clubhouse's DIBB Photo Blogs

I surpassed myself in the early wake up stakes this morning, 3.10am! I spent a long few hours trying to lie quietly and rest because I was definitely not getting any more sleep. Around 7am I got up and finished off more packing as quietly as I could. I had my things and the kids things all sorted and just had to finish off Scott’s. We’d deflated the floaties last night, with the exception of Croc - he’s not coming home, he must be burst somewhere.

I laid out fresh clothes for travelling to the airport, packed another batch for on the plane, tidied up the bathroom and then got ready for the beach. I gave reception a quick call to see if we could get late check out,which was fine, no extra cost until midday, which suited us perfectly as our flight is at 5.30pm, so by the time we drive to Tampa, stopping off for something to eat, we reckoned we’d need to be on our way around then.

I headed down to the beach to soak up some rays, I was a bit sad when my Cabana wasn’t set up. The reservation didn’t seem to have worked, it only took a minute or 2 to get it organised, no 41 was still free. Ahhhhhh, bring on the sunshine. But it had clouded over, typical eh? It was a lovely temperature though and I think because it wasn’t so hot, it was better as I actually nodded off for a bit. I’m pretty sure I woke myself with a snore/snort but I felt a bit better. Scott and the kids had still not appeared by 10am. I knew I needed to be in the shower at 11am so I left them to it. They eventually appeared and before long the sun came out and we were all a bit sad to be leaving. The sea was much calmer today.

11am came all too quickly so I said goodbye to the beach and headed up to the room to get ready. I was just about done when they got back. It was a bit of a mad dash, but before long we were ready to leave having checked all the drawers, under the beds etc! All that was left to do was have one last look at the view. Scott got a text from BA just as we were wrestling the bags out of the room, 4 hour delay, but we’d to check in at the same time. Annoying, but not too bad we thought and we were all changed and ready to travel anyway. We should still make our connection in Gatwick but the lounge I’d booked isn’t needed now.

Scott loaded the car while I checked out. There was a bit of a wait but everything was in order and I paid the bill for the resort fee, taxes and upgrade. With heavy hearts we programmed the Here We Go app for Tampa Airport on were on our way by 12.30pm.

We stopped for petrol before leaving St Petes, always a bit of a faff prepaying when you don’t know how much you’ll need. It was an easy drive to Tampa, no photos this time, too sad.

As the shops and Cheesecake Factory were only 5 minutes from the airport we decided that’s where we’d go for lunch. We were parked up by 1.15pm. The sky was looking a bit ominous, it’s going to pour down! Thankfully we made it in before it started and were seated fairly quickly. While I was waiting I emailed No1 Lounges to see if I could cancel my booking as no chance we’d use it now.

We had a lovely waiter, we started with the lovely bread as usual. We wolfed this down as we were all starving!

We were all starting to get grumpy, maybe hangry and Abbie was moaning about being cold, I was cold too but I gave her my cardi and suffered in silence. Our lovely waiter brought us more bread, yum, the grumps were starting to wear off now.

Scott had great Cajun Chicken Pasta.

I had the Chicken Piccata.

Both of these were the lunch portions, but you can see they are still pretty big. We were determined to squeeze in a slice of cheesecake so thought it was sensible. Neither of us would have managed a bigger portion anyway.

Daniel was talked into ordering off the kids menu, he’s at the age where most times he’d prefer something off the adult menu, but then wouldn’t manage to eat it. The waiter was a great help talking him round! Both kids had chicken tenders and fries.

Then they had the kids hot fudge sundae each for dessert.

We shared the Caramel Pecan Turtle Cheesecake.

It was delicious and looking back I wish we’d ordered a slice of something else now too! I had a latte to try to heat myself up a bit and I thought the caffeine might do me some good!

We took our time, before paying the bill.

As we were in no hurry now we decided to have a wander round the shops.

It’s still not raining but you can tell it’s on the way. I’ve not brought jackets so I’m really hoping we don’t get wet!

Once in the Mall Abbie and I were freezing! We only managed a few shops, Abercrombie for the kids where we picked up jeans and a couple of TShirts for Daniel and a hoodie for Abbie and finally Dillard’s. While we were in here the heavens opened. It got really dark and it was huge Florida rain. I was very glad to be inside but slightly concerned about getting back to the car.

We decided to head to the airport around 3.30pm and managed to get during a break in the rain. Handing the car back was easy enough. Avis confirmed there was nothing to pay and we headed to the mono rail.

Just as we got to the check in desk we got another text saying we were further delayed and no need to come to the airport till 10pm! Brilliant eh? Delays are rotten, but we could have had the whole day at the beach! Never mind, we really just wanted to get home now! We were each given a voucher for $19 to cover food and drink, our bags were checked through to Edinburgh, though we were warned that we’d miss our connection and they didn’t know what flight back we’d be on to Edinburgh.

Tampa airport is pretty good with lots of comfy chairs next to charging points. We grabbed 4 together and got settled in for a long afternoon.

Because we stayed landslide we could drink up the leftover water and soft drinks, so i suppose that was good. The kids as you can see were quite happy as they had hours of uninterrupted Ipad time (with no parental nagging) and there is even free WiFi in Tampa Airport.

We must have sat there until about 8pm. We got changed into travelling clothes and decided to see if we could use up our vouchers. You don’t get change so being miserable Scots we tried to get the best value. We didn’t think we were hungry but certainly managed to eat it all up.

It was a spicy chicken burger meal and a chicken nugget meal for Abbie and I from Chick Fil A.

Scott picked up a Baconator meal and a portion of chicken tenders from Wendies which was just next door.

Heres Abbie in her new hoodie, looking very pleased with herself, no idea why.

Fed and watered, we made our way to the final monorail to head to the gate.

The advantage of the delay was that there was absolutely no one at security! I tell you what it’s definitely less stressful when it’s like that!

When we got into the gate, it was pretty quiet. The kids headed over to the free gaming machine.

Scott and I headed to the bar for one last beer, BA was paying, so why not?

We had 1 voucher left so the kids spent this on sweeties and some juice for the flight. I had to carry all this of course.

I did some of the trippie and read a bit. Scott joined the kids, playing the free gaming thing. He was pushing his luck with the names again.

