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Unread 8 Sep 12, 11:31 AM  
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The Disney Do Minus Two Tour 2012 - Day One - Travel

Previously on this tour...

Premature Pretripulation

Day One - Sunday 19th August 2012

Welcome to this year's version of the usual trip report. It shall be named The Disney Do Minus Two Tour 2012. This of course relates to the fact that we are only doing Disney this time after foolishly forsaking it last year, and that we should have been a party of six, but due to illness my Mum & Dad weren't able to come along.

Preparations for these holidays are hard work sometimes, and things normally reach fever pitch on the day before travel. So we had a busy Saturday, dashing round doing stuff. This particular day before also involved going to see my Mum in hospital and saying bye to my Dad. Both of those activities were classed firmly in the things I dont want to do again category. My Dad especially was upset at not being able to come, and I dont want to have say goodbye like that again thanks!

With a flight time of 10.20am, the girls were making threats of a 2.30am alarm call to ensure there would be enough getting ready time. When the time actually came it seems that sleep and sense prevailed, and when I first woke at around 3.15 the house was as quiet as a Gary Glitter childrens book signing. The space next to me in bed was empty, which is not unusual when I awake on holiday morning, as Louises morbid fear of flying usually means that she doesnt get any sleep at all. This year was to be no different. Add to that lack of sleep, some prescription drugs and several red wines, and remind me later to let you know what state that leaves her in when we land!

It can be no fun being so afraid of the flight though, so whatever gets her through.
Readying commenced shortly after I woke up. Not mine, as I had no chance of getting anywhere near running water for a while yet. I waited for a brief gap and a sign of the bathroom door being opened, and I dived in, seizing my forty seconds of readying time to shower and shave. With that done, a few more moments saw me dressed and ready for the off.

Leaving the females to straighten, dry and powder all the relevant bits I went downstairs and made a brew. Noticing that we had some crumpets and bread left that would otherwise be thrown away, I toasted the lot and wandered about upstairs trying to interest anyone in some. Nobody wanted any, which was bloody marvellous having spent all those minutes making it. So the only thing to do was to take it back downstairs, and eat the lot myself. Start as you mean to go on. To be fair, Oli had some too.

Once we had been through the annual tradition of me shutting all the cases, only to be presented moments later with three sets of hair straighteners, each hotter than the surface of the sun, opening the cases up again, and look like a right div, wafting the GHDs around trying to cool them down, we were ready.

Repacked, I then spend a few sweaty minutes trying to fit all the cases into my newly acquired super economical, dead cheap to insure, but ever so tiny car. I manage it, but then remember I also have two kids that need to go in too, and have to rearrange everything to give them a fighting chance.

At 5.39, we are all aboard. Weve said another painful goodbye to Oli who was being taken to kennels for the first time later by my Dad, and we set off. We did manage to take the usual photo, but of course with a new back drop this year.

We are a few minutes later then I would have wanted, but not to worry.

Ah but, right at this moment, at 5.39 on the first day of our holiday, en route to the airport, Louise decides that this is the perfect time to post off all the letters that are for the previous owner of our house so that they will be redirected to their new address. So we stop at the local post box. Really. It. Isnt. A .Problem! Right, were off. Well, not quite, Louise now wants to stop at the petrol station to get a drink.

So we do. The girls are loving it in the spacious back seat.

I fear the car may buckle at any moment under the strain, but it manages to get us to the airport in one piece. We meet and greet our parking chap, and we are into departures. It is now about 6.15, but unfortunately check in does not open until 6.50. Drat!

So we find some seats, and just sit and people watch for a bit.

We spot the signs changing to Delta above the allocated desks, so we move on over, and assume our position right at the front of the soon to be open queue. We are approached by a tall man, smartly dressed with an interesting proposition. We simply dont have the time or gymnastic ability to oblige, and send him on his way, only to be propositioned again by another similar gent, this time from Delta, telling us that the flight is overbooked and they are looking for volunteers to not travel today.

In return he mentions 500 each, an upgrade to Premium Economy, a hotel for the night and travel tomorrow. I am tempted. Really tempted. By the time we get to the desk however, we have decided against it. The girls cannot contemplate waiting one second longer to start the holiday having waited so long, and threaten full scale sulkage should we do anything silly.

