After throwing objects around the room for a while in frustration, I left her in bed and wandered to the main building for some breakfast. I had some overnight oats and a coffee as my body is a temple. On my way to breakfast, I had taken a load of dirty washing (it was ours, not some random pile) and put them on to wash in the laundry.

On my way back to the room I stopped in to move everything over to the dryer. See, this is the sort of content you come here for. International laundry.

I went back to the room for an hour whilst that happened and Louise was up and dressed at least, but was in no shape to do a theme park. We would be having a much gentler day and you will be having slightly more boring content to read. Blame Louise. I was theme park ready at 5.30!

Despite being in no fit state to go to Animal Kingdom, Target it seemed was a different matter so we headed there. On our way there, the nursing home called about Mary who wasn’t doing too great and right about now we started to wonder if we may need to head home earlier than planned. The home assured us that was not the case for now so we went on with our day.

Target took another $100 off us for bits and we headed back to the resort pool. Somehow we found our way to a back entrance to POR, and we were promptly turned around as that was only for Cast Members we were politely told.

We did this for quite some time.

We chatted to folks back home via the internet, read, swam and relaxed trying not to think about the chunk of change I’d dropped on Flights Of Passage and Genie+.

Soon enough thoughts turned to eating and we failed to secure a booking for the Cheesecake Factory and didn’t want to risk the wait as it is always horrific. So instead, as this time we had no vegetarian Emily with us, we booked a table at the Outback.

We also had to pack for our move to Universal so we headed back to the room around 4.30 to do that and get ready. After showers and things we were out at 6.45 and headed to Formosa, our usual stomping ground on so many previous trips. The traffic was bad again, with it being a Monday and the back end of rush hour I suppose and we got there at 7.20 for our 7.30 booking. Look at us all early. I told you Louise wasn’t her normal self.

The Outback, it seemed was undergoing something of a facelift.

It would not, we hoped, affect their cooking abilities.

We were seated quickly and greeted with the excellent bread service that we had forgotten about. It had been a while since we’d been here.

That’s where it was, moments earlier.

We ordered –

Filet Mignon x 2.

Mine with a jacket spud….

Louise with mash….

The food was great, but bloody hell it was cold in the restaurant. I had come out in just a short-sleeved shirt and I was sat with two napkins over my arms to fight off hypothermia.

To help us warm up we onboarded more calories in the form of a rare dessert.

Carrot Cake for me

The Thunder from Down Under for Louise (not a euphemism)

To cap off this action-packed day we drove home and were in bed for 9pm. I worked out how to get Netflix on the telly and we managed one episode of Dahmer before sleep took us.

Till the next time…….

The No Parks and Recreation Tour 2022 – Day Seven

Sunday 25th September

Hungover? Yup.

For someone who does not drink, last night’s efforts were a serious boozy binge and there was a headache and some toilet shenanigans of note after waking at 5.30 this morning.

This affliction did not stop me from prepping as best I could for the day ahead which was to be Magic Kingdom. When 7am rolled around I was on the app booking a LL for Seven Dwarves Mine Train and Genie+ for the day. Louise slept through all this, oblivious to the hard graft that goes into a successful theme park day. All this pre-planning and research are vital ingredients to getting stuff done and having some fun.

Let’s gloss over the fact that I hadn’t noticed that there was a Halloween party this evening at Magic Kingdom and we’d be thrown out at 6pm. When I did realise this, as we made our way into the park I even considered buying tickets for the after-hours party, but it was sold out.

Due to Louise being horribly hungover and still asleep we did not leave the room until 9.15. A short drive to Magic Kingdom saw us park in Simba 121 and there was genuine delight to see the trams were running.

I say running. The one that was there at that moment had broken down and nobody was allowed to board it. A replacement arrived shortly and the CMs were having nervous breakdowns trying to coral the growing crowds away from the broken tram and onto the working one without someone injuring themselves.

Security saw me get pulled again for a full sack, back and crack inspection. Turns out it was the umbrella I had in Ryan just in case you want to avoid delays at security. We were then quickly at the monorail and onto the park.