It definitely wasnt me that entered that! Finally around 11pm we started boarding. The plane was pretty grotty, it needed a good clean. There was chocolate on my seat, thankfully I had some baby wipes so I cleaned it up a bit. Boarding took ages despite the flight not being full. It was pretty full round us though I could spot some empty seats. We were delayed a bit again on the ground and I’m sure it was 12.01am when we finally took off!

We were all shattered by now. Dinner came round quickly. None of us wanted it but took it anyway. It was salad, chicken curry or cheese pasta, followed by Black Forrest Cheesecake. The curry tasted ok, the pasta was bleugh, we didn’t try the dessert. The grown ups had a glass of wine and thankfully the crew cleared it all away quickly and the lights were dimmed.

The kids for the first time ever conceded they were tired and needed to sleep so ipads were packed away. Scott and I tried to watch a film, I don’t think either of us saw it! We all got a good few hours kip, which is unusual for us.

Breakfast was a weird cream cheese pretzel, it was freezing and brick hard. You also got a cereal bar so we all ate that instead. The last hour dragged as it always does. A crew member was going round the plane telling people about their connecting flights. We were ignored at the stage. The poor American girl sitting next to Scott was want to be on the same flight as us to Edinburgh, she had been told at Tampa to rebook immediately. Her only option was a flight from London City and she’d need to make her own way across London! Poor girl!

Scott eventually stopped the crew member who told him there was 16 people affected and we should all be on the 5.30pm flight to Edinburgh. We got off and through immigration, we were all done in by now despite a reasonable sleep.

Gatwick was rammed with it being the start of the English school holidays it was a struggle to get a seat to collect our thoughts. We managed to get one and watched a family decant a whole bottle of talc into a multiple ziploc bags - not sure why! They also decanted rose water or similar into lots of smaller bottles, I assume they just didn’t want to throw the big bottle away, but what a lot of hassle it was. The husband was being really helpful. I can imagine what Scott would say to me and it ends in OFF!

We tried to drink the juice we bought in Tampa as it hadn’t been touched in the plane. Most of it went in the bin and we headed back through security. Our BA app had updated and confirmed we had seats on the 5.30 flight, phew! But we wanted to see if we’d get a refreshment voucher as we’d missed out on our lounge access. The line at the BA desk was huge! But it turned out to be for multiple airlines and when Scott found the BA lady she wasn’t even dealing with anyone, she handed him a £5 for each of us.

We debated where to go to get away from the crowds. The kids decided on Nando’s even though it felt like breakfast time, it was 2.45pm UK time.

They are shattered! They got their usual medium chicken and Piri Piri chips.

Scott had some hot wings. We were able to use our £5 vouchers towards this. We hung about as long as we could here then went off in search of a seat. We finally found some in a corridor on the way to the loos. Pretty grim really. We passed the time on iPads. I read on the Dibb that another Dibb family seemed to be getting the runaround in terms of getting back, I think it worked out in the end and they got on the same flight as us. I eventually got a cup of tea, it was too watery. Booooo!

We got into the gate at 5pm.

They were happy to be on the final bit of the journey. We were pleased to see the American girl who had rebooked via City on this flight too. That would have saved her a lot of hassle. In the end we were delayed another wee bit. The flight to Edinburgh was full to capacity and passed quickly, thank goodness. We were finally off the plane around 7pm and the bags arrived after a short wait. Following all the delays so far our taxi was a bit late, groan.

Eventually it arrived, we managed to grab a few bits of shopping in M&S for a quick snack when we get home so it’s not all bad!

We got home finally around 8.30pm after a very long day! We got the kids fed and off to bed and we were not far behind them. Scott and I were a bit sad not to be able to pick up Frank Dog, but it wouldn’t be fair to get him all excited only for us to go off to bed and leave him. Back to work tomorrow!

Thanks for reading along and your patience while I’ve fallen behind. I have massive respect for all you LIVE trippie writers, it’s a huge undertaking to upload a report every single day! I’m just glad I’ve finally completed a trippie - I’ve had 2 previous attempts where I’ve got to day 11 or 13 then life has taken over or technology beat me. If you’ve enjoyed reading along but haven’t had a go, I recommend the photo reporter app, once you get the hang of it, it makes it really easy!

So all that remains is to get the next trip reorganised. We are back in October. The original plan was 10days at Cabana Bay, however I had washer/dryer withdrawal issues and we really liked having express passes. On top of that after reading about club level in Scottish Nellie’s report I’m thinking the food/drink options would suit us better than eating in the parks so we will be doing some tweaking! Can’t wait.

Frank Dog came home the next day and soon forgave us for leaving him behind. Gran and grandad obviously spoiled him rotten.

Ocean Florida

Following my newly established holiday tradition I was awake hours before everyone else. Abbie added to my bruise count by periodically sticking her big toes or knees into me. I stuck it out for a while trying to fall back over to sleep. It it was no good, I got up and did some tidying up and organising some of the clothes for going home. I hung about a bit catching up on emails etc then got ready and hit the beach a bit early. My cabana was all set up and it was a bit cloudier this morning, with a wee breeze. A quick paddle in the sea and it was obvious it was much rougher out there today.

After a bit the kids and Scott came down to join me. Ah bliss, it was just perfect until,our tummies started to rumble. We decided on IHOP and to save time and because we are lazy we nipped along in the car. We were surprised the parking lot was so busy as it was nearly 11am.

We didn’t even change out of our beach gear! We got lucky and were seated in 2 or 3 minutes.

I had the southwest scramble, Scott had the split decision, Abbie had confetti pancakes with bacon and Daniel chose chicken tenders and waffles, we had coffee and juice.

I was definitely needing that, it doesn’t look great in the photos but it was very tasty ( I think I needed it after the cocktails last night!). We paid up and drove back to the Outpost.

The kids wanted to do the touch tank experience in the gift shop. Scott went to do this with them and I went up to the room to wait on them and for a bit peace and quiet. I took the opportunity to book the No1 Lounge in Gatwick, so we had somewhere quiet and comfy to wait for our connecting flight to Edinburgh. They were taking longer than expected so I lay down on the bed......the sofa bed was very comfortable if you were in it alone I found! I was just about to nod off when they got back!

