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Old 9 Jul 07, 02:40 PM  
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Our "Once in a lifetime" trip to Disney :) - 2001

I was just reading my old trip reports, and this was on another forum as it pre-dates theDibb. I'm just reposting it here, so they are all in one place.
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Old 9 Jul 07, 02:41 PM  
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The Diary of Bev Stephenson (or ‘It’s not scary is it Mummy?’

The players:
Bev Stephenson (32), been keen to go to Florida for many years (has been before in the 80’s)
Phil Stephenson (38) not that keen, but agrees to go, just to shut me up.
Katie (3), no idea where we are going, but wants to meet Mickey Mouse.

May 4th 2001 – On board AIH059 Newcastle to Sanford, at Newcastle Airport.

We woke up at around 7am, and had a nice relaxing lie in. Katie did not want to wake up, but when the magic words ‘Mickey Mouse’ were whispered in her ears she say up grumpily.

We are all packed excepted we can’t find the parasol (for Katie’s buggy) anywhere, and the house is a tip. Phil & Katie have breakfast, and I run around hiding laundry and cleaning loo’s, nothing worse than coming home to a filthy house.

We ask Katie about the umbrella as she likes to play with it, ‘Under the stairs’ she replies, so we empty out the under the stairs cupboard, and there is is.

Bill (my father in law) is due at 9:30am, so arrives at 9 (as we expected), as we load the car and head for the airport. At the airport we go to check-in, I have brought Katie’s carseat to use on board. I have contacted Airtours customer service to check, and they told me, forward facing, with a harness, no more than 16 inches wide, But all the check-in clerk want’s to know is ‘Is it a Britax’, It is not. I am calm, cool, and I say ‘Fine, we will not check in then, and head off to ring Airtours customer service. On the way, I pass the Airtours desk, so I stop to complain. The duty manager says I can take it to the gate, and see what happens ‘A victory’ (for the moment). We proceed to departures and a little aside.

Yesterday, I had my nails done for the trip, when I got back to the office I had smudged one, as I was quite disappointed (wanting beautiful nails in my holiday pictures – vain or what), I arranged to meet Phil at the salon, and went back to have it repaired, Phil had a long wait, but the nail was fixed and I set off with one wet nail – needless to say, this was also smudged, and I rather sheepishly returned to the salon a third time to fix my polish. (I didn’t have a bottle of the color, so I couldn’t fix it myself)
Anyway – we get to the airport, and there is a nail bar, with my polish, so I could have had it fixed here while we waited – no need for the trauma yesterday…

Anyway – back to the story – we go through departures, and to the gate. At the gate, I find a rep, and explain about the carseat, again she asks ‘Is it a Britax’ I explain that it is not, and they send the carseat to the hold (but curiously we were able to use it on the return journey…)

We board, and it’s a lovely brand new A330 with seat back tv’s and a downstair’s loo! I am happy, and we are about to take off…

Katie’s thoughts: We’ve eathen some sweeties on the airplane.

May 4th, 3:00pm UK time- somewhere over the atlantic.

Flight is going really well, I’ve read about 4 pages of ‘Bridget Jones’ Diary’ Seatback tv’s are great, we’ve watched ‘Chocolat’ & ‘What women want’ – Katie has watched kids’ tv (bear in the big blue house, and Cat in the hat – same programs about 100 times).
Katie is getting 1 present every hour, and that is working really well – the hours seem to be flying by.
Lunch was served, and the food was disappointing – Phil’s Fish & Chips are fishy aeroplanes, and Katie’s hotdog has onions on it – a bit odd for a kids meal. (I can’t remember what I had!)

May5th 5:30am Clarion Hotel Universal.

We landed at 3.45pm (US time) and got through customs, immigrations, airtours, and Dollar queues and into car and on the road by 5:40 – 2 hours in the airport is quite a long time….
The car is a Dodge Neon, and quite lovely (except no power windows or locking – we have to keep remembering to lock up) One of the toll booths has a massive long queue, but other than that no problems with the journey, plain sailing until Junction 4, we need Junction 3, but our lane is forced to exit – Phil asks me which junction, I look up, and seeing the 4 – say ‘4’ (wrong answer) and we exit, we end up on the Turnpike, and I am frantically map reading to work out where we are going. Fortunatly, the next exit is for I-drive, we take it and with some superb map-reading find the hotel.

Thoughts on the hotel: We have a smoking room and it stinks – literally, The sink leaks, and it’s not posh, it’;s basically ok. Full of kids on school trips, who I hope will be leaving after the weekend. The location is pretty good, it looks isolated, but the top of I’drive is 2 minutes away.

Dinner: Ponderosa – We are very tired and want to eat and sleep, on reflection McDonalds or Wendys would have been a better idea, but we try Ponderosa.

We have to wait in line, probably only 10 minutes, but Katie is tired and crying, and I am carrying her. ‘Boy is she heavy’ We have a 7oz steak (phil), Shrimp (Me), and the enormous buffet. I seem to have 2 dinners, 1 plate full of shrimp and chimps, and 1 plate of buffet, $23 altogether – very reasonable.

I spend some time unpacking, and we got to sleep about 10pm (3am uktime).

We are wide awake by 5am and manage to warm Katie’s milk in the coffee pot. Today Seaworld, and maybe IOA for Dr. Seuss later but first breakfast.
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Old 9 Jul 07, 02:42 PM  
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May6th, Clarion Hotel Universal, 5:10pm – In our nice, new clean room, with lovely view of Wet N Wild.

Katie’s best thing of the day: The whale jumped up with the lady on it.
Phil: The girl diving off the top of the whale’s jump.
Bev: Beauty of the park – it was gorgeous.

Today is day one – must be Seaworld.

We wake up at 5:15am and potter around the room for a while. We eventually decide to complain again about the room, and repack so that we can be easily moved. I go down to reception at 6:30am and am promised to be moved to a new room while we are out.

We have breakfast at Sizzler’s buffet which is nice – but what an enormous amount of food is on offer, we couldn’t possibly eat so much.
Phil spot;s 100’s of waiters getting on a bus, and we wonder where they are going, he has a theory about them being temporary staff at a theme park, when I realise they are not waiters at all, but a high school band going to a competition!

After breakfast, we head for Seaworld. I-drive, is quite tacky at the top, near us, but as we cross Sand Lake Road it changes and is much classier – the difference is quite apparent. We are very early so we drive past Seaworld looking for a Walmart or the like, but to no avail. We turn around and get to Seaworld just as it opens. We get our 5 park hopper passes, just as they are playing the national anthem. Katie is fast asleep and misses all the excitement.
As we entered the park, we had our picture taken and it is terrible, but we learn from it. We had bum bags & hats on, Katie was in her stroller (and asleep!) and we just looked daft. For the next days’ photos we prepare a little, by removing hats and bum bags, and getting Katie to stand, and we end up with some very nice family photographs.

First we saw some flamingos, and then I bought a visor as the sun was bright – I discovered later there are different styles of visor, and mine was a bit ‘nerdy’ , but it kept the sun out of my eyes. We walked through a very dark aquarium which Katie was not keen on, and then looked at a Rock pool exhibit, where Katie was able to put her hands right in the water. She loved this, and we spent quite a while here.

After this we walked over to the turtle exhibit, and had a quick look at them, before popping into a shop to buy Katie some sunglasses (Phil had stepped on her’s at the airport, and they were smashed) Choosing just the right pair takes ages, but we succeed and head into a super dolphin show. Although I found the advertising a little much. It was sponsored by Fuji Film, and at one point, a little girl is helping with the show, and ‘mum’ is taking pictures – only mum is a performer who ‘falls in’ and swims with the dolphins. At the end of these scene, they say ‘and mum was taking photo’s with her Fuji camera – which takes blah blah blah’ I didn’t think it was necessary considering there were plenty of logo’s, and they said ‘sponsered by Fuji Film’ a number of times in the opening announcement. Anyway – the show was good, and afterwards we and 10,000 other people walked down to the dolphin tank to feed the dolphins, Our timing was a little poor, as so many people were feeding the dolphins, that they really weren’t bothered about our tiny bit of fish, but we did manage a little pat and a stroke under the chin.

After the dolphin;s we walked through the Manatee exhibition, and saw a very good film as well as seeing the actual manatees. The film was ‘standing only’ but everyone sat on the floor and it was a nice break to get off our feet.

We decided to get some lunch next, and ate at a deli place right on the lakeside, ($18), the food was nice, and the view lovely, but we later learned to lunch in the a/c to cool off a little, as the days were very warm.

We walked over to the kids play area, which is a massive place full of areas to big and scary for me to let Katie play in them! But she did have a turn in the bouncy castle, which she enjoyed. She would have liked to stay longer, but we had a show to get to.
While we were at the playarea, we spotted a lost child, he was about 2 or 3 (in a nappy) walking around crying, clutching his trousers (Not wearing them, just carrying them). The CM’s seemed very good, and walked around with him for quite a while helping him to look for his mum. I did think they should have had radios, so they could let the other CM’s know they had him in case the mum approached someone else. We saw the boy reunited with his mum later, and to be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if she lost him again, she was walking miles ahead, shouting generally in his direction ‘Do keep up’ . I felt like giving her Katie’s reins to use.