We entered the park and I was keen to get some rides done. Louise’s delicate state was dictating that we get some caffeine and food first which was absolutely not a problem at all, in any way, honestly.

Louise decided we’d go to Starbucks, which made sense as 80% of the people in the park were already in there.

I’ll put my grumpy mood down to my slightly hungover state.

It was now past 10am as hordes marauded up Main Street as we queued, inflating all the wait times that we would eventually have to endure. Dramatic, me? Never.

We had a booking for Buzz at 10.35 and we just about got there by then after shoving the slightly above average breakfast down our necks.

OK, so now we’re on a ride at last, the day can begin. Here we goooooooo….

It broke down one minute in.

We sat with impotent guns with the ride fully lit for some time before it got going again.

It was no surprise, with all the distractions, frustrations and mild hangovers that our scores were poor, but at least mine was less poor than Louise’s which is all that matters.

Somehow, amongst all that was going on, I had secured a slot on Pirates which was now due so we wandered over there. Yes, it’s on the other side of the park….what of it?

Then Lady Luck smiled upon us. Back at 7am I had booked Splash for 9am, foolishly expecting to be anywhere near a ride by then. We’d missed that of course but fortune smiled upon us, as it had been down at that time and we got a “push” notification from the app that we now had an anytime/any ride LL in our back pocket. We decided to use it on Splash, as was always intended. We sauntered right to the front of the substantial standby line.

We took in what we assumed would be our final ride on Splash in this format.

As we left the ride we found a quietish spot to phone my Mum & Dad to see how they were doing. Louise was needed on another chocolate hostage release so I chatted whilst she did that.

As we did, the parade started so I was able to share that with Mum & Dad via the magic of my iPhone and chubby fingers.

Once we were done chatting and parading we called Rebecca.

This took us to our time for Big Thunder, which ironically was what Louise called her restroom visit.

I do take some bizarre photos.

That’s a great photo of the back of someone’s head.

Snacks were needed so we got an ice-cream and some popcorn from the cart by Big Thunder.

We had three rides “stacked” now, the first being our begrudgingly paid for ride on Seven Dwarves.

I resent the extra cost but I suppose I resent the 70-minute standby wait we bypassed too. As good as the ride is, it’s not worth 70 minutes of your day.

Once again, you should appreciate my expert levels of photography.

I’m not even sure if this is from this ride?

Onto Space Mountain next for our LL booking there.

This ride has become a barometer of my advancing years. Each time I ride it, it hurts a little more. I had things clenched for longer than anything should ever be clenched.

As an antidote, we did Carousel Of Progress next. A ride much more accommodating to my slow deterioration. I have to admit that my eyes may have closed for a moment or two on our journey around the stages. I blame the alcohol.

The theatre was not full but you would expect nothing less than us taking a seat at the end of the row.

Our gentle journeying continued with a lap around the People Mover.

I took a lot of photos of Tron to keep you all updated with its progress. Of course, these photos are now many weeks old, but where else are you going to get more recent updates? So I will spare you most of them.

We were a little peckish by now so we looked for a suitable snack. As ever, that searched ended with the closest food we could find and we had a hot dog from Launching Pad. We shared a Chilli Dog. It was during the eating of this that Louise earned her nickname of the day. Mustard Tits.

Feeling better for having some unhealthy food inside of us we walked over to Laugh Floor.

The main criteria we were looking for at this stage was places to sit down. It was around this time that I was quite grateful that the Halloween party tickets had been sold out as we were flagging by now and would not have made a late stay in the park.

Philharmagic next and en route there was a huge Pooh. Not as huge as the one Louise unleashed near Splash Mountain earlier mind.

We were one of the last into the theatre and thus unable to set a good example by walking to the end of the row. There was significant tutting.

The new Coco section is a welcome injection of new blood into this show.

Now our LL for Haunted Mansion, booked some time ago was due. We bypassed a satisfyingly long queue and entered the stretching room. As we moved through to the doom buggies and boarded we were then held just at the end of the moving walkway to accommodate a wheelchair user boarding behind us.

