Saturday, 28 February 2015

Just like being on holiday in rainy Devon 2008

Heavy rain woke me and Small up this morning and the rain continued throughout the whole day. When we packed our bags for this holiday we never put in anything for rain or cold. Although today was not at all cold, it was certainly wet, therefore being in wet clothes made us feel cold!

After breakfast and showers and a toe dipping in the pool which was heated when we arrived but today suddenly wasn't, we decided we had no other choice than to hit Disney and just 'go for it'. Several discussions about which park was the best to go to and we came up with Magic Kingdom, hoping that the rain would keep the crowds away, hence the rides we couldn't get on before would suddenly be more accessible. Or that we wouldn't mind waiting because we would be under cover! Wrong, the crowds didn't stay away but the waiting undercover part was correct. The man at the car park entrance (which costs $20 per day) waved our car through today and said "go and have a great day" and didn't charge us. That was nice.

Small was desperate to do the 'Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom' where you roam the park in search of clues and use your magic powers to defeat the villains. We picked up the map and various cards, did the first two portals and then went on Splash Mountain. We had brought with us some beautiful ponchos (lovingly supplied by our villa). They looked awful but the whole place had them so no-one looked at all out of place. It was quite sad to see some of the faces of the people there today, wet through and disappointed. So, armed with our ponchos and the knowledge we were going to get wet anyway, we went on the wet Splash Mountain ride. We got very wet, just sitting on the seats that other people before us had sat on. Then we got wetter being on the ride. My hat fell off just as we hit the 50ft drop and ruined my hair for the day.

We went on Thunder Railroad next which was very rickety and up and downy - but not wet (well apart from all the outside bits which was most of the ride. So we were even wetter and took shelter and ate our homemade sandwiches whilst trying to listen to The Notorious Banjo Brothers and Bob over the noise of the heavy rain. One of the cast members told us 2 mins (though to be fair we didn't know what for or that he was a cast member as he was wearing a similar poncho to us). He was letting us know that the next show was starting called 'The Country Bear Jamboree'. Now we were not expecting anything special from this show but were happy to experience some dryness and maybe a bit of warmth. What we got was a very funny show performed by some Redneck Bears. It seemed quite an adult show (in some of the references they made) but obviously the kids all loved the singing bears (regardless of what they were singing about). Huffle particularly enjoyed the bear with a raccoon hat where the raccoon suddenly poked his head up and also sang.

I had been wanting to watch a parade as we hadn't seen one yet (apart from the electrical one at night) but because of the rain, they didn't seem to be doing them. Then as we came out of the Bear show, we heard music. They had a small scale 'rain' parade where some characters were out splashing in the puddles and others were in cars.

After picking up some hot drinks, we got on the steam train and travelled to the Circus area in Fantasyland where we managed to meet The Great Goofini and Donald Duck. There was no queue for these so we were very lucky (once again we didn't know what was inside but it turned out to be good). Our photos looked awful because we were so wet and bedraggled.

Barnstormer was next which was a small kiddies roller coaster. We made the kids sit together in the front and Huffle and I sat behind. I videod the ride from my seat and the people behind (adults) screamed all the way round. We walked to Tomorrow Land (oh no, not here again) and got on the People Mover. This ride was much better than I remember as it traveled through or next to the rides in Tomorrow Land so gave you an idea of what was there. It was a sit down ride inside a moving car/train and we got completely dry and were very happy.

Happy that is until Smallest decided he wanted to go on the Astro Orbiter which had no waiting time. We went on and then realised why there was no waiting time. It was high above the park, in full rain just as the rain had gotten heavier and we got soaked through again. We bombarded Smallest with insults for getting us wet again and then went on Buzz Lightyears Spin ride. Smallest asked to sit with me because he thought he could beat me and was devastated when I got a higher score than he did.

Since I have been reading Winnie the Pooh lately to Smallest, he decided he wanted to go on the pooh ride. I love Winnie the Pooh and read the books to Small from a baby but somehow Smallest has missed out on all things Pooh (I don't know how is happened). Anyway we braved the 45 min wait time (which was actually only 25 after all). This ride has loads for the kids (and bigger adult kids) to do, playing with the Pooh themed games and set. The boys weren't interested in going in the play bits until I did and then they loved it. How could you not? It was worth the wait though because next to us was Pooh and Tigger doing meet and greet photos. We shouted Pooh several times and he turned to us and waved. We didn't remember this ride being too great but I thought it was better than I remembered. Funny, when you have a good memory of a ride, it is usually disappointing. Smallest said he loved it and it was one of his favourites (he says that about most of them though).