The touch tank experience was included in our resort fee and the kids enjoyed it. Scott said it was very informative, they only bit they didn’t like was when the horseshoe crabs were walking over their hands. They didn’t get to join in the first session as it’s really important to wash off all sunscreen, so they had to go do that first.

We all headed back to the beach, the guys had been missing us!

We took a couple of beers and some “pool juice”in our insulated cups......I can report that my behemoth of Southern Comfort is no more. So just the beer in the fridge to be hoovered up and a wee bit of the Kim Crawford.

The kids stayed at the beach as they were enjoying the rougher sea.

They took a break for an ice cream.

I had a go on one of the floaties and was quite enjoying myself managed to stay afloat when there were quite big waves coming in. I was just thinking how well I’d done to keep my sunglasses on my head, when wipe out, I was thrown face first into the surf. It was hilarious and I was laughing when I came up, but I had lost my glasses. So if any one finds a nice pair of Hugo Boss sunnies at St Petes, they’ll be mine.

We stayed till the last gasp again. They had tidied away nearly all the cabanas when we headed back to the room at 6pm. It had been a great last full day and we were all feeling relaxed.

Thoughts turned to dinner and we all voted to return to Skidders. We are such creatures of habit.

We ordered the same as last time, boring eh? Combination platter for the adults, pepperoni pizza for the kids, but they went for the 10 inch this time. We started off with the bread as usual, oh and the Kim Crawford, obvs.

The food and service were great again. If you get a chance to visit, you should!

We settled up and decided to head back to the Toasted Monkey for one last drink. The kids were desperate to check out the giant beach chair next door.

Not a great picture mind you. Good thing this Key Lime Pie cocktail is great to make up for it.

Mmmmm, I can’t work out how they get the biscuity taste, without having any bits in it. It’s definitely taken over from the Grey Goose Slushy in my affections! We listened to the singer for a bit and the kids went off with the surviving helio flyer, being careful to go further down the beach this time.

I think the biggest kid liked these the best, although he would never admit it.

It was about 10.30pm when we headed back to the room. I did a bit of organising as it’s our last day tomorrow and warned everyone I’d be up early to pack as I would be in my cabana at exactly 9am tomorrow to make the most of the last couple of beach hours!

I reserved my cabana, number 41 and turned in.

Thanks for reading along, I’m nearly finished, it’s taken 2 failed attempts previously, but I only have our journey home to do now. It was a much longer journey than we expected!

I was awake at the crack of dawn this morning, Abbie slept on oblivious and every now and then would stick her toes or elbows into me. I did some trip report then got up, dressed and sneaked out. I was only planning to cross the road to Dunkin Donuts for coffee (we’ve got a coffee maker but the coffee supplied was yuk) and donuts, obvs. I was there by 8.10am and it was absolutely heaving! I ordered 6 donuts and 2 lattes and from memory it was $12.

When I got back they were all still in bed and not keen on moving, so I had my coffee and donut and decided to go wash the bilge barge clothes. I headed up to the sixth floor with my stack of quarters and my detergent. I got a machine no bother, although they were a bit old fashioned and had definitely seen better days. It was $2 per wash, though you could put a pretty big load in. I started the washer and had no idea how long it would take! I traipsed back to the room and there were finally signs of life. The donuts were declared not to be as good as Voodoo donut. We had booked a cabana at the Island Grand today for a bit of a change of scenery, so we all got ready to head there. I nipped up to see how my laundry was doing, still going, so I headed back to the room and we were off.

The Island Grand is 2 properties along toward the Grand Plaza and it has a giant slide on the beach and an inflatable obstacle course out in the sea.

The kids spent a bit of time on the slide, the cost is included in the resort fee. I was surprised at how many adults were zooming down it! Before too long I thought I better trek back along the beach to check on my washing, so off I went. Yay! It was done. I coughed up another $2 and loaded it into the drier.....again absolutely no idea how long it will take to be ready! I walked back to Island Grande, the kids were debating the obstacle course, which cost $16 for an hour and wasn’t included in the resort fee. It had looked a bit grey and we thought it might rain, but it didn’t come to anything, but it was decided if they were going to do the obstacle course it would probably be better earlier in the morning.

About 12.30 tummies were rumbling and the kids decided that they wanted chicken tender sandwiches from Publix for lunch, so guess what? I had to walk back to the Outpost again! Scott and the kids went back to the room to dry off and I went to check the laundry. It was dry, yay! I am very sad I do love clean laundry on holiday. It had been a faff though so I decided everything else would just need to go home dirty as the laundry room was unbearably hot and sweaty! My traipsing back and forth has earned me 10,000 steps already today so it’s not all bad.

We hopped in the car and headed for Publix.

No photos of the sandwiches as you’ve seen them before. The tenders had just been cooked and I felt sorry for the wee girl chopping them up and making the sandwiches as it was burning her hands! It’s a wee bit more expensive than a Subway but soooo worth it. We ate the sandwiches back in the room. I had a nice glass of my favourite wine with it, classy eh?

Suitably fed, we headed to a new cabana at the Outpost with our cool bag with a couple of beers and some snacks as none of us could be bothered trekking back along the beach.

We had a lovely afternoon chilling at the beach. Daniel managed to wiggle his tooth out! Hopefully the tooth fairy will find him in St Petes!

He chilled out for a bit in the shade as he was finding it a bit too hot today.

Abbie had a few goes in the surf machine yesterday but couldn’t seem to get the knack, so asked her dad for some tips.

Lesson over, off they went!

They had fun and this activity was included in our resort fee. We had to sign a waiver for Abbie to have a go, it was well supervised.

It was so relaxing on the beach, especially as it got a wee bit later and the temperature dropped a bit. We stayed right until the cabanas closed at 6pm, Scott had gone back to the room to refill the cool bag with a few more beers and got the kids their ice cream sandwiches which we’d bought yesterday.

If any of you reading are wondering if it’s worth coming to the beach, the answer is yes! It’s the perfect end to your time in Florida and after days and days running from ride to ride and having lots of things to do, we’ve really enjoyed just taking it easy!

By 7.30pm we were ready to go for some dinner.

The kids were in high spirits as we’d promised them we could go for s’mores on the way to dinner.