It was 5.15 as we left the ride and we were done. We hadn’t completed the park, we were just done and out of energy. We tried to browse the shops along Main Street on our way out but they were just too busy. I’m not sure if these shops have more merchandise and less space these days or if crowds are just heavier, but I don’t remember them being so crammed in years gone by. Probably selective memory.

We gave up and headed out, taking the resort monorail over to the Contemporary. This was a tactical stop to facilitate a restroom stop for me. There is a higher standard of stall I find at these Deluxe resorts.

With my work completed, a quick bag search saw us back on the monorail and out to the tram to get back to our car. We may have been too tired for further theme park touring but we were very much still able to eat. Our choice tonight was Olive Garden at Lake Buena Vista. As we joined the I4 the traffic was backed up, wth signs warning of a crash further up. Luckily, the right-hand lane flowed fairly well for the one junction we needed to travel to come off at LBV.

There was no wait for a table and we were soon digging into the famous salad and bread sticks.

My obsession with steak on this trip continued accompanied by some Fettucine Alfredo.

Can you guess what Louise had? Her “usual” Four Cheese Ziti.

We foolishly ordered a dessert, sharing the powdered donuts with chocolate dipping sauce.

We did poorly at clearing the plate.

The bill was $75 with a good tip. We always enjoy our meals here, but I have to admit the last two or three times the experience hasn’t been the one cherished in our memories of past trips. It is still good food at a reasonable price but something isn’t quite what it was.

On our way home we called at Walgreens for medical supplies. For some reason, all its lights were out and it looked closed but having seen a couple of people enter and leave from our spot in the car park I went in and got what we needed.

We were home and in bed watching more news on Hurricane Ian before long. Sleep did not have trouble in finding us.

Till the next time……

The No Parks and Recreation Tour 2022 – Day Six

Saturday 24th September

Today, we rest, after of course waking up at 6am.

We watched some coverage of incoming Ian, knowing by now that we’d suffer some disruption, but there was bugger all we could do about it so, as you should with all life’s problems, we ignored them and carried on with the holiday.

We dozed for a bit and must have fallen back asleep as we were not up and out until 10.45. We walked to the main building and found some breakfast in the River Market.

We both had the Mickey Waffle Bounty Platter.

Whilst it was indeed a platter of bounty, being fat bastards, I wandered off and found us a cake each too.

Next, a highlight of the trip, as we wandered the gift shop looking for plasters for Louise’s poorly feet. Living La Vida Loca indeed. We secured some and some “bits” and left to walk back to the quiet pool near our building.

It was and remained very quiet indeed for most of the day. I was in “kneed” of some R&R.

It was lovely and hot today, perfect for doing not a great deal around some water.

At various points, we dipped our hot bodies into the pool and then lay in the sun for a while. It is this sort of content that makes for a thrilling trip report. To remedy that here is an exhilarating photo of the laundry and restrooms by this pool.

At one point I ventured into that building to liberate two bottles of water from the vending machine. There have been briefer hostage negotiations, as the witchcraft and guile needed to supply the relevant bills and coins in the right order for the machine to cooperate were laughable. We needed and enjoyed the water though.

We’d had enough of this level of excitement by around 4pm and we went back to the room to get ready to go and eat. You will notice we had not eaten lunch today. This frankly was irresponsible.

Our hunger no doubt hurried our readying and we were back out and in the car by 5.30 headed for Bahama Breeze at Lake Buena Vista. I had reserved a table online for 6.30 but time was tight as we wanted to get Louise the traditional new pair of trainers in an effort to stop her feet from preventing any further walking this trip.

I was feeling the stress of the ticking clock. The traffic was horrific around the Premium Outlet Mall of course. Parking was equally challenging but we were fortunate to fluke a spot quickly as we happened across someone coming out. It was now 18.05.

We walked briskly to the shops and soon found an Adidas shop. We had about ten minutes to find something suitable and by some miracle we did it. The first pair Louise tried on were the ones so I quickly paid and we made our way back to the car. We were off again at 18.25 and we just needed to make the short journey back to Bahama Breeze. The queuing traffic was the only thing preventing us from being on time.