We all wanted to go on the Seven Dwarves Mine Train Roller Coaster (it's new) but the wait times have been at least 60 mins and went up to 120 mins today - that's ridiculous! We actually decided to wait when we first got there and were willing to wait the hour but it suddenly closed due to technical difficulties, in fact it was on and off all day. We have one more day here (maybe our last day) so we may try again then.

Huffle had FastPassed us some rides again but they were in Epcot so we took the monorail there. We started with Crush's Intereractive Talk. We were not expecting much but it was a fun talk with Crush from Nemo who talked to various people from the audience and asked them questions (mainly the younger kids). After this we were hungry so we looked for food. We walked over to the World Showcase and had Fish and Chips from the Yorkshire County Fish Shop which we ate in the doorway of a British Shop. They were hot, fresh and yummy. Our 2nd FastPass was Soarin'. This was absolutely brilliant and well worth the wait. It was a hangliding ride where we sat in a seat and were raised high up to a 180* blue screen. We then hang glided over California. I loved this one (possibly my favourite ride in Disney). I lifted my legs everytime we went too low over trees and rapids and ducked when a golf ball came towards me. Everyone else loved this one too.

Next we FastPassed Mission Space which we went on the other day and loved. I was worried about the fish and chips we had just eaten but it was fine. Because we knew what to expect, it wasn't actually as good. There is nothing like the unexpected thrill of a new ride. It was still very good though.

Still raining and and still wet (but not wet through) we headed back to the Monorail and got back to our car. At 9:30pm we stopped at an ice cream parlour. Well we haven't had many this holiday have we and that's not like us at all. They were really good and it was a 50's diner themed place.

Poor tired looking bear on the left

Hopefully this rain will stop tomorrow and we can relax on the beach! Small has a blister on his foot, Smallest has a blister on his ankle, Huffle has back ache from walking behind people who suddenly stop or veer in a different direction and I am tired from not sleeping a full nights sleep yet since we have been here. Time for some chilling.


Friday, 27 February 2015

Happy fortieth birthday Huffle

18 years ago I met a boy with a rucksack (he still has that same bag) who appeared at the Sports and Social Club activities at work around the same time as I joined. We both worked for the same company but in different offices. He was just 22 then and still lived at home with his Mum and Dad (Grandma and Grandad) ahhhhhhh. Who'd have thought that funny 22 year old would be 40 today and be my husband and father of my two silly boys.



Today we had breakfast in the house and headed out for Hollywood Studios. Small wore his Star Wars tee-shirt especially. Both boys were tied and fractious this morning and fights started out before breakfast.

Hollywood Studios was on the schedule for today. It was really busy there today but very cool. Our first ride (and FastPass was Star Tours). We liked this one so much we went on three more times later in the day.

Muppets 3D was a nice relaxing sit in a theatre and our favourite characters were the two old men who said 'look at that man in the goofy mask, oh sorry madam'. We queued up to see Phineus and Ferb who were brilliant. They were high fiving and comparing their shorts and then one of them stole Smallest's hat. We liked them. I snuck to see Lightning MacQueen and Mater but was told off for photographing other people's kids (I wasn't, I was zooming in on the characters).

We queued for ages to see the Great Movie Trail only to realise we were going to miss the stunt show so we dodged the queue and went and sat in a very cold outside arena and watched a really good stunt show. It was all about cars and driving. There was a lot of noise and screaching of tyres and fire. But it was very cold!

We walked through The Toy Story Mania and met a couple of the green soldiers who stopped to high five us, salute and let us take photos.

Another one of Huffle's FastPasses was The Aerosmith Rock n Roll Roller Coaster. Once again I was put on the ride without really knowing anything about it. We watched the car in front speed off at a great pace and before I could argue that it looked a bit too fast, we were in. I don't know why but I loved this ride. It was extremely fast paced, looping, twisty turny and loud. I held Small's hand throughout the ride but stopped squeezing him soon after it started. I could have easily gone on it again. Small said he loved it, Smallest said he hated it but ten minutes later wanted to go on it again and Huffle said it was suprisingly really good.

We wandered around taking photos and had our second, third and fourth ride on Star Tours. Each one was slightly different. Huffle got chosen as the Rebel Spy twice and had his photo on the screen. He also wore his Birthday badge and got almost 40 wishes from the cast members.

We called it a day and went and met MrGator, Truly Scrimotious and Madam Courvoisier for dinner at a Brewery Pub.