Shamu: This show was really the highlight of the day. We sat up near the top out of the splash zone, but we still did get a little wet. The medium size shamu (they are all called shamu) did a super show, while her baby watched on, and then later the Huge Shamu came out, and basically just drenched everyone. They seemed to concentrate a lot on how wet could they get everyone, but it was still hugely enjoyable, and Katie is still talking about it.
At this point, we decided to leave the park, but we passed a water skiing show so we ended up watching that too. I’m not a big fan of water skiing show’s, but is was ok.

We had intended to leave Seaworld early, and go to Universal in the afternoon, but it is 3:30 by the time we leave and we are hot and tired.

We are still looking for that elusive Walmart, but can’t find it, so we pull into Pointe Orlando, which is quite upmarket, and not really what we are looking for, but a friendly sales assistant gives me directions to Kmart, which turns out to be quite near our hotel. We find Kmart, and buy a foam cooler, a bottle of water, some snacks that we never eat, and a water bottle – this was probably our best purchase.

Back to our lovely clean hotel room by 5:15pm.

We all go for a swim, and Katie plays Shamu for quite a while, and I am now starting to wonder what we should have for tea.

Sunday, 6th May 9pm:

We went to Denny;s for tea last nigh, I can’t remember what we ordered but it was fine. At the next table, an English couple were complaining loudly, and as far as I could tell they were unhappy that the tomatoes were too big….

Today – we woke up early again, about 5:45, but we took ages to get ready. We are headed to IOA and want to be there early, so we skip breakfast and head straight for the park.
The carparks are miles away, and it seems the earlier you arrive the farther away you have to park. We were in Jaws 13 and walked forever, but eventually we reached the park.

It looks brilliant, I love all the details in the scenery and could spend ages browsing in Port of Entry, but after having a super photo taken, we head for Seuss Landing.

It is brilliant to look at, and absolutely deserted. We walk straight onto Caro-suess-el. Katie and I sit in a car, and Phil has a strange creature. We are the only riders on.

After this, we have a quick debate, 1 fish, 2 fish, or the Cat in the Hat. Katie is keen on 1 fish, 2 fish, until I mention that she might get wet. She refuses to go anywhere near it, so we opt for the Cat in the Hat. Big Mistake!

We walk straight on, and it starts out tamely enough, then suddenly in the middle is starts to spin quite quickly, and it’s very dark with a strobe effect, Katie was not amused. We get off and she is looking quite pale ‘Did you like that’ I asked her, already knowing the answer and she just shakes her head and starts to cry. I feel like a very rotten mother.

We are now a bit stuck Cat in the Hat is too scary, and 1 fish, 2 fish too wet. What should we do next?

Spiderman call’s us, so we head over there, and watch the Hulk and Dr Doom on the way – No thanks, these do not appeal to us at all.

We walked straight onto Spiderman, and did a baby swap. This works really well, they have a lovely a/c room to wait in. While I wait, I start to get nervous and wonder what I am letting myself in for. Phil returns and proclaims it excellent, so off I go.

It is excellent. The 3-d effects are brilliant, especially coupled with heat and water. I completely missed the plot line, but thoroughly enjoyed the ride. At the final drop, I kept reminding myself, ‘It’s only 6 feet’ as the effect is amazing. Two thumbs up for Spidey.

We head off to Toon Lagoon, and watch the log flume for awhile. Decide against that, but Phil goes for the Bluto Bildge Barges, while I take Katie to ‘Me Ship, Me Olive’ (where I took some super photo’s on Phil’s camera – more on that later.)
It was a big hit, and we can watch all the wet riders on the rafts too, although I never spotted Phil. He arrived back rather damp (he was soaked), but happy enough, and we headed for Camp Jurrassic.

We stop by a fountain in the park, which Katie is scared to play in, and take some more cute photos….

We find the play area in Jurassic Park and head in there. This is a very scary play area. If you step on the wrong thing, the whole park ‘Roars’ with dinosaur noises, and yup – you guessed it, Katie was terrified. I am starting to really worry that this was the wrong holiday for Katie.

We cooled off in the ‘Research Center’ and name a newly hatched Dinosaur – Barney (seemed like the obvious name to me).

We leave here and walk quickly through the next area (it was middle easterny) which is a shame as it looked brilliant, but we wanted to be at Circus McGurcus for11:45. We get there, and buy a nice lunch. I had chicken cesear salad, Phil had spaghetti and meatballs, Katie had a bit of our food. We saw a superb show. Cat in the Hat, Thing 1 and Thing 2, and Sam I am, all appear along with the grinch, Katie enjoys the show from behind the safety of the table, but is not interested in having her photo taken, or a cuddle.

After lunch we check out the book store, they have some books out to read, and cosy chairs, I think this is Katie’s favorite part of the park.

We head into the playarea here, which is also excellent. I had brought Katie’s swimsuit, so we changed her and she spent about an hour playing in the little stream and avoiding anything that might splash her. Phil took more photo;s, then starts to wonder why he had taken, 27, 28, 29 and it hasn’t rewound. There is no film in the camera! Since we left the UK he has had no film in. All around Seaworld, IOA, Circus McGurcus. I have had my crummy camera with me, so we have a few photo’s, but not many. We put a film in, and take a few pictures, then rush back to the 2nd showing at Circus McGurcus and take some pictures of the characters.
Katie quite bravely talks to Cat in the Hat, from the safety of her buggy, but Phil misses the shot due to a ladys’ rather large bum being in the way. (Not mine I hasten to add)>

We decide to call it a day and head out of the park – stopping by to buy our super photo. It takes us an hour to get to the car from Suess Landing, which is a bit ridiculous. Katie is asleep in her buggy, and as I lift her into the car, she mumbles – ‘Not the Cat in the Hat’ in her sleep – I think I’ve traumatised her!

We head for Celebration, although I have a little trouble with East/West when we want South on I4, and we head the wrong way on I4 for quite a while before we realise our mistake.
Eventually we get to Celebration. This is a really nice town, just like what you ‘expect’ America to look like. It’s not really reality, but I like it. We had a look around a few $400,000 showhomes, and while they were very nice, for the money they were pretty small by American standards. And they had no gardens at all, but they did have lots of enormous closets. Apparantly there are cheaper houses, that we could perhaps afford, but we didn’t find them.

We went to Front street, and had some lovely ice-cream in the café, and I popped into Goodings to buy a newspaper (it was supposed to have a 40% off scrapbooking voucher, but I never found it).

We return to the hotel, and I collapse on the bed while Phil & Katie swim.

For tea, we decide to try Johnny Rockets, which SallyBrealy recommended. It took me a while to work out where it was, but we found it, and the food was super. The service was amazingly fast, and a great juke-box, they even gave us some free nickels to put in it.

We did a spot of window shopping, and Katie was running around Victoria’s secret with g-string knickers going ‘look at these funny pants, mummy’ time to go home. On the way out, we passed some bars playing music, and Katie had a great time boogying away as we walked out. We get back to the room at 9pm, and are ready for bed,


Edited at 08:22 PM.
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Old 9 Jul 07, 02:43 PM  
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Tuesday 8th May, 5:54am

Forgot to write last night.

Yesterday was a more relaxed day. We slept in and didn’t leave the hotel until 9am. We decided to try Perkins for breakfast, as it’s one of my favorites. Katie had pancakes, and I had 3 pancakes, 2 eggs, 2 sausage for $3.99 – Yum. Interestingly, I wasn’t allowed to order for myself of the child’s menu – but when I told the server what I wanted she suggested this, which was similar to the child’s menu. (I think it had an extra sausage).
We head off for Cypress Gardens, which is quite far down I4, and then down 27(?). As we get away from Disney, there are loads of signs for new houses which are amazingly cheap. I am quite jealous, some say fom $40k, - that’s about £25k, and would buy you a very small dump around North Shields. I am quite curious what you would get in Florida.

We get to Cypress Gardens for 11 and head in. It is really really pretty, there are amazing floral sculptures everywhere so we spend a while taking photos in the surroundings.

Then we walk up to the brand new water park. The big rides aren’t open yet, but Katie spends a lovely hour playing in the shallow pool and we wade in to help her on the slides, which is very refreshing. Kid’s really need to bring a swimming costume here, and fortunately we have one, but you could have easily not realised it would be needed.

After playing in the water, we walk through more of the park, and into a zoo area. We see alligators who look like logs, and never move more than an inch, and then some wallabys.

Wallabys look like small kangaroos, and one of them has a baby in her pouch. We spend quite a while watching the baby hanging out of the pouch and getting food off the ground.

