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  • Keef Hellinger

Blog 183 - Family Holiday to Orlando, Florida, USA - Theme Parks for Disney's 50th at Magic Kingdom

Updated: Dec 9, 2022

Created by KeefH Web Designs, August 21st 2022 17.58 PM

A KeefH Web Designs Travel Blog

Not The Motorhome trip No 18 : July 29th 2022 – August 21st 2022


INTRODUCTION

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A wonderful family holiday for 3 weeks staying at Regal Palms Resort in the Davenport and Bay Lakes area of Florida, just off the Purple heart highway (no 27) and mostly using the 192 Highway (West Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway, both father and son Irlo Bronson (Sr & Jr) were prominent Floridian Democratic Politicians and the father is best known for selling some of his ranch land to Walt Disney to construct Disney World, there you go a bit of relevant history for you). The 192 got us to Disney (& Universal) theme parks and all the obvious American eateries, some of which are to die for (sadly in some folks cases literally) just loved the all American "big and brash" approach to life for 3 weeks. Not sure I could live there, the gun thing and school shooter issue is very prominent every day in their newscasts (dominated by adverts #smile) plus Florida's republican governor Ron Desantis has views I could never align with , BUT 3 weeks to explore a highly interesting culture that really defines the term "2 nations that speak the same language but are separated by it" was truly a wonderful opportunity spent with my loving and fun, caring extended family, I am a VERY HAPPY MAN #fact Note also entry to Animal Kingdom off the 192 should be via the Sherberth Rd (entry point) where as all the others via the main entry point off the 192 near the Interstate I4 road.


We were there for the 25th anniversary celebrations back in 1997, here again for the 50th anniversary and Keef has "joked" back again for the 75th celebrations.... I will be 93... #rockon #MICKEYMOUSEmaybe For a deeper insight and comparison maybe take a look at the NOW & THEN write up. If you would like to see a limited gallery of highlights (42 images) and / or read what they were then feel free to click HERE, thanks. Note all our full holiday images and videos are available via any appropriate section of the MENU. We took some 1,800 images in total between us. Hey after all if it moves snap it, if it doesn't move snap it #hellingerfamilymotto You can also see all the official Disney site guides to help understand where we went and what we did and / or saw. Maybe a look at our summary HIGHLIGHTS will do it for you, wow it was a nice time #fact


Big thanks to sis Linda and hubby Ian for the timeshare hire, such a great location with easy access to supermarket, eateries and Disney World. After not being able to locate the place when we were tired on arrival for various reasons (see LOWLIGHTS for details if you are really interested) Keef & Annie travelled via 2 AT&T shops to get a local SIM for Keef & Craig's phones so we could use the Sat Nav facilities and call each other in the parks when we separated for whatever reason, rides / shows / restrooms etc. etc. I would suggest this is an essential requirement #hintsandtips and although not cheap well worth the investment, emergency like car failures, collecting curbside pick up, phoning receptions, take away, medical all may / will be needed and the peace of mind is just fabulous. Having 2 phones with unlimited mobile data meant whoever was driving, Craig & I alternated day by day, could plug into the satnav display in our huge hired Chrysler Voyager, whilst the other could research stuff. According to Google Maps we drove 527 miles in the hire car but who knows if that is right, the one thing I do know is we walked a total of 37.5 miles around the Disney World Resort parks. The area is not called "Lakeland" for nothing, in the middle of Florida there are small lakes everywhere, makes one think when Bronson sold to Walt Disney that he thought he was getting rid of a boggy useless patch of wetlands, how wrong he could be, it, and whatever parcel of that old Bronson ranch Disney Corporation now own is well and truly prime real estate, houses in Florida are the priciest in the States.


Overall as pensioners we would probably say that the States was very expensive but that might just be to do with the extremely poor exchange rate at the moment pounds to dollars , when we last went it was £1 = $2, today it was more like parity. Oh well who cares, it was a lovely holiday and you can't put a price on treasured memories #fact Note also whilst using Disney parks there is a $25 daily charge for car parking but it is transferrable across parks on that day should you have that sort of park ticket, we didn't as pre selected which parks on which days #hintsandtips


Note you may wish to read this blog as an audiobook, if so click HERE

Anyhow do hope this helps others do a bit of research and get a few pointers before going, if you do so choose, I can recommend it enough as a magical holiday for a 3 generation family like ours, Love KeefH Web Designs.

