Day 16 – Christening Day

July 26, 2017

We are up early and after breakfast (actually Natty consumes very healthy chocolate chip cookies in the car) we take a drive an hour north to Winter Park to St Richard’s Episcopalian church for little R’s christening.

We arrive in plenty time of time and are greeted warmly by everyone and this beautiful church. Franks parents arrive and we have a quick catch up – they are very surprised by Natasha’s height! Jim also arrives – it’s so nice to see him too. We meet Alison, the priest, who take us through a rehearsal of the baptismal part of the service. We get to try several times as she wants all our answers in unison so as not to embarrass her! 😂

The church service is lovely and then we get the the baptism. P has been given the job of filling the font with water and is up for this job until it’s happening in front of the whole congregation…then he’s not keen…so Natty is called upon to fulfil the duty. Thankfully we all get our words right, and together…and little R gets quite a splashing of water…and so does Andrea!

(Thanks to Tom Blum for the photos!)

Once the service is complete we spend some time in the church garden, and cake is consumed! 

Then photos…

We are invited to the family brunch but decide not to intrude on family time and head back to the Poly to change , then eat lunch in Captain Cooks. The food here is really nice – again counter service does not have to be hamburgers or hotdogs people! The coconut meatballs with jasmine rice is gorgeous!

A quick hop on the Monorail has us in the Magic Kingdom in a flash and we take the WDW railroad to Frontierland to ride Big Thunder Mountain where more loud smiles ensue…we then have a few photos.

Natty is Disney bounding Belle today and she really wants to go to Fantasyland to meet Gaston. Whilst waiting I pop into Gaston’s Tavern for a LeFou’s Brew! Delicious!

We meet Gaston…they both really ham it up and have lots of fun!

As we wander back through Fantasyland another photopass photographer asks if he can’t take a few photos of our Belle! They even end up in Belle’s cottage!

We continue our unsuccessful hunt for Hunt for Hannah in Tomorrowland so decide to stop and enjoy a Mickey ice cream bar to cool down (it’s another brutally hot day), then cool down even further in Mickey’s Philharmagic. There’s more photos…

It almost time to meet A and F for early dinner so we hop onto the Monorail to the Contemporary and our reservation at the fancy California Grill on the 15th floor. A and F’s babysitter has arrived to take the kids for their own dinner and to ride the monorail and have slightly more fun than a fancy restaurant!

The service, views and good here are as fabulous as they’ve always been.

Natty and I share a starter of Sonoma Goat Cheese Ravioli in a Tomato-Fennel Broth, crispy Mushrooms, Tiny Basil, Arbequina Organic Olive Oil. 

Will has the Cheesesteak Flatbread – shaved wagyu brisket, clamshell mushrooms, sauteed red bell and poblano peppers, caramelized onions, Tillamook cheddar cheese and chipotle mayonnaise

Andrea and I share a bottle of wine…

And the boys have a beer…a Nitro Stout!

Three of us have the Line Caught Black Grouper with Herb Gnoocchi, Sweet Corn Spiro, Spring Vegetables, Warm Tomato Vinaigrette, Green Garlic Pistou. Soooo good!

Will has Chicken and Dumplings – Amish farms chicken breast, English peas, artichokes, Romanesco, divina tomatoes, red eye gravy.

Andrea has sushi – the Spicy Kazan Roll Crab, Shrimp, Scallops, Tuna, Fireball Sauce.

Oh goodness how are we going to eat dessert…? Cruise style of course!


  • Beignets with chocolate dipping sauce
  • Orange crane brûlée 
  • Warm Valrohna Chocolate Cake – vanilla bean ice cream, milk chocolate whipped panna cotta, cashew clusters
  • Blueberry Cheesecake – passion fruit, graham cracker-almond crumb

We just about manage to finish! We finish drinks and say our thank you’d before going to meet up with the kids. We walk to the Magic Kingdom and have to say our final goodbyes to Frank (who’s at work tomorrow) and P (who’s at a science camp). It’s always so very sad…but we try to feel better by reminding ourselves that we will see them in November!

We are out of time in our fastpasses but walk over to Splash Mountain to check out the line…it’s very long! But a friendly cast member lets us in the fastpass line with a cheery ‘better late than never’!

We enjoy the fireworks from our little log boat whilst singing along …

And there’s much hilarity as we get completely soaked!

It’s ok though as it’s very warm and we’ll dry soon!

The cast member at Peter Pan also allows us to ride past our time, then we meet Tiana…


Elena and 

Cinderella … (who makes a lovely birthday message for mum)

We are so lucky as the lines for the princesses is usually crazy long but as it’s so close to park closing, we walk straight in!