Eventually he pops out, and he is a big baby.

After this we head around and into the restaurant. Crossroads, this is a lovely air-conditioned oasis, as it is very very hot.
We are seated in a small empty room with a wedding cake in the corner… we mention to 2 waitresses that we’d like to move so that we don’t disturb the wedding but are not moved. Eventually a waitress tells us they have 5 weddings in, so it is impossible to avoid one.

The bride and groom arrive, along with 2 parents in tow. They are English, and don’t seem to mind us joining their reception.

I mention to the mother of the bride(?) that I would have dressed up if I had realised we would be attending a wedding reception.
They have photo’s taken, and cut the cake – we sit there in our shorts, hot & sweaty – it’s all a bit surreal.

Meanwhile, we get our food. French dip for me, chicken salad for Phil, nothing for Katie.(We did this a lot). Katie picks off our plates, which seems to work better than ordering her a kids meal as I don’t get annoyed when she doesn’t eat anything. Phil says don’t forget to mention that he had a marshmallow and cheese dip with his salad – we had to ask what it was, it tasted like icing!

We head back in to the park in search of the ‘Southern Belles’ and find one. I try to convince Katie to have her picture taken, but she has gone all shy so we head off. Then she changes her mind and scampers back for a photo.

Just then the water skiing show started, so we watched from the grass, which was nice except for the creepy crawlies.
The show is ok, but the skiers make quite a few falls and a bit too many corny jokes.

After the show, we take a quick walk through the rest of the park, and then head out(3pm).
We head back to I-drive and I decide to do some shopping, so we find a scrapbook store on Orange Blossom Trail.

Traffic is v. heavy and they haven’t got what I wanted, so I buy a few things anyway, and we head for Michaels where I manage to spend a lot of money… Fortunately, Phil stayed in the car with our sleeping beauty.

Back to the hotel and we just get in when the phone rings, it is Detmar. (My sister in law’s boyfriend – he is in Florida on business).

We chat for a while and arrange to meet him Tuesday evening for dinner. By this time it is getting late, so we decide to go to Wendy’s for tea.

I was a bit disappointed in Wendys. My local Wendys in Pittsburgh (where I grew up) had a superb buffet and salad bar, this one is just like McDonalds, but it serves it’s purpose.

On the way back to the room, I spot an internet machine. $1=4minutes which I think is pretty reasonable, so I log on to say hi, and check my mail. My 8 minutes go by very quickly….

Get back to the room and check if my scrapbook paper had dried out, we had an incident in the car with a leaky water bottle. The paper seems to be ok.
Bed – 10pm.

Today it’s Universal Studio’s, we want to get there early after our empty park experience at IOA.

We drop off some film to be developed and are at Universal by 8:30am (to check Phil’s camera is working – it had jammed earlier in the week).

We are at Universal by 8:30am and actually have to wait to enter the park.

We make mistake number two and go to the Hanna Barbabara ride. I ask the CM if it is scary and am told ‘No, it’s just cartoon characters’ Needless to say, ‘Katie is terrified’ We are in the Stationary seats at the front, and leave during the show. I go back to have words with this CM who still denies it is scary, even though I am carrying a hysterical child. ‘I can’t help it if your child is…’ (she never finished, just gave a withering look)

We are now very nervous of anything remotely scary, we decide to do ET and as there are no queues, Phil & Katie wait outside while I go in. I am grateful we decided to do this, as I don’t think at that point Katie would have made it through the queue area. It’s a dark forested area, and while it’s very pretty she was feeling very timid.
I really enjoyed ET, it’s not really scary, although too much for Katie at this point (and probably even later on she wouldn’t have enjoyed it, with the police etc) I love the flight above the city at the end. ET mumbled ‘Goodbye x,jchakhf’ It certainly wasn’t Bev.

I exit, and Phil takes his turn while Katie and I browse the shops. We aren’t too sure what to do next, but decide to do Back to the Future while the lines are so short. This time I quiz the CM about scary queue areas, and he assures me the queue is fine, so we do a baby swap. The queue area was fine.

Just a word on baby swapping. Universal are excellent at this, they have designated air conditioned rooms with seats, and places for kids to play near the exit to each attraction.

This time Phil waits and I enter the Delorean. All that research before our trip, and I have absolutely no idea what sort of ride this will be. It is very clever, you don’t actually more anywhere, just rise up above your garage, but it feels very fast, and I feel a bit sick, I close my eyes for part of the ride, which is a bit of a shame. The theming of this ride is excellent. The whole building is like a lab, and all the technicians wear lab coats and hard hats.
I return to Phil and Katie, but we can’t find a CM/technician anywhere, and aren’t sure where Phil should go, at the last minute a CM appears, opens a door and tells Phil to get in the car. He has the entire car to himself – very scary.

We leave and contemplate Men In Black, but I am feeling a little queasy, so we head back to the Boulengerie for breakfast. After breakfast it’s nearly time for Barney (11am), so we line up and go in.
A tip – it doesn’t matter if you are at the front of back of the queuing area, just try and be near the doors. We found it was better to be in the back row, near the doors, then we got better seats for the actual show.

We wait for quite a while, and then Mrs Peek-a-boo appears, and Katie get’s nervous (do you sense a theme here), I try not to get annoyed with her. Eventually, we go into Barney’s park. The setting is really lovely, and Barney, BJ, and Baby Bop have us all singing along. Katie is dancing, clapping and having a great time. Until
‘I love you, you love me’ this is the close of all of Barney’s shows, and as soon as she hears it, she bursts into tears, heartbroken sobbing because it is over.
We wait to greet Barney, which is a waste of time as she is crying so hard she can’t see what is going on. As we leave the show, we find ourselves in a superb play-area, which is packed with kids leaving the show. Katie plays for a while but it is much too busy, so we leave to find a loo. We return about 15 minutes later and the play area is empty.

Katie plays for ages, and basically has the place to herself, which she loves. We realise Barney will be back on again soon, so decide to go in and see it again, this time we know to stand in the back row and get front row seats.

She manages to enjoy the show, and only sheds a few tears at the end. We greet again, and get some hopefully better photo’s and an autograph or two.

It’s now nearly one, we’ve been Barney’ng for nearly 2 hours, but a good time was had by all (other than a few tears..)

We walk around the lake, past Jaws (maybe next time) and into an Italian restaurant. The food was ok, but the portions very small, and no kids menu at all! I was not impressed, the difference to Circus McGurcus was noticeable, we had ordered basically the same meal, but the quality was not here.

Next we staked out a spot to Boogie on down with the Blues Brothers, which we all really enjoyed.

We decided to do one last ride, with the baby swap (I didn’t think it was fair to swap her too often) and choose Earthquake. We had to wait in a reasonable queue, 15-20 minutes, but we had pleasant company, chatting to the folks around us. I didn’t enter the building, as I was waiting with Katie, so I missed all the pre-shows stuff (the baby-room was right around the back at the exit – I can’t see what stopped anyone from just walking in here and saying they had been sent from the queue as there were a number of people in here, some with front of line passes, some who couldn’t stand through the pre-show etc.)
I really enjoyed this ride, I just laughed at all the screaming people, because although the effects were cool, they didn’t really scare me, until millions of gallons of water came crashing down the stairs, and onto me. I actually didn’t get that wet, but I thought I was going to get soaked.

We head for the exit, and it’s nearly 4pm – our longest day yet. Why does it take so long to get back to the car.

Back to the hotel for a snooze, and we’re out tonight for Dinner with Detmar. Where is he?

Thursday, 9pm. – Oh dear, haven’t written for a while.

Let’s see – Detmar arrived, and I suggested Tony Roma’s as we had heard good things, and had a 10% discount coupon. Detmar agreed, but chuckled – it turn’s out they have a Tony Roma’s in Berlin. (Detmar’s home).

We had a really lovely meal, Starters, Ribs, and pudding with beer and wine, and the bill was $90 for 4 which was our most expensive meal yet but very nice, and felt like good value.

We retired to the hotel bar for a few drinks afterwards, and had a really lovely evening

Edited at 06:55 PM.
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Guidebook Reviews: 7
Wednesday, we woke late and decided to have breakfast in the hotel. It was a nice buffet and Katie are free, which is a nice bonus. Just as we were leaving, a super surprise. Shamu appeared. The restaurant was very quiet so we had a lovely time playing with hum.

Eventually, we set off for Kennedy Space Center far too late. We found it fine, although we had to drive through some serious bug country to get there, the front of the car was disgusting when we arrived..

As we had been warned it took ages to buy a ticket, Why? I got the impression that they salesgirl was chatting on the phone and doing her nails in between each transaction.
We started out in the rocket garden. Well, Phil toured the rocket garden and Katie & I enjoyed the play dome. It was a superb play area, with a great mock-up of a space shuttle for the kids to play in.