Professional Family Picture taken at Disney Orlando
Professional Family Picture

MENU

  1. Calendar

  2. Week 1

  3. Week 2

  4. Week 3

  5. Regal Palms & the pool facilities

  6. Disney's Magic Kingdom

  7. Disney's Animal Kingdom

  8. Disney's EPCOT - Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow

  9. Disney's Hollywood Studios

  10. Disney Springs

  11. Universal Studios

  12. Fireworks at EPCOT & Magic Kingdom

  13. Eateries & Shopping

  14. Highlights

  15. Highlights Gallery

  16. Lowlights

  17. Now and Then , Comparing 25th & 50th anniversaries

  18. Flights

  19. Disney World Resort Entrance Tickets

  20. Disney site plans and official maps

  21. Typhoon Lagoon Disney Water Park

  22. Audiobook

  23. Craig's Disneey Werld & Did it! Movie #MakingMemories

  24. The End - Tag, Links etc.

So love these pictures #smugglypleased

image using photo techniques to add mickey mouse glasses to people
Greetings MICKEY fans!
Edie at Epcot
Edie at Epcot

CALENDAR 29th July to 21st August 2022

Fun times with the family, use this to see what we did and where we went on our 24 day holiday with Craig, Leanne, Edie and Tate. It of course included that very special day on the 16th for Edie's 6th birthday , it was also the last of our 14 days continuously at the Disney World Parks, a fabulous time of rides, shows, shops, restaurants and meeting celebrity Disney characters, getting there autographs and having cuddles with them and getting our pictures taken with them a true delight for grandchildren #magical

Have I said yet , we almost Septuagenarians , walked 37.5 miles around the parks, not bad in that heat and humidity #creamcrackered

Note on the 17th we returned to Disney Springs in the eve to watch Disney's version of Cirque du soleil but I sadly left that off the calendar #dumbkopf (see I do know some other languages) #haha

I've also used Google Maps time line to capture day by day the holiday, see slideshow attached


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WEEK 1 - 29th July to 7th August 2022

Summary: There are 660 images in a slideshow lasting 21 minutes followed by a video with speech lasting for 43 minutes. Since we are in movie land the ones with speech we will call "The Talkies" #haha #hollywood

The contents of which cover flying from Manchester Airport on the Saturday having stayed in the Premier Inn, quite a posh modern one, and eating at their attached pub, nothing special but good for the Friday eve before flying and it avoided any unforeseen obstacles to getting on the plane, most relaxing. We took quite a few pictures of the take off over England before hitting the cloud and Soarin' through it (this is a reference to the mega ride experience in Epcot which was a 4D hit with one and all in our party, how to fly around the world in less that 80 minutes (well seconds maybe #haha) rather than Mister Verne's days. Our seats were over the right hand wing and engines so a little noisy, Keef took his headphones which were far superior to the free Virgin Atlantic free ones. Watched 3 movies on the way out. The best of which was The House of Gucci (Lady GaGa is excellent) and Kenneth Branagh's Belfast a close second, it certainly passed the time as well as playing with / chatting to grand children over the seat tops, they were all in the row in front of us. Food also not bad and well designed with eco sentiments in mind. I guess if you are burning fuel at a rate of knots as an airline its good to contribute in some small way #COP26

We landed and the least said about the rest of the night probably for the better, if you really wish to indulge them have a read of the LOWLIGHTs, I've warned you it wasn't a great time and boy were we all tired after 22 hours traveling. The kids had a bit of a melt down at the start of driving the new hire car but who can blame them being 5 and 1 a piece. I think the adults were probably close to it as well but we are HELLINGERs and soldiered on.

