Planes, Babies and Automobiles

I have a recurring dream, or more accurately, nightmare. It probably originates from the huge sense of responsibility I feel when planning a WDW trip for everyone I allow to join me.

It goes something like this.

It is the end of a Florida holiday and somehow, for reasons that never become clear, we’ve done nothing. None of my plans have come to fruition, and we are about to head for the airport to go home. The feeling of having had a holiday slip through my fingers turns my stomach and brings me out in cold sweats.

It is a subliminal reminder to make the most of every second of these holidays of course and is probably some important message about life in general that I am missing the point of. I only mention it as I had a week off last week and I sit here on the cusp of returning to work feeling exactly like that. It vanished in a puff of smoke before I knew it was happening. I didn’t have any plans for my week off and that was intentional. Well, my plans were to do as little as possible to be honest, and bearing that in mind it was a success and yet I still feel that I’m only now ready for the time off and I need another week to do it properly.

I did manage to finish the West Wing and felt actual grief that it was over. I think I was one of the last few people on the planet not to have watched it, so if you are one of the others then do give it a go.  If you don’t fall in love with Martin Sheen then you should see a doctor.

We’re in June now somehow and this holiday hurtles towards us at great speed. I took the opportunity last week to get one of the final pieces of the jigsaw sorted by booking the hire car. As ever, I used US Rent a Car, mainly as you can secure it with a small deposit and pay fully a few weeks before. With the size of our party I have of course booked a mini van thing. When we get sent to the row of cars to choose from we’ll be looking for the one with most room of course as we have six adults and a car seat to cram in plus all our luggage. Those journeys to the airport and back are always hot and sweaty fun with suitcases on knees.

I think the plan is to take a car seat with us rather than rent one from the car hire folks. I’d appreciate any advice from those having done it but this seems to make sense for a few reasons…

  1. We will need it in the taxi to the airport at this end and on the journey home
  2. It costs an arm and leg per day to hire one
  3. You can’t be sure of the quality of whatever you rent

My thinking is that we will have Freddie in his normal car seat in the taxi to Manchester airport and then once at the airport we will label it up and send it through with the luggage. Am I missing something here which makes that a bad plan?

Maybe this is the answer? 🙂

Stroller wise I think we’re still in two minds. One option is to not take one and at the airport poor Tom will transport Freddie around in a harness, risking permanent damage to his back as Freddie is going to be a bundle by that time. We would then either use the one provided in the villa or buy a suitable one from a supermarket for day-to-day use. The other option would be to take a lightweight one with us and keep it until we get to boarding at the gate. I can see the benefits of that as Freddie can have a kip before we get on the plane if he needs it and we’d have it from baggage reclaim at Orlando too.  Hmm, not sure on that one. What is your advice dear reader?

Steer us in the right direction please if you have handled these logistical challenges.

Having had two gigs this weekend, resulting in two very late nights I am going to sign off now and rest my weary bones. As I type this nonsense, I am enduring Love Island as Emily is catching up with the previous episodes in preparation for the new series tomorrow. It is probably best that I don’t start expressing my views on this programme as I have to go to work tomorrow and I’d end up being short of time. My blood pressure may also suffer.

Have a good week.

Till the next time…..

A Sentimental Journey

Thanks to everyone for your best wishes for my Dad. He came out of hospital on Monday, feeling a million times better than when he went in, with a new collection of pills to add to his daily intake.

An unexpected planning milestone happened last week. There I was minding my own business after work on Friday, contemplating how on earth I had made it through the endless week just gone, and looking forward to the week off I had booked for next week, browsing some social media. A post appeared about a Floridatix sale on theme park tickets, so I gave it a click, expecting to be baited and switched as is often the case with these promos.

Whilst the saving won’t be changing my retirement plans, the discount was worth an earlier than planned investment. Our 14 day ultimate was priced at £350 (until the end of Monday if that helps anyone) and after browsing some competitor sites and seeing them at anything from £390 to £365 I took the plunge. It was helpful that they could be reserved for a tenner each and so we’re done for tickets nice and early with the balance to pay in July. Lovely stuff.

