<b>Carole : (40) Organiser, packer and chief adventurer. Compulsive shopper. Stephen : (43) Head beer drinker and food taster. Trainee shopper.</b> <i>As this was our third year running at Orlando, the plan was to take it all at a slower pace, and enjoy the atmosphere. No queuing and no commando tactics. We have annual passes for Disney and length of stay passes for Universal. Were giving Seaworld a Miss this year rather than try to cram too much in.</i> The day before the flight 11/10/01. Up bright and early this morning as we have loads to do. Finished packing the cases. This year were taking all 3 of our cases. I know were only going for 2 weeks, but our clothes always manage to expand somehow so that they never fit back into the cases to come home again. (Its either that or I buy too much ) Of course, this will mean that the cases arent very tightly packed so a cunning plan was called for to stop the clothes having a party inside the cases and getting all creased. We bought a pair of very cheap pillows from Woollies and used them to pad out the cases. We can then leave the pillows behind and fill their spaces with shopping. Crafty huh? Made sure everything was ready for Sue (the vetinary nurse) when she comes round to inject the cat and give him his tablet each morning. My mom lives with us so would be feeding both cats and providing company for them, but wasnt keen doing the medication. Set out for Manchester at 3.30, and had an easy drive up. Arrived just before 5.00 after going round one of the airport traffic islands 5 times because we couldnt decide which exit to come off. (Actually Stephen drove round the island, I just put my arms up and yelled Wheeeeeee as we went round and round.) The room they gave us at the Posthouse was half the size of last years and had a musty smell. It didnt feel very clean either so we asked to be moved and got a newly refurbished room, which was much fresher and slightly bigger. We were feeling restless so we walked over to the airport and had a look in the shops. Bought some sandwiches and drinks from Boots to eat back at our room. (I begrudge paying £5.50 for a room service sandwich.) Went back and ate our sandwiches, then Stephen popped down to the bar to fetch a pint. There was a muffled thud at the door, which turned out to be him with a pint in each hand. Am I glad he only has the two arms . We watched some tv and turned in for an early night, as we had to be up very early the next day. The day of the flight : 12/10/01. The alarm clock was set for 5am but we were up at 4.30 as we were wide awake. By 5.10 we were all ready to go, sitting on the edge of the bed, taking it in turns to say Are we there yet?? At 5.25, we couldnt contain ourselves any longer and trotted down to reception to get our lift over to Terminal 2. There were a few people already waiting at the Virgin check-in so we joined the queue. It was due to open at 6.25 but they opened up a bit early and by 6.30, we were in the business lounge. We got the seats that we had pre-booked, 60 A & B. We had expected a bit of security at check-in and were surprised when all that happened was a couple of Virgins security staff looked at everyones passports and then put a little sticker on them. They never even asked us if we had any hand luggage, let alone what we had in it. Id taken such trouble to pack it as well. Going in to Airside, we passed through the usual scanner, but no one looked in our bags or at our passports. Had a relaxing 3 hours in lounge. We both helped ourselves to toast and coffee and then Stephen had some cheese & biscuits and some cookies and some more toast. As he said, you cant nip out for a butty when youre on a plane, and he didnt want to risk being peckish. While boarding the plane, we finally found some security. The same people, who had looked at our passports earlier, peered in the bags and patted us down. Not as thorough as Id expected but better than nothing I suppose. I had my handbag with documents, money, camera, PassPorter and a couple of books. Stephen had a small bag (our Disneyclub bag) with camera, films, puzzle book and a couple more books for me. Well, I never like to run out of reading matter I knew what we were allowed to have as carry-on through the Virgin website, and I had tried very hard to pack only those things that I would definitely need on the flight, but some people had huge bulging bags and were allowed on. Our plane this year was Wild Thing. The seat back screens were slightly bigger than we had last year and this year we had Skymap. I love looking at that and seeing how far weve come and what were passing over and how fast etc. Keeps me quiet for ages. There were an extra 4 movie channels and the Virgin website had got the selection of films correct. Last year I was really looking forward to one particular film, but the website was out of date. This year I wasnt disappointed. We took off on schedule and we settled down to watch some movies. We both watched Tomb raider (not bad) and then I watched Bridget Joness diary (v. funny) and Stephen watched Dr. Doolittle 2 (quite entertaining). For lunch, I had the garlic and herb chicken (tasty) and Stephen had the fish and chips (nice). Then we went for a stroll for about 20 minutes. (Advantage of sitting at the back is theres a bit of room to stretch your bits out just by the loos. Also, our seats were the ones with the biggest space between the seat and the side of the plane so you can stretch your legs out at the side.) After our stroll, Stephen watched Shiner (He says this was an exciting thriller about boxing and gangsters, but from the glimpses of it that I had, Id say it was gruesome). I read my Dick Frances book instead and checked out the Skymap between chapters. As we approached the airport, we had great view of Kennedy. Got through the airport fairly quickly. Id made Stephen do his green form twice and let him copy mine the second time. Good of me, huh? Then I checked them both about 20 times. In the queue, to give the green form to the nice man, I was really nervous especially when the two parties in front of us got sent to the back. He must have been relieved to see some that were more or less correct though, and waved us straight through. There was no queue at the Dollar desk, we paid for our tank of petrol and got our car. A neon this year. Wed considered upgrading but decided to wait until next years trip when there are 3 of us and go the whole hog with a pt cruiser or a jeep. We only had one wrong turn and slight detour on the way, and arrived at the Hard Rock Hotel at about 3.30. We were soon in our room and got unpacked. Then, a migraine that had been threatening for the past 4 hours decided to make a full appearance and put me to bed until the next day. Tomorrow A change to our itinerary, evening at Magic Kingdom.