Ignore the burnt bit! These were charge either! I think they did s’mores every night between 7pm and 9pm, we only went once though.

After that there was some more posing.

We settled on Boulevard Burger which is just across the road from the hotel. Scott had a beer and I had a Strawberry Lemonade cocktail. Kids had the usual apple juice.

Wow, this was strong! But it was delicious. I had a mushroom Swiss burger, Scott had a blue cheese and bacon burger and the kids shared nachos.

Dinner was delicious. Sorry I’ve totally lost track of the prices now.

We decided to go have a look in Rumfish, which is the main restaurant and shop at our hotel.

It’s a pretty good aquarium. There was even more posing.

After all that nonsense we decided to go for a drink to the bar next door, the Toasted Monkey.

Here I had the best cocktail ever! I think it may even have taken the crown from the Epcot France Pavilion Grey Goose slushie! Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Key Lime Pie:

It tasted so like key lime pie I couldn’t believe it. Here are the ingredients

I can’t recommend it enough. It was yum and it was also pretty strong.

Abbie went down to the beach to have a go with her helio flyer. Before too long she was back breaking her heart because it was stuck up a palm tree.

The staff were great trying to knock it down with a volley ball and they even offered to get it down with ladders tomorrow, we told them it didn’t matter! Abbie soon perked up though, posing so we could take this picture of her.

We told her brother that she’d been singing karaoke and he believed it hook, line and if you are reading this Daniel, ha ha we got you!

I had another one of these beauties

We settled up the bill and headed back to the room after another great day! Hope the tooth fairy finds us.

Despite being shattered last night it was pretty hard to get to sleep due to the noise in the resort. We were on the 4th floor but the soundproofing was almost non existent and we could hear the live music from the hotel beach bar and the one next door. We had expected this as the Grand Plaza was also a bit noisy and they stopped just after 11pm but it was Saturday night and there was quite a few noisy people having a great time on the pool deck and around the fire pits. I think we all conked out before midnight though.

I slept ok in the sofa bed, though I don’t think I moved a muscle all night until about 7am. I spent an hour catching up on the trip report and then had to get up to go soak up some sun. After crashing about for a bit, everyone else got the hint and started to move, too slowly for me though so I headed to the beach without them.

Beach cabana rental is $25 per day, but is included within the resort fee and you can choose to be here at the Outpost or 2 resorts over at the Island Grand. The have a good system where you can go online the day before and pick your location and then in the morning the cabana is all set up for you with a wee reservation card. You can also just rock up on the day and they’ll get you set up.

It was a gorgeous day and I wasted no time getting comfy. I wondered where Scott and the kids were and found them by the pool blowing up the floaties. We had brought these with us having bought them when we were here in October. We had been worried about getting them blown up but found this last night.

Phew! Neither of us would have had enough puff to blow up these guys.

As soon as Abbie had Shelly, she was off in the pool.

Daniel wanted to go in the sea with Croc.

It didn’t take long for Abbie to join him.

The sea was lovely and calm and the kids spent their time between bobbing in the sea and the pool. Weirdly they seemed to prefer the pool, which was fairly busy and on the small side. There was also an adult pool and you could access the 5 pools at the Island Grand if you wanted to. Everyone in the Tradewinds resorts is given a wrist band which is you Go Pass to show you can access the resorts and inclusive activities like the slides, paddle boats etc.

After a wee while there was some moaning about being hungry which was fair enough as we’d only had cereal bars to eat today. After a quick pit stop in the room to dry the kids off we walked along to Waffle House. Boy it was hot today and when we got there it was rammed! Sunday seems to be a popular breakfast day.

The kids had waffle and bacon, Scott had a waffle combo and I had the sausage scramble. Drinks were coffee and juice.

If you ve never been to a Waffle House it can be quite an experience. The servers take the orders, prepare them and serve most of the over the counter to your seat. There are some other seats round the outside of the restaurant but most are accessible over the counter. It was super busy today and we were sat at the end of the serving area and it was fascinating watching them working away doing a million things at once.

The food was ok, but had been better on a previous visit. We paid the bill and left a healthy tip and walked back. We took the car along to Publix as we needed a few bits and pieces, apple juice, beer, snacks, I also gave in and got a bottle of Kim Crawford which at $15.95 was $1 more than a glass in Disney! I nipped into Dollar Tree for some laundry detergent as I wanted to wash the bilge barge clothes!

When we got back we resumed our position in the beach. Ah it was lovely.

There was a cabana bar service, which you could access online and they’d bring you drinks to your cabana. We didn’t use it though, we put a couple of beers in the cooler to have later on. Abbie was delighted with her new floatie Sheldon, which had also been picked up at Publix. They offer to blow them up for you, but we did it back at the resort. The kids have wanted this particular floatie since they read Wizzos reports over my shoulder but they were out of stock in October.

At about half past 4 we had a drink at the pool bar.

Scott and the kids went back to the room and I had another lovely quiet hour on the beach.

We were all ready for dinner by 8pm and decided to walk along the beach to Bongos at the Grand Plaza.

We were surprised to be seated straightaway.

Daniel had a kids strawberry daiquiri- he’d been looking forward to this since his last one in October!

Although he’d forgotten about the cream on top which he didn’t want. Abbie sorted that out though.

I had an electric lemonade, Scott had lagunitas and Abbie had her usual apple juice. We ordered and just enjoyed the surroundings while the sun went down. It was lovely.

We watched a couple having their wedding photos done and listened to the singer, this is a great setting. Before long our food was with us. Scott and the kids were sharing buffalo chicken wings, nachos and a bacon burger.

I’d chosen the chicken pasta but when it arrived it was cold. I hate complaining but the creamy sauce wasn’t nice cold so I sent it back. It was odd as the underneath of the plate was hot. They soon replaced it.

It was better but I couldn’t finish it. We had another round of drinks then the kids spotted other kids on the beach with helio flyers, light up catapult things. We’d picked up a couple for $2 in Walmart so we pAid the bill and headed down to the beach to try them out.

It took all of 5 minutes before the first one was bust. Oh well. Abbie was upset about this.

As we walked along the beach we saw a guy selling them for $5. They seemed better so we coughed up for 2. He showed us what to do to get them to work better - we had folded the Walmart ones wrong.