Did I mention that it’s been another long, weary week? This business of not having holidayed for over 12 months now seems to be taking its toll. We should never do that again. It is a default position of course, but I am missing the comforting embrace of Florida. As the doctor recently confirmed, my body is yearning for its orange ball of Vitamin D to warm my bones and ease my cares. My cholesterol levels are in danger of dipping back into normal parameters, so I need at least two weeks of calorific carnage to avoid that at all costs.

At times, as I sit in another one of *those* meetings, attempting to convince everyone, but mostly myself, that I am interested and engaged, I can find myself drifting mentally to a certain scenario. It differs, I guess depending upon my mood or memory, but usually it is something like this.

It is just after dusk. I am on the monorail as it glides silently past the Grand Floridian stop, heading for the Magic Kingdom. The sky is still a little red, burned with the after glow of the sunset, and all around the Seven Seas Lagoon lights twinkle, giving the scene a magical glow.

Inside the monorail, the familiar bings and bongs sound and the chocolate voiced announcer wraps me up in the comfort his familiar words.

We all exchange a knowing glance to recognise the significance of that random phrase.

The early evening atmosphere of the just gone dark gives the place a whole new feel. The doors open now as we alight at the Magic Kingdom and more lights twinkle as we wander down the ramp towards the promise of a night of memories and mice. There’s a hint of as yet unrecognisable music drifting on the breeze towards us. The still warm temperatures relax my body as unusually it does not need to tense against a chill and the world feels full of wonder and possibilities.

The walk up Main Street is a familiar one and the castle draws us in like a tractor beam, changing colour behind the endless procession of folks taking those photos that will stand on mantelpieces and desks the world over. This visit is a relaxed one, it feels like it is later in the holiday, we’ve done the commando stuff earlier in the trip and the rides have been done. This is all about soaking in the place, absorbing it into our blood streams, saving it up for protection against the grey, cold winter months away from this place. We inevitably end up at the partners statue and take yet another photograph to add to all the others. All of this is familiar and unique in equal measure, and that may well be the ethos and appeal of WDW in one short phrase.

A moment is taken to just sit and watch. Every person passing has this going on. They may not know it yet, but all this will come back to them in a meeting, in a moment of grief or in a conversation with a friend. I’ll be part of it, a small cog in what made their trip what it was, and they part of mine. Families of all shapes, sizes and nationality experiencing the same thing in their own unique way.

Of course, most of them will be doing it wrong, but hey, what can you do? 🙂

All of this is a mashup made up of a hundred memories from different times. As Rebecca reminded me the other day, this trip will be her 18th. Even I hadn’t imagined the number to be that high, but I am more happy than ashamed of that! I can’t begin to compute my total, well I could, but it would take a while.

I told you I was missing it. You’d never know it though would you?

Till the next time….

Endless ESTAs

It’s been a tough old week. Sure it was only four days long, but having had a busy weekend, I started it running at around 3% of my battery, with no hope of recharging until Saturday.

We’ve been eating buffet food for most of the week, so it’s not been all bad. I think I will have to admit defeat now and throw away what’s left before it becomes a health hazard.

I took advantage of the bank holiday Monday by applying for all of our ESTAs. I was convinced that most of them were still valid, but I was wrong. Only Emily has one that will cover our next trip so I completed six applications in one sitting and I was done by sometime on Wednesday. Is it me or have those forms got a whole lot more complex in recent years? I think I gave fewer personal details on my last mortgage application. I’m old enough to remember trying to fill in green forms on the tray table on the plane whilst Colin from Barnsley in front of you reclined his seat half way through.

As expected, we initially got the pending message for all of them but when I checked the next day we had all been approved for travel. That’s a good thing as I would hate to have to leave anyone behind.

I had no need to apply for ESTAs yet of course. Someone more sensible than I may have waited until a few weeks before we travel to have the two-year period cover as many trips as possible. Call me stupid, but doing ESTAs feels like a bank holiday task and completing the forms just made the trip feel a little closer. Sometimes, you just need that, right? Plus, should Freddie’s criminal record be a problem and he be denied entry we wouldn’t have much time to do anything about it.

At a tenner each, I am happy to sacrifice the few months we may lose for that peace of mind, and who is to say we will always go at the same time of year over the next two years. We are no longer shackled by the cruel mistress of the school term. The peninsula of Florida is our oyster whenever our hearts desire…and we can afford it….and can get time of work….and find someone to mind the dogs…but other than that…whenever we like.

