To Siesta Key…And Beyond Tour 2017 – Day Fifteen April 25th 2017

We didn’t leave for Hollywood Studios until 10am. Anyone might think we’d done something stupid last night like stay out past 1am drinking. Rest assured I felt great and was my usual ray of sunshine as we drove over to pick Mum and Dad up.

It must have been a morning for things that never happen. Not only did I have a mild hangover for the first time since I had hair, but by some strange alignment of the Gods, we parked at the very bottom of the row. This never happens to us…oh apart from EVERY OTHER TIME WE HAVE VISITED A PARK….EVER!!

I wouldn’t have minded so much but we were poised to be put at the very top of a row but the evil and vindictive cast member chose the line of traffic I was in, rather than the one at the side of me to make the long journey to the Mordor of the car park.

We slowly, very slowly, made our way back to civilisation.

Oh I never did show you a photo of our hire car did I? This is what happens when you refuse all the upgrade hard sell.

We were parked in…

by the way. I didn’t take that photo to remind me where we had parked. I took it to identify the evil cast member responsible for our six-mile walk so I could exact painful revenge.

We boarded the next tram to arrive only having to man handled half a dozen small children out of our way. Maybe this is why I don’t drink very often?

As we flashed our bands though the entrance Dad made his way to the garage to hire himself an ECV. When I had made our first FastPass of the day some sixty odd days ago, I had not taken into account spending the previous evening out with Oliver Reed and Richard Harris resulting in such a late start, and so I was a little tense as the process of hiring said ECV was taking an age and the end of our FastPass slot for the most popular ride in the park was approaching more quickly than my need to buy some elasticated trousers for work.

Once Dad was in his vehicle we mowed down anyone silly enough to be in the way as we headed up to Toy Story Mania.

In the end we made it with a few minutes to spare and we barged our way past the ever-present entrance loiterers (why do you do it people, why? Either go in or get out of the way!!) and made our way through the queue.

I scored a bang average 137,000 but that was enough to shame all other family members which is, let’s face it, more important.

My natural talent for planning was demonstrated once again now as we had to walk all the way to the Tower of Terror for our next FastPass. Dad cared not one jot as his machine was fully charged and he sped off looking like Richard Hammond before his next hospital visit.

Even though he absolutely should not have done so Dad rode with us, but Mum sat out.

This is one of those rides that, no matter how many times you do it, every time you leave, your love for it is reaffirmed and increased. The theming is just incredible and the ride is just a load of fun.

We had a walk over to Rock n Rollercoaster next to see what the standby queue was like. Mum & Dad were not riding so we three joined the half hour standby line. It took a little less than that and as ever much of our waiting time was spent stroking the beady door. Just us?

With adrenaline pumping, the ladies needed a restroom as we exited. I took the chance to capture the same photo as I have on every previous trip.

Feeling the need for a snack we stopped at the fruit stall thing opposite Beauty and The Beast. We didn’t buy any fruit of course, we’re not monsters. Instead we had some hummus, well I didn’t, I had a huge pretzel with some cheese that I’m pretty sure didn’t contain any actual cheese, but it tasted great. I was to be thirsty now until the end of July.

Nothing is more nutritious than a cheese flavoured pasteurised cheese snack.

Full of stuff that is produced with genetic engineering, we made our way into the 1pm Beauty and The Beast show. With Dad in his ECV we were directed to a special area of the theatre, which turned out to be the front row. With this in mind I Facebook Lived the whole thing, mainly for the benefit of Rebecca back home.

The show begins these days with a chat from this chap before he mortifies some teenage girl on stage by singing at them.

Emily spent her time appreciating the sentiment of the pre-show but thanking her lucky stars she was not picked for it.

The show was great of course, all the better for our unfettered view.

You should appreciate the talent it takes to both Facebook live with one hand and take photos with the other.

With Dad keen to test the top speed of his ride we decided to motor on over to the Great Movie Ride next.

