A Tale Of Two Trees

Like my middle-aged paunch, Christmas has crept up on us without us really noticing. I have one full week left at work, which includes our team night out and our band night out, so that paunch will be getting a little paunchier by the end of it.

It was only five minutes ago that I was sneering at folks on social media for daring to mention the word and now mild panic is setting in that we’ve bought nothing and we’re only on our second Christmas tree.

Yes, you read that right. Having ordered a fake one from The White Company for the price of a small family car, as “it was perfect and would last us years” it arrived early last week and much time was spent decorating it. Twenty four hours later, Louise had declared that it was not satisfactory and it had to go. So it was stripped, boxed up and sent back and in its place now stands a seven-foot real one atop a three-foot pile of needles.

We’ve done well so far to only lose one decoration to the jaws of Bean, we can only hope it can go the distance to the big day. If it doesn’t then Bean may not either!

On Friday night, Louise and the girls went to an Anne Summers party hosted by one of Louise’s fellow nurses. Emily and Rebecca were quite worried about attending such an event with their mother, fearing it may scar them for life, and it is probably for the best that I don’t know what went on aside from the few Snapchats the girls posted. I took them there (and picked them up) which was quite a nice throwback to the “driving years” when my main role in life was to transport them around the planet.

It has been quite some time since it was the four of us in the car driving somewhere and it was in a strange way very nice. The night involved a fair amount of alcohol and with Rebecca not having drunk for a year and Emily being, let’s be frank, a huge lightweight when it comes to drinking, Saturday was pretty much a right off for both of them. Of course, I should also congratulate Tom for coping on his own with Freddie for the first time too whilst Rebecca was out.

At the moment, our Disney plans have assumed a position on the back burner of my priority cooker. This happens at times during a long countdown I’ve found. Beyond the occasional glance at flights, I haven’t given it much thought really. Well, I always give it thought, as in, it helps to get me through the two-hour commutes that I have been enduring over the last few weeks, but I haven’t really thought about it from a planning perspective.

I do need to find time to go over the plan in detail again, to firm up the day by day activities. I suspect my usual routine of doing the parks in the order we always do may need some attention as we have to factor in the day we will be at Mickey’s Not So Scary and the days that the running of that may impact on our potential planned visits to the Magic Kingdom. I also need to run the busy day guide against our plans. I don’t usually use these in any meaningful way, but it’s always wise to make sure there are no obvious clangers being dropped which can easily be avoided.

I have a suspicion that much of my well laid plan may be cast aside once we’re boots on the ground with young Freddie with us. Our activities will of course have to consider his needs and moods so there may be a bit of going with flows.

As some of you may have seen, I did a Facebook live on the Mkingdon Facebook page when Rebecca, Tom and Freddie popped round during last week. At such a young age he changes so much in the few days between visits and it’s just fascinating to see that happening. He’s had a cold recently which has been fun for Rebecca and Tom, but other than that he’s doing brilliantly, as are they.

He is photographed and videoed more than The Kardashians, which is only right, as he is more intelligent and newsworthy than all of them put together. I fear for the amount of coverage he will get during his first tour of Disney. He’ll never have another first time, so it may just be easier to do one long Facebook live for the whole two weeks!

I have big plans for the rest of the day and they are to rest my ageing tired body. With my taxi duties on Friday and another Mustard gig last night I have had two late nights and my middle-aged frame is protesting this morning. Louise is going out shopping for her outfit for her Christmas party so I intend to be best friends with the couch, watch some football and I have a song to learn for a Mustard rehearsal tomorrow. Next week’s blog may just be me moaning about how tired I am as this coming week, I have to work of course, but I have a rehearsal on Monday night, my team night out on Tuesday (huge Chinese meal and a few drinkies) and then our band Christmas night out on Friday (huge Indian meal and a few drinkies). I’m beginning to understand now quite how that middle-aged paunch happened.

Till the next time…..


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A Peak At Planning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Till the next time….
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Scary Stuff

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

Have a great time Sarah and Tom!

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

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

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

mnsshp

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Till the next time…..


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Living La Villa Loca…..

I know that at times it is hard to tell me apart from rock Gods like Jon Bon Jovi. We look so alike that this is understandable. However, one major difference is how feel right now. Mustard were out gigging last night after a few weeks off for our summer holidays (that I didn’t have!).