I also had my first look at theme park tickets last week. It is nice and simple this time as we are only doing the Disney thing, so the 14 day ultimate is all we need. It seems they are around £360 each at the moment. As we will be on Disney property pretty much every day of the trip that’s about £30 a day. That’s less than the Alton Towers daily rate, so I feel comfy with that price. Offer me a ticket for Reflections Of Earth for £30 and I’d be likely to throw my money at you before you increased the price, so getting everything else thrown in as well seems decent. It appears that this price also includes the Memory Maker. We had that on the last trip and failed to use it at all. I don’t know why that was, but my guess is that I felt it would delay our movements by a vital few seconds having to wait for the official photographer to snap  and scan us and I preferred to do my usual snap and move technique.

It probably increased the number of rides we managed to get on by around zero. Having said that we only did four days in WDW on the last trip so I’ll blame that instead.

That recharging I suggested I was in need of at the start of this post still hasn’t happened. Louise has been working all weekend so all the lovely household tasks have fallen to me, whilst she selfishly has fun tending to Bolton’s sick, including a long overdue tip run. Then, last night, young Freddie stayed with us. That’s always lovely but there’s a reason most people have babies in their younger years. I’m shattered.

He’s been a little star though. He slept from 10.30 until after 9am and he’s since had some breakfast, a bath and is now flat out again. Life at six months old is something we all aspire to.

We treated Freddie to a bit of Eurovision last night. It was the usual mix of insanity, mediocrity and dross, but I don’t know if you spotted Tim Tracker representing Albania?

A strange career development but fair play to him! Maybe that’s what he means by paying the price?

Till the next time…..

Summer Lovin’

I love the summer. I only hope that next year it falls on a weekend.

I have blogged previously about my aversion to winter. As well as being at times sad in a not groovy kind of way (I am down with the kids and all their lingo), I do believe that I have a case of SAD, (seasonal affective disorderthe thing which makes you all grumpy and down when the sun goes away.

The last couple of days of decent weather reminded me yet again that I and pretty much all of the country are different in the sunsheeeeine, as Mr Gallagher may put it. Even Bean, our nut job of a cocker spaniel is a big fan. When the weather is warm we leave the back door open and she can be found outside lying in the sun.

All of this may make some sense, but only some, of my love of Florida. It’s called the sunsheeeeine (I’ll stop now) state after all. It’s not something I’ve made up. I have been under the doctor recently. That sounds a bit odd, but you know what I mean. I have felt a bit crap for ages and yet as many tests have confirmed, I apparently have absolutely nothing wrong with me. So this is just how you feel at my age? Eight hundred and four blood tests can’t be wrong!

However, after my last visit I have been declared deficient. That won’t be a surprise, but that deficiency is not in intelligence (not officially anyway), charm or good looks, but hey you knew that right, but instead, in Vitamin D. I have to take the stuff, having had it prescribed. What that really means is that the doctor says I must get more Vitamin D, which means I need more exposure to the sun and ergo, the doctor says I need to go to Florida more.

Sadly, that isn’t something the over stretched, under funded and short-staffed NHS (a bit more politics, but hey my wife’s a nurse, so don’t @ me as the kids might say) can afford, but it is official, my poor efforts so far in spending as much time (and money) there as possible have been frankly, poor and I must do better.

So knowing that my country and climate are making me ill, and with it being some 128 days until I land in some better stuff, what is to be done? Clearly the UK has shot its bolt weather wise for this year as I sit here looking at some rain, and I have unavoidable incidentals like the mortgage, food and other nonsense to use my meagre earnings on so perhaps I need to buy one of those sun lamps that my Mum had in the seventies?

My only option seems to be to start a petition to have my incurable disease addressed on the NHS. Me living in Florida for around nine months of the year looks to be the only way to address this crisis. I can tolerate the UK from say June to the end of August, which will be a blessing to the UK tax payer and a sacrifice I am willing to make. Naturally, all of my family will need to be funded too as I will need their help and support to get me to all the theme parks and restaurants. The risk of me being “a bit tired” when all alone is not one that I wish to burden the conscience of the medial profession with. I am caring and compassionate in that way.

The light at the end of the tunnel for the NHS is that by living in Florida for most of the year I shall die nice and early from an obesity related disease and to keep costs to a minimum I shall have my ashes strewn outside the nearest Applebees during one of their happy hours so that those attending can pop in and get a lovely meal and a couple of cocktails at minimum expense.