Having thought about it, had we accepted, and then something were to go wrong the next day (as they have with our previous indirect adventures) which meant we suffered further delay, then you are looking at missing 2 days of a holiday, and thats a big chunk. So we push thoughts of 2000 and upgrades away, and get checked in.

Having only two days ago decided against investing about 3 each to get a Security Fastpass when booking the airport car parking, as it wont be that busy at 6.30am, I am delighted to note a queue longer than a Genesis album. So we wait for a longish while watching the Fastpass line whiz through with gay abandon, who Im told are the latest Louis Walsh boy band.

Once securitized, we do the only sensible thing and head for food. It has been at least an hour since I took on three crumpets and half a loaf. Frankie and Bennys have us seated immediately, and we order.

Me and Louise A blurred Fruit Knickerbocker Glory

Emily Breakfast Burger

Rebecca Pancakes

It was all acceptable, apart from the realisation that I had actually ordered fruit! 36 plus tip was required before we were allowed to leave.

We wander across the way to WH Smith where Louise once again wasted vast amounts on crappy celeb mags, and I made a sound investment in my trip report notebook and a James Patterson novel I hadnt yet read. We then made our way to some seats in an area that looked empty, unlike all the other seating areas.

We soon realised why.

The seats were next to the amusement arcade, and every thirty seconds, a dance mat game in said arcade played a song clip called Dont try to stop it. The first one hundred times were bearable. For relief, Emily and I went to the coffee shop and got some drinks rather than pop next door to batter the game in question to death with my rucksack.

Soon enough it was time to board, and therefore it made sense for Louise to go to the toilet (not a restroom yet) at this exact moment. We were therefore the very last to board, and incredibly popular with the ground staff.

For the first time in, well, ever, a flight we are on actually pulls away from the gate exactly on time. This was a sign of things to come, as we enjoyed great service from here on in on this flight. The flight crew were in High School when Bobby Charlton had hair, but we couldnt knock them in any way.

The plane had no seat back TVs which was not unexpected but still a bit of a blow having got used to them in recent years. The films played on the overheads sort of passed us by, as you always get some blurt stood up in front of the screen trying to wrestle his Puzzler from his man bag, and then the cabin crew announce the duty free trolley just as the film reaches its crucial twist in the plot. So instead I read, a lot.


Edited at 09:24 PM.
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Unread 8 Sep 12, 11:34 AM  
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The cabin was quite chilly hence the blanket. Louise said I looked like a Tibetan monk, or was it monkey?

Then I tried to sleep a bit, pretty unsuccessfully.

Louise did drop off for a few moments, and I did capture that on camera but if I posted that I would not live to regret it. Shame.

We found entertainment in other ways. Such as the Sky Mall Magazine.

This appears to be a stress relief helmet

I had pictured something else entirely!

I think this is a microwave for cats, and I ordered one.

Since when is it a good idea to give your dog some grass to wee on indoors?

This can be nothing else other than some weird Shades of Grey sexual torture equipment.

Having read that and with all other avenues exhausted we resorted to taking silly photographs.

The food tasted a lot better than it looked, which is a very good thing.

The flight felt very long.

If you want to get a feel for it, just stare at these photos for eight hours.

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Unread 8 Sep 12, 11:35 AM  
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We finally landed at around 2.10pm, local time, in Atlanta. The efficiency of Atlanta airport is very impressive. Within forty minutes we had cleared immigration, including the most miserable git of an officer, claimed and redropped baggage and done security ready for the second leg. We caught the monorail to the F gates, and again headed for food. This was mainly for Emily, as she still refuses to eat on a plane. She had some fries and onion rings, the diet of champions, and we all helped out a little of course. They were lovely and $14.

We then wandered to the gate, and I reacquainted myself with US plumbing and those enormous gaps under the cubicles. Id still give it five minutes if I were you.

Delta were again begging for volunteers to not fly on this leg, but for a measly $200 each. No chance of us not going on this one having given up a kings ransom to fly this far today. This begging delayed boarding but somehow we still managed to push back on time. We sat with the females in a three together with me across the aisle which meant that I was a little oblivious to the abject terror at the quite bumpy turbulence we had pretty much all the way to Orlando. We did land on time, much to Louises eventual relief, and then proceeded to taxi for roughly the same time wed been in the air.