Getting to bed at 2am after a full on night of hard rocking, fierce funking and more importantly lugging several tonnes of equipment in and out of the venue, my body hates me. I don’t imagine Mr Bon Jovi is sat in his dressing gown in front of Sunday Brunch nursing a non alcoholic hangover. Middle age is a bitch.

Louise has been working all weekend and by the time she gets to the end of Monday she will have worked nine days straight. That is, frankly, a bit shit so if you are having your wounds dressed, injections given or wounds packed anywhere near us, be thankful to the kind soul who turns up to do it. They will be over worked and under paid.

So, as promised, let’s turn to the embryonic plans for Florida 2018. Whilst writing the last few posts of the last trippie, I was multi-tasking very impressively by giving brain space to our next visit. We should of course be waiting a bit until Freddie is older and can do things like go to Jellyrolls with us, but all in good time, for now, we’ll be the idiots with the 11 month old on the plane.

Another strong reason not to wait is that our future son-in-law Tom has never been to WDW and as a lot of you will appreciate, taking a first timer is a joy and a pleasure. He is already, quite rightly, giddy with excitement. Of course, despite a good amount of internet research and us boring him to death about everything on offer, until a first timer goes there can be little appreciation of what will be encountered.

The rides and attractions are of course something he is looking forward to, but, like someone destined to become part of our family, he LOVES his food. Unlike me, Tom turns that love into muscle at the gym, so he’s a big lad but in a positive way…

His appetite is astounding and this is coming from me who could eat himself to death in one sitting. So the food on offer is a major focus for him. That’s handy of course as you know my planning starts with where we’ll be eating every day. He and Rebecca have already spent a good amount of time studying the menus of our planned eateries and in some cases pre-selecting his dining choices. I think he’s in for a good time.

But I get ahead of myself. I should give you an outline of the plan as it stands. Well, the first thing to say is that we shall not be making the mistake of not having enough time at WDW this time. With two first timers in tow, ALL we are doing is Disney. Recognising of course what a different trip this will be with a very young child in the party, there seemed very little point in attempting Universal at the hefty expense of an on site stay and other thrill ride heavy parks like Busch similarly made little sense.

Taking in to account the size and make up of our party, on-site accommodation didn’t really make sense. After our last visit, frankly we’d want to be staying at the Beach Club or similar and two weeks in multiple rooms just becomes very, very expensive. Along with that, for Rebecca, Tom and Freddie especially two weeks crammed into one room would be tough, so we (I) decided we’d be doing a villa.

Now, selecting a villa is a double-edged sword. It is lovely to be scouring the internet for that perfect place of course, as it means you know you are returning. The downside is that there is so much choice that a few hours in you get villa blindness. They all start to look the same. However, we (I) had very specific requirements. In previous visits compromises have been made, mainly due to budget, which haven’t really detracted from the trip, but niggled at me from time to time.

Our needs were –

Location – Suspecting we’ll be doing partial days in the parks with Freddie in tow, being close to WDW was a must. Knowing that every villa in Florida says they are fifteen minutes from Disney, I ignored those claims and used my local knowledge. The villa had to be in or around the Formosa Gardens area. Villas here are so close to Animal Kingdom you can smell the elephant dung.

Pool size – Rest days will be plentiful and vital so we wanted a lager than average pool and lanai. This meant going for a villa a bit larger than we actually needed. It should not be overlooked, and be south-facing to satisfy Louise’s sun hunger.

We needed two master suites.

Beyond those, I was just looking for villas that caught my eye. Things I look out for are poor quality photos and/or photos clearly taken a long time ago, suggesting the villa may not be quite as nice now as it once was.

It took a while, but eventually I found one that ticked all the boxes. I was delighted that it is situated on Emerald Island. We have never stayed there, but have driven past those dolphins many times whilst staying in the area.

The fact that this development is literally round the corner from our favourite arrival day dining tradition of The Outback is just the cherry on top of a nice cake.

The villa itself is called Simba’s Pride.

Click the picture to see details of the villa…..

A deposit is paid, which means we are definitely going. That feels good.

Flights won’t be booked for a while. I’ve never not booked the flights first, but with Freddie still being in Rebecca right now, there was no choice. Well, we could have waited to book the villa, but where’s the fun in that?

The main part of the planning now will be learning how to do WDW with a youngster under one. There’s a lot I don’t know about that.

The only other thing which has already been planned is the restaurant list. That includes some places you HAVE to take first timers to, such as Whispering Canyon and 50’s Prime Time.