So happy Autumn. That paddling pool you bought on Wednesday can go in the shed now until next year and you can pat yourself on the back that you only invested in a couple of disposable barbecues rather than that £2500 gas powered thing you keep promising yourself.

Feel free to write to your local MP to highlight my struggle.

Till the next time…..

Disney Beef

Well, my illness of which I do not speak has taken all of last week to go away. I still hack up the odd lung now and we’re two weeks from the start of the illness of which I do not speak. See, I told you I was ill, or I would have if I spoke about it.

If you’ve been reading here for a while you will have noticed that I have slipped in the odd reference to me being banned from a certain Facebook Disney group. I won’t name it, but I’ll bet most of you can guess which one. I have the distinction of being banned despite never having posted in it. It’s a source of regular amusement for me. From time to time the online Disney community can be a right set of dicks it seems. I don’t aim that at the admin of that Facebook group. It’s their group and they can be as stupid as they wish with their rules, it is more of a general comment.

My online echo chamber, from a Disney perspective is made up of what I see to be exclusively nice folks that I first “met” on The Dibb and then from my trip reports, blogging etc. Anyone who thought I was a dick has long since fallen by the way side and everyone I interact with are without exception, lovely, supportive and a joy to have around. There’s a hardcore of Disney folks, most I have never met, that now make up part of my feeds on almost all the social medias. We have met a few of them too and they have been without exception lovely folks.

At the time when I was writing trip reports on The Dibb and they were quite popular I came across a very small taste of what these higher profile vloggers and bloggers seem to get from time to time. People suspected I was cashing in and making heaps of cash and making veiled comments about the fact that trip reports should be free for others to get information from etc etc. They always were (and still are) online, I did the books for a few reasons…

  • Everyone told me I should
  • I was planning to write a novel and wanted to learn how to self-publish etc
  • They are a great way to preserve our memories should The Dibb ever explode.

Anyway, I wasn’t making money, I don’t from my blog, but perceptions are everything and sometimes a little jealousy/resentment can happen to anyone, even when in my case it absolutely wasn’t needed or justified as I’m just not that good at it.

(Oh, by the way….go and buy one of my books!) 🙂

Anywho, this week I saw The Trackers having some beef on Twitter. For those of you who don’t know, and it won’t be many, The Trackers are a very popular couple who vlog every day. They’ve become a success because their videos are good. It’s a simple concept but there you go. They come over well on camera, do good content and aren’t dicks. In the land of YouTube they are a rare oasis in the sea of over exuberant follower addicts with their hauls, giveaways and overly enthusiastic false demeanour. My twitter timeline is awash every day with follow suggestions for “Hey, we’re Ben and Kate (made up names) a couple from Random Town, England and we vlog our WDW trips and share the magic”, and they have about 17 followers. Just my opinion but most YouTubers aren’t bearable to watch for me, but The Trackers get it right I think. For those who love vlogging that of course is fine and it’s none of my business, but it’s just an example of the huge numbers out there doing it and how well those like The Trackers do to stand out.

YouTube is a jungle and I know very little about it, but outside of the Disney community the big vloggers all now seem to have a book deal, some a record deal and all in all have found some way to monetise their followers. Fair play to them. It beats working for a living and I know I couldn’t do it.

So back to this beef. I couldn’t get to the bottom of it from the tweets I saw but someone on Twitter has it in for them. They seem to be upset about them getting paid for some content/videos and/or being invited to special stuff and maybe even getting certain activities or accommodation funded. I don’t get it really. It’s the obvious result of them having almost 300,000 subscribers, most of whom like Disney stuff. I’m not sure what they are expected to do really. Turn down invites to stuff that will make great content for their channel? Refuse any sort of monetary compensation and/or not take any money from ads on their videos. That’s how YouTube is funded, they are creating content folks want to watch so I don’t see the issue.

It may be a green eyed monster for sure. Like anything, once something gets popular it is hard for it to stay the same. They will get shitty comments on some videos, they will get trolls, they will get people who resent them for all sorts of reasons. The effort they must have put it in to get to this point is unimaginable. I’ve had this blog since 2009 and it reaches a good number of people, but the effort, expense and commitment to “breakthrough” is beyond me. It isn’t that important to me and I don’t have the time and maybe the ability.