This may all be in the mind as we are at this point so close to getting the car and gaining freedom, but the baggage claim also seemed to take an age. With cases secured, I parked Louise and the girls on some seats and set off in search of the Dollar desk, fearing that they would merely slow me down. I could now man walk.

Dollar was pretty much the furthest desk away from where I had left everyone. The queue was also long, and very, very slow moving. Some folks were there for literally twenty minutes. Seriously folks, what are you doing for all that time? You hand over your voucher, they tap at some keys pretending to do stuff, you refuse to buy whatever it is they insist you need, somehow you still have to hand over a credit card and be charged something, and then you head for the garage.

When I get my turn, Im done in a matter of minutes, which is a common affliction for men of my age, and I am trekking all the way back to the women folk and the cases, only to then drag them all the way back up to the Dollar desk so we can get the car.

We are told we can select any car we like from the minivan section. I would normally revel in such a thing, but remember Louise is on the wrong end of a terrifying flight, no sleep, strong pills and a few red wines? Therefore, we just pick any ******* car quickly, and drive off. It wasnt until the next day that I understood we had a Dodge Caravan. It was lovely.

I broke out the sat nav at this point, but being in the underground garage it kept throwing up messages that I couldnt quite see whilst trying to navigate the Dodge behemoth thought the tight turns, and present the right paperwork to be let out of the garage so I just OKd them all. It turned out that I had basically disabled the GPS, which is pretty critical for successful navigation.

I quickly realised the sat nav had no clue what where we were, so this meant I had to use the force and somehow found signs for Disney, and then managed to correct the lack of GPS about three quarters of the way to our villa, which was handy to guide us into the final tricky stages. Oh yes, as soon as we emerged from the car rental garage it started to rainimmediately, and a lot. It continued to do this on and off for the whole journey to the extent that it was at times very hard to see where we were going. How we all laughed at this hilarious turn of events.

We encountered several tolls on the way. Luckily I had an attractive fanny pack full of last years US coin shrapnel. It was at this point that I congratulated myself for bringing that change and really gave myself a pat on the back for putting said fanny right at the bottom of Ryan the rucksack, as I now had to navigate the unfamiliar huge car into the right toll booth lane, whilst reaching behind me to open Ryan, reach the fanny pack, open it and liberate the right coinage all without looking. Are we having fun yet?

Somehow, I scrape together the required metal to get through the tolls and get to the villa with only minor unnecessary detours and fallings out.

The villa was a delight, but any major exploration of it could wait until tomorrow.

I dumped the females and luggage and immediately turned around bound for Wal-Mart. I had essentials to buy and some tea to locate. I returned shortly with both, but Rebecca had been defeated and had already gone to bed, so the remaining three ate the pizza, watched the Appliance Direct channel (yes, he has an entire channel these days), after spending a joyous ten minutes figuring out how the TV and cable worked, and then fell into bed at 10.30pm local time, or 3.30am UK time, whichever makes you feel most tired.
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Unread 8 Sep 12, 11:56 AM  
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Whoop whoop its started

Really sorry your mum and dad had to cancel I hope your mum is on the mend... Also, seems wrong that "the door" picture has changed, could you not ask the new owners if you can pop back once a year to take a picture?

As aleays, a brilliant start, glad you made it to the airport without having to ditch luggage or children. What a comfy ride that looked

Looking forward t the next bit

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Keys, Gulf and Cruise!
Unread 8 Sep 12, 11:59 AM  
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Hope your mum is feeling better.Am so glad you have started your trip report have really enjoyed the rest.That seemed a very relaxed travel day going by previous years.Looking forward to day two.
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14 nights at royal pacific
Unread 8 Sep 12, 12:00 PM  
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wow 2000 upgrades and hotels, I would have been so tempted by that.
great start giggling all the way through as normal
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this time with the muricans
Unread 8 Sep 12, 12:02 PM  
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Great start, no indirect flight chaos this time

Already missing Nanna and Grandad's antics in the trippie - I hope she is on the mend.

Looking forward to the rest

Can't wait to go back!

The piccie pre-trippie 2011
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Best friends trip
Unread 8 Sep 12, 12:05 PM  
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Brilliant start, looking forward to the next instalment
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