The ‘Once Upon a Time’ fireworks happen as we walk around the castle…

We hit the shops before standing, in a family hug, to watch the ‘kiss goodnight’ on the castle from the bottom of Main St…where it all began for us 12 days before. We all agree that we really don’t want this to end!

We decide we’d like to take the resort launch (little boat) back across the Seven Seas Lagoon to the Polynesian and we are rewarded with a lovely view of the Electrical Water Pageant.

Neither heavy hearts we return to spend our last night at the Polynesian.
Good night!

Day 15 – the day of giraffe poop!

July 25, 2017

It’s another Animal Kingdom day and we are meeting Frank to accompany him on his first Flight of Passage!

We pop in to grab breakfast at Starbucks – and the scrambled egg white and spinach wrap is really good! Wash it down with a skinny cappuccino and it makes an excellent start to my day! Frank arrives as we are feeding the ‘hangry’ person in the group…I’m not saying who that might be…

We head straight into Pandora as it’s our fastpass time for Flight of Passage. We are most excited as we’ve ridden it before and are still amazed but it’s great to be with Frank as he’s riding for the first time despite living here and working for the Mouse! Natty gets to show off her fancy Pandora magic band entry display…

Frank explains some of the detail as we progress through the queue…and have a bit of ‘holding’ time in one of the rooms. I’m just relieved that it’s not broken down!

This ride seriously blows me away again and Frank is suitably pleased and impressed! Wow!!!
Frank has to leave now as he’s busy with the kids, so we say our goodbyes and we walk back to Africa for a Kilimanjaro Safari. Again there’s an impressive amount of animals but as I’m writing this blog whilst taxiing out on our departure flight then I can’t upload proper photos.

Once off the safari, Natty gets a Henna test – she’s really wanted the henna patterns on her hand but knowing my allergies think it’s best to have a sample test first.

Back in Pandora we decide that we’d like to lunch at Satu’li Canteen again as it was so good previously. This time Natty chooses the curried vegetable pods, whilst Will and I have the chicken – Wills with the red and sweet potato hash and mine with quinoa and vegetable salad. We all choose our favourite dessert which you might recall from our first visit as they are quite striking! 

With tummies full we take a stroll over to Asia as we have fastpasses to Everest but when we get there the ride is not operating…it’s been struck by lightning twice in 2 days so it’s still down! In the upside, our fastpasses can be used elsewhere…but on the downside they can’t be used over in Pandora! It’s not surprising through…it’s only been open a couple of months and it’s been crazy! We reckon it’ll only settle down once the new themed lands of Toy Story and Star Wars (which have broken ground) are open in Hollywood Studios.

We return to Africa and take the train over to Rafikis Planet Watch. It’s a nice respite from the heat and humidity as there’s a lovely indoor area. Inside Natty meets up with Doc Mcstuffins – a Disney channel favourite of her cousins. She is pretty tall for a seven year old!

There are no procedures happening in the veterinary lab but we meet one of the Zoologists, Mike, who tells us about recent happenings including a dental procedure on a male gorilla. So as not to disturb the hierarchy of the group the put them all to sleep, remove the senior gorilla for his procedure, return him whilst he’s still sleeping and then let them all wake! 

Natty and Mike chat and examine a variety of animal skeletons and when he finds out that Natty loves giraffes, he brings her a gift…giraffe poop! Yes, the real stuff that’s been varnished in shellac!

An animal encounter begins and we sit for a while and listen in…it’s a snake – a boa constrictor who’s about 7 years old…he’s quite a large fellow and quite lively too. Thankfully we decide not to stay for the meet and greet! 
On our way outside we pop and see the goats, alpaca and miniature donkeys before catching the train back to Harambe. Natty hadn’t reacted to the henna so she goes and has her hand painted with a very pretty flower pattern. Whilst it dries we decide to use the extra fastpasses for the safari whilst the henna dries.

There’s a bit of shopping before our dinner reservation at Yak and Yeti. We have a truly delightful server, Olivia, who takes excellent care of us. Natty eats fish tacos, which she declares delicious! 

Will really enjoys a Chicken Tikka Masala, I suspect one of his favourite meals so far 
and I have the Miso Salmon.

Olivia recommends the Big Bamboo cocktail – Parrot Bay Coconut Rum, Don Q Cristal Rum, Banana Liqueur, and Tropical Fruit Juices, it’s her absolute favourite and she’s not wrong!

Desserts are the Pineapple Wanton Skewers, Mango Pie and Cheesecake.