There was a show in progress as we walked past the “bit where the hat was” and these were waiting to go on…

It was a twenty-minute wait to ride, which we could have avoided if Dad hadn’t parked up outside and walked in. ECVs were being directed to the front of the queue. I don’t know which idiot told him he’d have to leave his outside.

The ride has been a favourite of ours since we first started the trips with the girls. Rebecca especially always wanted to ride this. I don’t think I knew it was closing as we rode for what would be our last time but my notes do record that I thought it was looking a little tired. The standard of the acting seems to have gone downhill in recent times or that could just be the fog of nostalgia from when I first rode it as a child.

With no regard for my own safety, we walked across to the Voyage of the Little Mermaid next. As long as we sat the back where Ariel couldn’t see me, we should be OK. She gets upset looking at what she could have won.

Luckily ECVs were being directed to the very rear of the theatre.

As ever some absolute knob took some flash photos during the opening puppetry scenes. I imagine they also did not move all the way down to the end of their row.

As we exited I noticed that the March of the First Order was imminent so we took up a position to view it.

Feeling all Star Warsy now, Emily and I went to ride Star Tours. Louise, Mum and Dad opted to sit out in the sunshine and have a drink.

The wait was the full half hour promised but we were rewarded with a new (to us) story line.

It was 4.15 now and time to head out of the park to eat.

Bahama Breeze was on the plan, one of our absolute favourites.

We arrived and were seated without delay around 5pm. Our server had a hint of headmistress about her and we found the service to be a little rushed even though the place was fairly quiet.

To start we ordered some cheese bites and chips and guacamole.

It might just be us, but we find it really annoying when entrees turn up with your appetisers still on the go. They did.

We had –

Me, Louise and Emily – Jerk Chicken Pasta

Mum – Burger

Dad – Steak

I was a little late with the camera!

As is the law here, desserts must be had and it must be Rebecca’s Key Lime Pie. We were, it has to be said, missing her today.

The bill was $180 including a good tip. We headed straight back to Hollywood Studios and parked in Stage, yep, right at the bottom of the row.

We trammed again and wandered the shops for a while.

I say again, dusk is just a fabulous time to be in a theme park at WDW.

Dad not only had a means of getting about but also his very own personal seat to be in as everyone else walked around the shops.

Having got several gifts, mainly for Rebecca and Tom, we made our way over to the Muppets, and I don’t mean the gimps taking flash photos of the Little Mermaid show earlier.

Of course, much of this park is a building site currently.

Next, the long trek all the way across the park to take our seats for Fantasmic. Mum and Dad stayed at the back with the ECV, but we three made our way as far down as we could, mainly so that Emily could see as she had forgotten  both her contacts and glasses.

It goes dark quickly in Florida.

As ever I took some awesome photos.

I threw my camera into that fire.

We had a moment of rare disappointment as the show ended. For reasons best known to Disney, the Star Wars firework show we really wanted to watch started the precise second Fantasmic ended. This of course meant that we were shuffling our way out of the show instead of being stood watching it. We could see the odd firework in the sky above us, but this seemed a very strange bit of timing. Maybe Disney think it will make you visit the park twice?

 

It was a long walk out…

We met Mum & Dad at the stroller/ECV return and then stood admiring the view as Louise had a long meeting with the porcelain. There are worse places to wait.

The tram took us back to the car and we dropped off Mum & Dad before getting back at home just after ten.

A lovely day in one of our favourite places.

Till the next time……
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To Siesta Key…And Beyond Tour 2017 – Day Fourteen April 24th 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Once she was happily prone, I assumed the position.

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

The early cloud cleared up nicely….

We then Facetimed Rebecca…

She is there, honest.

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

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

Mousekeeping had been in….

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is little Freddie cooking nicely.

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

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

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

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

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

Arsene Wenger…..

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

That’s better.

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

The standby queue was like a scene from Ghandi.

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

We waited about ten minutes to ride.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Celebration was still lovely though.