So besides doing some shopping in the very convenient and hugely stocked Publix supermarket a stones throw away up the road in the Berry Town centre area and lots of swimming in the Regal Palms complex with its lazy river, 5ft pool and paddling area Keef, Craig and Leanne tried out the "fast water slide" into the pool. Only Craig was brave enough to lie down whilst descending although I can vouch for it building up speed even if you were sitting on that last bend #fun Loved the Reggae playlist music that adorned the swimming complex, I could almost believe with the sun that I was back in Jamaica. We also went out for breakfast at the i-Hop, a pancake place, and Applebee's , a trad American bar / diner which did fab chicken dishes especially the Lime chicken and meltdown chocoholic puddings with ice cream. Overall I would rate US ice-cream but not eat it in tub loads as sadly many Americans must appear to do whilst watching TV. Don't get me started on the quality of US TV ! Both these establishments were on the Berry town centre site.

So what else did we do in that 1st week. Got AT&T Sim cards, unlimited data, for Craig and my phone, Visited all 4 Disney parks for the first time. Ate a buffet lunch out at Ponderosa , a nostalgic visit inspired by Leanne's extended family visit over 20 years ago. I will always remember those brightly coloured sugary drinks and Edie's dark blue and bright red Jelly (or Jello as our Patriots call it) Addendum she didn't eat it after the 1st mouthful #notsurprising

Saw and recorded the magnificent 50th anniversary firework shows at both Magic Kingdom and Epcot, both late nights for the grandkids but they were great and loved them. I now know a lot more Disney "toons" than just let it go, Annie & I are determined to watch a few of the Disney's we don't know well, sorry we are old skool ...from Snow White probably only as far as Sleeping Beauty, one of my favourites is Dumbo. Bambi was I think the first movie I saw at the cinema as a kid when Mum took us.

We did 1 Magic Kingdom visit, 2 Animal Kingdom visits and 2 Epcot visits in that first week. At Animal Kingdom whilst collecting stickers for Edie's conservation book we visited Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail, Harambe Market , where later in the trip we saw the truly wonderful Lion King show in the theater just behind on the river bank. Plus the whole conservation area where animals are housed getting there via the old train. At this centre Granny, Edie & Grandpa joined the art work class and drew Pula (the pig) from the Lion King, great fun. See our artwork BELOW. We saw various animals and fish which the kids loved. On those 2 Animal Kingdom visits visited mostly Oasis , Africa, Rafiki's Planet watch and bits of Discovery Island. To see more details of all 3 of the parks visited in Week 1 look at site guides and maps HERE. Thanks for looking

That's it for week 1


Art work of the highest order, the reality is that our 5 year old (almost birthday time to upgrade to 6) grand daughters effort was easily the best #loveher

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WEEK 2 - 8th to 14th August 2022

There are 738 images in a slideshow lasting 25 minutes followed by a video with speech lasting for 43 minutes.

Week 2 kicked off with our first visit to Disney Hollywood Studios, which seems to have been designed on a 1930s film set theme. Very classy, liked it here a lot, the Star Wars theme now they own Lucas has expanded massively from 1997 and their rides are enhanced, Tate was even quizzed by a stormtrooper, he didn't seem interested #haha The Mickey / Minnie / Goofy train ride was very classy and some of the shows were good. Due to thunder and lightening our 1st Indiana Jones show was wiped out, just too dangerous and because of the loud bangs Edie was not interested in a 2nd attempt although Keef & Annie did for old times sake.

Lots of hats were tried on in the various shops and Minnie ears for Leanne and Edie. Street parades (nothing like Magic Kingdom) featured the Incredibles and others. We did a few trips to regal palms pool area this week as well as having a few meals out plus a splendid Planet Hollywood bonanza for our first visit there as well as a late night for the fireworks at Magic Kingdom and breakfast at the Rainforest café in Animal Kingdom, what a surprise that was, just amazing, only at Disney, with thunder and lightening inside the café on the half hour with real rain showers over you. #amazing The restaurant also had a whole host of animatronic animals as well as giant fish tanks, the grandkids loved these.

