Friday, 6 May 2016

Walt Disney World Holiday

Sorry for the brief absence folks. But I have a valid excuse. For the last two weeks we have been sweltering in the heat of Florida at Walt Disney World whilst friends back in the UK have been shivering and having snow... Darn, I missed that...

So here's due warning that a veritable flood of photos is waiting for me to crack on and edit them and put them together in some sort of order for your delectation. Five of us went on the trip. Son-in-law Edward took this so here is yours truly and Miss Franny with our daughter Gill and granddaughter Grace standing in the Magic Kingdom in front of Cinderella's Castle.

We started out on 18 April from Manchester Airport and even with all the times I have flown (at one point I was notching up 20 flights a year just for work), this was the first time I've been on a 747 Jumbo Jet.

Our luggage labels may have given a clue as to where we were headed...

We were staying in Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort, a collection of rooms based in two-storey buildings, themed in groups each named for an island in the Caribbean Sea. We stayed in Room 38, in Building 42, in the area Jamaica. It was clean, it was spacious and it included everything we might need in the room. A food and shopping complex with restaurants, fast food outlets, dining hall, shops and amusement arcades was across the large lake and reached by a short walk that took us over a bridge to a central island with kiddies' play park and then via a second bridge to the area known as Port Royale.

This is our building with Miss Franny standing near to our room on the balcony. The setting was lovely with gardens and pathways which often saw little gecko lizards scurrying away at our approach. Twice we saw small snakes. I'm presuming they were not poisonous as otherwise they would have been captured and removed. By "small" I'm referring to the thickness of their body - the larger one was about an inch in diameter (so it couldn't have swallowed you whole) but it was a good three feet in length. It was far more afraid of us than we were of it, as it turned tail and fairly leapt back into the safety of the undergrowth beside the path as soon as it saw us moving.

These ingenious devices were our Magic Bands. Linked to a credit card and our personal details, they acted as our door key to the room, as our ID for entry into the Disney parks, confirmed our pre-payment for meals, drinks and snacks and could be used in all the park shops to buy goods, the cost being added to our account and charged to the credit card at the end of the stay. A PIN number unique to the wrist band ensured our credit card pins weren't compromised. They were easy to use and meant we had no real need to carry cash about with us whilst in the Disney parks and resorts.

They also allowed us to have our photos taken by photographers in the main Disney parks and stored in our online account for download once we got home. They could be viewed online on a phone or tablet a few seconds after being taken! This was a package normally paid for - Memory Maker - but we got it free as part of our deal. It allowed us all to appear on the photos and it was useful when we went to meet Disney characters which, with Grace, we did an awful lot of!

We spent the entire fortnight in fact without leaving Disney. I'd have liked to have gone out perhaps to eat, for I found the food in most Disney eating places to be - well, let's say challenging to my tastes and appetite. They simply look at you as though you are mad if you ask them to leave items off or ask for smaller portions and in most cases they simply refused to allow me to use a Quick Service meal plan unless I had the minimum number of components which meant many times we had to take an extra item that just went straight into a bin. I'll give more details later - we watched aghast at adverts on TV for sandwiches that looked cube shaped and were dripping with ketchup, mayo and semi-liquid cheese. No wonder many of the people are the size that they are. I felt really slim by comparison and I am most certainly not.

Even the bread was unbelievably sweet. I just couldn't eat it. Only on the last night in a posh restaurant were we given bread that actually tasted right to our tastes and then it came accompanied by butter pats that had been sprinkled with sugar crystals... I found myself eating so little I actually lost half a stone over the fortnight.

Anyway - we saw the Magic Kingdom at the top of the page. Above is the golf ball of EPCOT.

This is the Tree of Life in the relatively new Animal Kingdom park. Fewer rides but with actual animals rather than animatronic ones and on the couple of days we went there, the heat and humidity felt authentic to Africa and the jungles of the world!

Hollywood Studios is the new name for what I've always thought of as the Disney Studios park and is the smallest of the parks we visited. But it packs a lot in and this year at least is dominated by Star Wars related attractions and shows. There's lots else there aswell, as we will see when I cover it, but every couple of hours the boom of explosions from a mixed media and live action Star Wars show could be heard all over the park. Formations of helmeted storm troopers marched about or stopped visitors to "verify your ID".

I waved an arm, Jedi fashion. "You don't need to see my ID," I said confidently, "I am not the person you are seeking..."

"I think you are..." came the tinny electronic voice.

So, this is the pilot episode for a series of articles for this holiday. In addition to the parks already mentioned and Caribbean Beach Resort, we will be visiting Disney Springs, the Grand Floridian Hotel, the Polynesian Beach Resort and meeting at least 3,000 Disney characters including Mickey Mouse and other cartoon characters and many assorted princesses from Snow White through to Anna and Elsa from Frozen.

This was a two-week break so even I managed to take 630 photos. Gill and Eddie took 837 and we managed to download another 387 from our Memory Maker Disney account! So I have a grand total of 1854 photos to get through. Many will be duplicate shots, some are too dark or out of focus and some seem to have been taken whilst the camera was pointing at the floor, the sky or an unknown gorgeous girl, so must be accidental... (ahem!) So keep an eye open for future posts and join us for a look round the Walt Disney World, Florida.

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