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

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

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

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

We somehow ended up with –

Me – Fried Chicken

Emily – Chicken Parm

Mum – Chicken Wrap

Dad – Chicken Pot Pie

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

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

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

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

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

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

We rushed through security…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I assume we then went to bed!

Till the next time……
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To Siesta Key…And Beyond Tour 2017 – Day Seven April 17th 2017

After all that partying last night and staying up till all hours, understandably we slept in until 9am. I bet you weren’t expecting this rock and roll lifestyle were you?

We all breakfasted in line with our individual desires. My desires were cereal. Yes that’s odd but it’s my business OK? With that done and some clothes added to my silky frame I of course set out for the supermarket with Louise and Mum. Where else?

I stocked up again, bought sandwiches for lunch on the beach (this routine may get overly familiar to you by the time we leave Siesta Key) and paid another piece of their mortgage off.

Louise had no interest in sandwiches, hoagies and snacks. Her attendance was for an ulterior motive. Her so far Frodo like quest for bathing costumes had been fruitless (yes I know we are in Florida, where people attend formal events in a bikini, but none of the four and half thousand we had so far seen had been right) so we now had to visit some of the beach shops to continue the quest.

The one directly across from the supermarket  was huge.

In fact, it was three shops knocked into one. I suspect it was owned by the same people as the supermarket and they had extended purely on our spend with them so far.

Louise looked at stuff and I loitered uncomfortably trying not to look at the thongs and bikini tops. Bored of that I wandered deeper into the shop away from the “women’s things” to more general beach equipment. I bought a beach chair (the house only had four) another umbrella for more shade as we had all of course burnt ourselves yesterday, three beach towels and two wicker mats for the lying upon.

All of that still came nowhere near to the amount Louise spent on two swimsuits. As I paid, in a state of shock, it crossed my mind that I bought my swimming gear sometime around 1989 and in today’s money it would have cost about £5. Sure all the netting inside has perished and they can be a little snug, but there aren’t many pairs of shorts I can buy that wouldn’t be, if you know what I mean!!

We left with the shop owners high-fiving each other and headed back to the house. After a lie down and launching a Go Fund Me page for the rest of the trip, we wandered over to the beach at around 11am. It was less windy today which was ironic as we were all covered up to protect our salmon pink flesh from the raging sun and a bit of breeze would have been very welcome.

You may have missed the news that Dad recently launched his own rap band, MC Denture and the Liver Spots.

Staying in the shade today was everyone’s sole focus and any part of the body found outside of the shade’s protection soon reacted like those vampires in the Twilight films.

I had popped back to the house around 12.30 to pick up the food for lunch.

It may sound hard to believe but I could not finish my sandwich. It was huge. Here’s a picture of huge amounts of meat between my legs.

Of course that didn’t stop me putting away almost a full packet of crisps/chips. One of the major benefits of being an alleged grown up is that I don’t need to finish my sandwich to be allowed to eat the other more interesting snacky stuff.

On a beach the size of a small country, I did find it ironic that we somehow found ourselves within ear shot of the biggest bore in the US. Not only did this group have the ignorance to play music all day, inflicting all sorts of youngster noise upon us, but the one chap who had assumed the role of preacher for the day, spoke literally non-stop, about his favourite subject….himself.

My God he could talk. Dad pondered if he ever took a breath as we entered hour two of his anecdotal diarrhea. Topics included films he had seen and his vital thoughts on each of them and every scene within it, himself, how he spent time in jail before turning his life around, himself, sports, himself, what his companions should do with their lives, education, homes, families, diets oh and yes he talked about himself.

It got to the stage where Dad declared he was going into the sea to drown himself. Before doing so, he did pop over to our friend to ask his advice on the best way to do it.

Emily and Mum took evasive action by late afternoon and went back to the house. Their burnt skin was also a factor in that decision. Louise, Dad and I stayed until 4.30ish before striking camp and heading back too. As we had enough gear to attempt an assault on Mount Everest, the walk back, in silly heat and very soft sand proved to be a struggle. I’m sure you all feel sorry for us!