The bad news is that between now and the 29th of August 2018, yes, I forgot to mention when we were going, you will be subjected to every tweak, development and booking. The timing of the trip is a mix of impatience and various work related challenges and commitments. We *could* have gone in a more off-peak time, but that would mean waiting longer. Flying out at the time should be OK as most folks limited to school holidays will be coming to the end of their trips and of course the US schools will already be back.

Irma has of course reminded us that this is very much hurricane season so we can only hope we continue our lucky streak in that regard.

So, enough for now. There will be time aplenty to blog about this in future for which I apologise.

Till the next time….


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Fitting In The Fountain

I’ve had more successful dieting weeks to be honest. It included two…no three take-aways and more biscuits than is conducive to weight loss. Clearly I wasn’t in the zone as it’s been a stressful week and we tend to eat our feelings in this family.

Speaking of over eating. You may not think it possible for us to get any more of it into our calorie laden plan. I thought that too, but Emily pointed out that since we shuffled our plans to give us one less day at Universal and one more at WDW we had a day in the plan without any food planned in. This was clearly a huge mistake and Emily’s idea was to squeeze in Beaches & Cream with us staying at the Beach Club. Looking at what we will have eaten by then squeezing in might be more literal than you may imagine.

Those of you familiar with Beaches & Cream will know that it isn’t very big and as expected, getting an ADR for a party of five this many days out was never likely and we were denied. However, I haven’t been obsessing about Florida holidays for fifteen years for nothing and quickly my database of knowledge and experience threw up an alternative.

In the Dolphin there is a similar looking establishment to Beaches & Cream. It doesn’t have the same level of theming or fun and games based around obscene amounts of ice cream in a sink, but I thought it may work.

fountain

A quick look at the menu confirmed my suspicions. Here are some of the highlights….

Fountain Signature Burger

Two 4oz. Angus Burgers, Applewood Smoked Bacon, Avocado-Bacon Aioli, Caramelized Onion, Tomato, American Cheese, Sesame Brioche Bun

Southern Pulled Pork

Hickory Smoked Pulled Pork, Western Carolina Barbeque Sauce, Apple-Fennel Coleslaw, Toasted Pullman Bun

Chicago Dog

Vienna All Beef Hot Dog, Cherry Tomato Relish, Kosher Pickle slices, Beer Mustard, Sport Peppers, Caramelized Onions, Hot Dog Potato Bun

Stawberri Kookies with House Vodka

Strawberry Patch and Cookies & Cream Ice Creams, Strawberry Topping & Chocolate Milk, topped with Whipped Cream & Oreo Crumbles with House Vodka (must be 21 or older)

Soft Serve Split 

Classic Banana Split made with Vanilla, Chocolate, and Swirl Soft Serve, topped with Pineapple, Chocolate and Strawberry Toppings, Whipped Cream, Peanuts, a Cherry and a Banana

PB&J Shake

Peanut Butter Ice Cream, Strawberry Topping with Whipped Cream & Reese’s Pieces.

So that’ll do nicely as an alternative. It is of course within walking distance of the Beach Club so on this extra Disney day, which we plan to spend some of it resting by the pool, we can wander over there for lunch. It doesn’t offer reservations so we’ll go early for that reason and one other very important one. On our holidays we have to plan our eating times carefully to ensure we will be hungry when the next meal reservation rolls around.

Bearing in mind that we will be in Celebration for our evening meal later that day and then moving on to Disney Springs and the culinary treats to be had there we will need to lunch at a time which may be bordering on brunch. These holidays don’t just fall together you know.

If you have any intention in reading about our trip when we get back, I would advise against reading it hungry. The amount of food pictures that are likely to feature may push into a calorie spree that I cannot be held responsible for. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Oh and if you happen to be staying at the Beach Club when we are, I apologise now for what will be the horrific calorie induced frame that I will be parading around the pool. I’ll be to wear a thong won’t I?

Till the next time……

Plan vs Food

Welcome to the new look Mkingdon blog. That’s if you’ve noticed that we’ve had a bit of a redesign. It’s been a long time since a change was made so I hope you like it.

I’m blogging a little early today as Louise is working. This is her first weekend at work since qualifying and so it makes sense to get it done whist she is out at work. It is also of course Father’s Day and I sit here in the after glow of a breakfast of enormous proportions. Now that the girls are old enough to operate cookers and stuff I get more than I used to in the heady days of cereal and toast.