More photos in Animal Kingdom…

We ask to see the manager on the way out to praise the service we’ve had from Olivia before walking out of the park and heading back to the Polynesian for pool time and watching the Magic Kingdom fireworks across the Seven Seas Lagoon from the beach.

Natty then stops by the caricature artist in the lobby to get a pic done of her and Tyler…I pop to the shop for a few bits for breakfast. Whilst in the shop I get a text…”Help me! The artist is a Republican!” 😂

I head back downstairs and sit with them in the hope of changing the subject…he’s not your usual Disney employee and he’s proud of that! Oh Lord!

We try and get an earlier night as we have an early start for a special young Mans christening!

Good night!

Day 14 – another day around the World 

July 23, 2017

It’s not too early a start this morning, which is a good thing after such a late start!  We drive to Epcot, as we are heading off property later, and park up and catch the tram in…

First up it’s Soarin’ and we ride whilst waiting for Andrea and the boys as they have much further to travel. We grab our breakfast at Starbucks Fountain View then meet up with A and the boys, head towards the Land pavilion and babysit little R whilst P gets some mummy time on Soarin’. R seems to be ok with us, but we do get the odd “Urm…mommy?” We keep him happy with cake and paper bags…

We decide that a stroll around World Showcase is next and that we will eat lunch in Japan. First up is Mexico where we all get to ride the Three Caballeros…

Then it’s onwards to Norway and the to China

 with a magical stop at the African outpost for a Mango Starr (which might have rum!)

We walk through Germany, Italy and the USA before stopping in Japan for lunch. The teriyaki chicken and prawn dish is amazing! Just as we decide to leave today’s storm begins…and there’s some serious rain!

We choose to pause as three rain ponchos won’t cover 3 adults, a teenager, 2 kids and a stroller (no matter how small our American adult is!)

The rain stops and we head out of a park flooded in parts! This is an adventure for P who enjoys testing the depth of the water…

It’s nap time for R so they head home and we drive to Disney Springs where there’s a successful trip to Uniqlo and Sephora …

We visit Under Armour and the Marketplace cooperative before driving to the mall, where we buy another bag to bring home our excess!

We then return to the Poly to shower and gussy as we have reservations over to Epcot  at La Hacienda. We are meeting Andrea and Frank but judging by the photopass downloads they arrived a while before us! 

La Hacienda is a hoot! The margaritas are delicious…I enjoy a minty pineapple affair which is rather strong! The company is brilliant…

We enjoy Illuminations and a beautiful sunset…

The food is wonderful…Natty has the Pan Seared Snapper – Snapper served atop Tequila-butter Cascabel pepper reduction, accompanied with roasted tomatillos, onions, chiles toreados and queso fresco, and corn Esquites. 

Will and I share the La Hacienda – Mixed grill offering New York strip, half a chicken al pastor, chorizos and vegetables, served with beans and fresh salsas. I’m not sure where the photos are!

We eat our dessert cruise style !

There’s much hilarity as we order dessert … apparently our American friends think it’s flahn/flarn! When we laugh and say flan – F-L-A-N, we get the banarrrrna joke right back! So is it babarrrna flan or banana flarrrrn. You decide! Natty at this point is crying with laughter!

With tummies seriously full,  we walk out through an empty park…allowing for some photo opps on the way…


Andrea kills me with her attempt at an Instagram worthy ‘bubblegum wall’ recreation – she’s down with the kids!😂

Good night!

Day 12 –  the ‘it’s a jolly holiday’ birthday day…

July 22, 2017

Once up and ready we take the resort Monorail directly to the Magic Kingdom from the  Poly – it’s fantastic!

We stroll up Main Street and through Fantasyland for our breakfast in Beasts Castle. With food ordered we pop into the Beasts Ballroom and take a seat to wait for our breakfast. 

This is Natty’s breakfast…

It’s the croissant donut from this menu…

I have the scrambled egg white and Will, unsurprisingly, has the Feast a la Gaston.

Natty is Disney bounding Mary Poppins today and we begin to count up the ‘good morning Mary’ interactions as we walk over to Will’s favourite ride…Space Mountain! Will offers to hold the bags…which is so surprising!😂
Then around into Fantasyland for the Seven Dwarves Mine Train for ‘loud smiles’!

There’s always time to add a sprinkling of 
Pixie Dust…

​​…and this time Will gets a sprinkle too…(much hilarity might follow later when he tries to figure out why he’s got sparkles in his underpants!!)

It’s soon time to meet Mary Poppins and she doesn’t disappoint!

After a trip in the Christmas Shop where we buy our annual Disney ornament we ride Buzz Lightyears Space Ranger Spin and meet an old ex military Trump supporter…cue hilarious conversation between Will and this oddly opinionated chap – Trump is misquoted and taken out of context – and the BBC just report what CNN tell them – did you know that?

