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Old 02-29-2012, 04:09 AM   #1
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Zip a dee do dah - The Bagley/Mollet Family Trip - May 2011 - COMPLETE TRIP REPORT!!

Pre Trip Report Here


Hello again everyone!

I'm so so so so sorry I haven't posted this sooner. Truth be told, ever since we got back last May, I've been totally swamped and haven't had the time to get this thing done! I wrote the first half of it just weeks after we got home, and the second half of it this morning. I've got my planning head on for May 2014 now so I needed to get closure on May 2011 :d:

Here we go!!!

Post trip thoughts:

Is all I can muster up to say about the last 15 days of my life. After 409 days of waiting, counting down, itinerary planning, ADR booking, everything, we have just arrived back from having the time of our lives in Florida. I’m sure none of you, including myself, would have expected anything different. But I can safely say that the last 2 weeks have been the best time I have ever spent there. From everything from the weather, to the meals, to the crowd levels, to the characters, to the drinks, to the fun, every single second we spent there was everything I was hoping for. And more besides.
And now, before returning to the normality of writing papers, presenting at Conferences in front of scary experts, teaching A Level students how to pass their exams and beginning my usual dancing around the flat to Disney songs, and continuing my wonderful job at the Disney store, it is time to write my very first trip report. And of course, start the obligatory countdown to the next holiday. Already started.

Getting there

The Day Before
Unfortunately, I haven’t taken many pictures of the day before going to Florida, something I regret now but truthfully, the day was so busy, I don’t even think I would have had time. I woke up at 5.45, a usual time of awakening for me as my other half leaves for the office at 6.30, not to mention my body clock is set to stupid o clock from my Disney delivery shifts anyway. I said a very tearful goodbye to my Neil. We moved in together four months ago, and have never spent more than a week apart since we’ve been together, over 2 years ago now. But he knew I was ready for this holiday (he’d caught me packing in January )
So I set to work. I’d promised my Mum I’d be with her at 8.30 as we’d planned to have a last minute coffee with my Grandma at M&S before we jetted off, so that meant I had 2 hours in which to finish the last minute emails I had to send for University, clean the flat within an inch of its life in order to last Neil for at least a week up to my cleaning standard, and finally zip up that case (is it just me that gets excited about the finality of zipping up the case?!) And don’t even mention the thrill I get when the lock goes on. You just think, the next time I open you, I’ll be there!!! Just me? Okay, moving on…
So half a bottle of bleach and a lot of elbow grease later, I was done. Rocked up to my Mum’s with a little overnight bag (I was staying with my sister the night before as she was driving us to Manchester airport) Had a lovely coffee at M&S where we got the usual spiel from Grandma, call her when we landed, make sure we didn’t drink too much before we got on the plane (ahem.) Be safe. Etc. She hasn’t visited the States since 1994 and doesn’t quite realise that they’ve upped the security so much you can’t go anywhere without a finger print scan.
Then at 10.30, I went back to Mum’s and we had a relaxing morning, in which I checked us in successfully online and secured our seats together. Since we booked our flights with Charter last year, I’d been panicking about our seats as they weren’t together, but we managed to get a 2-2-1 formation at the front of the middle section of the plane, with window seats – score!!
We had lunch, I sorted out OB’s Ipod (unsuccessfully it turned out) and then went for a manicure. My sister bought me vouchers for a beauty place 5 minutes drive away for my birthday in February so I could treat myself to something before we went away. Was fabby to get away from it all for an hour, and to have my fingers soaking in stuff after my hard graft cleaning frenzy that morning. When I returned home, Martin was back from work, in high spirits. Turns out he’d taken the Aerosmith Greatest Hits in his van with him, and had Walk This Way blasting out. I think there’s a ride he was particularly excited about. We all showered and were brimming with excitement when we rocked up to pick OB up from school. He was already waiting outside, massive grin on his face! It had finally come!
We then went to see POTC4 which I would actually highly recommend. I loved the first, but wasn’t keen on POTC2 or POTC3. I thought the plot became ridiculous but this one is really funny in its own right. Geoffrey Rush stole the show for me though. I LOVE him as Barbossa. This is me and OB just before we were about to go in. We had a pre holiday drinkies. Turns out there were a lot of these.

After POTC4, it was straight to Da Sandros, our favourite Italian restaurant, as none of us had any food in worth eating that night. Plus, we hate cooking before going on holiday. I should add that Katie (Trev) wasn’t with us at this point. She’d been at London Wine Trade Fair all that week, and was making a rushed train journey back. No, I wasn’t happy about it either. I’d kept having nightmares that her train would be delayed. But after I turned on my phone following the film, I had the following messages from her:

‘The time has come, my little friends to think of other things, of shoes and ships and sealing wax and cabbages and kings.’

‘Fabulous darling, I love the feathers!’

I think she was excited.
So we had an amazing meal at Da Sandros, and for the last time, toasted our upcoming holiday. Trev and I drove back up to Mum’s, collecting my case and things on route and fell into bed. It was time.

Last edited by tracey1302; 03-03-2012 at 07:14 AM.
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Old 02-29-2012, 04:11 AM   #2
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Day One - Getting to Disney

I woke up after what seemed like far too much sleep. Turned over, expecting to bump into Neil’s arm. But then frowned. He wasn’t there. I was in a completely different bed. And then I remembered. I leapt out of bed, ripped back the curtains in Katie’s spare bedroom. It was just coming light. I turned on my phone. It was 3.30am. I didn’t even need to be up for another 2 hours. And what was more, my eyes were stinging. In all the excitement of ‘the night before’ I had forgotten to take my lenses out. What a fool. Sorted out the ridiculous situation and glomped back into bed but snuck a peak at my beautiful packed case. Looked up at the ceiling, clamping my teeth together in excitement. Where would I be in 24 hours? Then the feet started drumming on the mattress. I was literally the picture from the old WDW advert that they used to have where all the kids are too excited to sleep and then the Mum goes back into bed and turns to the Dad. ‘Are you asleep?’ ‘No, I can’t, I’m too excited.’

After what seemed like FOREVER, and no further sleep, it was finally an acceptable time to get up. I dressed quickly, packed away my little overnight bag for collection when we came back, packed some last minute essentials, efficiently storing my liquids in a clear plastic baggy. Trev and I were ready bang on 6am as agreed, outside with cases in the car, waiting for Mum, Martin and OB so we could all set off together. 6.01, no car. 6.05, no car. Should I ring them, Katie suggests. 6.07, no car. 6.09, were they trying to send us both insane? 6.10 we finally catch the silver Honda driving up the road. Finally!!! After smiles and hugs, we set off.

Katie and I stuck the Disney CD in her car and we set off to the airport. I remember distinctly us getting emotional in the car when particular songs came on. We had both been working stupid hours in the weeks leading up to the holiday. She’d been to London and back about four times, I’d written my 10,000 word upgrade document, done about 11 tutorials for my students, as well as done my Disney shifts. It seemed hard to believe that we were leaving it all behind for two weeks, and that we wouldn’t need to worry about any of it.

Parked up in Jet Park 1, and rocked up to the VA check in desk, terminal 2. Seeing the size of the kiosk check in queue, I smugly retrieved our online boarding passes and walked straight up to bag drop. Done within 5.

Got through security without any frisking, thank goodness and made our way to Frankie and Benny’s. There was already a queue outside. I cursed myself lightly for not having checked to see if we could book beforehand, but then reminded myself that it really didn’t matter all that much. We got a table after 10 minutes wait and enjoyed a gorgeous meal, ordering a bottle of Prosecco to start the proceedings early. I ordered a Full Works Bagel (highly recommended, it was gorgeous!)