Showers, after sun and readying took until 6.30 when we set off for…

It was about a half hour drive to the Mall at University Town Center. We parked up and entered to be told of a forty minute wait for a table. We hunkered down for that but only ten minutes later we were called. Apparently someone hadn’t turned up for their reservation and we could have their table. You see, good things happen to us in this country!

We were shown to a lovely booth and began the task of working through the enormous menu. The choice was bamboozling. We declined appetisers as of course we were all aiming for dessert here.

Long Island Ice Teas were ordered for Louise and Emily…

and we ordered…

Me – Steak Tacos

Louise and Emily – Four Cheese Pasta with Chicken

Dad – Chicken Shrimp and Pineapple

Mum – Club Sandwich

All of the above was lovely. However, with all of that nonsense out of the way we could move on to the real reason we were here.  CHEESECAKE……

The choice of cheesecake is, as you might expect, vast. We spent an age looking but as our server returned to take our orders, I still hadn’t settled on what may have been the biggest decision of the trip. In a mild panic, I spat out the name of a cheesecake, with no idea if that was really what I wanted….

It was a Snickers Cheesecake…

Emily and Louise – Banana Cream Cheesecake

Dad had ice cream and Mum had Strawberries. As neither of those were cheesecake, I deemed them unworthy of a photo.

I know that I have said that I have been full previously on this trip so far, and perhaps only with the exception of the Hash House a Go Go extravaganza, this was the fullest I had been. I did force every last crumb of the cheesecake down though. It was a matter of principle.

The bill was $200 including a good tip.

The drive home through a sugar coma felt quicker than the drive there which was welcome as all anyone wanted were looser clothes and bed. The latter happened at 10pm. Yes another late night hedonistic extravaganza.

Till the next time…..

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Health, Hurdles and Heresy

So we made it. Work is done, and whether we are ready or not we’re due to fly on Tuesday.

I have to be honest, it has been a countdown that hasn’t been as enjoyable as it should have been for many a reason…

  1. Rebecca is not coming with us.
  2. The house has resembled the Somme for three weeks and the bathroom still isn’t done!
  3. Louise’s Mum has been quite ill and Louise has been worried about leaving her.
  4. My Mum has also been ill and has spent Friday and Saturday in hospital.

It has been a rocky road to this holiday for sure and here we are, literally a few hours from departure and only now are we fairly confident that my Mum can travel.

Even work had an unsatisfactory ending. It feels like I have left loose ends everywhere and in the back of my mind there are already concerns about the stuff I will have to return to.

This is normal though right? The trepidation, stress, worry and anxiety? I know it is, but we seem to be off the scale for this trip. Usually those feelings are just about whether your ESTA is really valid, you’ve forgotten something important, that property you rented will turn out to be a vacant building lot or you turn up for your flight on the wrong day. Health matters trump all of those of course and our collective fingers are crossed that everyone remains on the road to recovery.

Assuming all that turns out OK we then have other appendages crossed that we will actually have a working bathroom for showers on Tuesday when we are up at  crazy o’clock to begin our journey. We are close now, but it will be touch and go if that is the case.

Sigh….so my usual joy at finishing work for a US adventure has been tempered. Preparations continue as they must, with the added work of digging the house out from under a three-inch blanket of dust. I have also been digging out T-shirts and shorts from various dark recesses of the house. I’m fatter than I should be so the larger ones are getting picked. I’ll just have to watch what I eat over the next few weeks!!!

So having limped, stumbled and fallen over the line, we find ourselves on the cusp of departure. Louise is a whirling dervish of dust, cleaning implements and vigor and I have been similarly busy throwing stuff into skips, hosing things down and more latterly preparing Ryan for the trip.

Most of the time Ryan is my gig bag, carrying all the leads, connectors and trappings of your every day rock star to gigs and back. Having done our final gig before we leave last night, he has been emptied and restored to his rightful role of holiday rucksack. He is now sat holding our camera, passports, US sat nav and all the other stuff he is so familiar with.