After all our rushing and my stressing we were checking in at 18.35 with no issues. We were seated immediately and kicked things off with some Guac and Chips.

I “only” had a salad. As ever, a salad in Florida turned up needing three people to carry it, and it was delicious and incredibly filling. The menu helpfully told me this was “only” 860 calories. I know the runners and riders in this competition are limited, but this could well be the best salad I had ever eaten. Sure it contained melted cheese, but shouldn’t every salad?

You may have already guessed that Louise had a pasta thing. This may be her favourite pasta thing in the world as she always has the Jerk Chicken Pasta here.

Louise had a Long Island Iced Tea and I of course had a few diet cokes. Altogether the bill was £75 plus a good tip. I paid using one of those new fandangled machines on the table and we left.

We were going to spend this evening in the company of Yeehaa Bob, so back at the resort, I dropped Louise off at the main building and then went back to our building to park the car. Louise bagged us a table whilst I did that and we ordered some drinks.

I started with an Octoberfest beer and Louise of course had red wine while we waited for the main man to arrive.

Being very full and unable to continue onboarding large quantities of liquid I moved on to Chocolate Martinis. Yes, plural.

They were delicious and based on their taste, had no alcohol whatsoever in them.

Somewhere in this time Bob had turned up and started to perform. I seem to have only taken photos of what I was drinking.

After a Mai Tai, I was onto a couple of Negretos.

Oh, there he is.

It was all very enjoyable and I say that as someone who abhors shows with audience participation. You can choose to be involved as little as you wish. There was a large group down by the stage who did a lot of “participating, ” allowing others to sit back and enjoy. A really good fun night out.

We were both, I believe the kids would say “buzzing” and we didn’t leave the bar until about 12.30. You probably know that I do not drink very often and after the amount and variety of stuff I had necked tonight, it was impressive that somehow I navigated our way back to the room avoiding a large body of water and an unintended swim and we probably went straight to sleep. Turns out we’d spent about $200 on drinks, so yes, we definitely went straight to sleep.

Till the next time……

The No Parks and Recreation Tour 2022 – Day Five

Friday 23rd September

You know what time I woke up. You’re not as bored of it as I was. The upside was that by 7.40am we were ready to go to the parks for some theme park action. Today was Hollywood Studios.

Another plus was that at the crucial 7am booking window I had already been awake for several hours and I was able to give Disney some extra money to ride something my park ticket should already cover. A LL for Rise of The Resistance was secured. I had also bought Genie+ for the day. We had one day in each park so had to fall on that sword, brimming with resentment, it must be said.

Once parked in Mickey 301, we walked in and straight up to Galaxy’s Edge, hoping to avoid the worst of the queues for Smuggler’s Run.

This rush was probably why all my photos will not be winning any competitions.

Slightly moist with a lovely early morning sweat, we were delighted to see a five-minute wait posted and we went in.

It probably took ten minutes, and I await my hefty compensation from Disney for that but we were soon being boarded for what would be Louise’s first ride of this one. We were to ride with a really cute American family. Mum, Dad and two young girls who were to be absolutely dreadful pilots, but the enthusiasm of the whole family and commitment to the storyline made the whole thing very enjoyable. They were from “The South” of the US by the sounds of things and the Mum sounded just like Holly Hunter. It was just lovely to see a young family really loving the immersive experience.

If you have ridden this, you will appreciate the skill and dexterity it took to take a photo mid-ride.

Now, I allowed breakfast to happen and despite my disappointment with the Ronto Wrap things in January decided to risk another. They were much better this time around and very tasty. We sat and consumed those and a coffee, waiting for 9.30 to roll around when we wandered down to Rise, ready for our 9.40 boarding group slot.

No spoilers here, (apart from the many photos below!) mainly as I am pretty much the last person on the planet to get to ride it, but what an awesome experience. This is not a ride, it is an experience. There is (at least to me) unfathomable complexity in the whole thing and I tip my hat to the Imagineers who got this up and running. Chapek can suck my round hairy things for charging me extra for riding it of course.