It’s time for a little rest so we ride Carousel of Progress where Natty is frustrated by the lack of an apostrophe (and I wish she hadn’t pointed it out as I’m now frustrated too!)

After the ride (and a little nap for Will maybe?) we are stalked by a fabulous photopass man,Justin, who sees Natty’s Disney bound and suggests some photos…

It’s soon time to catch the monorail to Grand Floridian to meet Jed and Andrea for Andrea’s birthday and her afternoon tea.
It’s so fancy and the afternoon tea is delicious! It’s also so good to catch up with Jed. We’ve missed him! 

I also try the caramel rooibos tea…mmmmm!

The party continues as we head  to the Polynesian and the new Trader Sams Grog Grotto. Andrea and Natty arrive first as they’ve taken A’s car and when we arrive we find them settled in…

It’s such great fun in here… and the girls advise us to try the sharing cocktail called Uh Oa.

It’s quite a show when it arrives! 

And soon we are joined by Mike T. Again it’s great to catch up!

Frank brings the kids over from the pool briefly to day their goodbyes and when our drinks are finished we jump back on the monorail to the Magic Kingdom.

We ride the Tea Cups (where Mike makes Will feel a tad dizzy…)


And the carousel! The sky is so pretty!

We try to locate Ben’s sister to no avail but we do find a Chuck! As we wait for Happily Ever After our party grows by one! 

The projections, music and fireworks are spectacular!

We decide it’s time for more adult beverages (and we have promised Frank that we will show the birthday girl a great time) so we walk to Contemporary and hit the Wave lounge. 

Mike treats us to cocktails and bread service…hoping to soak up the 
Seven Seas Lagoon cocktail…Mike doesn’t realise they are huge, sharing cocktails so orders two!!! And the boys have ordered their own drinks! 

Luckily the boys find it in their hearts to help us! Natty has a virgin pina colada and not only enjoys her drink but also finds the company hilarious! We are all a bit crazy…


It’s finally time to leave and here’s where it gets complicated as the planned monorail trip can’t happen as it’s broken down!!

So our first stay at a monorail resort and we take the bus!!!

It’s a late end to a fabulous day! Happy birthday Andrea! 🎉🍹🍸

Good night!

Day 11 – the day we move from the African savannah to Polynesia 

July 21, 2017

It’s pack up time! Today we move to the Polynesian so we enjoy time on balcony watching the animals…it’s busy out here this morning!

Once packed up we call bell services as the Mouse will transfer all our bags etc to our new resort whilst we head to the parks. Whilst waiting we FaceTime mum and Natty shows her the animals on the savannah.

We take a last walk around resort then drive over to the Poly to check in. We are greeted with leis in true Polynesian style! There are also more magic bands waiting…

Unbelievably our room is ready so we pop over to take a look (it’s beautiful)…

… then jump on the monorail (how convenient is this? Apparently my route directly to the TTC has been likened to a forced march…does he not remember that he’s a soldier?!) to Epcot. We are running s little late so we miss our fastpasses to Test Track, pop in and sample some delicious Beverly in Club Cool then walk over to Canada for lunch at Le Cellier. It’s as brilliant as ever! Gotta love that Cheese Soup, eh?

And the Montreal 75 is a bloody lovely cocktail (Dillon’s Craft Gin #22 with Neige Sparkling Wine blended with Peach Puree and Fresh Lime Juice)…along with the tasty poutine!
We stroll around the world showcase and once back in future world we ride Living with the Land. 

Whilst on the ride I manage to grab Test Track fastpasses so we pop over and design our own car and then pit it through its paces!

After a bit of shopping we decide it’s time to make our way back for some pool time at the beautiful Poly pool. However as we get to the monorail station there’s a huge electrical storm! There’s some seriously close lightening strikes but we are safely under cover…
The Hendry-Blums are already at the Poly, so we collect and fill our magic cups And wait for the storm to pass…there’s some serious rain! We have some fun whilst waiting…our curtains and baby R entertain us…

​That laughs cracks us all up!
We soon realise that the storm won’t end any time soon and that the pool is likely to stay closed for a while, so our friends (after sharing rum based beverages) decide that it’s time to head home. We gussy up for our reservations at ‘Ohana (over in the Ceremonial House). We are checked in and given a pager, which goes off soon enough and we are welcomed like family and taken to our table which has fabulous views of Cinderella’s Castle across the Seven Seas Lagoon! Yay!