I have also ticked off the equally vital task of going to the driving range with my Dad to make sure I could remember how to hit a golf ball in preparation for our 18 holes of sweaty golf whilst we are at Siesta Key. It’s all go!!

I’m quite glad we are off to Florida now as we will beat the rush created by Ant N Dec’s Saturday Night Advertisement Show. That’s a master stroke by Disney that. A ninety minute ad on prime time Saturday night telly. With a crap dollar rate and a gibbon in the White House I’m sure visitor numbers are dropping. I suspect that one show last night has generated a huge demand for this summer and beyond.

I didn’t see the show myself as I was out being a Rock God, but I caught up with some of the “highlights” this morning. I much prefer them in I’m a Celeb as this Saturday Night Noel Edmonds tribute act is a bit twee for me. I tip my hat to those responsible for the logistics of making that show happen though. Live telly, from the US, in a theme park, with links to folks in the UK strikes me as a military operation to get right. It was very impressive. That thing at the end of the show though had my toes curling I’ll be honest. I know this is heresy and I’ll be in the minority but it was all a bit of a cheesey showbiz cliché and well, I’ve said this before, but like this…

Anyway, enough of being a party pooper. It was lovely to see that the weather looks nice and hot at the moment and it’ll be nice to be back “home” very soon.

So I leave you in peace now for a few Sundays, there is packing to be done, chores to be carried out and those million and one things to get done before we start having fun.

I’ll be tweeting, facebooking, hitting up Insta (yeh, that’s right, I’m cool like that) and maybe Snapchatting but I doubt that as I still can’t work it. It was built specifically only to be used by those under 25. So follow me on any and all of those for some live videos, photos and pithy nonsense.

And away we gooooooooo….

Till the next time…..

FastPass Fiesta

Before we begin, sometimes I share with you some of the great search terms folks get to my blog with via a search engine. Usually it is some mis-spelling of mkingdon, or other random phrases that I’ve blogged about in the past. Well, this new one beats them all and if I have achieved nothing else in my blogging “career” (and I haven’t) this shall be my pinnacle. The search term was…

Dwarf sex blogger

I am proud to know somebody came to my blog after searching for that. God bless you.

This week was FastPass+ week. Since the last time we booked any I’m delighted that the time they open up has changed from midnight Orlando time as it means you don’t have to be online at 5am. Instead, it’s a civilised midday start. As many of you reassured me, as soon as it was 60 days from the start of our reservation, the dates opened up and away we went.

I did have a senior moment initially when I forgot that onsite special folks can book all of their FastPass+ rides for the entire trip once you get to 60 days. Having been off site scum for most of our trips I had put notes in my diary each day to book some more. Having overcome that brief dance with incompetence I was down the rabbit hole of ride selection for quite some time.

Of course, despite there being loads of availability for all rides and attractions this far out, you can never book exactly what you want as they put many of the headliners into the same category from which you can only pick one. I also have to say that Disney could make this selection process a little more intuitive from a web site perspective. I like to think I know how web sites work as that’s been paying the bills for a good few years, but it took me a while to get my head around it. Should anyone from Disney wish to pay me huge amounts of consultancy I have some really good ideas on how to make it better.

So here are our selections

Saturday April 22nd – The day we drive back to Orlando from Siesta Key, so we have gone for all PM times in Epcot.

Mission Space – 11:55

Turtle Talk – 1:00

Soarin’ – 2:10

We had an ADR at Sanaa that day and for reasons I couldn’t remember, that was at 5.15pm. To give us more time in the park I moved that back to 8.20pm after which we may do Jellyrolls.

Sunday April 23rd – Animal Kingdom. An aspirational early start, especially if we’ve done Jellyrolls!