We were heading for Frozen next and we came out of Galaxy’s Edge and turned right walking past the ABC Commissary. At this point, Louise questioned this route as not being the most efficient. I reminded her that I am the map, and cannot be questioned on such matters.

As we approached the entrance we came across one of my pet hates in WDW. No, it isn’t clowns sitting down halfway down a row of seats, it is people loitering at the entrance of a ride, dithering about something and making everyone trying to get in navigate their way around them. They were on the end of one of my most severe tuts. To add to the misery they caused, once they had worked out their arses from elbows and decided that they did want to go in, after all, they made a huge deal about excusing themselves past everyone walking in for some reason. Idiots.

Luckily people were being forced to move to the end of rows or there would have been a scene.

The show was good fun as usual.

I’d booked a LL for Rock n Rollercoaster earlier for right about now so we went there next, wincing at the 50-minute standby queue. We waltzed straight to the front along wth a load of other LL folks so I have no idea how the standby line ever moved forward. This, in a nutshell, is the issue Disney are having with Genie+. Too many folks are buying it and making the standby lines untenable. This is why they have stopped you from buying it in advance and increased the price of it on busier days.

Once we were in the alley, there was a worrying delay and an empty car or two was run. I feared it breaking down but luckily all was well and we rode and screamed.

Tradition dictates this photo is taken.

I declared it snack time and we got this stuff.

Neither snack would make it into any of our all-time top ten lists of things we’ve eaten at WDW but they were OK. We eventually found a table to eat at as things were busy. At the one next to us two people were minding their own business eating something when a woman came to their table and gave them a load of verbal abuse.

“What are you doing at my table?! Can’t you see my scooter is parked next to it. Why have you sat here?”

Honestly, it was awful. How they were supposed to know the scooter abandoned by this table had somehow reserved it was beyond me. To their credit, they kept their calm, gave her a measured tongue-lashing and said she could put that table and scooter where darkness resides. They left her to it.

This woman then sat down and was looking around at us and other neighbours, trying to gain support for her approach. She said something to us like “Can you believe some people?”.

We replied that honestly no we could not and gave her more passive-aggressive disapproval.

We had a little time to kill before the Beauty & The Beast show at 11, so we wandered the shops for a while. This would turn out to be a costly mistake as ended up in the Pandora shop and somehow spent a crazy amount of dollars on three necklaces, one for Louise and one each for the girls. The guilt at not having brought them with us was strong.

We completed our purchase at 10.59 and had to speed walk back to the theatre, taking our place on the bleachers right at the back just as the show was starting.

It was good to see the show back to something like its original format and not the “socially distanced” version we saw in January.

The zoom on my “old-fashioned” camera is rather good. It had to be as we were a way back plus there was a chap in the wheelchair section who kept standing up to take endless videos. The irony.

Somehow in the midst of all this shopping and watching, I had managed to book a LL for Toy Story Mania, which is where we headed next, avoiding a 50-minute standby queue.

The scale of the defeat I inflicted on Louise was impressive.

Every ride had long standby waits now and we were unable to book any further LLs for the moment. As ever the fallbacks in this scenario in DHS are Star Tours and The Muppets.

Star Tours first.

We encountered a new (to us) film in Star Tours which is always nice after so many years.

We emerged to light rain and this increased the speed of our walk to the Muppets. The wait was just however long the pre-show had left to run. We entered when it was at this bit.

This is a classic of course and one we have to experience but I always have and still do detest Waldo, the spirit of 3D. Just me?

As the show ended we encountered torrential rain and had to shelter at the exit for ten minutes.

Louise needed the loo so we braved the wet and made our way to the restrooms near Pizza Planet. I sheltered near the entrance of the ride we had just left.

We were in need of some sustenance so we headed to the Backlot Express and shared a Cheeseburger whilst avoiding another rain shower.

We nipped next door to watch the next Indy show. The recent wetness had curtailed the extent of that show quite a lot but luckily we had seen it once or twice before!