After we’d done, there was only 40 minutes left till we had to board so we did a last minute bit of shopping. Magazines, Mum bought a new dress from Monsoon to replace a dress on her outfit plan that Katie and I knew she wasn’t happy with!! Chuckle.
So then we boarded. I was very excited about getting to fly on the new Airbuses and I was right to be. Our flight was fantastic. We were in Economy, but as I mentioned earlier, managed to get terrific seats. Katie and I had also cooked up a little surprise for Mum and Martin. We’d ordered a bottle of champers for us to enjoy on the plane.

The food was okay, the highlight was a chocolate Raspberry Gu Pot. Yum. Goes very well with Moet. Yummmmmmmmmmm. The IFE was the standout feature though. I watched HP7, Tangled and the King’s Speech. Excellent. I don’t mind saying it seemed to drag though. Two films down and we still only looked to be halfway across the Atlantic – HOW???????????? I guess not being on holiday for 4 years had taken its toll on my ability to stand long haul flights. I kept myself occupied by playing with by Pascal plush, peeping him all over the place hehe.
But finally, the pilot announced we were starting our descent into Orlando. It was 31 degrees. And without even realising it, my eyes had filled with tears. I guess I’d remained in disbelief till even that moment.

One thing I was slightly disappointed about was that they’d installed a walkway. One of my favourite moments of holiday is being able to feel that heat hit you as you leave the plane. Got through the intimidation of immigration. I’d insisted on taking paper copies of the ESTAs just in case but everything was fine.

And then it was Magical Express time. Having booked the ME the previous July, and not having any paper confirmation that we’d booked it with me, I was a little bit anxious but I had no need. The organisation of Disney astounds me. Even though I’m a member of the company. We quickly made our way to our CBR bus, also housing PC and AKL guests. Not quite sure of the logic behind the area that bus was covering but hey ho. We waited 20 minutes on the bus and that was it. It couldn’t have been more perfect. Except that our first stop was CBR!!!

We were all very emotional when we pulled into WDW, even OB. I think it was finally sinking in that we were here. Mum and I handled check in for our rooms. I’d asked WDWTC to put an association on our bookings so we would have rooms relatively close together. Last time we stayed at CBR, it took us AGES to check in. This time, we were straight to a desk. Now there was one last mild anxiety. Where would our rooms be? Having stayed there before, we really didn’t want Barbados or Trinidad South. Ideally we wanted Jamaica or Aruba, as we loved walking over the bridge in the middle of CBR to go to breakfast every morning. Where were our rooms? Next to each other in Aruba. God bless Disney.

We rocked up the Inter-Resort Shuttle (couldn’t be bothered to wait for bell service) boarded and drove round to Aruba, all brimming with excitement.

Our rooms were in Building 52, 5227 and 5228. As we navigated the labyrinth that is the CBR buildings, following the room numbers, it began to dawn on us that we were near the front of the cluster… by the lake. We rounded one last corner, found our rooms and this was the view.

My jaw set, tears falling shamelessly now. It was perfect. Mum had a similar sentiment.

We didn’t get over our view the entire holiday. It was something I knew you paid extra for, and we hadn’t. It was as though someone knew how much this holiday meant to us all and wanted us to have the best ever time.

This was mine and Trev’s room.

I loved the Nemo theming!!

Quick shower, unpack and change of clothes and it was off to Old Port Royale for some dinner. Then we hit the bar, amazed that this was the start of what would be an incredible two weeks for us all.

We crashed to bed at 8pm, though I confess I stayed awake a little longer. We were going to Magic Kingdom the very next day.
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Old 02-29-2012, 04:12 AM   #3
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Day Two - Magic Kingdom and Raglan Road

I woke at 3.30am. Again. Come on Tracey, back to sleep. Despite the unavoidable jetlag, even I couldn’t justify getting up that early on the first day. The park didn’t even open for another 5 and a half hours. Stupid Disney.
Woke again at 4.50. Getting closer now.
Then finally, I leapt out of bed at 6.30, realising that this was surely acceptable. I crept over to the blinds and was out of the door like a shot. Trev was still sleeping. I watched the sun rise, shimmering over CBR lake. It was mesmorising. I was starting to believe it now, and my skin gratefully soaked up the Vitamin D for the first time in 4 years.
I got Trev up, M, M and OB were already wide awake. 7am, we headed over for breakfast. I purchased a refillable mug, and used my DDP for a chocolate croissant. Yummmm. I can highly recommend all baked items at CBR, they are to die for!!! So fresh that my croissant was warm! Then I got my first sip of Minute Maid Lemonade. My staple Florida drink. Beautiful.
Then we headed back to the rooms, dumped the mugs, and headed to the Aruba bus stop.

We got on the Epcot bus which came after about 10 minutes. (I love Disney transport) We had planned to get the Epcot bus, get on the Monorail to the TTC, and then take the Ferry over to MK. While this added about 30 minutes to our travelling time, we genuinely didn’t care. This is the family on the monorail (Martin was eating a mint, can you tell?)

The ferry is something I truly believe everyone should do on their first visit to MK. There is something so special about going over on the water. It establishes MK as something different to the other parks somehow. Like a magical island that’s just waiting for you to visit. The smell off the water and the breeze on your face is a feeling like no other.

We arrived promptly to welcoming crowds at 8.45am and caught the opening show. Why I haven’t taken pictures of this is beyond me! I can promise I’m much more thorough in the rest of the holiday. I have taken 600+ photos!! We had arranged to meet friends, Mandy and Chris and one of their sons, Alex, for our first day in the Magic Kingdom. (Their other son had exams so wasn’t able to come! ) They had been in Florida for 7 days prior for a family wedding so it was wonderful to see them waiting for us by the gate. And what was more, it was Mandy’s birthday! Chris was quick off the mark to get her a birthday badge!

It was park open, so it seems much busier on these photos than it really was.

We quickly did Peter Pan’s Flight (a tradition) and were the first on Mickey’s Philharmagic. A personal favourite of mine. I love the smell of cinnamon during the ‘Be Our Guest’ number. It’s so clever, and it really makes me feel like I’ve arrived. Katie and I had taken Chris’ word that we wouldn’t need to Fastpass Splash Mountain as originally planned because the parks had been so quiet and he was right. Next stop was Haunted Mansion, I loved the additions in the graveyard queue!
Then it was off to do Splash and Thunder.

Mum always gets worked up by Splash Mountain. She hates big dips. But it’s one of my favourite rides of all time. I love all the music, that’s not to mention that Zip A Dee Do Dah was pretty much our holiday anthem (hence the title of this report!) The stand by read 10 mins. We walked onto it.

On the way out, after abusing my staff discount with the photos hehe, we ran into this chappy and I obtained my first autograph of the holiday.

Then it was onto Big Thunder Mountain. We couldn’t persuade Mum to join us on this one, so it was just Me, Chris, Trev, Mandy, Alex, OB and Martin. We were quite a party. I’m sure Chris wouldn’t mind me saying, in fact he commented, that riding with him made the journey a little nailbiting. Chris is a big guy, and the bar only came down to his belly, so I found it a little nerve wracking feeling I may fall out of the carriage, given the distance between myself and the safety restraint. Very fun nonetheless.