Scott broke the new one on the first go! They guy was really good about it and immediately replaced it. We spent a bit of time on the beach, but we never really did get the hang of it! Some of the other kids had and all along the beach you could see the coloured lights flying through the sky.

It was pitch dark when we got back and we were all tucked up by 11.30pm, it was a bit quieter tonight and we were soon fast asleep. I was in the sofa bed again, beginning to regret that choice now!

We were up and repacked fairly quickly this morning since we hardly unpacked anything. I did have a big bag of wet clothes though as our clothes from yesterday didn’t seem to dry at all! We stowed the bags in the car so we could make a quick getaway later today.

Checkout was straightforward but there was a bit of a wait as there were lots of people checking in the front desk are very thorough about giving you all the information about the resort. When I got my turn I asked for some leis as the kids were disappointed they hadn’t got them when we checked in.

We agreed before we set of that we could choose 2 rides maximum each and that we wanted to leave the park at 2pm to set off for St Petes. That would be tough since it was already 10.30!

We made our way to Islands of Adventure and got straight on Dr Dooms Fear falls (Abbie’s choice) then stopped off to listen to what to do if we wanted to report a plot for world domination.

Daniel’s first choice was to go do the Raptor Experience, so we got in line. We waited ten minutes only to hear the words no one in a theme park line ever wants to hear “so, ah, Blues gonna leave in about 5 minutes cos we need to feed her and ensure she doesn’t get too aggressive, she’ll be back in around 30 minutes”. I was marginally hopeful that we’d get our turn in the next 5 minutes but Scott and Abbie weren’t fussed so went off to Hogsmeade to do some spells while I waited and melted a bit not much shade at the front of the line here) but we didn’t make it. Daniel had his wee heart set on it so I updated the a wee bit of the trippie while we waited. It turned out the wait was a bit less than 30 minutes and it was totally worth it (even I thought so!).

The patter from the “keeper” is brilliant here, it’s all a bit cheesy but he had us in stitches. Because we were now first in line we got a great view of Blue coming out. The ushered us in front of the opening, I didn’t really want to be in on it but I’m glad they made me as I’m not sure how Daniel would have reacted on his own. The photographer was great too, offering to take photos on my phone - these turned out well and he even took a video, which I wasn’t expecting. So even though I hadn’t wanted to hang about waiting, what I’m trying to say is it was worth it - do it!

We made our way to Hogsmeade, where we found Scott and Abbie at Zonkos casting spells having already been in the Forbidden Journey, we caught a bit of the Frog Chorus on our way - they didn’t seem to be having any muggle equipment troubles today.

By the time we got there it was quarter to 12, tick tock, time’s running out! Next ride on our list was Men in Black (Scott’s choice) so we set off via the Hogwarts Express.

We got our bag stowed and on the ride quickly thanks to the express passes. It was busy today so they were adding single riders in the same car, which meant Daniel was in the middle seat. None of us managed to hit the button again : ( and Daniel mentioned to the ride attendant when we got off that his zapper wasn’t working. I wasn’t expecting them to do anything, but they sent us through the curtain and we rode again, after the car with the faulty zapper had moved past. This time Scott and I both pushed the red button at the right time so finally got good scores! But we had lost a bit of time, so someone will miss their rides, I wonder who it might be?

Next ride was Gringotts (Daniel’s choice, so we headed into Diagon Alley stopping very briefly to listen to Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees.

When we got to Gringotts we were a bit put off when we saw the line just to enter the lockers as it was now 12.45.

I think the ride had been down and was now swamped so they were trying to manage the locker area a bit better, so were only allowing one person per party to enter, which really makes sense as the lockers get rammed and there’s nothing worse than people just standing about getting in the way when you are hot and trying to hurry.

The ride was really good as ever and we were on our way around 1.10. My choice was the Mummy, however since it was 1.20 when we got to here we decided we needed to decide on one final ride before heading back to the car.

So I sacrificed my rides (ET was my other choice) and we headed for Minions (Scott’s choice).

We enjoyed our last ride, but sadly it was time to go. We weren’t too sad though since we are heading back in October and still have 4 nights at St Petes. On our way out of the park we headed into Guest Services to upgrade our tickets to annual passes. We are booked to stay at Cabana Bay in October (but we might end up tweaking that) and so we had agreed we wanted 3 park passes as we will be so close to Volcano Bay. We had looked into the upgrade earlier in our stay but the concierge had helpfully told us to wait till the last day as the black out dates meant you couldn’t enter during July on the cheapest annual pass as we wouldn’t use the other benefits anyway. The lady helping us was very thorough checking that our vacation was over for now and we wouldn’t want to re-enter a park, we confirmed we were done and complete the upgrade.

The overall cost to upgrade the 4 tickets was $325.86, which was what I was expecting based on what I’d seen on the Dibb on the run up to our holiday. We might even manage a couple of days next summer, depending on when we fly out. It was now 2.20 and we were starving!

The kids fancied Voodoo Donut but it was queued out the door, so we ditched that plan in favour of an ice cream from Coldstone Creamery in City Walk. No decent photos I’m afraid as we ate them as we walked back to RPR. It was delicious, but melty and messy, I was very glad I had some wet wipes in the car!

The clothes Scott had spread out to dry were indeed dry now and gathering them up and wiping the ice cream off the kids gave the car a chance to cool down and we said good bye to RPR, having really enjoyed our stay. I totally recommend a stay here for the value added by the Express Passes, especially if there are more than 2 of you in the room. I think I’ll be tweaking the Cabana Bay stay as I might add an RPR night if I can get a good rate. Having read Scottish Nellie’s report I’m quite keen to try Club Level, so fingers crossed I find a good deal!

It was ten past three when we passed faceless Mickey, so we had made not bad time today.

The kids passed the time reading and Daniel started to complain he was still hungry so we stopped off for something else to eat.

We ended up at Socrum Loop, which had a few choices although I misread it as Scrotum Loop! Hilarity ensued, until Abbie asked what’s a scrotum. We quickly explained that and tried to decide where to eat. I think I may have read about this location in Wizzos trip report. We picked Wendies, it was a bit meh, I think I just wanted to get to St Petes. But at least Daniel was happy.

Son of Baconator.