We are soon tucking into a delicious meal. We begin with ‘Ohana Pineapple-Coconut Bread…

…followed by Mixed Greens Salad with a Lilikoi dressing (I need that dressing in my life). Next up is Pork Dumplings tossed in Garlic-Ginger Sauce served with Peanut and Sweet-n-Sour Sauces along with Honey-Coriander Chicken Wings served with Peanut and Sweet-n-Sour Sauces. We are then visited by servers bringing skewers of Sweet-n-Sour Chicken prepared over an oak fire, Szechuan Sirloin Steak prepared over an oak fire and Spicy Grilled Peel-n-Eat Shrimp prepared over an oak fire, served on Skewers with Peanut and Sweet-n-Sour Sauces. This is accompanied by noodles, tossed in a Teriyaki Sauce.

I might wash this down with a Lapu Lapu…

It’s soon time for the lights to be dimmed and the music for Happily Ever After, the new Magic Kingdom firework show, to begin!

Flipping brilliant!

Dessert is the ‘Ohana Bread Pudding à la mode with Bananas- Caramel Sauce.

That’s to share by the way!

We decide that we love the Poly as we walk back to our room under flaming tiki lights. It’s amazing!

Good night!

Day 13 – Keys to the Kingdom day

July 20, 2017

We are up very early and on the monorail by 0730! It’s my birthday present morning…the Keys to the Kingdom tour which I’ve waited forever to do as the minimum age is 16….and finally Natty is old enough for us all to do the tour together.

We meet Erik, our guide at 0745 and get badges, ear pieces/listening devices, bottles of ice cold water and order our lunch.

We are soon all introduced and off we go up Main Street, stopping along the way to hear great stories and facts. We sit in the shade down a little side street and hear more…Erik is lovely, enthusiastic, knowledgeable and good fun! Next we head over into Adventureland where we get great inside information on what’s in the plans going forward in WDW and then lots of details on the backstory of Jungle Cruise . Erik then arranges to take us down to exit where a boat awaits to take us on the Jungle Cruise but with a twist… factual narrative! Brilliant!

Once back on the dock, we regroup and head on towards Frontierland and another rest stop in the air conditioning to hear more history.
Next up, the much anticipated first visit ‘back stage’ to the left of Splash Mountain but no photos folks! Don’t want to spoil the magic! We walk down between Pirates and Splash towards huge buildings where we find the parade floats!!! We go inside and gets lots of facts about the parades, operations and floats. Bob the maintenance guy is a rockstar! Erik explains about the 3 fairies and how they float on their floats…cue Bob hopping on board and ‘floating’ and spinning around in front of us! Natty and I had been chatting to Frank previously about his ‘friendship’ with the green fairy…so we find it hilarious to think about Frank spinning in a hooped skirt!!

Once we’ve finished with the floats we go back on stage for more walking and talking and then it’s time for an early lunch at the Tomorrowland Terrace. It’s all ready and waiting in a reserved and roped off area.

It’s delicious! Mine is the Pulled Pork Banh Mi Sandwich – a Hoagie Roll filled with Asian Pulled Pork topped with Pickled Vegetables and a spicy Sriracha Aïoli served with House-made Chips. Will enjoys the Angus Cheeseburger topped with Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato served on a Pretzel Bun with House-made Chips. Natty has chosen the Breaded Chicken Strips dipped in Barbecue Sauce and served with House-made Chips. 

We are also given a gift to commemorate our tour…

Once lunch is finished we head back across in front of the castle and back to Liberty Square. More history then we are taken over to the Haunted Mansion for more insider information…before being taken in via a secret entrance for our own private ride at the Haunted Mansion.

Afterwards we walk through Fantasyland and enter the most exciting part …a trip down into the utilidors…these are the ‘tunnels’ used by cast members running under the magic kingdom! We descend a staircase and finally get to see what’s down here! It’s amazing! We explore and take a walk under the castle and moat, down Main St USA the way cast members and characters do! There’s people at work and rest, busy getting along with all the stuff that you’d see around any other theme park or shopping mall but it’s all hidden away down here. At one point we are passed by a dashing, tall young man…Natty and I turn to each other and whisper “Flynn!” We are sure he’s friends with Flynn Ryder from Tangled!

Erik then tells us all about the Cinderella Suite in the castle and then all about the Magic Kingdom inauguration ceremony conducted by Roy Disney in 1971…with pictures up on the wall. It’s such a moving story told with such immense pride and passion that Natty and we are in tears!

We finally have to ascend from the air conditioned loveliness back ‘on stage’ where we get more moving stories and history before the tour finally comes to an end…all 5 hours of it! What a fabulous time we’ve had!