We did a 2nd visit to Hollywood studios as well, getting to know our way around by now. Sadly the white knuckle ride themed on Aerosmith the band broke down just as Leanne and I were about to get near the front of the queue , Friday this week was a lazy one, but one we all picked up a bit of sun burn despite factor 50 sun tan lotion at waterpark Typhoon lagoon. Just shows how intense the sun is in Florida, 34-39c often and very humid. We also did our final Epcot visit this week and Edie had to say goodbye to her beloved Soarin' ride , she went on 5 times in total, it is a very clever 4D experience. It was also our final visit to Animal Kingdom, mostly spent in Asia area just across from the stage Dino land we had been in earlier in the week. Edie and I did the triceratops rid twice.

Want to see more then look its all here on the blog via picture slideshows etc.

To see more details of all 4 of the parks visited in Week 2 look at site guides and maps HERE. Thanks for looking. Note we also visited Typhoon Lagoon, for which we don't have a site guide but it can be found here and Disney Springs which is included in the set of guides.

That's it for week 2

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WEEK 3 - 15th to 21st August 2022

There are 461 images in a slideshow lasting 12 minutes followed by a video with speech lasting for 44 minutes.

Week 3 started with the last trio to Disney Hollywood Studios and the kids both dancing and singing along to the Frozen show, the male compare was great at ad lib, and very funny. Tuesday saw us finish our very enjoyable 14 days at the Disney parks with what was probably both our longest and most fulfilling day , it was Edie's 6th birthday, we started with a bit of present opening at 257 Bergamo followed by a very posh breakfast in the Royal Table restaurant within Magic Kingdom's Castle, Grandpa discussed Grits with the the suitably medieval attired waiter, he liked them with sugar, YUK! but why does that not surprise me, the gouda ones I had were superb. We then went to more shows and on more rides than we ever have and the wonderful "It's a small world" was included.

Wednesday we did a bit of shopping and all ate out at the Australian themed Outback restaurant, great grub cobber. Edie even went to the Sheila's. We had a family swim in the eve before tea. Thursday C&L & Co went to Universal studios and K & A had a chill day mostly eating, drinking and watching awful movies however the Meg Ryan / Hugh Jackman time travel romance from 2001 called Kate and Leopold wasn't bad.

Friday was a relaxed day with an early morning swim, our last, then packing and getting ready for the big trip home, you don't wanna know about the car dying on us as we left for the airport, but if you do read the LOWLIGHTS, Grr.

We finally managed the full Indiana Jones show, hooray. Used both ferry and monorail at Magic Kingdom. Edie could have had a go on the cable car at Hollywood studios , there and back but we just didn't find the time, sadly. The pilot of the river boat cruise was a hoot. Belle was so nice and Cirque Du Soleil back at Disney Springs on Thursday eve was possibly , no definitely, the best circus show G&G had ever seen.

Giant donuts and weird picture templates spring to mind, thats it folks, take a look in more detail through the rest of the menu, I hope there is something to delight each and every one of you. Best KeefH Web Designs. x

To see more details of both Magic Kingdom (for Edie's spectacular 6th birthday) and Disney Springs for Cirque Du Soleil which we visited in Week 3 look at site guides and maps HERE. Thanks for looking

That's it for week 3

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REGAL PALMS RESORT

We stayed at 257 Bergamo drive for 3 weeks and used most of the available facilities bar the Spa and eating at the Grill bar, towel hire for the pool was $10 deposit returned when you gave them back and for that deposit you could return them as often as you like, soaking wet during a days swimming if you wanted to. Granny & Grandpa got Edie and Tate a lilo and rubber ring which made journeys around the lazy river a little more fun. On the last day I had to walk from Bergamo back to the office to check out because of our broken hire car but in general one drove everywhere, after all this is America #teehee The pool stuff in fairness was a little too far from where we were. There were minor issue with our stay in the Bergamo villa but nothing particularly serious, more niggles. If you want to read about those click HERE Overall we thought the accommodation and location were great.