Chicken tenders and fries.

Baconator fries.

Spicy chicken sandwich. After that quick pit stop we were soon back on our way.

By 5pm were we’re finally in St Petes and checking into the Guy Harvey Outpost. We chose here to get a bigger room than we had at the Grand Plaza on our previous visit and the kids went on and on about the giant slide when we were last here and it’s included in the resort fee. The resort fee was a bit steep at $47 a night, however we were fully aware of it before we got there and had included it when we were working out where would work out best for us. It’s surprising how many of us Brits are not aware that the resort fee is generally not included in your booking cost and needs to be paid at the resort. The receptionist even commented on this, it we confirmed we were fully aware. She mentioned she could upgrade us to a Gulf View room for $25 a night and knowing it would be a great view, we thought what the hell and went for it.

This was our view, pretty good eh? Although by upgrading we gave up a balcony, which truth be told I perhaps would have been happier with a partial view and a balcony, but never mind, it was lovely to wake up to that.

The room was a bedroom with 2 queen beds (definitely on the small side), a decent bathroom, small kitchen area cooker, microwave, full fridge freezer, sink (sadly no washer though) and a lounge with sofa bed, seating area and that great view.

We went for a wee explore and paddle, as how could anyone resist it?

I left them to it and went to get ready for dinner, we agreed on Skidders which the kids love as the name makes them giggle and we love as the food is great (and they serve my favourite Kim Crawford wine......winning!).

We had the lovely bread to start off.

Oh and the wine, Scott had beer, obvs. No photo as it’s just beer.

The kids shared a 16 inch pepperoni pizza (they didn’t even manage half and even though it was boxed and we had a kitchen, it ended up in the bin) and Scott and I each had the Souvlaki combo platter.

I wish I’d moved the gyro meat as it doesn’t look great, but please take my word for it after lots of rich food, this was great. Fresh salad, olives, feta, grilled chicken and pork, some fries and some fresh pitta - yum! Can’t recommend this enough and it’s not expensive either.

We were all tired now so settled the bill and headed for home. We hadn’t decided the sleeping arrangements. The queen beds were smaller than expected and the sofa bed was a good size but not suitable for 2 adults (high roll together factor), the kids couldn’t see why Daniel couldn’t have 1 bed, Scott and I the other queen bed and Abbie have the sofa bed to herself. We couldn’t convince them that they should share the sofa bed and in the end tiredness overtook me and I agreed to share the sofa bed with Abbie. Daniel definitely won this round. I’ll regret this decision! But by 11pm I was shattered and gave in.

Thanks again for reading along and thanks for being patient. I am determined to finish and am home now so no excuses eh? The unpacking can wait.

We were all shattered and so had decided not to take advantage of early entry and instead just get up when we felt like it. Scott and I were awake pretty early but the kids didn’t move till after 9am.

We got ready and headed to CityWalk as we wanted to try Voodoo Donut for breakfast. When we passed yesterday there was a long line outside the door, but this morning there was only a couple of people in front of us. The kids both wanted The Voodoo Doll, Scott had the Romeo and I had the apple fritter. Mine was huge! They were all delicious.

After that we headed into Universal filling the mug on the way. We had the same palaver today, waiting in line only to find they couldn’t reactivate it, but gave us the refill anyway. First stop was The Mummy, I had to smuggle the mug in as I couldn’t be faffed heading back for a locker - I do wish they would say something at the entrance if you are not allowed loose items. As it was it was fine and didn’t budge from my waist band.

I really enjoyed this one and think they may have changed it since I was last on it. I hope we get another chance to ride before we go home. By now it was nearly 11am and I ducked into the nearest restaurant to reactivate the mug. It seemed to be a dollar or so more expensive than yesterday but i thought nothing of it. We could hear the Blues Brothers show starting so crossed the street to listen to Jake and Elwood. The kids weren’t too impressed, I think they are getting too old to take part. That didn’t stop me having a wee dance though.

I noticed here that there was a lady signing - and this was the same at all the shows we saw in Universal and IOA - a really nice touch Universal!

Next we headed for Kings Cross as we wanted to ride the Forbidden Journey.

You can just about see them going through Platform 9&3/4 here.

Hogsmeade was pretty busy so we headed to Hogwarts and quickly got a locker. We went on Forbidden Journey twice since we all like this one.

The kids wanted to do Flight of the Hippogriff so Scott waited with them while I went off to refill the mug as we were all roasting and needed a drink. I’m not sure if I’m blind or what but I couldn’t find anywhere in Hogsmeade to refill so walked right out and down to the Poseidon area and back. Part of me thinks it’s a bit of a scam to make you buy butterbeer, pumpkin juice and gillywater! But more likely I just was looking in the wrong place. The kids were just coming off when I got back as the ride had gone down for a few minutes. Scott was feeling sorry for the folks stuck on the ride in the full sun with no shade! I think they got fast passes to make up for it a bit.

It was about 12.45 now and we decided to go into Poseidon’s Fury, however after waiting about 10 minutes we worked out it was down, we gave up after another 5 minutes and the kids were delighted to be directed to a backstage exit.

We walked round to Seuss Landing as we were getting hungry and Daniel really wanted to try green eggs and ham.

We met a few characters on the way.

I noticed there seemed to more characters out that I’d ever seen on previous visits and despite the parks being really busy, quite often there were no lines.

There was a bit more daft hat trying on and a bit reading before we discovered that Green Eggs and Ham was closed.

Daniel was very disappointed so we kept walking to see what we could find. I was a bit sad that the kids didn’t want to go on any rides in this area saying they were too babyish.

Abbie saw Alex the Lion so went over the meet him.

Next we all went on Hulk, the express passes were working out great for us with minimal waits for everything. We left the stuff in the locker and went to Dr Dooms Fear Falls next. After that the kids and Scott went to Spider-Man and I went to get the stuff from the locker and said I’d meet them at the ride exit in the shop.

I grabbed the locker contents and went to get organised in the shop. This is were today went a bit downhill. I put Scott’s phone on a window ledge so that I could put my park ticket away (you use it to access the Hulk lockers) and my hands were full. Can you guess what happens next?