We say goodbye to Erik after hugs and thanks…

It’s now turn the catch up with a couple of our favourite characters…Tinks is surprised at how tall Natty has become!

Then guess who gets this reaction…






Yes… it’s this guy…

We get to help Mickey try out his magic tricks…

Then share with him that it’s Maizie, my nieces, birthday and record a message to send to her…

It’s time to say goodbye to Mickey and hello to Andrea and the boys. We have a lovely (if not a trifle hot) afternoon which includes cake and refreshments, the Muppets Salute to all Nations…but mostly America, the Haunted Mansion, the Christmas Shoppe (where I expertly get baby R to fall into his afternoon nap) and visit with Peter Pan!

It’s time for a break from the heat, so we head out of the park on the monorail and just make it back to the Polynesian before a huge thunder storm arrives…Frank texts that he’s on his way (it’s his turn to join us for dinner) and when he arrives the storm is severe.

We catch up and have a drink whilst waiting for the storm to subside (the radar shows it will) and make the sensible decision to delay our dinner reservation at the Jungle Navigation Skipper Canteen.   The radar is correct and we are soon hearing back to the Magic Kingdom on the monorail. Once there, we are seated by our punny waiter, Alec. It’s hilarious (and apparently you’d love it Tyler…Natty was saying how much you love puns!)

I know they’re in the wrong order but I’m tired so you’ll have to figure it out! Will has the beef pasta dish (check out the menu photo), I have the chicken, Frank has the curry and Natty has the fish. Our server , Dani, notices that Natty isn’t enjoying the fish so offers to change it! Natty is grateful of  the offer and really enjoys the chicken replacement. We eat out desserts cruise style…all in all it’s been a great evening – excellent food, brilliant company, wonderful theming and top class service!

Our night in the Magic Kingdom ends with the last Jungle Cruise of the day…

…before a monorail journey back to the Poly for a very tired Carr clan!
Good night

Ps – I know I owe days 11 and 12…I have notes and will try to catch up tomorrow! I need to sleep now…the Will snoring soundtrack is quite soporific…apparently!

Day 11 post delayed…

July 19, 2017

…because this!!!

Day 10 – Hollywood Studios and magical moments…

July 18, 2017

It’s our first Hollywood Studios day, and we tear ourselves away from the menagerie we can see from the balcony and head out as we have fastpasses for the Tower of Terror (Will’s favourite…not!) Will braves it and this is the result.

Much to Will’s chagrin we visit Starbucks for a caffeine infusion. Will’s been terribly upset since Starbucks took over his beloved Main Street bakery…but the sight of a Darth Vader cupcake perks him right up!

I suspect this is much improved when he realises that it’s peanut butter frosting so we don’t want to share!

As we wander through the shops, Andrea and the boys arrive with big hugs for all! Will buys himself a lanyard for work then we all head up to ride Toy Story Mania. It’s great as we can all ride!

Will wins this one but P does an amazing job with great accuracy scores! Next up is Star Tours, where P rides with us whilst Andrea babysits R. We all really enjoy this journey to Endor and back! We meet up with Andrea and baby R, build droids with P and get a super fashion show with the baby…

It’s soon time for lunch so we pop into the air conditioned loveliness that is the Backlot Express where there’s chicken and Darth Vader waffles…really!

With tummies full, we walk over to the Star Wars Launch Bay where we meet Chewbacca…

We then visit with the cute little Jawas…baby R is not sure at all but as they carefully play with him he cautiously gets a little braver. Once he’s fully confident he can’t get enough of those little dudes! We have a truly Magical moment with P, R, the  Jawas and Seth (who’s looking after them)! They even bring little BB8 gifts for the boys! 

What a truly wonderful experience…in the end little R is fascinated and engaged with them! So much so that he has lots of his cute baby babble interspersed with ‘bye bye’ as we left!

It’s time for a nap now, so Andrea and the boys head out for home whilst we pop and meet BB8. He’s adorable and communicating with us…it’s freaky how real the interaction feels!

The final meeting is an ‘encounter’ with Kylo Ren – absolutely no hugging here! But Natty gets a sneaky selfie even though he forbade it!

Whilst in the Star Wars launch bay we ordered Tyler’s present before heading over to the Great Movie Ride. Sadly, this ride will close forever in August so I’m glad that we got it one last time! Natty finally decides that she’ll keep her eyes open for the whole ride including the Alien bit!