Now we had some time to kill until out next LL at 5.40 so foolishly we wandered more shops. We did catch a sliver of a parade as it passed.

I cannot explain this photo.

We joined the huge queue for a Starbucks and it took us an age to get a couple of coffees. We queued next to what Louise described as “the most beautiful female she had ever seen”. I of course had no opinion on the matter but it would not surprise me to learn that she was friends with Jasmine, if you know what I mean.

We drank as we wandered to Slinky, picking up a Num Num on the way, but we had some cream for that back at the room.

The standby for Slinky was 100 minutes. It was clear why, as the LL queue was always busy and they had to keep letting those folks on as they had forked out the cash. The ride is always better than you think it is going to be, but not 100 minutes good.

Our final LL of the day was at Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway so we headed there now.

As we were queuing we were joined by a fabulous chap, dressed in a full-length leather coat and knee-high leather boots. He looked like a mix of Homelander from The Boys and Joe Longthorne (ask your Dad).

This ride has a really creative pre-show but endless queues. Just when you think you may be getting close to riding, more lines await. The ride exceeded Louise’s expectations on her first time, but was no Great Movie Ride.

It was time to go. With no Fantasmic on, it felt weird to have no “finale” to the day, but instead, we had food to eat. Back at the car I searched for an Applebees and followed my phone to a new one for us near Celebration.

It was much quieter than all the other Applebees we had been to, so this was a stroke of luck. We were seated immediately.

Louise – Nachos of course

I had Parmesan Steak and Shrimp.

Both were very good and Louise benefitted from the 2-4-1 on drinks. The bill was a very acceptable $58 so I left $75.

We were both knackered and just wanted to go to sleep. I waited until I had driven us back to the resort before doing so at 10 after watching some news on an incoming hurricane. These things always just pass Orlando by right? It would be a lot of fuss over nothing no doubt!

Till the next time……

The No Parks and Recreation Tour 2022 – Day Three

Wednesday 21st September

Another early rise. On recent trips, my body clock seems to be refusing to budge from UK time. I can only blame Brexit.

We took the chance to speak to folks back home, who we were still clearly operating on the same time zone as, and at around 7am, went out onto the balcony as we had nowhere to be in any rush.

Louise and I chatted for a bit and it was right around now that our plans and trip report title went out of the window. Honestly, pre-trip I had zero intentions of darkening a Disney theme park’s door. I had been scarred by our January experiences and did not need that stress in my life.

However, I suppose having been so close to Epcot for several hours, we were tempted. I “just had a look” to see if there were park reservations available and by now, we knew it was game over. I quickly booked a 4-day pass, reserved our entrance to Epcot that day and then things needed sorting. Never have I been so unprepared for a day’s theme parking.

Firstly, I needed to change. I was dressed for a day of swimming and relaxing and needed to get out of my current swim shorts and into some that would take the rigours of over 20,000 steps and my mighty undercarriage.

Whilst Louise was making similar adjustments to her wardrobe, I had also bagged a Lightning Lane for Guardians of the Galaxy. This, proving my well-made point from January that if you are off-site scum, this Genie+ thing is barely of any use to you in this regard.

We were out of the room at 7.40, walking towards International Gateway. As we did I cancelled our ADR for that evening at Sanaa as we would be in the park until late.

As would be the case every time we went near a Disney park this trip, Ryan and I got pulled aside for a full cavity search at security as we passed through the scanner. At the gate, I zapped my Magic Band and scanned Louise’s QR code from my recent ticket booking to get us in. Louise hadn’t even brought her Magic Band, so sure were we that we would not be doing park things.

For now, she had an old-school plastic card thing.

To add to our good fortune, we had early entry this morning as we were high-class on-site glitterati and we, therefore, went straight to Remy to remedy not being able to ride this thing in January.

There was a decent queue there already but nothing that wouldn’t clear in a few minutes once the ride opened at 8am.

All of my malice and angst from January were melting away and Disney was pulling me back from the brink, I could feel it.

I knew they would. They couldn’t keep getting things so wrong, could they? It was 8.05 now and the line was moving. There was genuine excitement at riding something for the first time. I was messaging Emily back home telling her all about our change of plans and that we were about to ride Remy. It was great.