That’s right I walk away without the phone, totally oblivious. I met them off the ride and we headed round to Toon Lagoon in search of food. I can’t remember the name of the diner but I got a table and Scott went in the line for food. After about 5 minutes waiting Scott asked me for his phone. I checked my pockets and it dawned on me that I’d left it lying. Oh dear.

We headed back to the Spider-Man shop and the assistant said a phone had been found and to head to lost and found as that’s where they are all taken. Scott asked if it was there yet and when she checked she found out her manager still had it so he brought it out after a minute or 2 - phew! How lucky am I?

We went back and got the food as it was after 3 now and we were all getting a bit hangry!

Scott and I shared the saddest chilli dog ever - the chilli wasn’t even on it and it was tiny. Not a patch on the ones from Caseys Corner! The kids shared chicken tenders and fries. I felt a bit better now I’d had something to eat.

Our plan was to end today’s park time with the water rides but we were disappointed to find out that inclement weather meant all the outside rides were down. The wait time for Spidey had zoomed up to 75 minutes as a result. Abbie was especially grumpy about this, it was worse as the sky was fairly clear and it wasn’t even raining so it was hard for her to get her head around it. We had a look in some shops and tried to bide our time as a couple of the workers had said they thought the rides would be up again shortly.

Another hat - look at the face, that was because she was grumpy about the rides. To kill a bit time we stopped in at Starbucks so I could get a very Berry Hibiscus Teavana which is one of my favourite snack credits when we are on the dining plan. Abbie had a chocolate muffin to try to get her to cheer up.

I checked the Universal App and saw that all the rides had reopened so we headed over to Popeyes Bilge Rat Barges which was a walk-in with the express passes.

It’s safe to say we all got wet. In fact I dont think it was possible for me to be any wetter.

Next we headed for Dudley Dorights Ripsaw Falls - another drenching! Abbie declared she had a dry bit so we headed back to to Bilge Rat Barges to put that right.

Now she admitted she was properly wet. Thank goodness. On the way out we stopped for some pressed pennies.

When we got back Scott had to put his cash out to dry as his wallet had been soaked too!

We had a quick dip in the pool and a couple of drinks before getting ready to head out for dinner at about 8pm. We decided on Bubba Gumps and I had a Landrys Card borrowed from my friend Hazel, so we were seated immediately.

We had a great server in here and he explained if you flip the sign to Stop Forrest Stop the servers will stop by the table to see how they can help - I’d always wondered the significance and now I knew.

I had a Titos Tropic (which was delicious) and Scott had a beer. The kids had soft drinks as usual. I had my Mammas fried chicken which was yum, Abbie had the kids ribs, Daniel had the kids cheeseburger and Scott has Shrimpers Heaven.

The kids were delighted with the blue jello that comes with their meals.

Especially when it made their tongues go blue.

With the credit on the Landrys card the bill was $43.43 even with the grownups having another round of drinks (thanks Hazel x) so we settle up and left a good tip. We really enjoyed our meal here and I think we will definitely be back. We headed round to the Lagoon as they were practicing the new cinematic show. It’s a bit like Fantasmic - film projections on water with dancing fountains which ends with some fireworks.

It was quite good, I think it would have been better had we been earlier and got a more central viewpoint, but Disney still hold the crown for things like this. We headed out the park via the shops.

Trying on more hats, obvs.

We picked up another couple of pressed pennies then walked back. We were tucked up by 11.30pm after another exhausting day!

I was awake at 4.10am with horrific heartburn and dozed for a bit but eventually got up at 5.50am to get organised. I had made everyone put their clothes in the washer last night so I put the dryer on and made a start organising the stuff in the kitchen and lounge. I managed to get most of the clothes out of the 2 bedrooms without waking anyone, but it took much longer than I had bargained on to refold and pack everything! Scott and the kids didn’t start moving until after 8am and we didn’t get on our way till around 9am.

I was completely shattered already and had done 9550 steps!

We pulled up at RPR and one of the porters helped us with our bags which went into the storage area. Scott went off to park and I checked in, all very smooth and before long we had our room keys which would be our express passes in hand and we set off for the parks. We remembered to bring the refillable mug and chose Universal today.

It as about 10am by now. Abbie wanted to try RipRideRockit so we headed there first and I sorted the locker.

Abbie’s verdict was good but not as good as Manta. I agree.

Then we stopped for a photo with Puss as there was no line.

The next ride the kids spotted was Jimmy Fallon’s Race Through New York, a new one for us all. The pre Show is well done on this one. The kids loved this but it made Scott and I feel very sick. I had to close my eyes for some of it and I’ve never had the problem. I don’t think it helped that I was getting tired. I think I’ll need a disco nap later!

We do like to try on daft hats.

We went on the Fast and Furious Supercharged next. I thought this one as a bit of a faff, with the multiple pre show rooms and again the simulated effects made me feel sick.

Our express passes were working a treat though as it’s only 11.02am and that’s with stopping on the way to reactivate the mug. I stood in a line for ages only to get to the front and be told she couldn’t do it! She did refill it anyway though so that was good. This happened to us a couple of times which was a pest, I think they should have a sign on the carts so you know if it’s worthwhile getting in the line or not.

We walked round to Springfield via Men in Black, none of us managed to press the red button again, we’ll need to keep trying. The kids went to meet Krusty who had fun turning Daniels hat round to make him more like Bart.

We are all hungry now so headed in to order some food. Abbie and Scott shared a Meat Likers pizza and Daniel and I were going to have a Krusty Burger but at the last minute he changed it to a Clogger, which has 2 burger patties instead of 1.

You order separately which is why there’s only half a pizza here, they’d already munched it before I got back with the clogger.

We enjoyed the food here, but it took a while to order and the queue was horrendous when we left, so go early if you can! The kids and Scott went off to ride the Simpsons and I sat it out as I knew this one would definitely make me feel sick.

We stopped off in Diagon Alley and the kids watched Tales of Beedle the Bard, then we went in search of Butterbeer. The Leaky Cauldron was way too busy as it was the main lunch rush so we walked round the corner and got some from the wee pub, but I can’t remember the name.

We didn’t bother with the souvenir cup this time. Abbie enjoyed it as usual, the rest of us weren’t keen.

The Gringotts ride was down so we headed to Springfield so the grownups could have a Duff Beer.