Dinner time in Pecos Bills Café. I ordered the Deluxe Cheeseburger with Bacon, BBQ sauce and Onion Rings. Gotta love the DDP. And that’s not to mention the Fixin’s bar, where I shamelessly drizzled my burger with extra onions and mushrooms. I thought I’d start as I meant to go on.

After dinner, Katie and I shot over to Space Mountain for some fastpasses, catching a little bit of Move It, Shake It, Celebrate It en route. The cast member in me came out in a shot and I started dancing around, singing and waving my arms like some kind of deranged maniac, who probably would have looked at home in the parade if I’m honest. And then I remembered I’d had some massive burger, so dancing around probably wasn’t the best of ideas. Whoops.

We got FPs for Space but had some time to kill so had a bit of a meander in Tomorrowland.

Including Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin

And Stitch’s Great Escape. I’ve never really got Stitch. Apologies to Stitch fans so this ride never exactly blows me away. I actually preferred it, even though it scared the crap out of me, when it was the Extra Terrorestrial Alien Encounter.

And then it was time for Space Mountain. Loved it. Mum naturally stayed off it, scared as she is of anything that dips slightly. I could tell they’d done some work on it, as the feeling of darkness was much more pronounced. You literally couldn’t see a thing. You used to have a vague idea. Although I was secretly pleased that they hadn’t modernised it too much. One of the most exciting things about Space Mountain for me is that old rickety feeling it has.

After that, we headed over to Maine Street for the Parade. I had to get a picture with these guys in the back ground first!!

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Old 02-29-2012, 04:13 AM   #4
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Obligatory parade pictures to be inserted here!!

At 3.30pm, having done everything we wanted to in the park, we left with the parade crowds, securing a bus back to CBR within minutes. It was time for our first ADR at Raglan Road.

Our reservation was at 6.30, so we set off in plenty time, getting a bus to Downtown Disney with 5 minutes wait. However, something I hadn’t prepared for, and what actually surprised me as I’d never noticed it before was the traffic around Downtown Disney. It took us 15 minutes to get from the Marketplace to Pleasure Island. It was literally bumper to bumper. Horrific. But I digress. We arrived, much to the horror of my raging blood pressure, at Raglan Road at 6.40. Katie and I sprinted to the check in desk. We’d also needed to add Mandy and Chris onto our booking. Not a problem. They gave us a pager and we headed straight to the bar where I bought my first beer of the holiday. Id? Pah. I was 24!!

The atmosphere in Raglan Road is fantastic, almost unbeatable if you ask me. They had live music on, and dancers too. We’d only discovered it the last time we’d been when we went for drinks after a pretty poor meal at Bongos. But when I found out they did food, it was a must.

After waiting only 10 minutes, our buzzer went off and we sat down. I ordered Fish and Chips and I have to say, it was delicious.

We were on the dining plan, but Katie and I were going over our credits so we were eating off plan for this one. And we had Mandy, Chris and Alex with us. But the server was wise to the plan and really used it to our advantage by putting the most expensive items on the plan. We also had a 10% off food voucher from our Disney booking so we used that too. Mum, Martin and OB ordered desserts.

My favourite was the Dunbrody’s kiss which mysteriously disappeared within five minutes of it being down our end of the table. Can’t imagine why.

After tackling with ease what must have been the most complicated bill in Disney dining history, we left Raglan Road. We were all pretty tired by this point, jetlag catching up with us rapidly. Particularly OB who became sulky and whiny. Something we weren’t used to from him as he never did it at home. But as it was Mandy’s birthday, we held on a little longer. Mandy and Chris wanted to do a little shopping, so we found ourselves in the beautiful ‘World of Disney Store.’

Katie got a little carried away with the Dory plush.

Outside I marvelled at the creations of the Lego store. And met Cinderella. Not the real one.

Then we headed to the Margarita bar, and while they got the drinks in, I indulged in one of my favourite pastimes and headed over to the ‘Art of Disney’ store. I could spend an entire day in there. I made a silent promise to myself that if I ever came into any money I would buy the beautiful picture of Peter Pan and crew flying over London. Oh and the Cinderella picture. You know, the ones that are about $10k per print. Ahem.

The drink didn’t last too long as we really were shattered. Mandy and Chris were coming to CBR once they’d done their DTD check in the following morning so we said our goodnights and headed back home. I noticed for the first time that on the WDW bus they said, ‘You’ll be home soon.’

As I lay in bed that night, I smiled to myself. The day had gone perfectly, the weather was gorgeous. The parks were quiet. It was going to be an incredible two weeks.
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Old 02-29-2012, 04:15 AM   #5
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Day Two - Pool day and Bahama Breeze

Funnily enough, I’m not big on taking pictures of myself in a bikini when I was at this point in the holiday, sheet white. Unfortunately, Katie brought her camera and the boys snapped us...

And we snapped them being Brucey...

We had a wonderful relaxing day by the CBR pool. I indulged in a gorgeous Caesar salad (also unbeatable throughout the holiday) at Old Port Royale for my lunch. We also said goodbye to Mandy and Chris who were flying back to England that day. Rather them than me, thought I, sinking a Bud Light in 90F heat. We also snuck in a cheeky drink on what we named our ‘terrace’ before getting ready to go out.

OB was so stressed out...

We suffered under the DTD traffic yet again, as it took us 30 minutes to get to Bahama Breeze LBV. We discovered Bahama Breeze, I think it was in 1998, and since then have come back every holiday in Orlando. We were told it would be about a 30 minute wait, expected as it was a Saturday, so we headed to the bar for some cocktails.

Within 15 minutes our pager buzzed and I smiled. Why wasn’t service like this in England?! When they say 30 minutes in England, you usually end up waiting an hour. We got a nice little booth in the centre of the restaurant.

For starters we ordered the Flatbread which we all devoured. It was beautiful. So light and crisp with fresh basil on top. Yum.
Katie and I had always been partial to the Jerk Chicken Pasta, but a couple of years ago had discovered the Pan Seared Passion Fruit Salmon pasta. So, to prevent any problems, we ordered both and shared. Each were divine. I also recall Martin had what he announced at the end to be his best pasta dish of the holiday. He had the Seafood Linguine.

Sunbathed, or in mine and Katie’s case, sunburnt and full, we headed back to the room. I was still absolutely buzzing. Epcot was the next day on the agenda.
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Old 02-29-2012, 04:16 AM   #6
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Day Four - Epcot and Tutto Italia

I woke up at 6.40am, which became my standard time of awakening in Florida. I jumped out of bed, grabbed my book and beach towel and went to sit on our ‘terrace’ and watch the sun rise over CBR. The muscles in my body were relaxed for the first time in six months. I hadn’t even thought about work in the last 72 hours. It felt odd. I had a bit of a moment where I missed my other half at this point (or so I’ve put in my notes) so I made a mental note to ring him that day. 10 minutes later, Mum peeped out of her room and smiled at me.

We left for Epcot at 8.15, determined to get there for park open again. I love Epcot, and so do my family. I think it’s a sort of place that you either get or you don’t. There’s a certain sort of electricity in the air as you walk through the barriers.

As we went through the turnstiles, I was delighted to discover that they had left up some of the structures from the International Flower and Garden Festival.

After pictures galore, we headed to the queue board. Soarin’ was 40 minutes, Test Track was 20. Mum wanted to do Soarin’ first so we indulged her. It was one of the only rides she went on! And was one of her favourites. So we fastpassed Test Track and headed over. The queue was only 20 minutes long.
I loved Soarin’. More than I remembered. It’s funny how you appreciate things more when you’re older. That makes me sound 50 lol. After Soarin’ we headed over to the Living Seas and did the Nemo ride. Had some pictures with Brucey.