I tried the pubs own beer in an apricot flavour which was lovely (in fact I had two). It was lovely catching up with everyone as it has been three years since we saw MrGator and Truly Scrumotious and three and a half years (when we left England for Canada) since we saw Madam Courvoisier. We had a great dinner and the waitresses came out with a small cake dessert (Sorted by Madam Courvoisier) for Huffle and we all sang to him.

Everyone came back to ours afterwards and the boys played Pool, Air Hockey and Table Football with MrG and TS before we had a cup of tea.

We managed to get the kids to bed eventually (very late for them) and our visitors left.



Thursday, 26 February 2015

Is there a Winky in here?*

A better sleep for everyone resulted in a small lie-in, showers and a late breakfast at IHOP where pancakes were the order of the day. Smallest had one pancake with Apple Cinamon topping, sausage, bacon and scrambled egg. Small had a pile of chocolate chocolate pancakes, Huffle had White chocolate and raspberry pancakes and I had Double Blueberry pancakes with my own pot of coffee. That set us up nicely for the rest of the day.

Today we went to Animal Kingdom. We have been here before but this was Huffle's choice and him and Small had chosen our FastPasses (without consulting me - probably wise considering what they had chosen!). Huffle and Smallest both had birthday badges today and received 35 and 50 happy birthdays respectively. That was a lot!

We started on the Kali Rapids which was a wet one. We all got a bit wet but nothing like the man who sat opposite us who got completely soaked (in fact we saw him an hour later and he was still soaked). This was a great ride and we all liked this one.

To dry off a bit, we walked around the Animal Safari Trail where we saw bats, Tigers, birds and a Komodo Dragon. We spent a lot of time in Dinoland (but I won't mention it too much else Huffle will get annoyed. For some reason we kept ending up here). Our first FastPass was Primeval Whirl which looked strange but was really good. It was based on time travel and was an old fashioned white knuckle ride. Twirling, spinning, rickety roller coasting fun. Everyone loved this one.

Next we went on a tame Triceratops Spin. While we were on it we spotted Pluto and Goofy and queued up to have a huggle with them. We had quite a wait but we were fine with that. Goofy kissed my hand (the dirty dog). As we were walking away we spied Donald Duck and queued to have photos with him too. He wished Smallest a Happy Birthday (without speaking obviously) and Smallest got confused when the person with him asked how old he was (because it wasn't his actual birthday - silly bear).

We headed next for the Expedition Everest and had watched it on the way. It looked like a scary roller coaster. Both Smallest and I were a little dubious but the others pushed us along. Because we had FastPassed it, we didn't have time to worry about it and got straight on the ride. OMG, I don't think I have been on anything as scary. It went very very high, then twisty turny drops, then climbed, stopped, went backwards in the dark (at this point I had lost all sense of direction and had no idea whether we were going backwards, forwards or upside down). From this point I didn't really care as long as I didn't die! There was a yeti that broke the track and then we fell ARRRRGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH. What a ride! I clutched my phone so tightly (Small sitting next to me kept saying put your phone away mummy quickly) and pressed my legs against the bars so hard, they left a mark. At the end I turned to look behind as that is where Smallest and Huffle were, and poor Snallest had a very pale hue and looked scared to death. When we saw the photos on the screen we laughed lots.

Smallest said he didn't scream (I beg to differ)

We grabbed a bite to eat from our bag of homemade stuff and went to watch the Lion King show. This was fabulous. We were feeling a little wobbly so this was perfect. Smallest and I wanted to be the monkies on the trampoline and Huffle wanted to be a trapeze monkey.

We went straight into the Its Tough to be a Bug. This was very funny and had me squealing when I had the effect of bugs on my seat. The kids thought this was great.

Smallest's lucky lucky penny stayed with us all day again but this time we made another one for Small with a lion on it and later, one for Huffle with the turtle from Nemo on it.

We joined a queue but didn't know what it was for, found out it was to meet Mickey and Minnie and decided to stay until a woman told us it was a twenty five minute wait. Everyone left the queue at which point we decided to rejoin it because it meant the wait time had gone down considerably.

Kilimanjaro Safari was next. Our driver was ill and disinterested and very dull (last time we went on this the driver was very animated and dramatic), ours just kept coughing and pointing and mumbling. Still, we got to see some lovely animals and this time I knew they were real. The woman behind me was annoying too though as she kept saying 'that's a not a real tree, it's made of concrete and painted' 'the Tigers are in an enclosure, I can see the fence!'. Stupid woman, ruining it for the kids!