After this we headed into the IMAX to see L3 – a city in space. I checked for scary bits, and we were warned that the rocket’s taking off were very load and potentially scary. Armed with this information we were able to prepare Katie and we made it through the entire film, although she had to put her fingers in her ears at some points.
The movie was supposed to be in 3-D, but we found the effects to be very poor.

After some lunch, we went on the bus tour. This was great once we got boarded, but we had to wait in line for ages to board – one of very few waits our entire fortnight
Eventually we set off, and I really enjoyed the commentary, it was very interesting both the movie portion, and also the bus driver. The bus drivers all had an obvious pride in the Space Centre and were keen to share their experiences with us.
While we were there a space shuttle landed (on the back of a 747), of course we were either eating lunch or in the loo when it happened, but the bus driver pointed out the space shuttle & 747 on it’s way to the mate-de-mate device.
On the bus, Katie fell asleep – unfortunately we were not able to bring our stroller with us, and by the time we realised and retrieved a hire stroller she had woken up, which was a shame. (NB: The hire strollers at KSC were very primitive – the worst that we saw anywhere – they didn’t recline and were very up& down, , however, they did have a different style for baby’s which was more like a car seat)

This first stop was the observation post, as we skipped the movie, the only other thing to see was the view of the launch pads. In retrospect, we should have skipped this stop, let Katie sleep a little longer, and then spend more time at the other two stops.

The next stop was the Apollo rocket. This was really amazing, and really the only place where I would have preferred not to have Katie with us. (Not that she was naughty at all, but we didn’t spend us much time here as I would have liked).
Again – we opted not to do the movies, and I think we missed out, perhaps we should have done them with a baby swap.
Nevertheless, the Apollo rocket is awe-inspiring, in particular the flags of all the missions, to think of all those men setting out on such an adventure.

I was particularly interested in the Apollo 13, having read about it and seen the movie. And another interesting fact, is that in the first mission to the moon, they only had 30 seconds of fuel left to land, or the mission would have had to be aborted.

We spent quite a while here, and then boarded the bus for stop 3. I have to confess that once we got to stop 3 (The international space center) we were so exhausted that we just stayed on the bus and went back to the main visitors center.

Before we left for the day, we took a look in the space shuttle (I think it’s a mock up), and I was amazed at how small it is – you really expect it to me much much bigger.

The very last thing we did was visit the memorial to lost astranoghts. This is very moving, and extremely beautiful. It looks like the little would be very impressive at night.

We headed back to Orlando, very tired – it was a long afternoon.

As we are nearing our ‘home-tel’ I spotted a Walmart. I got all excited, and demanded that we stop.
What an amazing place – I was agog. You could buy things I’ve only heard of before. We were there for ages, and only saw about ½ of the store, eventually we left with.

New Sandals for Katie
New shorts for Philip
More scrapbook stuff for me
And some lime green ribbon.

It was getting late now, so we headed straight to Perkins for tea. Katie really just wanted mashed potato and a ham sandwich. This proved really tricky, and the waitress was convinced it was impossible, but evertually we managed to convince her to order a grilled cheese sandwich with chips, and substitute ham for cheese, and mash for chips. Katie loved it, probably the best meal she ate all week, so worth a little stubbornness to get what she wanted.

During the meal I noticed that lots of the kids had balloons, so I coaxed Katie to ask for a green balloon (I thought it would be useful for the Dis meet the following day)

Katie to waitress: ‘Can I have a green balloon for my mummy please’

I wanted to disappear into the ground.
The waitress disappeared for hours, then sent someone else on the case, and it seemed to be a really big problem to get her a green balloon – which was strange as we could see plenty of green balloons in the lobby being given out to other children.
Eventually we get the balloon, and Katie hands it straight to me ‘There you go mummy – the balloon that you wanted’ The waitress looked at me like I was crackers.

As we were leaving the restaurant, the most amazing fireworks display started, and it went on for ages. We aren’t sure, but we think it came from Universal Studio’s and it made a lovely end to our day.

Installment 5


This was supposed to be a quiet day relaxing by the pool at Wet n Wild, but we decided that we wanted to return to Seaworld.

We were at Seaworld by 9ish, and wanted to do the part of the park that we had missed the first time, but that area of the park didn’t open until 10am.

We decided to revisit the dolphins for a while, and then we went to feed the stingrays, which was pretty cool, but a little terrifying – I couldn’t hold onto that shrimp while the stingray waffled over me, I just had to drop it and let him have it.
We had a quick walk around the penguin encounter, which I found a little disappointing – we have seen plenty of penguins in Edinburgh zoo who are able to live outside, but these penguins are in a very artificial inside environment. The tank/area was large and attractive, but all the lighting etc was false to simulate different lighting conditions.

We had a look at the seals and sealions, and there was one very amusing one who was playing with the fish (again you could pay about $4 to feed the seals – Seaworld mustn’t pay for any of the animals food, as we were paying about a $1 a fish all over the place to feed them ourselves)
I really fancied the sealion show, as I had heard it was great, but Katie & Phil opted for Shamu again, so we headed over there.
The show was quite different from the one we saw on Sunday, so that was nice. I do think the ‘let’s get the audience wet’ bit get’s a bit tired through. Fair enough, a splash from a jump, but the big whale doesn’t do anything except swim around and kick water on the audience. Actually, this time he wasn’t that bothered – he did about ½ the audience and then went back for some more fish – I think he was bored with the joke himself.

After this we wanted to do one last thing, which was ‘Wild Arctic’ before we went. The sign said a 5 minute wait to walk, or 10 minutes to ride, but we actually waited longer to walk than Phil did to ride. The polar bears were ok, but again I didn’t like that they were indoors – I think animals seem happier outside (although I guess not in the heat of Florida).
Also, once you had waited to see the film, there isn’t actually all that much to see at the ‘polar station’ I think they are trying too hard – we would have been quite happy to just see the polar bears, and didn’t really need the ride, or the ‘disney’ style theming of the station.

We headed out via a gift shop to buy Shamu – as so far he was Katie’ favorite. We had seen loads of little $6 shamu’s throughout the park, but at the exit they only had the larger $10 variety – I guess we’ll take a big one!

It was about 1:30pm by now, and we were due at Beaches and Cream at 3, so we stopped off at McDonalds (Crossroads) on the way. Then into Walt Disney World, for our very first visit.
We didn’t see much, but the Yacht and Beach Club was amazing. The hotel is beautiful, and the swimming pool was fantastic.

I had forgotten to bring my ‘infamous’ sign, or my list of who was attending, so we had made a new sign using the recently purchased scrapbook materials – I even managed to find a piece of lime green card.

As we wandered through the hotel, trying to find the ice-cream shop, I was feeling quite nervous, and very self-conscious about displaying this bright green piece of card. Just as I am getting really nervous, this friendly face says ‘You must be Bev’ we had bumped into Penny and her db (who’s name I have forgotten – oops). They were off to admire the very impressive loo’s, so we continued on to Beaches and Cream, and met another couple ‘Sorcerer, and Sorcerer’s wife’ (I’m sure I should have caught their real names- maybe I should have taken attendence?)
Later on we were joined by Mick and the Dragon (nothing Dragon like about her Mick), Ann & Albert, Ceri and family, ClaireUK and family – I hope I haven’t forgotten anyone.
It was quite a crowd, and we had a really good time.
Penny and Sorcerer’s wife were comparing their pin collections – What a lot of pins they carried around – it looked pretty heavy!

Katie & I had some mickey ice-creams (v. cute) and we all chatted for ages, it was really good fun, and I would recommend you organise a meet for your trip.

We headed back, via the Florida Mall. This was a big mistake as were were all too tired, but I figured it would be my last chance to do some shopping as we are moving into ‘The World’ tomorrow.
We had dinner at Ruby Tuesday, which was very nice. I had brocolli cheese soup and the salad bar.
After dinner, we tried to shop, but Katie (and Phil) were tired and grumpy, although Katie did enjoy the Playmobil shop. I managed to get a few things, while Phil sat out in the mall with Katie (who I could hear screaming), so it was quickly time to come home. I wish I had planned this a bit better, as there were loads of lovely clothes that I would have liked to look at and probably buy, but it was a bit of a chaotic trip.

We are off to the Caribbean Beach tomorrow, and I have changed our plans so that we will rest on Saturday as we are so exhausted. We haven’t stopped all week, and even our ‘quiet’ days have been busy.
Phil’s downstair’s doing some laundry, Katie’s asleep – I guess I should pack.

Edited at 08:36 PM.
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Friday, 11th May – 11pm Caribbean Beach Resort – Barbados room 1313.

Wow! What a great day!