Then the ride broke down, they shut it and sent all of the queue away.

Not only could we not ride it, but any advantage from our early entry was now squandered on a queue that led to nothing.

We walked back to World Showcase with me muttering unspeakable things and tripping over my bottom lip. All we could do now was walk down to Soarin’ and see if we could eke out any sort of advantage over the pleb crowds coming in through the main entrance. I was so upset that for reasons I still cannot explain we walked the long way around World Showcase rather than down through the UK and Canada. I realised this mistake sometime around Italy by which time it was too late and we were committed to the full loop.

Hot, sweaty and annoyed, we eventually got down into Future World.

Even my camera was angry.

There was a ten-minute wait posted but it was in effect a walk-on. No, this did not make me feel any better! We did get the top row, which did help a little bit and yes, it’s an awesome ride and one of my favourites so I suppose we will stay in the park today after all.

Food next and we just grabbed a breakfast roll thing from the Land food court. It was OK but America’s unfamiliarity with brown sauce was a loss.

We were definitely now back in park touring mode as we had just fifteen minutes to get that into us and then walk over to Guardians before our Lightning Lane slot passed. I necked mine in seconds and then “encouraged” Louise to do the same as if she were Adam Richman mid-food challenge. Full of sandwich and indigestion, we made it to Guardians in time.

It took just five minutes to get onto the ride.

Wow.

We just laughed for the entire ride, a mixture of appreciation for how much fun it is and the joy of riding something new. It is the perfect mix of innovation, just being thrilling enough with a huge dollop of fun. No doubt around 90% of the detail passed me by on this first ride but we loved it.

It was raining quite hard as we stood at the exit so we loitered in the shop for a bit resisting the need to buy a poncho.

As the rain slackened a little we dashed over to the Creations eatery, as it was the closest building and cover from the rain, which was new to us. It was no Electric Umbrella but it looks nice.

We made our way down to Spaceship Earth to find a queue of worrying length, but it turned out to be just ten minutes before we settled in to listen to Judy.

I was so relaxed during the whole experience that as I left the ride I did not notice that my phone had slipped from my pocket. Luckily, as you need to look at your phone every seven seconds in a WDW park, I did notice just as we entered the post-ride bit where you see your photos up on the map.

I quickly found a CM who gave me the “not another one” look and wandered back up to the ride. She had asked me to describe the phone to her.

“Well, it’s an iPhone in a black silicone case. Surely that is unique?” I said. “Oh, and the lock screen image is of the best dog ever to live”.

“Ah, Oli the Old English,” she said with a knowing look.

She quickly retrieved my phone from the no-doubt skip full of devices that we idiot tourists keep leaving on rides.

To settle the blood pressure we stopped to get a drink and some popcorn and had those at a table in the now lovely sunny weather.

Around this time, with a few seconds to spare, we thought about where we may eat that evening. Being last-minute Larrys, the choice was limited but we found a table at the Mexican place overlooking the water in World Showcase at 5.30.

Mission Space next, and only because the Orange lane had a long wait and absolutely not because I am getting old and the intense version makes me go all woozy these days, we chose Green.

We rode with a single rider who was riding for the first time as he overshot our circled places just outside the ride and tried to join the next party. I just hoped I would not mark the occasion of his first mission by barfing all over him. The story on Green was different and new to me (I think). Old age again?

By now it was 12.05 and way past time for lunch. We went back to Creations, forgiving it for not being Electric Umbrella and mobile ordered. Not being that hungry and with a relatively early ADR this evening we just went for a couple of salads. They were of course huge and we couldn’t finish them. Very tasty too. Those chucks of chicken were huge and plentiful.

We people watched through the window for a while just to have a rest and I remembered from somewhere in the dark bowels of my memory that at 1pm we would have a chance to get another slot for Guardians.