So if you are trolling The Trackers or anyone else making something of themselves, have a word with yourself. They aren’t perfect human beings and exposing your life as they do on a daily basis must be exhausting. Sure they could stop, but they clearly enjoy it and I’m sure it’s nice to have the attention they do and be stopped in the parks for photos. That even used to happen to us every now and again and it is a lovely feeling.

Now, having written all of that as the protector of things vlogger/blogger, what does grind my gears is when I see WDW themselves posting stuff about some random Mummy blogger writing about a freebie trip they have been given. That to me is different, mainly because they didn’t ask me ( 🙂  ) but also because that is a bit blatant for my liking. If anything it makes me less likely to be booking a WDW holiday. Now of course, that doesn’t mean I won’t, but it irks me a bit. Am I a hypocrite? Almost certainly…. Anyway, you can troll me in the comments to let me know!

Till the next time….


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To Siesta Key…And Beyond Tour 2017 – Day Seventeen April 27th 2017

To Siesta Key…And Beyond Tour 2017 – Day Seventeen April 27th 2017

It won’t surprise you to learn that I am very sad. This applies to the now me, sat typing this, and the trip report me back in April. Going home isn’t easy at any time and by writing this bloody thing I’m doing it for a second time.

It isn’t helpful that I sit typing this at this time in August when for more years than I care to remember we have been in Florida. I shall solider on.

One of the many traditions of our trips is that I make absolutely zero notes of what we do on our last day. It’s a rebellious bout of sulking as the universe has conspired to make me work for a living.

Save $8 on Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party ticket!

So we woke up at some point and tackled the horror that is packing.

Yeah that last photo is a blurry mess. Do I care?

It’s hard to articulate to those not of a similar inclination the very physical pain involved in looking at photos like this and knowing you won’t be back there for a while.

Whilst there, it seems you are cossetted in a bubble wrap of loveliness, protected from real world shite by the sweet embrace of the Florida warmth. I can’t describe the love I have for particular small, inconsequential things. Such as after an early evening shower, putting on a light summer shirt and some shorts and it being forgivable to wear sandals. Meandering to your eatery of choice for too much food, served to you by someone who gives a toss. Getting back in the car and hearing that soft “bong” warning tone from your car that UK cars never have. Sigh….It doesn’t take much to make me happy….just a persistent Florida holiday.

Emily was feeling it too.

This is the posh bag she bought herself yesterday at Magic Kingdom, when the world was a better place than it was this morning.

We did all the horrible packing crap, and wrestled the cases downstairs. I got the car for the last time (sob) from the car park and drove back to load it up. We drove across, for the last time (sob) to the All Stars for Mum & Dad and headed towards Disney Springs. The need for a ridiculous amount of food outweighed any desire to shop for Louise, Emily and I so we dropped Mum & Dad off and headed for Perkins at Crossroads.

The messaging on their menu takes me back to one of those pay per view films in that hotel….OK….not again.

Emily demonstrated how we were all feeling.

I resolved to take my angst and anger out on my body and decided to order the largest amount of food possible. As an absolute minimum requirement it had to arrive on two plates.

For me…

Plate 1

Plate 2

It was a scramble of some kind.

Eggs Benedict for Louise. I can only applaud the fact that Perkins feel that a dish as good as this requires a muffin as well.

I think this was some sort of Fried Chicken Sandwich for Emily…

It was fantastic and stupidly good value for money. I think it was about $33 for the three of us.

Full of food and dread of real life, we headed back to Disney Springs.

We walked around a bit, apparently, and no doubt bought some stuff.

I’m not sure why I took this, but I suspect it was to have a record of what a blue sky looks like.

I have to say, the appearance of that ring carving booth at Disney Springs was a shock….why would anyone want a carving of their ring?

We always enjoy looking around the art shop and as the next photo exists then I guess we did that.

More walking about…

It was very hot and we needed a drink so we found a table by the lake. The mood was…well…like this

We were waiting for Mum & Dad to find us so that we could head off to the airport. I have absolutely no recollection of that drive to the airport. Maybe that’s for the best.

Dropping the hire car off was as painless as ever. They really do have that down to an art.

I do remember that security was a pain and took an age but eventually we were sat in the departure lounge awaiting the inevitable.