We catch Muppets 3D …

…Natty grabs a selfie with Storm Troopers …

…we collect Tyler’s present and then watch the Star Wars launch bay movie. It’s now time for another ride on the Tower of Terror but the weather gods must favour Will today (either that or he prayed really hard) as a massive storm hits complete with lightening and stupendously heavy rain! We hide under a covered seating area with a nice family from Tampa whilst eating Churros and a Mickey pretzel…

Finally, the rain dies down enough for us to brave the weather in our ponchos (which have served us really well on several afternoons) and head out to the car.

We gussy up for dinner at Boma. We had planned a fancy dinner with Andrea and Frank (who’s arranged a babysitter) but I don’t feel up to it as I’m not doing great with food due to the tooth incident! Despite the disappointment, it means that we do get to catch up with Paul. I soothe my discomfort with a mojito followed by a mighty strong Mai Tai! Natty discovers her love of the virgin mojito…

I’ll upload our Paul photos once they’re downloaded!

Good night!

Day 9 – the day of the Forbidden Journey (and no magic bands)!

July 17, 2017

It’s Universal day…or should I say Harry Potter Day?!

We leave the Lodge and take the 30 minute drive along I4 and manage to find the Hendry-Blums in the chaos that is Universal security…what a hot mess!

Finally into park one, Universal Studios awhat a journey! It’s fantastic! 

I’ll steal a bit of wiki to explain as I was too in awe…

The entrance to the station, which is a quarter-scale replica of the real London King’s Cross railway station, is located in the London area, close to Diagon Alley.[10][26][27] Passengers enter the station building and have their admission ticket checked. They then enter a queue which takes them farther into the station building, under a split-flap departure board, and past London-related advertisements, several stacks of suitcases and a shop selling food. After ascending a flight of stairs, passengers find themselves between signs for King’s Cross Platform 9 and Platform 10. They can see those ahead of them walking through the “wall” forming the entrance to Platform 9¾. This effect uses the Pepper’s ghost illusion. After continuing around several corners, guests arrive on Platform 9¾ itself to wait for the next train to arrive. After the Hogwarts Express has reversed into Platform 9¾ and the arriving passengers have disembarked, the next passengers enter one of the twenty-one compartments in the three passenger carriages.

As the train departs King’s Cross, Hedwig the owl flies alongside while passing through the outskirts of London. Hedwig flies away and Dementors arrive from over the nearby buildings. At the same time Harry, Ron, and Hermione pass along the corridor side of the carriage looking for food. The journey enters a tunnel; upon its exit, it passes by Malfoy Manor during a stormy night. Next, the train passes through a second tunnel and the lights in the compartments go out as a Dementor enters the train and passes along the corridor; Harry Potter uses his magic to defeat the Dementor. After exiting the tunnel, riders are greeted by Hagrid flying on a motorbike with Hogwarts in the background. As the train enters a forest, the flying Ford Anglia appears and starts driving through the terrain. The car crashes soon after and the train leaves the forest, passing by Hogwarts once again before arriving at Hogsmeade Station with Hagrid greeting passengers.

On arrival we take a walk through Hogsmeade…(where Natty gets loads of comments on her Marauders Map dress – thanks Auntie Ev!)

…and head to the Forbidden Journey inside Hogwarts…

Baby R is too small so we baby swap, with Frank looking after R and the rest of us ride. Brilliant! Next up it’s Frank and Natasha…whilst we pop over to to take P on Flight of the Hipogriff. Whilst in line, we get a text from Frank… we are stuck!

They get stuck for quite a while and in the end they get a ‘back stage tour’ of the ride with lights on and their seats being ‘walked out’ of the whole ride! I’ll post a video.

Once reunited, we  grab lunch at the Three Broomsticks with  frozen butter beer with our fish and chips!

Next up is a spot of shopping…new school bag for sixth form etc. Our next visit is to the wand shop, Olivanders where Natasha was chosen for wand fitting at least 5 years ago on our  first trip to Hogsmeade! We enter with around 30 guests…and over comes Olivander himself and asks Natty her name…yes, Natasha is chosen for wand fitting again!

With wand in hand we catch the Hogwarts Express back to Kings Cross where we find Kreacher peeping out at us.

We also take a look at the Knight Bus…

…before heading down Diagon Alley – it’s amazing!

Frank and Natty scored special passes for getting stuck on the ride earlier so we walk straight past the 50 minute queue into Gringotts Bank…

Another incredible ride but I don’t take up the offer of a second rude courtesy of baby swap…so Frank takes P and Natty for a second go!

Enter Gringotts™ bank beneath the massive fire-breathing dragon at the far end of Diagon Alley™. Inside, walk through the bank’s grand marble lobby and see goblins hard at work. Then, get ready to take a journey through cavernous passageways that lead deep underground as you climb aboard this mind-blowing, multi-dimensional thrill ride.