I didn’t pack, I fell asleep, and then about midnight I woke up, and there was no sign of Philip, being half asleep and very groggy, I started to panic – imagining all sorts of scenarios, mainly involving him fainting, hitting his head on the way down and being taken to hospital in an ambulance (it has happened before). I paced around the room for a while, getting myself into an even bigger state, and debated what to do. Katie was fast asleep, but I didn’t feel comfortable leaving her alone in the room while I went to look for him. Eventually I could stand it no longer, so I put her in her pushchair (still asleep) and got dressed and went out to look for him. I found the laundry room, and no sign of Phil, so I was getting quite frantic, as I turned back to reception, there’s Phil waving at me, ‘Coo-ee’ No idea of the stress and panic I have been in. ‘I thought you’d be asleep’ ‘I thought you were dead, or at least maimed or seriously injured’ ‘No, I’ve been in the bar reading my book, and the washing’s not dry yet’

Feeling ever so slightly foolish, I wander back to the laundry room, and no, the washing isn’t dry yet – but as it’s been in the dryer for about 2 hours we decide to take it out and pack damp laundry for the move tomorrow. Katie is starting to wake up, (hotel’s are very bright places when you’ve been fast asleep) and so I take her back upstairs, feeling very very stupid. (but he had been gone for 4 hours – to do some laundry!)

Anyway – we sleep, and we wake, a bit later than planned due to the nocturnal activities. We hadn’t packed, so we do that quickly (it’s amazing how much stuff you accumulate in a week), stop off at Michaels (the scrapbook store) so I can get one or two more bits, and finally – we’re heading for Walt Disney World. It’s 10am, just a bit later than I had hoped for.

We find the Caribbean Beach Resort quite easily, and go to the customs house to check in. There was a short queue, but we reach the front quite quickly (I had heard it could take ages to check in), but as we are getting our keys etc, it is 10:45, and we have an 11:30 ps at Crystal Palace – I don’t think we will make it…

The check-in person asks me if I had made any special requests, and I tell her ‘Oh yes ‘Aruba’ ‘ – she says, was that all, and I remember my late night conversation where I specified a refurbished room – apparently Aruba is not refurbished yet – so we have been put into Barbados, and there is a note on my file ‘Do not move this guest to any other room’ put there by an important manager (Or so I am told). I decide to trust the manager and we stick with Barbados. The room isn’t ready yet so we are given the keys, park passes etc (what terrifyingly valuable bits of plastic), and told to ring the front desk from any phone ‘in the world’ to get our room number later.

We dashed to the bus stop, as there was a bus pulling in, but it was heading for the Animal Kingdom. 45 minutes later a Magic Kingdom bus arrived…. This was a little disappointing. We had seen at least 3 MGM buses while we waited. Needlesstosay the bus was standing room only – but it got us there. We arrived at the Magic Kingdom at noon, and headed straight to the Crystal Palace to try and rebook for later that evening. They said ‘no need, we can honor that PS’ and sat us virtually straight away – Pixie dust is starting to reach us.

Suddenly we realise we are heading into our first big character meal, and in the panic we have forgotten the autograph book and a pen. I have my passporter which has some blank paper in it, so I run off to ask a CM where I can buy a pen – she just gives me one. More pixie dust…

We had a super meal, the food was excellent, and we saw Pooh Bear, Tigger, Eeyore and Piglet. We didn’t even need the pen as they were all carrying their own crayon’s in suitable colors.

After a super meal, with loads of character interaction and good food, we pull out Janice’s plan. We were supposed to have a fast pass for Pooh (oops), then Belle’s story time, and the parade. We head over to Pooh and get a fast pass for 4.35, and we notice that ‘It’s a small world’ has no line at all, so we head there. Katie is very very nervous – she has not really had a good ride experience yet, and I have to really convince her to ride (I don’t really approve of forcing kids to get on rides when they are scared – but I have been on IASW many times, and I KNEW that it was not remotely scary.) I promised her that it was just ‘dolls singing’ She really enjoyed it, even smiled occasionally and as we got off she said ‘It’s not scary at all mummy – it’s just doll’s singing you know’ as if I had been the nervous one.
I was so pleases, I had been having massive ‘I’m a bad mum’ feelings, especially after The Hanna Barbara ride. (She is sitting next to me as I type this, singing ‘It’s a small world after all, it’s a small small world…’)

Katie’s thoughts:I thought when we were at the fairground it looked wobbly.

(the fairground is one of the last scenes in IASW).

Next we go to the Fairytale Garden to see Belle. This garden is quite hard to find, and I bet most people don’t even realise it’s there. We found it eventually, and sat waiting for Belle, (and wondering who she was – we aren’t up on all the Disney characters yet). It’s quite a hot courtyard, but the show was super, and Belle is the first autograph in our hastily purchased book. We now have autographs in a Pooh Bear notebook from home, the passporter, and the official WDW autograph book – not very organised at all.
Never mind – Belle is the first character the Katie is really comfortable with – I think because she can speak, and the story was great. They acted out Beauty and the Beast (‘Belle’s story for the uninformed amongst you) and had kids playing all the parts. One little girl was very upset because she hadn’t been chosen, and they gave her a lovely sticker and told her to come back to the next show and she would have a starring role – I thought that was lovely.

We head to Main Street now, for the parade, and find a spot to wait, and wait – it seems we are at the end of the parade, It is a very long hot wait but it is superb when it arrives. Katie’s face really lights up, and she is even brave enough to go out and dance with some of the characters. Although, I must admit she talks about the barber’s shop quarter and the marching band which were before the parade more than the actual parade.
After the parade we dive into a shop to cool down and Phil & Katie make some not too secret purchases (it’s mother’s day on Sunday). We wander slowly back to the Pooh ride and Katie starts to worry again. I am not sure if she will go on or not, and I haven’t been on it, so I am not prepared to force her in case I am wrong again. We are quite early for the FastPass so we browse the shop (which smells like honey – I had heard this, and it is true), and we watch people leaving the ride. We ask a couple of very little kids if it is scary, and they all say it’s ok, so she is reassured.

Our time arrives and we walk straight on, past loads of people who are queueing – but we have no wait at all ‘This is the life’
Katie enjoys the ride, although she mentions the rain, and the ‘dream’ frequently. I am chuffed to bits. Two successes and no scares today. What a good mummy I am.

We decide to leave, but I really wanted to buy a Guest of Honor badge for Katie. Phil & Katie watch the barbershop quartet while I hunt for one. Apparantly they are phasing them out, but they can be bought in Tomorrowland – maybe I’ll get one tomorrow.

I arrive back to see Katie brazenly asking the quartet for their autographs ‘Go Katie’

I forgot to mention that while Phil & Katie were making their not so secret purchases, a lovely CM in a shop had phoned the CBR for us, and we now had our room number – 1313! Lucky for some.

We headed back to CBR, and I was very curious to see what the room would be like, In fact I was quite nervous as I had heard such mixed reports. As we approached the building I suddenly realised that we could have a car park view, and it didn’t look that attractive, so I started to worry some more. But as we followed the signs we were directed deeper into the resort. When we finally found the room, it was overlooking the pool, on the corner. It was very bright, clean, airy. Perfect!

(Although, we did have to fix the drawers as they kept falling out of the unit – but we’ll overlook that minor imperfection – I’d rather think of it as ‘Perfect’)

Phil & Katie wanted to swim, so I put yesterday’s damp laundry into the dryer and sat on a deck chair watching them swim. ‘This is the life’

Later on we headed to Jungle Jim’s for tea, and Goodings for supplies, and before we knew it, it was 10pm. ‘Where had the day gone?’

No big plan’s for tomorrow as we are very tired. Although we will be going to Magic Kingdom in the evening for the fireworks. I think it will be a pool day.

Sunday, 10:30pm Mother’s Day.

So, I’d better try and remember what we did on Saturday.

We were shattered as we hadn’t stopped for 8 days, so we decided to change the plan and have a quiet day by the pool. We slept quite late and had donuts in the room for breakfast, then later we wandered along to the main pool at the CBR. It’s quite a long walk, but pleasant, along the lakeside (the lake was very low due to the drought)

Katie and I went for a swim while Phil walked back to the room to collect the sun-cream (my fault apparently). I popped into the store to buy some new shades, as mine had disappeared during the move from the Clarion.
(Lost Items so far: My sunglasses, Katie’s suncream, Katie’s sunglasses (I think she buried them in the beach))
I also traded in my voucher for 3 trading pins, (All the same), The free pins are quite boring, I think so that you will trade them and get addicted to their new shopping ploy…

After swimming we decided to go to the Premium Outlet, to the discounted Disney store, where we picked up a few things and browsed the shops. We also ate at the food court (Subway). My feet were aching so badly that we came home for a nap. When we got back the maids had been, and all our beanies were gathered on the bed holding a ‘Welcome Home’ card.
I had a nap (no idea what Katie and Phil did) , and we headed to the MK about 6.30pm for the Spectromagic and fireworks.