By this time, it was time to call in our Fastpass so we headed to Test Track. Again, much better than I had remembered. This was the ride I somehow ended up going on more than any other in WDW. Probably because it’s so easy to just do Single Rider when it’s only 10 minute queue most of the time!

Martin and I then did Mission Space: Orange. Katie hated spinning and was nearly sick the last time we’d done it, and with OB not being great with motion, he didn’t do it either. I was the engineer. What a laugh. I couldn’t engineer a thing. Didn’t do a single Maths or science A Level. Not that it really matters. We rode with two teenage lads and actually had a right laugh. Felt a little whoozy after getting off, and explained to Mum that we’d just landed on Mars. HA.

We were all eager to do Spaceship Earth as we knew it had been updated, and so really enjoyed it. I rode with Mum, and we were both surprised to hear Judi Dench’s voice navigating our way through the ride. How bizarre. I secretly wondered how much they’d paid her to do that. I love the new interactive features toward the end of the ride. I won’t give too much away but all I’ll say is that me and Mum were crying with laughter by the time the ride was over.

We then went for lunch at the Electric Umbrella. I had a meatball sub, continuing my ‘eat everything in sight’ Florida diet, with an obligatory chocolate cookie. HA.

Then it was on to the World Showcase.

. Martin and OB had heard about the Kim Possible missions from Chris and Alex so they were eager to get involved. They headed straight to Norway to get their phone. We had a saunter around Mexico.

Katie and I were delighted to find that they’d opened up a beautiful quaint little Tequila bar just to the right as you walk into the Temple bizarre. Drink stop one on our ‘Drinks around the world’ day for sure. Mum, however, with a maiden name of Duffy, was ecstatic about the newest addition to the Disney character family.

We rode the Mexico ride and I chewed everyone’s ear off about how The Three Cabelleros was one of five films that the United States Government commissioned the Walt Disney Studios to make in order to harmonise relations between South America and North America during the War. They were, of course, fascinated.

Next on the list was Norway. After riding the Norway ride, which is definitely in dire need of updating, Martin and OB announced they had a mission.

They were really getting into their Kim Possible Secret Agent Roles.

We didn’t stop in China. Mum announced that it was beer time and couldn’t wait a moment longer so we practically sprinted toward Germany, and I enjoyed my first beer. It tasted better than any beer I’d ever had. I wasn’t sure whether that’s because it was proper German beer, or because it was over 90F and I was gasping for a drink, or because it was my first Epcot beer and it was something of a rite of passage. Either way, I was loving it.

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Old 02-29-2012, 04:18 AM   #7
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Next up was Italy, and we were all eager to see what they’d done with the Pavilion as we knew about the extension. We liked the look of Via Napoli, I have to say, and the Pavilion looks stunning but I remained secretly glad we’d booked a table at Tutto Italia (we still call it Alfredo’s) I rang the other half here, and found myself quite choked to hear how pleased he seemed to hear from me. Here’s me thinking he would be having wild parties and watching Sky Sports News constantly. But no, he was missing me. And I was very sorry to hear that it was raining in Halifax. I hung up the phone and practically danced over to Mum and Martin to report the news. They were very sorry too.

Realising that it was now 4pm our time and we weren’t even half way around the world showcase, we speeded things up a bit, missing out America, Japan and Morocco. Although I made a mental note of the greeting times for Aladdin and Jasmine. They were two I was not going to miss meeting.

So we arrived in France. We’d allotted a time separately on our itinerary to have champagne in France so I was as shocked as anyone when Martin emerged from the Vins Aux France shop with four glasses of champagne in tow. I could have cried. We made a toast to what was already our best holiday ever.

After having our gorgeous Moet, we sauntered over to the UK. Martin and OB said goodbye to their Kim Possible agent phone – thank the lord – you can hear them everywhere in Epcot now – secret agent my foot! I ran into one of my favourite Disney characters who delightedly asked me if I’d arrived by brolly and if I was on my jolly holidays.

Martin got himself a beer from the Rose and Crown, but we decided to wait for the meal, and we went into the England shop and we met these chappies.

Outside in the courtyard, we were delighted to discover we’d caught the starting time for a British pop/rock tribute band, so we stayed a little while to watch. This was exactly Martin’s cup of tea, and we were all singing and dancing along within no time.

We stayed for about fifteen minutes until killjoy Tracey announced we needed to head round for our ADR at Tutto Italia. So we danced our way around to Italy and we taken straight to our table.
I didn’t know what to expect regarding Tutto Italia, as the last time we were in self same restaurant it was still Alfredo’s. They changed it, I think it was in the autumn, of the year we were last in WDW. I have to say I was very impressed. The service was fantastic and the food was just WOW. Mum once again found herself getting emotional.I think the brilliance of our day at Epcot was just dawning on her.
I had the king prawn risotto. It was gorgeous, so light and cheesy and the prawns were tasty, juicy and in their plenty. I had some sort of chocolate situation to finish. It was divine and melted in the mouth.

Well worth 1 table service credit, in fact, better that, a bargain for 1 table service credit. We had some stunning Gavi as well, my sister would like me to mention. This is all of us at the end of the meal.

We emerged from Tutto Italia and it was just getting deliciously dark for the Illuminations spectacle. I choked up as I noticed that the Italy Isola was laid out for wedding. I jealously took some pictures, making a mental note that this would be a perfect place for a reception. Ahem.

We walked back round the world showcase and finally came to a rest stop on the bridge opposite the International Gateway. This was us just before the show was about to start. Looking pretty tired after a very exhausting day. 4 out of 5 of us were in tears during Illuminations. It really is superb. I wondered what we were going to be like when we saw ‘Wishes’ and made a mental note to pack extra tissues in my back when any sort of nighttime spectacle was involved.

Last edited by tracey1302; 02-29-2012 at 06:36 AM.
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Old 02-29-2012, 04:19 AM   #8
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Day Five - Typhoon Lagoon and Narcoossee's

Sorry to disappoint but I didn’t take my camera to Typhoon Lagoon. Again, there’s the issue of not wanting to be seen in a bikini, but also I didn’t want anything happen to my camera, which was already housing some of my most precious memories to date. Katie took a few of the surroundings and of us at our 'base camp.'

. I will proudly say that all of our family did the Crush N Gusher, including… don’t faint… my Mum!! OB hassled here the entire day and she did it right at the end of the day as we were making our way back to the park entrance. She did a triple tyre with me and Katie, sandwiching herself between the two of us (because otherwise, she would apparently have fallen out) After looking slightly green at the sight of the first initial drop, she loved the rest of the ride.

Martin, Katie and Oliver and myself all proudly did Humunga Kowabunga, which FYI, is bigger than I remembered. We got to the thing, I looked up and thought, ‘I’ve done this before, how bad can it be?’ But as we’re climbing the stairs and eventually aren’t too far away from lovely Miss Tilly, my stomach started groaning at me. What was worse, there were two girls at the top of the slide who wanted to race together, so asked me and Katie if we wanted to go in front? Hence we got straight to the front of the queue. In hindsight, I’m not quite sure how this worked? How many slides are there? But regardless, I basically had to sit down, wait all of 2 seconds for green before throwing myself down this bloody huuuuuuuuuuuuuge body slide. Scary times. Even scarier when I got to the bottom and realised my bikini bottoms were halfway down my bum.