You’ll face the bank’s stringent security measures while navigating perilous subterranean vaults. Along the way you’ll encounter Harry, Ron, and Hermione. But you’ll have to evade the wrath of malicious villains Voldemort™ and Bellatrix, as well as trolls and other creatures that stand between you and a safe return to Diagon Alley™.

We also got to see and hear the fire breathing dragon..but it didn’t half make little R jump in his sleep! Bless!

Baby R was having such a lovely snooze!

Natty shops for a Pygmy Puff in Weasley’s Wizardinf Wheezes and an Irish quidditch team shirt in Quality Quidditch Supplies! We follow this with delicious Ice cream from Florean Fortescue…

Then have fun with the interactive wand down Knockturn Alley before saying goodbye to our friends.

We then take in at bit more of the Universal park and firstly ride  Men In Black, where Will is comprehensively beaten by Natasha! Next up we  ride ET, which is something we haven’t done since 1995! It’s still so lovely and simple but cute.

Natty then gets us a virtual Line spot for Jimmy Fallons Race through New York’s a crazy 3D motion simulator which does not agree with my motion sickness tendencies…bottom line, I feel awful! I think I’ve recovered ok so agree to take Natt on The Mummy ride – an indoor roller coaster. Now I’m normally ok with these rides but I think Will had the best idea and sat this one out…

I decide (and it’s easy to get everyone to agree) that we should head towards Kings Cross again and take a final journey on the Hogwarts Express being as we love it so much!

Once in Hogsmeade, Natty uses her special pass to ride the Forbidden Journey again in the hope that it doesn’t break down! Will and I enjoy drinks in the Hogshead whilst we wait…and I catch up on a bit of blogging. I’m sure there are photos somewhere…

On our way out of the park I write a littlemore blog  whilst Natty enjoys the Spider-Man ride. We’ve had a long day, with over 11 hours in the park so we decide to grab food from our favourite Chicago pizza place, Giodarnos and take it back to the Lodge. Sadly, my night ends with a dental disaster as my crown literally falls out…

Good night!

But here’s a few more photos that I didn’t add to today’s story…

 Day 8 – the day of Mickey and World travels

July 16, 2017

It’s a slightly slower start this morning as we head over to Epcot for breakfast at the Garden Grill. It’s odd entering the park from the front as we are so used to staying at the Beach Club and walking in via the International Gateway.

Breakfast is served family style…and it’s delicious!

I’ve missed a photo of the breakfast skillet which contains scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon and Mickey waffles…

We also meet a few friends…

We all love the POG juice! Pomegranate, orange and guava juice! We all need this in our lives! We’ve (I’ve) timed this morning to perfection as we walk out of breakfast straight downstairs to our fastpass time for Soarin’. It’s the new version – Soarin’ around the World! It’s great but sadly we aren’t impressed with the addition of CGI animals…the beauty speaks for itself people!
Next up it’s time to meet Meet Mickey and Pals…

Both Mickey and Minnie really loved Natty’s ‘ears’ hair style today!

We pop over and ride Journey into the Imagination with Figment before heading into the DVC member lounge for a bit of air conditioning, drinks and a chill. It’s lovely up here!

Once cool and refreshed we take a trip around the World Showcase…it’s now 95 degrees so we hop from shade to store to shade as best as we can!

We set off anti clockwise which really freaks us out…we begin in Canada, eh?

It’s so pretty!

Make a quick stop in the UK for some great Mary Poppins and Peter Pan merchandise, then it’s France…don’t know why I love it here so much!

Then it’s on through Morocco, to Japan…

Via the USA to Italy where there might be gelato cookie sandwiches…

Then a brief stop in Germany and China before Natty is mistaken for a troll by those Vikings in Norway…

A quick cook inside the Mexico pavilion is followed by a relatively speedy stroll through Future World as we have dinner reservations at Boma this evening. There is, however, enough time for a few photos on the way out! (We wondered what the silly pose was for!)

After a quick gussy we meet the Hendry-Blums in the lobby and head down to Boma. It’s a great African restaurant which allows you to be as adventurous as you feel…we all love it here! The only downside tonight is that our friend Paul is not working!

The boys recreate their classic matching top photos but Will didn’t get the message about Ethiopian football shirts..

We all enjoy the food, especially baby R who devours 4 chicken tenders, cherry tomatoes, beans and finishes it off with several pieces of the delicious Boma specialty- the Zebra Dome!

I can also recommend the African Rum Runner – a combination of Pink Pigeon Rum, Blackberry Brandy, and Banana Liqueur with Orange and Pineapple Juices!

Good night!