Again, we had a long wait for the bus, and it was very crowded. A nice little boy gave Katie his seat, and she had fun playing with him and his granddad all the way to the park.
We were hungry, so decided to find some food first. I also wanted to sit somewhere cool, as my feet were still very sore. We started at Tony’s, and basically worked our way up main street and into Frontierland trying every restaurant we saw, and they were all packed – no tables unless you had a ps. I was starting to get a little frantic. I had made loads of ps’s for the week, and couldn’t believe I didn’t have one at this time when we really needed it.
Eventually we found the Columbia Harbour Hours, which was very nice. It wasn’t too crowded, and it was cool. Although it’s counter service, once you have your food there are loads of tables upstairs and it’s quite civilised. I would certainly recommend it.
After dinner, we had an hour before the parade, so we did the country bear jamboree – this is really corny but good fun. We exited the show to massive crowds (there hadn’t been many when we went in) and we found a spot at 8.45 for a 9pm parade. However, once again we were at the wrong end of the parade, which didn’t reach us until 9:30. It was worth the wait. It was excelled, we loved the floats, and Katie’s face was shining thoughout (or that could have been the reflection of her new light up Pooh Bear wand )

After the parade it was nearly 10pm, so we headed round to see the fireworks. We stood in front of the Crystal Palace and had an excellent view of tinkerbell although a tree blocked some of the fireworks.
We decided to sit and wait out the crush, rather than run for the exit, and sat on a bench to watch the world go by. Unfortunately, when we did head out there was the longest queue I have ever seen for the Caribbean Beach bus. It stretched the full length of the bus station. People were walking right past the queue, assuming it was for another bus, and then having to turn around and head to the back. (Although one woman did just jump in right behind me, and being tired and cranky this really annoyed me, but my loud comments about having waited so long just fell on deaf ears.

We did eventually get on a bus, I even got a seat, and we made it home. Tired and happy. I realised we had an early PS for 1900 Park Fare in the morning, so I set a wake up call for 6:32am (ouch).

Edited at 09:01 PM.
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Installment 7

Mickey phoned just as I closed my eyes, or so it seems. We were a bit slow getting out and it took us ages to find the parking lot at the Grand Floridian but we made it to our 8am ps just in time.
Mary Poppins and Goofy greeted us, and Alice, the Mad Hatter and Geppetto worked the room. We also saw Pluto (He swapped with Goofy).

The food was good and after causing some confusion we used 2 of our flex options and paid for one child, so $10 was an excellent deal! (NB: If you don’t want to use all of your flex options for a meal, you have to be very explicit about this, my dh assumed that because he only gave the waitress one of the cards that we would only be using one option, but she actually took all 3 off – we didn’t want to ‘waste’ one on a child’s meal, so we managed to get it recredited so that we could pay for Katie and use the other flex later in the week.)

We had a look around the Grand Floridian and then headed for Epcot. We parked close by, and I am now losing interest in buses – it seems just as easy to drive.

As soon as we entered Epcot, the Spaceship Earth was empty, so we walked on after quizzing the CM about scary bits. Katie had her light-up Pooh Bear to keep her safe and was quite happy. We headed through to the World Showcase, but got distracted by a character bus, where we saw Minnie, Mickey, Teka, Chip & Dale.

So, eventually, we headed into the World Showcase, about 11:20am. I stopped to buy Katie a passport, and my notes get very sketchy after this…

Mexico – just wandered through and got the passport stamped.

Norway – we did Maelstrom which has a bit scary, but Katie was very brave. Initially we were going to Babyswap, but she changed her mind so mum & Katie did it alone. I was quite nervous myself. We also got our passport stamped by a lovely Norwegian guy on his first day who explained all about friendly trolls, and rubbing their noses 3 times for luck, so by the time we left Norway Katie was converted from a troll hater to a troll lover.

China. We saw the Movie which was ok, but my feet hurt. I don’t like standing up for things like this, and eventually gave up and sat on the floor. We did have quite a long wait for the movie, so we sat in the cool air-conditioning on some benches and Katie put some of the stickers in her passport. As we left China we started to get hungry.

Germany – we just really looked for food here, and didn’t feel that it would be suitable for Katie, so we had her passport stamped and moved on.

Italy. The food here looked expensive, so again passport and moved on.

USA – we ate in the Liberty Inn. I was a bit disappointed to eat in the American area, but it was a good price and the food was ok for Katie. While we were eating a fife and drum band marched through the restaurant which was cool.
After the meal we found that the Kidcot stations had opened, so Katie got a mask to color, and things to attach to it – beads in the USA.

Japan – the food here looked good, but it was too late, we had already eaten. I had a browse around the department store, but everything was quite pricey. Katie got an origami butterfly for her mask and had her passport stamped.

Morocco – We caught the end of a superb show, people doing acrobatics in the street. We had a wander around the bazaar area, and found the kidcot station where we did more coloring and more beads. We found a set of bongo drums exactly like the one’s my sister in law bought for us in Morocco – wonder if she really got them at Epcot?

France – we browsed the shops again, the boulangire looked very good, but unfortunately we had just eaten L, Katie did her mask, here they had paints to use.

UK. This doesn’t look like the UK at all. We chatted with a few CM’s and Katie put some butterflies on her mask. I had a browse around the shops.

Canada – we had a beavertail on everyone’s recommendation. Which was very nice, but not as amazing as I had expected – I think given the high reviews it get’s I was just expecting something really really amazing. Katie got a Maple Leaf for her mask.

That;s the world showcase, and it doesn’t look like we did much writing it down, but it was 5pm when we finished. It is really far, and takes a long time just to walk around. We really didn’t go into many of the shows and things. We think about leaving now, as we are tired but we manage to revive ourselves with some Mickey Bars and decide to look in The Land.

We check out the Circle of Life movie, which was ok – I would have liked a bit more of Pumba and Timba (Is that his name?), and a bit less of the ‘message’ but I guess that was it’s purpose.
We then got a fast pass for ‘The Land’ ride – which I have always wanted to go on. When I came to Epcot as a kid we always seemed to skip this pavilion because it looked ‘boring’, so I was keen to do this. Plus, I had heard as a kid that they grew square tomatoes.
While we were waiting for our fp time, we went in Food Rocks, which is good fun, and then had a coffee in the food court, and then we were whisked to the front of the line for our trip. I love that – you feel like royalty as you go to the front. I really enjoyed The Land, but no square tomatoes ! I don’t know where I had heard that one.
All of the Land was fine for Katie, so that was a nice relief!

And that’s the end of notebook one – I guess I have gone on a bit, because I am now having to ‘borrow’ Katie’s notebook to continue my report.

By this time is was 6:30, and we had a PS at Spoodles for 7:30, so we headed to the car and straight to the boardwalk.

Spoodles was great – I really enjoyed this meal. We had 3 starters and a kids pasta and desserts all round and it was $50, which I thought was very reasonable. I foolishly didn’t write down what we ate, but I remember the flat bread pizza’s were amazing.
Katie had a fantastic pudding, which was a do it yourself sundae. A bowl of ice-cream, and toppings arranged in an artist’s palatte, for you to add whatever you wanted, I wouldn’t like to say that she ate much ice-cream, but she had a superb time playing with it!

After dinner we walked on the boardwalk, and I looked at some more pins. We are resisting the temptation to buy anymore, having traded our 3 free pins for ‘Sorcerer Mickey’ ‘Cinderalla’s castle’ and ‘Minnie and Mickey in a car’. There are so many lovely pins that I could very easily get addicted if I start paying for them!

While we are on the boardwalk, we can see the fireworks from Epcot, which is a lovely finish to the evening. We head home about 10pm, after a long day, to find our beanies watching the tv. Shamu is in charge of the remote control.

Tuesday, 15th May. 6.26pm
Yesterday, we had a lie-in and decided to go to MGM when we woke up (it had been a water park day, but since we didn’t go to AK on Saturday we need to rejig the plan a little. I didn’t think AK was a good idea for a late start, so MGM it is)

I phoned and juggled some PS’s around, and we got to MGM for about 10am – this is not ideal but I think we needed the sleep.
We drove to MGM, and parked quite close – the tram was coming so we hopped on – this was our first tram experience, and when the guy say’s ‘Hold on tight’ he means it – just as we flew around a bend, Phil’s backpack went flying off the tram and flew quite a distance. If this had been a small child, I shudder to think what would have happened. They stopped the tram to retrieve the bag, but it made me a bit nervous of trams after that.

We started with Muppets 3-D, and while I was worried about Katie, she was just fine. After that, we ran over to Bear in the Big Blue house for Katie favorite tv show – Bear. This was great, although no character greeting afterwards, which was a shame, it would have just made a great show - perfect. Katie managed this show without tears at the end, this was super after the Barney incident last week.