In the evening, we had a 7.30 ADR at Narcoossee’s. Not only had we never been to Narcoossee’s before, but we’d never been to the Grand Floridian before. Yes, I know, a fate worse than death. We got the bus over to MK, and as it was a lovely evening, we got the boat across to the GF.

GF really is a stunning hotel, and it took my breath away when we were on the approach as I knew how many fantastic stories I’d read about both the hotel and the restaurants inside. It’s also where I want to get married, and where I’ve wanted to get married since I was four years old, so Neil pretty much doesn’t have a choice in this matter. These were the thoughts that were entering my mind when this little place came into vision...

And then we were on the approach to our actual destination. Mum and Martin were slightly in a state of shock when we told them that that octagonal shaped looking summerhouse on the water front was where we were having dinner.

I don’t think they knew where half the places were where we were eating until we imparted the news. All part of the magic for them.

So we arrived at GF and took some pictures on the windy dock.

And then, with half an hour to kill, we decided to have a nosy around the GF lobby. I have to say, the whole hotel took my breath away. Mum got emotional, and so did I to be honest. From the marble floors encrusted with Disney characters, to the crystal chandliers, to the light tinkling of the grand piano in the background, I was rendered speechless.

Of course, we did the obligatory photos by the grand staircase.

Mum and Martin got a little carried away with the grandness of it all

After a wander around, and a quick nosy at Citricos (where we had two ADRs for later in the holiday), we made our way over to Narcoossee’s. Katie and I had heard rave reviews about the place, both in terms of food and wine and it absolutely lived up to our expectations. We were seated by the window, and (pardon my ridiculously blurry photos), this was my view.

I could have cried it was so perfect. From that moment on, I knew this would be one of the most perfect nights of the holiday. And indeed it was. Katie and I ordered the Surf and Turf:

It was absolutely divine. The steak melted in my mouth and I’d never even had lobster before but this was TO DIE FOR. That’s pretty much all I can say.

As an aside, as we cooed over everything the holiday was bringing us so far, and happily told Martin we were off to Universal Studios the next day, we took note of a couple next to us that spent the idea evening texting on their mobile phones, the woman of which sent her food back twice. WHAT? They weren’t enjoying the food, the wine, the ambience, or the location. We had worked for four years to experience every second of the evening, and were emotional by the very idea of our location, and they were more interested in complaining about some of the best food I’d had in my life, and communicating with someone ELSEWHERE. Made me a little angry to say the least.
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Old 02-29-2012, 04:21 AM   #9
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Ordered dessert, I always just picked the chocolatiest thing on the menu.

And again, it was mouthwatering. How well we had eaten on this holiday astounded me.
To our absolute delight, the evening was passing by really quickly (secret but not so secret plan of mine and Katie’s) and we were able to watch the water pageant gliding across the water.

And you can tell what’s coming next. Our waitress, Rita (Martin choked up a little at seeing her name as it was his Mother’s name, and she had died 10 years earlier, almost to the day) announced that Wishes was starting in five minutes and if we wanted, we could watch it outside from the veranda. So the five of us glided out onto the waterfront. And to my tearful surprise, the Wishes music was piped through. And that was how we watched Wishes, at the GF, after one of the best meals of the entire holiday, on the waterfront… dreams really do come true.
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Old 02-29-2012, 04:21 AM   #10
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Day Five - Universal Studios and Hard Rock Cafe

All of us knew that our magical night at Narcoossee’s would take some beating. And for some of us, it wasn’t topped. Myself included. But the show had to go on, and without dwelling on how quickly the holiday was going, we left CBR at 8am the next morning to head over to US.

These photos make it look so bloody busy but I think 99% of these crowds went to IOA.

I LOVE UNIVERSAL. I have some form of soft spot for it, especially since IOA opened and took the limelight from it. I always feel an electricity pulse through my body hearing the rock/pop non Disney music that blasts out of the speakers near its entrance, and I was thoroughly looking forward to that day. Especially going on the new rollercoaster Rip Ride Rockit, despite how terrifying it looked! Obligatory photos by the Universal globe.

Universal was quiet. Very very quiet. After seeing with some disappointment that Rip Ride Rockit was closed until 1pm for a commercial shoot (why?! – you’d never get this happening at Disney – humph), we trudged over to the Mummy which had a 5 minute wait. 5 minutes?! For a ride we’d queued about 40 minutes for last time we’d been?! Excellent. So we made our way through the labyrinth of Mummy tombs and Brendan Fraser gags and boarded the Mummy. Mum, on the other hand, found her favourite bench and pondered over when exactly the bars might open… hehe.
Mummy was actually much much worse than I’d remembered it being. The first time we’d been on it, we’d inspected every aspect of the carriage whilst sat in the loading bay, to see what we thought would come at us, discovering with some horror that the carriage was really really open. Scarab beetles was the main worry. Anyone who’s been on the ride knows exactly what I’m talking about. So after being thrown backwards, forwards, terrorised by scarily realistic animatronics and real fire (!!) we decided to go to Amity Island to get eaten by a plastic shark.

It was dead. We went up to the boathouse and were promptly told that Jaws didn’t open till 10am. Erm, what? Why would Jaws not open till 10am if the park opened at 9am? Again, this is something you wouldn’t get with Disney, I said to my open mouthed family. What can I say? I’m a defensive cast member. Regardless, we did have our encounter with the great white.

There’s a part of me that thinks maybe I’m too old for silly ‘I’m getting eaten by a shark’ poses.

Maybe not.

So we trekked over the bridge to do the Simpsons Ride.

A new addition to the park since we last came. Call me sentimental but I loved ‘Back to the Future’ so seeing this Krusty monstrosity in its place was quite difficult to deal with. I actually really enjoyed it though. It was a very clever ride, and the theming is out of this world. OB wanted to hang around and see if there were any characters to meet (He’s suddenly decided he’s into the Simpsons when I’ve never seen him watch an episode in his life) but I concluded that as the park was still so quiet, and some of the rides weren’t even open, it was unlikely that there’d be any characters just yet.

So we did MIB. I sat with Mum, who hadn’t a clue what she was doing. I got quite hysterical at the dizzy way she handled the alien shooter gun thing, giddily firing at everything that moved. Katie and I on the other hand really got into the MIB spirit.

Three rides down and only 10.25, we were doing good. I’d planned to have the park done by midday so we could get in line for RRR which opened at 1pm, and I guessed the crowds would be gravitating towards it about an hour before. We headed back over to Amity Island. And nearly, but not quite, got eaten by a shark. OB hated this ride. I think he’s only seen the first film, but thought the shark looked quite realistic. I think this needs some serious serious updating. I don’t think they’ve changed the shark models since the ride opened, even though I think they’ve improved the effects with the ring of fire etc. I suppose it’s good for the novelty, comedy, classic value. FYI, Erin, our skipper, needs to give up acting as a day job.

Now we headed over to ET Adventure, where the queue was 10 minutes. Fantastic. ET is probably my favourite ride at Universal so I was delighted. We’d been calling Martin, Marty, for most of the holiday so far, in an annoying American accent, and so the whole family was sent into hysterics when he announced that he’d given his ET Passport name as ‘Marty.’

So after successfully having a chat with good old Stephen Spielberg about needing to help ET, we embarked on our trip through the forest. Does anyone else ADORE the SMELL in the ET queuing area? My God, it’s amazing. I do not know how on Earth they manage to create the actual odour of a forest INSIDE. I am in awe.