Safari – 10:35 (I’d hope to get an early Everest walk on in before this)

Everest – 11:40

Kali Rapids – 1:40

We have an ADR at Yak & Yeti around 5pm. After that we hope to do Everest again but in the dark for the first and if time allows maybe even a night time safari, before Rivers of Light.

Monday April 24th – A nominal rest day, with a morning at Stormalong Bay and lunch at The Fountain but with minimal time in the parks we’ve booked some afternoon Epcot rides as it’s next door to us.

Mission Space – 2:35

Frozen Ever After (for the first time in forever!) – 3:40

Spaceship Earth – 4:40

Tuesday April 25th – Hollywood Studios

Toy Story Mania – 10:10. Again, I’m hopeful of an early Rock n Rollercoaster prior to destroying all my rivals on this.

Tower of Terror – 11:25

Star Tours – 1:00

Wednesday 26th April – Magic Kingdom

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (with no dwarf sex I would hope) – 9:50. This will be our first time on this ride which after all these years is always a welcome bonus. We should be able to sneak in a Thunder Mountain and maybe Pirates before this.

Splash Mountain – 11:05

Buzz Lightyear – 12:35

We have dinner at Trail’s End around 5pm, so we might be able to book more FastPasses for the afternoon once the last one opens up. Whatever happens we’ll be back in Magic Kingdom at dusk getting ready to watch Wishes for the last time ever. There will be tears.

Fitting planning of this precision into the madness of everyday life is, if I may say, truly impressive. I have more plates spinning than Platey McPlate Spin of Plate Town.

Outside of these FastPass+ bookings I am going to have to have a strong word with myself. We don’t need to charge round the parks like idiots Craig…we’ve done the rides many times before and we can take our time, do what we can, and if things get too busy we can retire to somewhere less busy and smell some roses. I wish myself good luck with that.

Till the next time…..

Unlaminating The Plan

If you are the holiday planner in your house, you will know that when a plan gets to the stage we are now at, things are very delicately balanced. By now, the ADRs are done and it’s coming up to FastPass time so things are pretty much close to the stage where nothing can be changed. It is called the laminated stage!

Changing so much as a meal can have knock on effects that can take days of work to accommodate, so the last you want at this stage is any sort of fly in the ointment. Literally moments after posting last week’s blog, telling you all how busy we were and how much we were looking forward to some R&R I had some bad news.There was an issue with our flights. Again, if you are the planner you will know that the flight booking is the cornerstone of any trip. It is typically the first thing in the bag and everything else hangs off it. So the news was not welcome.

For reasons I won’t trouble you with, to avoid this being a very long post, our flights were no longer going to be available. On hearing the news I felt a bit sick. The whole trip was in jeopardy and with the dollar rate in the toilet I was very fearful that trying to book any new flights now would be impossible without a return to my career as a gigolo.

Virgin, as ever, were showing prices that only Branson himself can afford so the next stop was Thomas Cook. I found direct flights with them for a price not too far from the ones we had previously. There was only one problem…..they were on different dates!!

You can only imagine the carnage this can bring to the plan! It was only a day later but the cascade effect was enormous. I had to book the flights anyway to secure them and the trip and then start to pick up the pieces. To complicate matters, Mum & Dad are of course staying in different hotels to us for half of the trip so I had four lots of reservations to sort out plus the car hire. Safe to say I had a very busy few hours contacting folks, fettling things online and in the case of the car, being shafted by having to re-book it at today’s rates which pretty much doubled the fee. Then of course there was some fiddling with ADRs to realign them with the new dates.

The end result is that we now have four days at Universal and five at WDW either side of our week at Siesta Key Beach. I cannot say I am unhappy at the extra day at Disney. That part of the plan was always looking very busy so that helps. Of course, with dollar rate moves, amendment fees and all sorts of skulduggery the trip costs have risen but at this stage, with all the hassle and faff it has involved so far I just don’t care. Just get me on the bloody plane already.