We were starting to get a bit peckish as no breakfast this morning, so we went to the 50’s Prime Time Café for lunch with ‘Mom’. This was ok, the food was really good, but the scenario was a little hokey. Maybe you have to be American to really get in to it?
After dinner, we headed to the ‘Honey, I shrunk the kids’ playground, and on the way we noticed Star Tours, so Phil nipped in there, while Katie & I went to the Playground. Katie liked this a lot. I really enjoyed the music, which is by Ray Lynch and was an favorite tape when I was at university (so, it really it is quite old…)
It was very very hot in this playground, it just felt like we were baking in an oven, and I didn’t notice any water areas, even though I had read you could get wet in here, so I don’t know if they switched it off due to the drought. When Phil arrived, we headed out and ran into the Green Army Men (from Toy Story). We really like Toy Story, so we were thrilled to get a photo and autograph (it says ‘GREEN ARMY MAN’)
As we headed around to the Arial, Mermaid show, I decided to do the Great Movie Ride. This was a very deceptive queue – it looks like a walk on, when actually there was a massive line hidden inside the building. Once inside the building I must have queued for 30 minutes or more, which considering we hadn’t queued at all, all week, was a bit of a shock to the system. I did enjoy the ride, but I don’t think it was worth the lengthy wait. While I was riding, Phil got us some fast passes for Ariel’s little mermaid show. So we walked straight in there.

This was excellent, the puppets were great, although it does get a little scary at times, but Katie is getting very brave now and coped just fine. As we were leaving here, we picked up FP for Millionaire, and we went on the Backstage Pass tour. I quite fancied doing the other one as well, but I wasn’t sure if Katie would like the ‘Catastrophe Canyon’ so we stuck with BP.

Backstage Pass is quite good, we toured some sets and saw some animatronic dalmations used in 101 dalmations, saw the set of Home Improvement and 1 guy was chosen to act in a scene and he was merged with a scene from the show. It was quite effective, and the bloke that was chosen was very good.
After these we went backstage of Who want’s to be a Millionaire – we got to watch for a while, and hoped that they would ring for ‘Call a complete stranger’ but no call came through. The final sets are from 101 dalmations again. The thing that strikes me every time I see movie sets is just how small they are, and also they are all jumbled up together, but the camera is so close in that you don’t realise.

After the tour, it was time for WWTBAM. We were absolutely rubbish, but the lad sitting right behind us went straight into the hot seat with a question about the NFL. We just heard this little voice saw ‘That’s me’. He was only young, about 12 maybe, and he was very nervous. He did make it to 1000 by asking the audience and phoning a complete stranger. He won some pins and a baseball hat.
The next guy got to 32,000 when the buzzer went, so we don’t know how well he did in the end.

After WWTBAM we headed out of the park, but we got a bit lost and stumbled upon Princess’s Jasmine, Esmeralda and Pocohanta’s, and also a Japanese Warrior dude who we didn’t recognise (of course we still got an autograph). They were all just standing very quietly in a corner with no queues etc, and if we hadn’t gotten lost we wouldn’t have found them. After our pictures, we eventually found the exit and came back to Caribbean Beach Resort. All the beanies were gathered on the bed, ordering a pizza – again Shamu appeared to be in charge.

We had a lovely swim and missed our dinner at the Wilderness Lodge. So, we had dinner at the food court instead, which was mediocre (I can’t remember any details – that’s all I’ve written in my notebook ‘mediocre’ I don’t actually think it was that bad. – I do remember Katie was really tired and in her buggy, and I ended up getting my food in a take-away bag so that I could carry it to a table, as there was no way I could manage a tray and pushing a stroller )

Tuesday –
We set the alarm early for Animal Kingdom and arrived about 8:10am. It was lovely and cool and very very quiet. We should have done the safari, but we wanted to see Donald so we headed into Restaurantasaurus. We had no PS, but we were seated very quickly, after having our photo taken. (We had loads of photo’s taken here – one before we entered the park, more once we were inside the park, and this one before we could be seated at the restaurant)
We saw Donald Duck (the only place we saw him all week), Mickey, Goofy & Pluto.

After a super breakfast, we headed into the park. It was noticeably busier and hotter, so if riding is your thing then I would skip the breakfast. (But it’s not our thing, so we were quite happy).
We got a FP for the safari, and then walked the Paganini Forest Trail. This was very good, and we saw some gorilla’s in the distance, and some hippo’s underwater. The enclosures are excellent and it doesn’t feel like a zoo at all, which is a real plus.
After this our FP time had arrived, so we boarded the bus (again walking past a massive queue) and we saw Elephants, Giraffe, Rhino, Lions and Emu (or was it Ostrich) also Crocodiles. This safari is excellent, there is no apparent boundary between us and the animals although I am sure they are there. Only once did I notice a barrier in the lake so that the animals could only use ½ the lake. I didn’t think the poacher story was particularly necessary, but Katie was so busy looking at the animals I don’t think she even heard it, and certainly wasn’t worried about it (as I had been concerned about).

After the safari, we saw Pocahonta’s and her animal friends. Katie was particularly impressed with Grandmother Willow(the talking tree) and they sang one of her favorite songs (Once around the river bend). She has never actually seen Pocahonta’s – but there is a small trailer for it on one of her other videos, so she thinks she has seen it.
We went from this, straight into the Lion King show. This is excellent, fantastic, superb – wow. I don’t think I can do it justice. All the hit’s from the Lion King, gymnasts, fire-eaters, stilt walkers , All hosted by Timon.
We really enjoyed this, and Katie got up to dance in the aisles. (We were giraffe’s, so no ROARING for us, I’m afraid)

After this we had seen everything we wanted to see, so we headed out – via the Photo Spot where we bought 3 photo’s! A bit extravangant – but they were such lovely photo’s and we don’t get many of the 3 of us together.

By this time, Katie was asleep, so we decided to head to the car.

We decided to go to Downtown Disney for lunch as it was 1.30pm, and we ate at Wolfgang Puck Express. I had a lovely pizza, and Phil had tortellini, Katie slept through lunch and had an apple when she woke up. We had a nice wander around the shops and bought some Mickey Ears soap for the Granny’s, and I bought a lovely t-shirt with the Castle on it, and another scrapbook…

By now it was 4 o’clock (and we hardly saw any of Downtown Disney – where does the day go), as we were getting very very hot we decided to go to Typhoon Lagoon to cool off. We had about 1 ½ hours in here, and we did a circle of the lazy river, and had a swim in the lagoon. It was very refreshing and a lovely way to cool down. I liked the fact that with UMP we could do this without feeling we had wasted anything.

We are just getting ready to go to the Whispering Lodge for dinner. Our beanies were playing noughts & crosses when we came home tonight.

Tuesday – late.
Wilderness Lodge/Whispering Canyon.
The hotel is very impressive but the restaurant is not. The food was ok but not superb and the ‘fun’ was a bit disappointing. All in all we did not feel it was worth $66.

Wednesday, 16th May. 9pm (This section is written by Phil as Bev is flaked out).

Breakfast: Mini Muffins and coffee in the room. After an early morning call we actually left the room at 9.15 and got there for 10am (Magic Kingdom)
Went by car and crossed the lake by boat (which is a bit slow)

Katie got a mickey bar on Main Street and ate it as we went to Tomorrowland. Got FP for Buzz straight away and went on the TTA while we waited. Very good and was representative of the way they thought things would be. We then went onto the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. Not very long queues and Katie really enjoyed it.

(Bev aside: Tweedledum and Tweedledee were on the tea Party too)
We saw a moving trash can that followed people around in the crowd – bizarre.
Buzz Lightyear was good and Katie came too! My score was respectable, first officer but was was just a rookie score (I think it was 1200!)
Went through Adventureland and saw treehouse of Swiss Family Robinson. (pretty good)
Got fass pass tickets for the jungle cruise and went to Enchanted Tiki Room while we waited, and saw Captain Hook and Mr Smee. Jungle Cruise was ok (the boat’s captain was v. fat! )
Went to frontierland and got fp tickets for the Splash Mountain. We went to Huck Finns playground and had lunch (choice of menu was poor at the restaurant) (Bev aside: I think there was only turkey sandwiches, and PB&J for kids)

Did Katie swap of splash mountain as I did it Bev saw the gay couple who have twins. (Good playarea for Katie while waiting for babyswap).
FP tickets were excellent and worth their weight in gold. While parade was on (3pm) we went to Fantasyland and went on ‘It’s a small world’. Then got a FP ticket for Peter Pan. While we waited we went in Lion King – good show. Katie was very good in the dark bits.
Peter Pan. Katie came in too and was very good and liked the ride. She liked it when Captain Hook was balancing on the croc’s nose.
We came out and Katie wanted to go on the carousel. There was no queue, so on we went, and Katie went on a horse of her own (with a safety strap and daddy standing next to her). She enjoyed it.

Left the park after 4pm and got the monorail to the car – surprised that it had individual compartments for passengers.
Katie slept as we got petrol and went to Walmart. Digital Camera needed for Chris (my brother). So Bev phoned home to discuss prices.
Bought some groceries.
Katie suggested that we eat at Red Lobster for tea, and we got a very good 4 course meal for $49 (bargain) got back at 9pm and Bev went to sleep.