We wandered duty free for a bit, got some drinks and moped about appropriately.

We boarded pretty much on time and as always happens, no matter how much we wish it didn’t, we took off, leaving Florida behind again when we really didn’t want to.

Again the flight is something my mind did not capture for posterity. I think the in flight entertainment was the same as on the way out which was a bit crap. I don’t think I slept, but probably dozed for a while, who knows.

Eventually the greyness of Manchester enveloped us once again and we bumped down into the monochrome reality of real life. Trivial things such as the queue to get back into my own country and waiting for the bags just happened. Our taxi guy wasn’t stood at the exit to arrivals of course, they never are. A quick phone call later saw him turn up like the shop owner in Mr Ben and we were all in the van and enduring rush hour M60 when just a few short hours ago I was a fully paid up member of the Beach Club elite.

The last thing to report happened as we pulled up outside our house. Everyone disembarked eager to see Rebecca and as I was dragging cases out of the back of the van Louise got out very quickly. That speed was due to the fact that she fell in dramatic style, head first into our front garden wall. It turns out the arm rest of the seat she was leaning on to support her as she left the van gave way and with that her body made contact with the floor in alarming style.

It could have been a very nasty fall, but thankfully she was OK and we were then all allowed to laugh. Brews were made and we chatted to Rebecca and Tom about our adventures, said hello to the dogs and made our peace with being backing home.

So there we go. Another trip done and dusted. The one silver lining of coming home was seeing Rebecca of course as we’d all missed her. It was weird and often hard for us to not have her with us for the first time but as you may know now, she was in the early stages of a pregnancy and she’ll be due this November.

Here we go with the usual end of trip report soppy melancholic nonsense. It’s not intentional, it is more a true reflection of my feelings whenever a trip ends and we are inevitably a long way from returning.

I always struggle to articulate the hold Florida has on me. God knows Louise has begged, moaned and pleaded to go elsewhere for years but thankfully she has always given in to my enormous sulks and allowed us to go back time after time, and I think has mostly enjoyed it when we have. I just feel so comfortable there. Sure, we go to the touristy artificial version and not the real Florida. I’m not daft. But that suits me fine.

It has taken me quite some time to get this trip written up. We got back in late April!! So in the time that’s been going on of course thoughts have turned to our next holiday. It looks like it won’t be until August 2018 (sad face), but in the spirit of the circle of life, joining us will be two first timers.

If all goes to plan, Tom, (Rebecca’s fiancee) and of course young Freddie will be claiming their 1st Visit badges. It has been many, many years since we took any young children and we have never taken one as young as Freddie will be at the time. Rebecca was two the first time we went and Freddie won’t even be one when we travel.

I apologies now to all those who will be sat on our plane.

Over the years, I’ve read and even written lots of advice on the age old question, when is the best time to take your children to WDW?

For me, it’s simple. I understand all the arguments about waiting until they are a little older and it makes a lot of sense, but you know what, whatever you do those kids are always going to get older but they will never be the age they are right now ever again. So my advice? Take them now, take them whenever it is possible to afford to do so. For very small kids of course there are many things they cannot experience, but as we’ve done everything a lot, we don’t care. This will hopefully be his first trip of very many and if he doesn’t remember it, we will.

Finally, a genuine thank you to everyone who continues to read this blog. Your loyalty is astounding. Each week’s post gets almost an identical number of views which suggests both of you come back each time 🙂 I am genuinely thankful and astounded that you still give some of your time to read what is written here when you could be spending your WDW related reading time much more productively getting banned from It’s Orlando Time on Facebook.

The bad news is that from next week you’ll be back to enduring random nonsense rather than tales of our Florida adventures. Of course, there is a whole new trip to plan, so that’ll be fun right?

Thanks for reading!

Arsene Wenger…….

From the day he arrives on the planet
And Freddie becomes our grandson,
He’ll have more to see than can ever be seen
Disney’s more than can ever be done

There’s far too much to take in here
More good fun than can ever be found
But the years which roll by
Will see me always try
To show him all of that hallowed ground

It’s the Circle of Life
Hear the theme parks call
Years of fun we hope
As we share our love
Disney’s warm embrace
Through his eyes reminding
It’s the Circle
The Circle of Life

 

Till the next time….


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

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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