Pardon my knees

Pardon my legs

I have a fine collection of presents which also include ludicrous calorie numbers, a T-shirt and an Xbox game.

My breakfast today represents the struggles of the week just gone too. In time that absolutely should not have been spent working, I have been wrestling with our WDW plan this week. Trying to predict Emily’s movements and meetings as she starts work is just one challenge I am trying to rise to, but the main one has been not having enough days. This has surprised me, as we are going for our longest trip ever at 18 nights. With that in mind I had thought we’d have endless rest days and time for the smelling of roses and all that jazz. To be honest, theme park wise, we’re doing OK. Even with Disney and Universal to fit in, we have the odd day without firm plans. The real tricky bit has been the eating plan.

Having been to WDW a lot, we have built up a back catalogue of favourite eateries that we have to do each time. We also like to fit in a new one or two as well, so this week I came to the conclusion that I simply don’t have enough days to eat all the stuff we want to. By around Thursday I had somehow slotted in all of the following –

Outback
Crystal Palace
Be Our Guest
Applebees
Rose and Crown
Market Street Cafe (Celebration)
Romanos Macaroni Grill
Hard Rock Cafe
Cowfish
Beaches and Cream
Miller’s Ale House
Whispering Canyon
Bahama Breeze
Olive Garden
Teak Neighborhood Grill

I still had a couple of places, such as the Cheesecake Factory that I couldn’t find a slot for unless we were to eat four meals a day. Then, yesterday, whilst chatting through the plan with Emily she was a very bad influence and threw up a couple of dining “must dos” that I had totally forgotten about. Whilst looking for availability on the Disney app for a reservation at O’hana (that we never did get), we were reminded that Sanaa had been a new one that we had wanted to try for a while and so with a bit of juggling we slotted that one in too, quite early in the trip.

Whilst searching for that reservation for Sanaa we also saw Trail’s End mentioned and remembering our previous visit there that quickly got added to the must do list. Don’t ask me how, but that’s now booked too!

I am pleased with all our plans but I have to say that I’m also a little worried about the amount we’re going to be eating. I’m sure we’ll manage. I’m not suggesting that we are food obsessed or that our touring plans start with where we will be eating, but Emily already knows what she is ordering at certain places. For example, at The Market Street Cafe she will be having –

Cheese Fries
With Monterey jack and cheddar cheeses, topped with bacon and served with ranch dressing. 6.95

Banana Cream Pie 5.50

Milkshakes
Cookies & creams 4.50  add malt .50 

At Sanaa, I think it is fair to say that most of us will be going for this as an appetiser –

Indian-style Bread Service

Choice of Three Breads – Traditional Naan, Garlic-Ginger Naan, Spiced Naan, Onion Kucha, or Paneer Paratha. Choice of Three Accompaniments – Red Chile Sambal, Cucumber Raita, Coriander Chutney, Mango Chutney, Tomato-Date Jam, Garlic Pickle, Spicy Jalapeño-Lime Pickle, Roasted Red Bell Pepper Hummus, or Tamarind Chutney.

It goes without saying that when we go to Teak I will be having the Doughnut Burger. That has to happen. On a similar note, when we visit Cowfish at City Walk, there is only choice for me and that is the  –

The Cowfish Has Offically Left The Building (A.K.A. The Hunka, Hunka)

Full-pound beef burger, creamy peanut butter, fried bananas, applewood bacon, brioche bun. Choice of side.

It’s ridiculous. I am still stuffed after my breakfast and now I am drooling over my keyboard! I’m putting weight on just writing about this stuff. I shall have to walk Oli for an extra few minutes. That will burn a few thousand calories, right?

I hope your Father’s Day is a good one should it be relevant to you and I shall go now to see mine. The effort of walking all the way next door may well burn a few hundred more calories!

Till the next time…..

Black Belt in Planning

It’s been a busy week. I don’t mean work. Work is always busy, and is very rarely worth writing about here. No, I have been a whirling dervish of holiday planning activity. Having had no trip to plan for many, many months now, I have returned to my specialist subject like the proverbial duck to pancake and soy sauce.

I had told myself to take my time, enjoy the prospect and luxury of having a trip to research and plan, but as is often the case at my time of life, no matter how much I tried to think of other things, my bolt is shot. I rest, in the after glow of bookings, with a red hot credit card and a smile on my face.

If you have been following my pre-trip report thread on the Dibb, then what I am about tell you will not be news. This has never stopped me sharing anything before so here we go.