(Bev note – we did have a ps for Ohana’s, but we were off-site shopping, and had a poor experience the previous night, so we didn’t go – I kind of wish we had.)

Edited at 09:34 PM.
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Old 9 Jul 07, 02:44 PM  
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BevS97's Reviews
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Installment 8

Thursday, 17th May, 11pm Our last night….

We had a very lazy morning. Phil & Katie had a swim and I did the laundry. We eventually got underway about 1pm. We drove to Epcot and parked quite close for 1pm. I really wanted to do Ellen’s Energy adventure, but I didn’t think Katie would like the dinosaurs, and she was fast asleep in her buggy, so we swapped. (Not a proper baby swap, because this is a 45 minute show –too long to be hanging around at the exit.). Phil took Katie over to the Rose and Crown to request a patio table, while I did the ride. I quite enjoyed this ride, but I thought the Energy message was quite amusing. Basically it seemed to say ‘We are running out of coal, oil and gas, but don’t worry because Exxon will find some more’ no suggestion’s that energy should be saved or conserved at all.
After the ride, I swapped with Phil, and Katie and I went to Innovations. It was nice and quiet, so we got to play with lot’s of things, and sent a digital postcard to my mum, and had a free photo taken by Xerox. On the boards, I once heard a complaint about Epcot, that there was nowhere that you could take a buggy inside, so if your baby was asleep you couldn’t get out of the heat and into some a/c. Well, we were able to take the buggy into Innovations without any trouble, so it’s worth remembering if you travel with small children. I did notice kids being turfed out of stroller’s at the entrance to ‘The Land’ pavilion, and ‘The Living Sea’s’ this would make it nearly impossible to visit with a non-walking baby/toddler, unless you had a really good sling. I certainly wouldn’t fancy carrying a one-year old around for an hour.

We met back up with Phil, and by this time it was nearly 3pm so we headed to the Garden Grill for the Ice Cream Social. I had heard mixed reports about this event, but we had nice big ice-creams (we’d had no lunch either), and we saw Chip, Dale, Pluto and Mickey, and had a lovely view of The Land ride too. I thought it was excellent. About 20 minutes into the meal, Phil realised we were revolving!

After this, we went to Imagination. I wasn’t at all sure about Katie doing this, but we asked the CM and she told us about the train in the dark, and the bright flash at the end, and Katie decided to try it. She did great – I was very startled by the bright flash at the end, but Katie was unfazed. I was really surprised, as earlier in the week she would have hated this, but she coped really well. The playground after is not as good as I remember from many years ago, and seemed to be basically a Kodak shop. This was disappointing, as it had been my favourite pavilion, and I missed Figment.
‘Bring Back Figment’
After Imagination, we did the Living Seas. I liked the ride, but the travelator thing was a bit pointless. Also, Katie was being a bit wild and running around like an out-of-control thing so it was hard to enjoy the tranquillity of under the seas. We did see a Scuba diver feeding the fish which was cool.
The next thing on our plan was the parade, but it was still early, so we sat in the shande and had a drink and a snack. Then we headed round to France and found a hidden mickey in the garden (thanks to the passporter). We found ourselves a great viewing spot and sat to wait for the parade. However, the parade wasn’t going through France (the parade route in the Passporter was different from the official map – so it makes sense to check the official map). Just before the parade started, we realised our mistake and scurried into Morrocco. Of course by this time, all comfy benches had been taken, so we had to stand.
The parade was excellent, although I think perhaps the later showing may be more impressive with the lighting etc. The puppets were just amazing and many reached down to shake hands with Katie, who as usual was dancing in the aisles. She sang that ‘We be la’ song for the rest of the evening as well.
After the parade, we wandered back to the UK, and as we had some time before our PS, we sat and enjoyed an excellent Beatles tribute band. We picked up a pager for the Rose and Crown, and again mentioned that all important outside table. While we were waiting, I went in to a shop full of breakable china. The CM noticed that I was worried about Katie breaking something, so she started talking to her, so that I could browse. She picked up Katie’s Minnie Mouse, wandered off with her, and when Minnie came back she was carrying a packet of Cadbury’s Button’s – only Katie’s absolute favorites! I really couldn’t believe it. We chatted to the CM for a while, and I pointed out her Muppets 3-D pin to Phil, as we had enjoyed the Muppet’s show. But I had nothing I wanted to trade with her (we only had the 3 original pins). Next thing I knew, she was taking it off her lanyard and giving it to me. I was amazed. Things like that don’t happen anywhere else.
Just as we were saying goodbye, she said ‘Hope you enjoy your meal at the Rose & Crown’ I thought she must be psychic, but no – I was carrying a pager! Which started to vibrate…
We returned to the Rose and Crown, and got the best seats in the house – without a doubt. On the lake side, lower patio, right in the middle – they couldn’t have been any better – Fantastic!
We had a really lovely meal. Salad, Fish & Chips, Bangers & Mash, Cottage Pie for Katie (best meal she had all fortnight). Trifle for Phil, The Crown Jewels for Katie, and I had the Guiness Mousse in the Spaceship Earth – it was to die for.
Just after they brought out the desserts, the fireworks started. (They were started by a young boy at the Rose and Crown.) and it was as if they were putting on the show just for us. The view was worth the $66 we spent for dinner right there.

It was an fantastic, incredible show, and I can’t begin to compete with SpottyDog’s description, but let’s just say it was awe-inspiring, and an amazing way to end our last night at DisneyWorld. And all the credit for that goes to The Dis – I would never have had any idea to make a PS, let alone for a certain time at a certain restaurant to get the best seats in the house.

As we eventually left the park, it was late and very empty, and we found some pavements with lights in them. They made pretty patterns on the floor and Katie enjoyed playing in them.

Tomorrow, Chef Mickey’s, Magic Kingdom and then home. L

Saturday, 10:45pm – Home.

Chef Mickey’s was great, although we had a long wait to see the characters – I think we could have better spent the time in Magic Kingdom. (We waited about 15 minutes after we finished eating to see Mickey). After breakfast, we took the monorail to MK, this was pretty cool, and only our 2nd trip on the monorail. We went to Toon Town as we only had an hour and this was the only part of the park we had missed so far. We looked in Minnie and Mickey’s house, which are both very cute. In Minnie’s house, you can look in her fridge and run the microwave.
Then we popped into the Judge’s tent, and saw that Cinderalla was there. We hadn’t managed to see Cinders all week, so we joined a short looking queue. We waited a while, and didn’t seem to be moving at all, there was no indication of how long the queue was (I am always conscious that just around the next bend maybe 100 more people), so eventually we decided that we would have to meet Cinderella next year.
We bought a couple of souvenier’s in the Judge’s tent, and headed back to the Contemporary to get the car.
It was 12.30 when we got in the car, and we had to check out by 1pm. No problem, we were all packed, just needed to change and throw the bags in the car. Except… We got totally lost leaving the Contemporary – I think we should have gone through the ttc, but we didn’t and eventually ended up taking a tour past Fort Wilderness, Port Orleans, Downtown Disney and a few u-turn’s later we found our way back to CBR at 12.58pm. We threw the bags in the car, no time to change, and left by about 1.30 – it was a very sad moment.
We had a 5.50pm flight, so needed to be at Sanford by 4, so loads of time. We decided to stop at McDonalds for lunch, and I popped into Goodings to get a few supplies for the plane (bribes for Katie) and suddenly we were running very late. We were driving up the freeway and I was checking my watch and panicking that we wouldn’t get there in time, but we actually got to Sanford for 3.30, and it took all of 30 seconds to empty the car and return it (perhaps we should have taken a little longer over this task…)
We checked in very quickly (no queue at all), and headed into security. I still had a cooler bag from the park in the stroller, so I lifted that on to the conveyor belt, and as it was travelling through it tipped over and dumped water all over the conveyor belt! Oops
Upstairs, we all changed into travelling clothes and sorted ourselves out. I decided to hit the duty free and asked Phil for my wallet out of his bum bag. He denied all knowledge of the wallet and I didn’t have it, so a minor panic started to set in. We took all the carry on bags apart and revisited the bathroom where we had changed. It was definitely not with us. I went back to security to see if I had lost it during the water incident, but they didn’t have it. The security guard there was amazingly confident that it would turn up. Things don’t get stolen here, he told me, it will turn up. Eventually, I rang Dollar and they found it under the seat in the car. Seems I had handed it to Phil to put in the bum bag, he hadn’t realised, and it had just fallen on to the floor when he got out of the car. I got it back completely intact, although I felt slightly foolish.
The flight back was long and tedious, although this time Katie’s car seat was allowed on board. No problem at all – I do wish they would be consistent. Only complaint about the return flight was that the lights were kept on way too long, so that they could sell stuff, and the kids (Katie especially) were having trouble falling asleep.
Well, that’s the end of our story, except… the holiday brochure for next year was on the mat when we returned, and Pop Century looks pretty good.

To be continued?

Edited at 05:02 PM.
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