Everybody was on their phone outside the window through which we were people-watching, just waiting for the slot to open up. When the time came, I just clicked any button that appeared and somehow ended up with an estimated return time of 5.25. My celebrations were slightly curtailed when I realised that this clashed with our recently booked ADR. I tried and failed to reschedule our meal. I decided to ignore the problem for now and just see what happened, hoping the Guardians slot would creep forward a little.

Being two adults in our fifties next it was necessary to ride Journey Into Imagination so we walked over there.

As we exited, Emily face-timed us from the care home so we could see and talk to Mary. After that, we made our way to The Seas and rode the Nemo thing.

We then wandered around the tanks for a bit before Louise popped into the restroom to make her own release into the sea.

We grabbed a water on the way out. It was very hot now. We had a sit on a bench for a bit with our drink and we had about an hour to kill until our Guardian’s return time which was now saying it would be around 4.45, which was much more helpful. We decided to slowly wander in that direction but on the way, it started raining very hard so we ducked into Spaceship Earth and rode that again to avoid the rain.

That did the trick as it had stopped by the time we emerged, this time with my phone safely in my pocket.

We loitered not too far from Guardians relentlessly refreshing the app to see if the return time improved any further. We got the alert at 16.35 that we could now board. I was still a little concerned about how long it might take to ride it, as this time we had to do some queuing, not being a LL, and I had no concept of the queue structure so had no clue how long we would have to wait.

Fifteen minutes and we were in. From our first ride, I did have some clue as to the best places to stand in the pre-show to bypass some of the queueing after that which helped and we were out and done by 5.17. We got the same song again, (I Ran, which as tributes to a country go, is no O Canada?) and it wasn’t until returning home that I even knew there could be multiple song options on this ride.

We now had to walk briskly up to Mexico for our 5.30 ADR. We arrived at the podium at 5.29. It was a majestic demonstration of theme park touring. We did then have to wait five minutes behind the chap already being attended to, booking his party of 716 guests in and feeling the need to tell the CM everyone’s name, age, birth sign and inside leg measurement. The CM had only asked how many children were in his party and we all had to endure a rundown of names, ages and heights.

After some passive-aggressive sighing, we were seen to and soon seated.

We started with some Guac and Chips.

I had a beer and Louise a Sangria.

I have to say there was not a great deal of choice for Entrees and even by the time they were brought to our table neither of us could say with any certainty which we had ordered. It was all a bit of a blur and with most dishes carrying names in a foreign language on the menu, our tired brains could not retain that information for the ten minutes it took between ordering and their arrival. Anyway, what we had was very tasty.

The service was efficient, or in other words, we were out of there very quickly. No room for desserts. $150 including tip.

It was raining again so we dashed across to the Mexico pavilion.

We did some brief browsing…but I am more of a boxer’s man!

Then we rode the ride, chuckling as the boat almost tipped over backwards as we sat down. The folks in the front were not of equal heft.

I blessed Norway with one of my wees before quickly moving on to China. We wandered the shop for a bit, as usual buying nothing before a similar look around Germany and Italy.

At the Spain food booth, we got a couple of drinks, a beer for me and a wine for Louise. As we were served the CM asked us if we preferred waffles or pancakes. Our two answers of pancakes seemed to win him some game he was playing with the CM on the next register. Sadly it did not result in any free drinks for us.

We wandered some more before stopping at Morocco for another drink and a sit-down. A Sangria for Louise and I tried a Strawberry Daquiri. A band and belly dancer performed briefly before the rain put a stop to that.

The weather was getting a little unpleasant now, with persistent drizzle and a chilly wind so we decided to call it a night and walked up to International Gateway.

It was too wet and we were too tired to wait around for an hour to see the fireworks. We could see most of them from our room anyway!

It took a while to walk “home” as Louise’s feet were suffering. One year, after all these years of practice she will eventually find a suitable set of footwear that won’t cripple her after one day in a theme park! We had done a bit of walking to be fair.

We stopped in at the Club Lounge for a wine. coffee and cakes.

We got back to the room at 8.50. Louise watched the fireworks on the balcony but I collapsed straight into bed. I was knackered. I fell asleep immediately and didn’t even hear Louise shower or dry her hair!

Till the next time…….