This time last week we had little else but flights in the bag, and joy in our hearts, at the prospect of a return home. The next priority was to find somewhere to stay, and that was to be a villa. I looked at a lot. I won’t quantify that any further for fear my employers may read this and do some basic maths around the number of villas versus the hours in the week, but let’s say it was a good few.

I got quotes from a handful, most being non Dibb villas, which always has me worried that we will turn up to find either no villa or someone’s house, the inhabitants of it knowing nothing about the rental of a villa to an overweight bald bloke from Bolton. With that in mind, it came to me, as the search was almost coming to an end that I “knew” someone who had a villa that may be suitable. Tracy Seymour must have originally become aware of me (and vice versa)  via the Dibb, and we’ve been Facebook friends since I don’t know when. I’ve often looked at her villa for previous trips, but we’ve never needed one that large so have always ended up elsewhere.

Crucially Tracy’s villa, the Disney Palms villa, ticked all of our boxes, plus we’d have the security of knowing that there actually would be a villa there to stay in when we arrived. Tracy and her husband are fellow Old English Sheepdog owners too.

Disney Palms Villa

Our decision was quickly proved to be correct as when we received our receipt for our deposit, it included a goody bag of villa themed key rings, fridge magnets and post cards. A lovely touch, and one that was really appreciated.

With a villa found, we now needed a way to get to it from the airport, so the car hire work began. Prices seemed to vary wildly for what is pretty much the same thing. I ended up with Alamo Brits, who came out much cheaper than everywhere else for the seven seater van we needed. It should take six of us plus luggage to and from the airport, and have enough bum spaces when Emily joins us too. Louise has often requested to be added as an additional driver on previous trips, but I am usually too scared, tight to do so. Her total US driving experience is from Westlife, I mean Westridge, to the Publix at Berry Town Centre.

However the great price with Alamo also included up to three additional drivers, so that was a bonus. We paid £420 for the whole thing for 18 days, which I thought was a great price.

So within a few days of booking the flights, I was nearly done with all the major requirements. Now, firmly in the planning zone, I moved on to the Hard Rock Hotel night we needed for our Front of Line access. Everywhere seemed to be charging the same price to be honest, and I was almost resigned to leaving that to sort out sometime in the next 300+ days before we go. However, I then discovered that Travel Republic would let me book our three rooms for a deposit of £3. The balance will not be due until the middle of August next year, so you don’t need me to tell you what happened next.

Hard Rock…I said Rock.

I really am very, very good at this!

It will not surprise you to know that I have a rough plan of what we’ll be doing on most days, including how we will avoid the parks around Labor Day weekend. I also have a list of restaurants we must do, and all I will say about that, is that it is a good job we’re going for eighteen days. You want to see the list? Oh, OK then, so far it is…..

  • Market Street Cafe (Celebration)
  • Whispering Canyon
  • Mannys
  • Applebees
  • Olive Garden
  • Romanos
  • Bahama Breeze
  • Orlando Ale House
  • O’Hanas
  • Teak
  • Outback
  • Cheesecake Factory
  • Hard Rock Cafe
  • Be Our Guest

Rebecca and Tom also plan to attend the Universal Halloween Horror Nights if they are on when we are there. This year they started in early September so they should be OK. I think I might give that one a miss to be honest. If I want to be frightened I can go for a walk through some of the dodgy parts of Manchester on a dark night for free. Speaking of avoiding the parks over that busy long weekend, we (I) have planned to do some resting, visiting of Celebration (we MUST have the cheesy fries and banana cream pie at the Market Street Cafe), golfing, and heading over to Daytona to watch a baseball game again.

So aside from bits and bobs, we’re done. I know I could have spent months contemplating options, but you should know by now that I’m not wired like that. I feel better once stuff is done and dusted.

We do have park tickets to get, but we will leave that until much nearer the time, crucially when Emily is officially a Cast Member so we can see what discounts she may be able to get. Once we have those I shall have to get to grips with all this new FastPass+ stuff, and no doubt get up at 5am a few times to make sure we get on some headliners. I’m not going to stress too much about all that. We are there for nearly three weeks, and in that time, I’m sure we’ll be able to get on what we want to. If not, well it isn’t the end of the world. It’s not as if we haven’t ridden stuff before.

I’m off now to polish and admire my planning spread sheet, and prepare myself for the return of Homeland at 9pm.

Till the next time….