Tuesday 8th April 2008 The Cast: Me (Matt) 42, though young at heart! DW (Claire) 41, and ditto DS11 (Samuel), already a teenager! DS9 (Tommy), daredevil coaster rider! plus one! This is getting better with each passing day. Today we sleep right through till 6am, with the kids managing another hour on top off that! We have a light breakfast of toast and fresh fruit in the Villa, because we're planning on having a big meal at lunchtime, and we head off for Animal Kingdom. Now then, DW has been meticulous in her planning of this holiday, and the WDW website (in the park opening hours calendar) has shown today as being an 8am opening, whereas all other days have been 9am up to now, and are 9am again from tomorrow. Today, though, definitely shows as 8am, and we are obviously not the only ones to have seen it as, when we arrive (at 7:50) there is already a big queue of cars waiting. The queue doesn't move for several minutes, and it becomes apparent that the one booth that is manned is not letting anyone through (obviously there is access for those with reservations for breakfast, but not for the general riff raff). It turns out that park opening is 9am, and the CMs are denying that the website ever said 8. Shortly after 8 we are allowed through, and make our way to the car park. We don't bother with the tram as we are parked nice and close, and we join the queue at one of the turnstiles that are showing as though they will be opened. After 10 minutes or so, a couple of CMs come out and start testing a couple of the other turnstiles, so DW takes a chance and goes and stands at one of them so as to be at the front of the queue. As it turns out, this pays huge dividends. She takes the opportunity to question the CMs about park opening but, like the ones at the parking booths, they deny all knowledge of early opening. However, one of them comes back over a few minutes later and asks us, as we're a family of four with young kids, would we like to come out front and open the park!! This is a huge honour, and it kind of blows us away a little bit. We don't have to do much - just stand around and shake some sticks with bells and rattles on with the kids dressed up as honourary CMs - but that is not the point. It feels incredible, and our one regret is that, in the excitement of it all, we forget about pictures. At least the kids get certificates as a souvenir of their involvement. Now that we're in, we make our way down to the junction, with the Tree of Life up ahead, and we wait for Minnie, Goofy & Pluto to come along and finish the opening "ceremony" (with a little help from Mickey over at the Tree). After this, it's a route march off up to Expedition Everest, following the two CMs with the rope. Soon we are there, and are almost at the front of the queue. EE is another ride we haven't ridden before, as it was only just opening when we were last here and the queues to get on the test runs were half way round the park! It's worth the wait. What a phenomenal ride, ALMOST up there with R&RC, and I simply have to buy a tee-shirt in the shop at the end! We also buy the ride photo. We'll be coming back here again (though not straight away, as the queue is already enormous). We make our way back round to Dinoland, where we drag DW kicking and screaming on to Primeval Whirl (last time we were here, she screamed the whole way round it, much to the amusement of the kids). Two years appear to have hardened her up a bit, as she only screams a little this time! From PW to Dinosaur, where the queue is not too bad either. We all enjoy this one - it was one of our favourites last time and it lives up to the memories. By now it is late morning, so we make our way out of the park as we have places to go, people to see, etc. We take a drive up to I-Drive, as we've decided to have lunch at Friendly's, which we've read good reports about. It's a promising start; the place looks okay, and the server is, well, friendly! We order a Munchie Mania to share between the four of us as an appetizer, then we have mains as follows: Me: Steak & Shrimp Combo DW: Chicken Caesar Wrap Kids: Dippin' Chicken We follow it with a Peanut Butter Cup Sundae, and straight ice cream for the kids, and it's a good job, because the ice cream rescues what would otherwise have been a pretty poor meal. My steak was tasteless, the shrimp was greasy, the Caesar Wrap was lacking, and the fries all round were soft and not very tasty. At $55 including drinks and tip, it certainly isn't the best value meal of the holiday. So, we're fast approaching Nanny time..... We set off for Sanford Airport, but we end up arriving way too early. A quick check of the Sat Nav tells us that there is a Wal-Mart 2 and a half miles away, so we go and kill an hour there. I'm not even sure if we buy anything; sometimes just wandering around these places is enough! Back to Sanford and, after parking up, we sit down on a bench outside the Arrivals exit and play I Spy (I bet you don't have this much fun on your holidays! ). After a while we hear a plane landing and, shortly after that, it is time. She has come. You can all breathe a sigh of relief at finally knowing (or you can groan at the underwhelming disappointment of it all)! "Nanny" is DW's mother, my mother-in-law, the children's Grandmother. She has come to join us for a week, and has flown in direct from Bristol in First Choice's version of upper class, with the return flight next Tuesday. No doubt there are those amongst you who are wondering how on earth I agreed to have the MiL on holiday with us, and I'm still not sure myself, but she's here, and we're determined that she will have a good time. We load her case into the boot (sorry, trunk) and head off back to the Villa. DS11 cannot wait to show Nanny around! The kids now want to swim, so they do that while Nanny unpacks, and we then decide to go out for tea as Nanny is hungry. Ever since arriving on Saturday, DS9 has been absolutely desperate to go to Denny's (it was his favourite last time) so we take off to the one on the 192 (near Sherberth Road). Food as follows: Me: Philly Melt DW: Club Sandwich DS11: Astro Dogs DS9: Cheeseburger w/Goldfish Nanny: Senior Shrimp Skewer Fortunately, it was a "kids eat free" night. I say fortunately, because it is a huge let down. Greasy and not overly warm food, and far too busy for the server to even notice that we need drink refills, let alone actual bring us some. Not a good start for Nanny. I'm sure she goes to bed wondering what the fuss we've been making is all about! We have an early night once back at the Villa, as it's our Anniversary tomorrow and we have a breakfast ADR at Kona Cafe.