I adore the Green Planet section of ET, it reminds me of the old ‘Journey into Imagination’ ride, which for some UNKNOWN reason, was sacked from the Imagination Pavilion at Epcot. The water and the colour and animatronics is still superb, even after all these years. We pulled up in our bikes next to ET, and some people’s names were announced that we didn’t know.. and I growled because it hadn’t worked but then…. ‘Goodbye Karen, Oliverrrrrrrr, Tracey, Katie, Martyyyyyyyyy.’

We howled with laughter, and were still in hysterics when we ran into these chaps.

Our luck was on with characters, because as we were heading back to Beverly Hills, we ran into these chaps too.

I still get upset that they don’t do a meet and greet with Melman the giraffe, my fav character from Madagascar, but I’ll get over it. Some day soon I’m sure to get over it.

As luck would have it, we arrived at the Reg Bev Wils right in time for the next showing of Terminator. Is it just me that absolutely ADORES this 3D spectacle? I thought that I’d get tired of it, as I practically know the script to the Cyberdyne Systems video but I think it’s just brilliant. SUPER. Even. Inside joke for those as sad as me.

We were all gagging for a beer by this point. Wrong, isn’t it, how beer should replace water in one’s list of life priorities on holiday. However, we were but two rides away from doing everything that we wanted to get done. And it wasn’t even 12pm yet! So we were onto Shrek…

Forgot how clever this ride/3D show is. I loved also how vintage it is, as the Shrek films have now spiralled out of control to the extent that Shrek 3 and Happily Ever After were truly terrible. IMO. But this ride has all the originality of the comedy found in the first two films. Am I the only one that noticed one of the little pigs is now completely computerised whereas the other two have real noses? Ahem.

So by this time it was 12.45 and the only thing we had to do was RRR. The crowds outside were immense by this time, but me, Katie, OB and Martin left Mum getting a coffee (temporary substitute for beer) while we joined the queue and waited for it to open. By this time, midday sun was taking its toll on us all. I’ve written in my notes that Katie and I were scorched to death in the sun waiting for RRR to open, even though it was all of 15 minutes. We were more prepared than most in the sense that we’d left all our things with Mum, so we didn’t need to queue for lockers. Schoolboy error by what seemed the majority of riders.

This was the ride which OB started to panic about. I think it didn’t help because neither me, Katie or Martin had ever been on it before, so we had no idea what to expect. Walking through the queue, we all became experts on how to select our music, and yes, we knew that we had like 30 seconds in which to sit down, get strapped in and pick your music. Martin made his selection for Rock after seeing the offerings, and Katie and I went for Pop. We reached the platform where you board and OB started crying. But the more we fussed over him, the more he told us off. He really wanted to go on it. I had to admit, the sheer size of the vertical climb is enough for anyone to get sweaty palms over! We kept reminding him that it didn’t even go upside down, unlike RnR, which he’d done the previous visit. I think the fact that he had seen what the coaster did before riding worked him up more!

But in the end, we, and he triumphed. I absolutely adored this ride! I went for Hella Good by No Doubt, singing at the top of my lungs. Katie went for the classic, ‘I will survive’ by Gloria Gaynor. One of the best things about this ride is how very smooth it is. Even more so than Hulk or Dueling Dragons. There wasn’t one jerky motion the whole way through. Very classy, I think is my final judgement.

This is OB triumphant.

And the coaster that we all conquered.

Now, Mum insisted, it was definitely time for that beer. We went for Finnegan’s as we planned to catch the Blues Brothers showing at 2.15. It was then that my love for Bud Light officially crystallised.

So, feeling rather smug that the park was now all done and we were chilling with Beer, we ended our extremely short day at Universal by watching a superb (but shorter than I remembered) show jamming along with the Blues Brothers.

Martin and OB got involved with the action.

When the show was over, and we’d sung and danced to our heart’s content, and the police car pulled away, three security guards came over to us. My stomach plunged, looking at the half drunk beer in my hand? Were we not supposed to be drinking outside? No, that couldn’t be it, the bartender had given us plastic cups so we could drink outside. My passport burnt a whole in my bag, and I fiddled with it, getting ready to whip it out, just in case. Turns out they just wanted to make sure we were drinking water as well as the beer as someone had collapsed in IOA that morning. Yes, officer. We found the whole thing quite patronising to be honest, even though they were joking with us by the end. We’d been drinking so much water we had to restroom every fifteen minutes.

After they had traipsed away, we had a very strange encounter with a chap who got lost on the way to the Mummy’s tomb.

I’m not sure OB knew what to make of him, as he fiddled around with his hat, putting it backwards instead of forwards. He didn’t say a word during the entire time he approached us. Not only that, but he was wearing white lenses. I found him creepy but at least he posed for the picture.

Then, absolutely STARVING for HRC, we said goodbye to Universal, thanking it for being so quiet and headed out the side entrance. I couldn’t help but have a sneaky excited glance at what would be our next visit to these parts, on day 12, but secretly hoped it would never get there, because then it would be 2 days before leaving.

Walked straight into HRC and sat down with no wait. I couldn’t believe how quiet it was. We’ve been to HRC before and had to wait 45 minutes for a table. They were only using the ground floor of the restaurant! Our table was right by the bar so I quickly snapped this.

Our family had reached the point where we’d been to HRC so many times we knew what we all wanted. 3x Pulled Pork Sandwich, 1x full rack of ribs, 1x chicken and rib combo. I went for the pulled pork sandwich. It didn’t disappoint. I don’t know whether it’s the bloody gorgeous chips, or the BBQ beans or that amazing sauce they put on the pork, but there were 3 clean plates by this point. Even Katie had a good go of her combo! I felt rude not to help OB with his ribs… ahem. Mum indulged in her traditional hot fudge sundae (FYI folks, B&J has replaced Haagen Daz)

We then discussed a meet up time for MGM day, as this was the point when we were going to split. The next day, Martin, Mum and OB were off to Seaworld and Katie and I were doing our 'drinks around the world' at Epcot.
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Old 02-29-2012, 04:23 AM   #11
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Day seven - Drinks around the world

Day seven was the dreaded halfway through the holiday where, as I’m sure most of you are aware, everything starts to pick up pace and go a little bit quickly for all of our liking! But we were still determined to enjoy every moment of our holiday.
Day seven was the day our party was splitting temporarily. After arranging to meet at 8.15 at the bus stop for MGM the next day, Katie and I enjoyed a lie in while Mum, Martin and OB went to Seaworld.

So anyway, Katie and I were only planning to hit the World Showcase that day, so we arrived at Epcot at 11am. This is Katie at the entrance to Epcot, with Baby Buzz in her bag...

The story of Baby Buzz… as Baby Buzz features a lot in this day, I feel I must share the backstory of Baby Buzz. I bought him in our trip in 2004 in MGM. I was completely sidetracked from our usual day by a range of baby Toy Story toys, and Buzz stood out by a country mile. He was so comedy looking, so tiny, so cute.. and ever since he’s been on every family holiday with us. He’s been sunbathing, to the Lake District, to Greece, to Italy… everywhere. Katie and I delight on taking pictures of him in funny locations… and this day was his big day out. Humour me, as I imagine you’re thinking it’s a bit strange, but I suppose every family has its inside jokes, and Baby Buzz is ours.