Dinosaur was next. A dark ride, a bit like a ghost train but with dinosaurs. I hate the dark and I held on to poor Small all the way through, especially when a big dinosaur tried to bite me! This park closed at 5pm so we headed off to Epcot (saving our receipt from the car park, meant we didn't have to pay again - clever Huffle).

Our first ride was Space Ship Earth. This was a nice relaxing ride up into the Giant Golfball or Disco ball as Smallest called it. We got to travel through the past and into the future and then sent Grandad and ourselves a postcard of our future lives. Nemo ride was next where we sat in a clam and watched a quick version of Finding Nemo whilst gliding around in our shells. It ended in an aquarium where we spent some time wandering around watching the fish. Living on the Land had no queue so once again we hopped on. It was a boat trip which was very educational about some of the experiments they are doing in Epcot regarding growing of fruits and Vegetables using Aquaponics (I think that's the right word). This was a relaxing trip and the four of us had our own boat.

By the time we got out it was dark so we headed for 'England' and went to visit Christopher Robins room where we met Pooh and Tigger. Tigger bent down to give me a hug and a kiss and I heard a squeaky kiss sound from inside (naughty Tigger). Pooh wanted to hug Huffle because it was his birthday but he wouldn't let him. Small hugged Pooh because he knows he is my favourite. I was very excited and Tigger just wanted to bounce (I bet he did!).

We couldn't get a ride on Test Track or Soar because the wait was at least 60 mins so we opted instead for Space Mission. We didn't expect much and at the front of the queue it asked the normal questions 'do you not like enclosed spaces, dark, extreme force and movement, motion sickness?' OH YES ALL OF THEM. Once again I had no idea what I was letting myself in for. However, it was a simulater and all four of us had our own 'pod' and were secured by a neck/shoulder restraint. It was a very tight space and we each had our own screen. This ride was fantastic and I still feel a little weird and wobbly (two hours later). We went into space and the G-force (how do they do that?) was incredible. We couldn't lift our arms properly. It was very clever. There was such a lot of faff beforehand that I really thought it would be rubbish but we all thought this was one of our favourites.

We were about to go home until we realised the fireworks were about to start so we headed for the lake and sat on a bench. We saw these ones last time we were here but they were still spectacular (and noisy).

It was 9:30pm before we left and the boys were bouncing around as high as kites, silly as ships. They both went straight to bed when we got in.

Tomorrow is Huffle's 40th birthday and we are going to have a short day at Hollywood Studios followed by a Birthday Dinner with MrGator, Truly Scrumptious and Madam Courvoisier.

*while we were waiting to meet Mickey and Minnie, one of the cast members came in and shouted "is there a Winky in here?" While we were giggling a Southern drawl answered 'yes I'm Winky' (in our house, a Winky is a willy so we found this hilarious), "your husband is looking for you Winky". 'Wayl he caan just wayt for urs ouwatside then caynt he?" Said Winky (we were still giggling).





Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Home from Home?

I woke up completely deaf, after effects from the plane plus going in the swimming pool last night. Hopefully it clears up through the week. Huffle and I slept on and off in our enormous bed. It was very comfy but at times too warm (must check the air con). There was no sound from the boys first thing and Smallest's room was empty - we found him lying on Small's bed, the pair of them playing on their DS' and had been there for at last half an hour. See they can be nice to each other!

After breakfast we set off for Magic Kingdom. It only took us 15 minutes to drive there and then a short tram ride where we were told over and over again that we were Heroes and not to forget that we were Heroes. We had no idea why they were saying it until we were getting on the monorail and we saw two signs one saying Heroes and the other villains (it was all to do with which car park we were in).

Huffle got given a badge for his birthday. When we were here before (3 years ago) Huffle and Smallest were both celebrating their birthdays and the Cast Members like to any Happy Birthday if you are wearing a badge. Huffle decided to count how many he heard - he got 22 (about the same as before).

Smallest had an American Penny which was his lucky penny and he held on to it all day. When we found a penny press (that squished it into an oval and stamped the Splash Mountain onto it) he put his lucky penny in and then it became his lucky lucky penny which I had to hold on to when we went on fast rides.

A walk down Main Street where we bumped into Goofy and a funny cat and then off we went to Tomorrowland where we had a FastPass booked for Space Mountain. Before that we went in Stitch's Great Escape which was a strange ride. After walking through various bits and being talked at by aliens we sat down and had restraints on our shoulders and sat mainly in the dark with wind whistling through our hair and water being sprayed at us. The boys thought this was funny. Next we got a coffee for me as I hadn't had one yet. We tried to get into Monsters Inc Laugh In but I wasn't allowed with my drink so the boys all went in while I sat outside. They were gone for ages and ages.