Very refreshing although it got warm quickly, I think the small cups at Busch and Seaworld were maybe better because they were smaller so didn’t have a chance to warm up, or maybe it was because they were free and these were almost $20!

Daniel wanted to go to the Fear Factor Show so that’s where we headed next, taking our Duffs with us.

They were looking for volunteers to help out and both kids were keen to give it a go. Daniel was picked to spray water on the contestants when the were climbing. He loved it. Abbie was disappointed not to have been picked.

I don’t think you can see him in this photo as he was over the far side. He was well chuffed when he got back!

We were going to head back to Gringotts but we were beginning to tire now (I was knackered if truth be told) so we headed to Transformers on our way out.

You can see they were flagging by now, look at their happy wee faces.

Despite the faces in the photo we all enjoyed this but decided to head back and see if our room was ready as we hadn’t yet had an email to say it was even though it was well after 3pm.

We hopped on the water taxi to RPR. Thankfully our room 1115 was ready! I think Scott was a bit disappointed to be on the first floor but it worked out great as we were on the same level as the pool, water taxi and walkway to the parks.

We called bell services for our bags and they arrived quickly. I stowed the packing cubes as best I could and we all got changed for a dip in the pool. I’d been looking forward to this since we booked our stay here.

It was pretty busy in and around the pool but the servers were doing a great job and before long I had this in my hand.

We stayed for a couple of hours and it was so relaxing after another busy, busy day.

We were all tired now and in hindsight probably should have grabbed room service or something to eat by the pool but we got ready and went out for dinner. We fancied the NBC place and they said the table would be 20 minutes. Abbie was desperate to go on RipRideRockit again so we walked over to Universal.

Scott and I sat this one out as we were both feeling a bit ropey. When they got off we headed for dinner. It was a bit meh. I think we were all overtired. Abbie had the kids cheese flatbread, Scott had a burger which they’d left the barbecue sauce off of so it was dry, Daniel had the Chicken Flatbread because it also had bacon on it, but he didn’t really eat much as it had too much tomato and I had the French dip sandwich. No photos of this meal (oops). We paid the bill and made our way back to RPR and were all tucked up in bed by 9.30pm.

I got over 29000 steps today!

I’m further on in this report than I’ve ever managed with my previous failed attempts, hopefully I’ll manage to catch up over the next couple of days as it’s nearly home time.

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The One With No Pretrip And A Better Chance Of Finishing - Day 19 - Homeward Bound
The One With No Pretrip And A Better Chance Of Finishing - Day 18 - Beachin
The One With No Pretrip And A Better Chance Of Finishing - Day 17 - More Beach Time
The One With No Pretrip And A Better Chance Of Finishing - Day 16 - Beach Time
The One With No Pretrip And A Better Chance Of Finishing - Day 15 - Moving To St Petes
The One With No Pretrip And A Better Chance Of Finishing - Day 14 - All Things Universal
The One With No Pretrip And A Better Chance Of Finishing - Day 13 - Move To RPR
The One With No Pretrip And A Better Chance Of Finishing - Day 12 - Golf & Yellow Dog Eats
The One With No Pretrip And A Better Chance Of Finishing - Day 11 - IOA
The One With No Pretrip And A Better Chance Of Finishing - Day 10 -Seaworld & Outback
The One With No Pretrip And A Better Chance Of Finishing - Day 9 - Volcano Bay & Disney Springs
The One With No Pretrip And A Better Chance Of Finishing - Day 8 - Shopping & recovery
The One With No Pretrip And A Better Chance Of Finishing - Day 7 - Quiet Day
The One With No Pretrip And A Better Chance Of Finishing - Day 6 -Seaworld And A Change Of Plans
The One With No Pretrip And A Better Chance Of Finishing - Day 5 - 4th Of July Shopping And Pooltime
The One With No Pretrip And A Better Chance Of Finishing - Day 4 - Busch Gardens Again And Orlando A
The One With No Pretrip And A Better Chance Of Finishing - Day 3 - Busch Gardens
The One With No Pretrip And A Better Chance Of Finishing - Travel Day 2 Arriving In Tampa And Cheese
The One With No Pretrip And A Better Chance Of Finishing - Travel Day 1
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Park Hours - Thursday 20/09/2018

WDW & Other Florida Park Hours
Magic Kingdom
Magic Kingdom
Extra Morning Hours~to~
Animal Kingdom
Animal Kingdom
Hollywood Studios
Hollywood Studios
Blizzard Beach
Blizzard Beach
Typhoon Lagoon
Typhoon Lagoon
Islands of Adventure
Islands of Adventure
Universal Studios
Universal Studios
Volcano Bay
Volcano Bay
Busch Gardens
Busch Gardens
Legoland Water Park
Legoland Water Park
Extra Morning Hours Early Entry for On-Site Hotel Guests.
Extra Evening Hours Extra Late Hours for On-Site Hotel Guests.
Full Schedule of Florida Park Hours

Disneyland Resort Park Hours
Disneyland Park
Disneyland Park
Extra Morning Hours~to~
Walt Disney StudiosCalifornia Adventure 9:00am
Extra Morning Hours Early Entry for On-Site Hotel Guests.
Full Schedule of West Coast Park Hours

Disneyland Paris Park Hours
Disneyland Park
Disneyland Park
Extra Morning Hours~to~
Walt Disney StudiosDisney Studios 10:00am
Extra Morning Hours~to~
Extra Morning Hours Early Entry for On-Site Hotel Guests.
Full Schedule of DLP Park Hours

US Dollar Rates
ASDA  $1.2908
CaxtonFX  $1.2957
Covent Garden FX  $1.3091
FAIRFX  $1.2945
John Lewis  $1.2979
M&S  $1.2646
Post Office  $1.2866
Sainsburys  $1.2909
TESCO  $1.2909
Travelex  $1.2822
Updated: 19:30 20/09/2018

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Euro Rates
ASDA  €1.1042
CaxtonFX  €1.1006
Covent Garden FX  €1.1105
FAIRFX  €1.1025
John Lewis  €1.1106
M&S  €1.0815
Post Office  €1.1002
Sainsburys  €1.1044
TESCO  €1.1044
Travelex  €1.0969
Updated: 19:30 20/09/2018