So we arrived in Mexico at 11.25am, ready for margaritas. So we march down the right hand side of the market place and…. The shutters were down!! It was closed. Total doom. So, ignoring the old couple who were sat down on a bench outside, we found ourselves comically knocking on the shutters and asking the bartender who was cleaning the bar, ‘What time do you open?’ Like actual alcoholics. It wasn’t even midday but this was what we’d planned to do today! ‘Midday,’ he replies. We looked at each other, we had 35 mins to kill before then. So Katie went to the little girls room, and I took some pictures of Buzz soaking up the Mexican ambience.

Meeting the locals.

Then we had a wander round the shops and decided to have a quick go on the Mexico ride. With Buzz.

Then to our delight, the bar was finally open!

We ordered a margarita flight to share.

It was awesome. I wish I could remember all the different flavours but I remember that the passion fruit one was the nicest one.

Mainly cause it tasted more like fruit juice and less like straight Tequila like the classic Margarita shot we got.

We took a few pictures in our carefully selected outfits...

And I prepared for my first character meet of the day...

Then we headed to Germany and got straight in there with the next character meet. Snow White was amazing. There was a rather large queue of children there waiting to meet her, and a trusty CM ready to report on the time she would be appearing. Me and Katie eagerly got my autograph book ready. She told me she loved my dress

Now it was time to begin the Wine Walk in Germany. We hadn’t been aware of this until we spotted some signs for it and seen other people doing it on our first trip to Epcot, but were very impressed by the whole thing! We got our first glasses, and in the absence of any benches in shade, went to sit down by the railings in Germany overlooking the lake.

Katie, wine extraordinaire, hated this wine. Apparently, it was awful wine, and the vintage was far too old.

I didn’t mind it so much though. I was just so happy to be there, engaging in my first legal Epcot pub crawl. I was also appalled by Buzz’s continued underage drinking.

Now it was time for some dinner! Katie indulged in a pizza from Via Napoli, with her second lot of vino (this was subject to much higher praise). I didn’t fancy pizza, so I just had some vino and took in the beautiful sights of the new Italy pavilion.

Katie went to have a look around in Italy, whilst I plodded on to America and got myself some gooood chicken strips. I have to say, the DDP is just fantastic! We never wanted for food, and I liked the idea of knowing that I would never have to cough up for any food. I never liked carrying much cash around with me so it was so handy. And still a novelty for us really!
Next stop in characters was Aladdin and Jasmine. The queue wasn’t too bad, but Katie said she wanted to try some Saki (sp?) so I got in the queue while she went to indulge. I loved Aladdin and Jasmine, but I will confess I was slightly perturbed by our encounter.
I greeted them both excitedly, and after identifying my Northern accent in all of two seconds, Aladdin drops his American front and says ‘I’m from Newcastle!’ I’m sorry, WHAT? I handed him my autograph book before saying, ‘But Aladdin, I thought you were from Agrabah?’ I know it was just a slip, probably because he wasn’t used to hearing Northern accents in the middle of Epcot but still, watch yourself Aladdin! You’re gonna get into trouble!

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Old 02-29-2012, 04:24 AM   #12
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France was the next stop on the list and Katie and I were desperate to meet Belle. We did queue for a while but it was totally worth it. We also got talking to some Americans who were pumping us for information on the Royal Wedding. Funnily enough, we don’t know William and Kate personally. No, we didn’t go to London. And no, we don’t hate Camilla. Americans are funny.

We had a bit of a wander around France (don’t you just love looking in all the shops? It’s a treat even if you don’t buy anything.) For Katie though, the wine shop has a particularly attraction. Not to mention, she enjoyed speaking a bit of the lingo with the lady on the till.
France was the last stop on the wine walk and it did not disappoint. We sat down on a little table by the Patisserie and enjoyed.

Buzz was absolutely hammered.

I kind of wanted to meet Sleeping Beauty at this point, but I knew I would have more time for characters later, and we both wanted to stop by the UK Rose and Crown before making our way to the GF for our Citricos ADR.
There was only one drink we could have at the Rose and Crown. Pimms.

At first, we found a table to stand up at inside the pub, but it was a bit crowded in there. We managed to sweet talk a CM into letting us sit in the little garden that’s meant to be for dining. (Even though there was no-one dining outside) So we had a great view of the lake.

After finishing some gorgeous Pimms and then downing some more water, we left Epcot and caught the monorail to the GF.
Boarding the monorail directly to the GF was again a new experience and I thought just how amazing it would be to stay at the GF for two weeks. You just walk straight from the monorail station into the middle level of this awe inspiring lobby. The grand piano had been replaced by a full band this time. Amazing.

We freshened up and made our way into Citricos. After having a fantastic meal at Narcoossee’s we knew this meal would be just as amazing. We had a cheeky drink at the bar first. Something we started doing as you pay less tax and tip on your meal if you get your drink separately beforehand. A little sneaky tip there. No id ask though. Having been frisked for ID all day this was a pleasant surprise. In hindsight though, did we really look over 30??

The bartender was so sweet with us and took a photo.

The service and food at Citricos was absolutely to die for. We were seated in the far alcove. I wish I could remember the name of our waiter but he was an absolute treat. Katie and I ordered with glee and for almost the first time that day, sorry parentals, thought about what M, M and OB would be up to. We didn’t like the idea of Seaworld so we hadn’t wanted to go but we hoped they’d had a good day. But we knew it wouldn’t have been as fun as ours was.

And again, an amazing banana and chocolate situation with that immaculate hand made chocolate crown.

What a magical day.
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Old 02-29-2012, 04:36 AM   #13
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Day Eight - MGM and Hollywood Brown Derby

Katie and I woke up the next morning fresh as daisies to both of our surprises. We made a note to tell Mum and Martin how amazing the food was at Citricos. There had been a worry that as we’d picked it for the ‘last night’ meal, that might have been a risk, particularly as we had all worshipped Narcoossee’s but we told them that even though location wasn’t as amazing, the food was phenomenal! We knocked on their door at 8am to go and get the bus to MGM.

They had had a good day. Oliver and Martin had enjoyed it, mainly because admittedly, there are some first class coasters at Seaworld now. Oliver declared the Kraken his best ride yet. Mum, on the other hand, was less enthusiastic. Yes, she had had a good time, and she was pleased that Oliver had enjoyed it. But, as we knew would be the case all along, she would have probably had a better time with me and Katie at Epcot.

There’s something different about MGM. (Sorry, cough, Disney’s Hollywood Studios) I don’t know whether it’s the smell, slightly MK esque but with more sweetness of popcorn in the air, or the grandeur of the movie music that blasts out of the speakers as you go through the doors that makes you feel like a movie star. I had been majorly excited for MGM. Mostly because of all the excitement I’d heard about TSM!!!

I had informed Katie beforehand of the urgency of going to TSM to get fastpasses. This was something of a shock to the two of us, as we were used to hauling our ***** down Sunset Boulevard to check queues for TOT and RnR and fastpassing the quickest one. The appearance of a rival ride was somewhat upsetting. But i insisted that that was how we play it. Leaving Mum and Martin behind with the crowds as they gradually let guests down the main street for rope drop, Katie and I sneaked our way through the guests, ‘power walking’ and landed at the front for 8.50am. Clinging onto each other hands for dear life, rope dropped five minutes early and we legged it.

Running in flip flops is a challenge. I’m sure anyone would tell you this. But having heard that many of the fastpasses for TSM run out by 10am, this was something we couldn’t risk. There were a few choice harsh words bestowed upon us by concerned CMs. (‘Ma’am, please be careful, please don’t run) I’m sorry. Yeah right. The crowds hauled over to Pixar Place. We got in the queue by the Pixar Place sign. Very impressive. We both had the passes and joined separate queues. First one there, wins. We were queuing for about five mins. Katie got there first and excited put our passes in the machine.