Next we went on Space Mountain. No one really tells me anything about the rides we are going on, they keep it very quiet until I'm too far in to do anything about it. This one happened to be a very fast roller coaster in the dark. I went in with a headache and came out without my head (or it felt like it). Phew that was a fast one! This was one of our favourites. Carousel of Progress was our next ride. We thought this was the only one that Grandma would have liked, slow moving, sitting down with some singing. The Buzz Lightyear Spin ride was shooty ride (we went on this last time). Small won the target shooting but Small and I mainly shot some girls in the car behind ha ha ha!

We left Tomorrowland (shan't mention too much that we seemed to spend most of our day in Tomorrowland) and went on Splash Mountain (we ate our homemade lunch in this queue). Another one of our favourites. There was one very steep fall and we got a bit wet - the kids loved this.

We hopped on the Frontier Train and went to Fantasyland where we watched Mickeys Philharmonic - a 4D film where Smallest kept trying to touch the images popping out of the screen and we got sprayed with water. Big Thunder Railroad in Frontierland was next. Another roller coaster that everyone decided not to tell me about. This was fast, up and downy and very windy (curly not blowy). Very good ride.

Pirates of the Carribean was one we had done before but had forgotten (no wonder - it wasn't that good). We queued for quite a while but at least we got a nice sit on a boat for a while). We felt we needed an ice cream so queued for ages at the only ice cream parlour. Huffle decided we were having a double scoop which was far too big really. Mine and Smallest's were left on the counter too long so by the time we got it it was dripping (I should have complained really but we were warm and in need of it). We sat ourselves down and listened to the band playing on Main Street. Smallest's ice cream fell and we quickly scooped it back up and told him to eat the bit that didn't fall. Then mine fell off too. I blame the lady that didn't serve it quick enough! They were very nice though despite the bits of road! We managed to quickly FaceTime Grandma and Grandad but it was very noisy and busy.

Back to TomrorowLand we went (not saying anything) and a ride called Astro Orbiter. Up in a lift and then in rockets. Mine was piloted by Small who made us fly far too high. I felt quite dizzy but the kids liked it. Indy 500 was next where we drove cars on a track. Mine had tortoise petrol in it and didn't want to go anywhere and I was bumped by Huffle and Smallest (despite the fact you aren't allowed to bump!). The steering was tough and you were attached so there wasn't really anywhere to go.

Prince Charmings Carousel in Fantasyland had virtually no queue so We went on that.

Smallest desperately wanted to go on Its a Small World and all day the queues had been too long so when we went past and it was only ten mins, we hopped on. He said he was disappointed as he remembered it being much better but Small and I had fun trying to name the different countries.

Huffle got us on the River Cruise which wasn't very good. Lots of very poor jokes from our skipper. The boys and I went on the Magic Craiet Ride while Huffle looked for somewhere to eat. He couldn't find us anywhere and we settled on a good place to watch the Electric Parade and had a couple of sweets.

(Huffle edit - rant alert). One thing I don't like about Disney is when the parades are on, the streets get roped off and lots of Jobsworthy men and women suddenly get all uppity and stop you walking on the road, stop you from leaning on a bin or move you away. We were behind some people who were behind a rope in a corner bit. Not hurting anyone, minding our own business waiting for the parade. Then along came a man who looked at us funny and whispered to another man who then moved us away and said we couldn't stand there because there would be heavy machinery nearby! Huffle called him a weiner and boo'd the man who whispered to the other man. We all moved back. Then the parade was delayed for about twenty minutes but we couldn't go anywhere because we were then blocked in.

However, the Electric Parade, when it did arrive, was very very good. Lots of colourful lit up floats and characters. We got waves from Mickey and Tinkerbell and some of the others. We attempted to go and find food again but got caught up in the Light Show which was excellent. The castle was all lit up with different projections cast upon it and then came the fireworks. These were spectacular. We did have to stop a German man from blocking Smallest's view and Small did kick him a little when he tried to step on him!

After the show we found food (in TomorrowLand of all places) and rested our weary feet. We decided to call it a day as it was 9pm and then found we had got stuck in another parade. We snuck across the road with out being seen and sneaked out and onto the monorail. Back to the Trams where we waited patiently, only to be almost split up when a man and his girls pushed their way across us. We squashed in until we were all in and got back to the car park.

A short drive and we were back at our house. The kids went straight to bed and Huffle and I had a cuppa and rested our very weary feet. Plans have gone to pot now as there is a storm due early hours of tomorrow (not tomorrowland) into the first part of the morning.

What a busy but good day.