With all that sorted earlier in the week, I read a few articles that the coming week may see some Brexit news that will make the pound crash even further. Apparently with a declaration that a Hard Brexit is inevitable the pound may dip a lot more. It’s fine though, as that will stop all these immigrants from coming here and ruining staffing our NHS. (Bit of politics!).

With that in mind it made sense to get the park tickets sorted before that currency volatility puts the prices up. I have no idea if that will happen but I found a price I was OK with, so I bought us 7 day ultimates with free memory maker for less than the 5 day Magic Your Way things would have been. I’ll be securing the Universal tickets shortly too. If it’s going to be 1 pound to 1 dollar by the time we go I want to reduce the impact of that as much as possible!!

As if that wasn’t enough hassle, being a glutton for punishment, I thought I’d just run a comparison of our Royal Pacific booking through Trivago to see if we were paying too much. We were. I found the same room for £250 less with Netflights, so having free cancellation with Hotels.com, I did that and re-booked it, also getting £70 cashback through Top Cash Back. This is a full-time job at times, but the rewards for the slog are out there.

Phew, I’m tired just telling you about it. Somewhere among all of that I have done a busy week’s work, including working two evenings (OK one was dinner with a supplier, but that’s still work right?) and a gig on Friday with Mustard. Safe to say the neglected DIY projects remain thus and I am looking and feeling more tired than a tired thing.

Still, at least the holiday is sorted!!

Till the next time…..

What Would You Wish For?

Who’d want to be a Disney Imagineer eh? Well, me for a start. For location alone it’s in my all time top four dream jobs just behind millionaire, musician and best selling author. As good as the job seems they and in turn Disney will, in my view, always be between rocks and hard places when it comes to developing the rides and attractions. The challenge of keeping up with the noisy neighbours at Universal, introducing new stuff to keep folks coming back as well as retaining the magic and memories that everyone is so attached to is a delicate balance to maintain.

I will personally never forgive the Imagineers responsible for Stich’s Great Escape, but that’s one aberration in a long line of success.

This quandry was brought to mind this week when I saw a rumour posted into my Facebook timeline (thanks Val Ramsey!). The article suggested that Disney were testing a new fireworks show at the Magic Kingdom, postulating that this may be to replace Wishes.

Now, that is just a guess and is a million miles from confirmed. They could just be testing the fireworks for the Christmas stuff they do which will be starting soon, but a new fireworks show could make some sense.

  1. There is currently no night-time parade at MK and they need to announce one for when the Halloween and Christmas parades finish. A new set of fireworks could fit into that.
  2. Wishes has been around for a good while now and it could be due a refresh.

Now something like this is going to draw mixed reactions from the Disney faithful. For some, like Emily, their reaction is horror and instant mourning for something that hasn’t yet died. For Emily, Wishes is all she has known so perhaps the reluctance for change is understandable. For others of course there’s excitement and anticipation for what may be to come. I honesty can’t remember what came before Wishes but I know I will have seen it and as sad as it may be for Wishes to be retired, I do wonder what the next generation of fireworks show may look like. I’d expect Disney to up the ante though with technology now being available that wasn’t when Wishes came along.

There have also been rumours that Paint The Night will come to the Magic Kingdom so of course nobody really knows, unless you’re the boss at Magic Kingdom. I guess we’ll find out soon enough. Some folks have even been bold enough to suggest that there will not be a replacement parade at all. Claims that cost cutting will be at the root of this drastic action. Personally, I cannot see that at all. The Magic Kingdom and parades are synonymous, and I just can’t contemplate that Disney would be so silly as to break that tradition.

Whatever happens I’m confident enough to trust that Disney will get it right. The nighttime activities at MK are a show piece event and they have to maintain a standard so that it will mesmerise and entertain their audience, as well of course, making sure it makes a good proportion of them cry, or maybe that’s just Emily?

In twenty years or so, when some other idiot is blogging about Disney changing whatever does or doesn’t come next, there will be a similarly split reaction I’m sure and I just hope I’m still going there to see whatever it is.

So, time for your thoughts, what do you want Disney to do?

Till the next time…..