10.45-11.45! SCORE!! I practically danced away from Pixar Place and couldn’t believe that the queue was now back to Voyage of the Little Mermaid.

RESULT. I high fived Katie and we made our way round to Sunset Boulevard.

Mum had been worked up for this day the entire holiday. We had made her sign up for RnR many years before, after promising her that there weren’t any crazy dips, which there weren’t. And that you couldn’t tell when you were upside down. Which you can’t. Regardless, she was terrified. We queued for about 15 minutes for RnR, which was basically a walk on. Mum was thankful, I don’t think she’d have gone on it if she’d have queued for 75 mins!

She didn’t look at the carriages in the boarding area as we’d advised her not to. I think she was comforted to see how well you were strapped in but regardless, I did colour myself shocked when we got in and saw her strapped in behind us, eyes tightly shut, clinging to Martin’s hand so much it was turning white. I remember hearing him say to her, ‘No Karen, I need my hand to hold on during this first bit.’

RnR was every bit as amazing as I’d remembered it was, and to my delight, ‘Walk this Way’ was blasting out. I was reminded of Martin coming down the driveway on that day before we set off. God, it seemed like an age away. Then I thrust the thought from my head because that meant that it was over half way through the holiday already! We rocked up at the end of the ride. ‘Mum, you did it!’

Bless her, she looked slightly green, and said she’d hated it. But she did it! We were so proud of her.

Now it was onto ToT for me, Katie, Martin and OB. Mum announced she needed some water and some breakfast (I don’t think she’d eaten anything yet for fear of RnR)

ToT still gets me. I chickened out of the ride when I was 11 years old, which I didn’t share with OB as I didn’t want him to get scared as I had done. (FYI, how ironic is it that the escape route in ToT is a lift? Do they not think that’s a little inappropriate?) It was OB’s first time, and we couldn’t really offer him much by way of encouragement as it is that bad. Martin says, even now, that ToT is still the one that gets his adrenalin going. That’s not to mention that the ride is nearly ten years old now and probably in need of some updating. A great thing to tell yourself before you get on. Yes, this ride is old, bet the brakes on the elevator are old. See what I mean?

But we had no problems! Got dropped 4 times! Gulp. There was a lot less safety bar than I remembered. Now it’s been replaced by a chuffing seat belt and two side handles. Great. Like that’s gonna protect me when I tumble to my death. And yes, I was a little concerned at the moment when you leave the shaft in that attic bit, and then go into the lift shaft and you see that change in the darkness. It was creaky. Far too creaky for my liking. But we’d entered ‘The Twilight Zone’! PLUNGE. AWESOME.

OB and Mum were triumphant of the mountains they had conquered that morning.

Now it was time to call in our Fastpass for TSM. In all the craziness of acquiring our beloved FPs that morning, I hadn’t even had time to take in the amazing theming of Pixar Place.

This is truly a credit to Disney. It’s like walking into a world of TS joy!
After rather smugly walking by the stand by entrance, which was now 90 minutes, we raced into the FP queue, grabbing our glasses!

Now, I’m not one for Buzz Lightyear really. The ride at MK, which I know, some peeps rave about, I don’t really have a thing for but this? This was AMAZING. We absolutely loved it. There was competition, there was rivalry. There was down right hilarious. TSM stood out for me this time in Disney. They’ve achieved something that’s truly remarkable. An interactive, competitive, 3D ride. With all your favourite characters thrown in from TS3. LOVED IT.

Took some time to have a look around and organise my own meet and greet.

We headed into one of the exhibits round the back there and were amazed when we ran into this fella.

There was next to no queue in there and we just casually stumbled across him. Fantastic. I love Mickey in his sorcerer’s outfit. We also waited 5 minutes and were happy to see these two.

Martin asked Mr. Incredible where the kids were. HA.
Then we went round the back to the studio backlot tour.

I have a feeling I chewed everyone’s ear off on this as well but I can’t be sure. This is something that needs updating as well IMO. Maybe they could put some new interactive things on the tour? That water scene at the beginning is a little dated now.
After lunch in Pizza Planet (FIT) we went round and FPed Star Wars and watched the Pixar Parade. This is Mutti all excited before the parade!!

Last edited by tracey1302; 02-29-2012 at 06:59 AM.
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Old 02-29-2012, 04:46 AM   #14
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I wasn’t keen on what they’d done with Star Wars actually. We went on it after the Parade. I know it needed updating but for me, that was part of the fun. And that initial tumble after you leave the launch tunnel was one of my favourite things about it Oh well.
After this, our ‘party’ separated. Marty and OB headed for Indiana Jones, while us girls went to indulge in a beer before Beauty and the Beast.

Beauty and the Beast is something that we never miss. It’s all of our favourite Disney film so we know all the words to all the songs. I think the production of this is absolute quality, from everything from the lighting, to the music, to the costumes. An amazing thing to be able to produce in just 25 minutes. What made it more special though, and had all of us in bits, was that at the end, some chap got up on stage and proposed to his girlfriend. Everyone was cheering and it was just the most spectacularly romantic thing I’ve ever seen. Us girls were all in bits!

We had an ADR at the Derby to get to, so we met the boys and headed inside.

The Hollywood Brown Derby is one of the best restaurants in Disney. Fact. Surprisingly, we’d only discovered it the last time we’d been in 2007, and we cancelled a reservation at another restaurant to eat at the Derby again. It didn’t disappoint. Mum still can’t believe it’s on the DDP. Yes, Signature so 2 credits but still a bargain if you ask me. I ordered a wine flight.

And the Duck.

After I’d had this meal, I couldn’t stop talking about it for the rest of the holiday. It was poached duck, served medium, in a vine leaf, with this cous cous situation with some form of hoisin sauce. Then alongside it were the nicest spring rolls I’ve ever had in my life. The pancake was crisp and beautiful and the mixture inside was just tender duck with vegetables. My mouth is filling with saliva just thinking about it as I write this. This meal was to die for.

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Old 02-29-2012, 04:52 AM   #15
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I remember thinking at the end of this meal. Omg, I was going to have steak the next time we go to the Derby. What if I can’t have steak because I want this? Oh the traumas of eating in Disney! After we’d finished the meal, OB was clamouring to go on TSM again. Yes, I know, probably not a good idea because we’d had wine, and a lot of food, and the carriage’s weren’t exactly smooth. And what would your aim have been like with vino?
Me and OB ended up going on a scouting mission to check out times for TSM while they sorted out the bill. I think it was about $30 or something lol. Chuckle. Anyway, we discovered that there was a Buzz and Woody meet and greet going on! The stand by time for TSM was 90 minutes so we wrote it off but got in the queue for Buzz and Woody.

The rest of the party came to join us and we met two of our absolute favourites!

We’d said to OB, fully expecting not to follow through, that if the queue for TSM was less than 45 minutes when we emerged from the meet and greet, we would go on it. And lo and behold, we got out of Andy’s room and it was 40 minutes! OB was victorious and skipped onto the ride.

What was great about this time was that A) We only waited 10 minutes to get on TSM and B) We got chance to see the incredible theming that we’d missed in the FP queue. Again, this ride is an absolute credit to Disney. The attention to detail in the queue is absolutely remarkable.

And as it turns out, alcohol improves performance on TSM. All us adults absolutely thrashed OB in scores!
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