Above are copies of the guides we were given, the housekeeping phone number was very useful, they got to know me after 3 weeks, indeed their manager did see my point of view when suggested they couldn't come until Tuesday in the last week #assertive

Here is a slideshow of Regal Palms resort and the wonderfully relaxing pool time we spent, enjoy

Also as Meatloaf (rest his soul) once said

Tate loved the Regal Palms pool, especially the shallower baby pool bit where he could play, he has no fear of water and loved going around the lazy river on the Lilo but mostly in Mummy or Daddy's arms

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MAGIC KINGDOM

We visited this park 3 times and saw the parade twice, well at least Edie and I did the second time, Tinkerbell and Chip & Dale were her favourites along with all the Princesses. We celebrated her 6th birthday there on our 3rd and final visit, starting with a fab breakfast in the Royal Table restaurant in the castle. Craig & Leanne had steak, I had old Gouda Grits, you gotta taste local food, so much better than the only time I've had Grits before. Edie's birthday cake was a chocolate mickey head and eats, yummy

Clearly stuff is included in the weeks 1-3 You Tube videos but I have combined at least the images here. There are 278 images lasting 7 minutes. The talkies are included elsewhere under weeks 1 thru 3. Thanks for looking, best KeefH Web Designs x

I spotted this near the creek in the car park at Magic Kingdom on our first visit, I didn't say anything as both Annie & Edie would have freaked, and we didn't need that #smile #careful

Want to see the site guide and map for Magic Kingdom, click HERE

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ANIMAL KINGDOM

We visited this park 4 times and saw the Lion King Show in the Theatre in Africa.

Here are some official photographer pix of us all

There are 307 images lasting 15 minutes. The talkies are included elsewhere under weeks 1 thru 3. Thanks for looking, best KeefH Web Designs x

Want to see the site guide and map for Animal Kingdom , click HERE

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EPCOT

We visited this park 3 times and saw the spectacular Sonne et Lumiere fireworks show around the Lake, plus travelled on the wonderful rides Soarin' and Galaxy.

There are 330 images lasting 9 minutes. The talkies are included elsewhere under weeks 1 thru 3. Thanks for looking, best KeefH Web Designs x

Want to see the site guide and map for EPCOT, click HERE

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DISNEY HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS

We visited this park 3 times and went on the fab Mickey and Minnie train ride in Main Street. We also due to thunderstorms had to have 2 attempts to see the whole of the Indiana Jones re-enactment of stunts. Its wonderful and not much changed from 1997 only that those stunt men and women have now retired #tooold

There are 162 images lasting 6 minutes. The talkies are included elsewhere under weeks 1 thru 3. Thanks for looking, best KeefH Web Designs x

Want to see the site guide and map for Hollywood Studios, click HERE

We missed out on this one having used a Lightening Lane and queued a bit when it broke down (again apparently last time was for 14 days!!!) they refunded our pass, but it didn't restart during the time we were there that day, good job that in the "white knuckle" ride stakes we did eventually get on Guardians of the Galaxy ride at EPCOT

aerosmith white knuckle ride at disney hollywood studios

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DISNEY SPRINGS

We went twice to Disney springs, I guess it is the mega replacement for what Paradise Island was back in the day as the entertainment element of Disney World Resorts offering. Disney springs is huge with many car parks, named after fruits, i.e., Lime, Watermelon, Orange etc. etc. All car parking is free. The first time we went we had a good look around, security is good on entry, all the typical posh shops and of course Disney & Co. which we did spend quite a bit of time in. Keef looked at buying Levi's, traditionally a cheap purchase in the States, but even with the 30% discount they were still way more expensive than the UK, must be the exchange rate or prices in the US have gone ballistic. The Lego shop was fun, Edie played with the available bricks to entertain the kids, Grandpa made a car #teehee We then avoided a mega downpour and eventually legged it over to Planet Hollywood for our pre booked table getting a little wet on route. What a fascinating restaurant. Reminded me of my fave Hard Rock café but with film memorabilia and some fab sing-a-longs. #magic Our second return was to watch Cirque Du Soleil, which was wonderful. You can park in the surface car park for free just in front of the purpose build big top. Disney don't do things by halves #haha

Want to see the site guide and map for Disney springs, click HERE

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UNIVERSAL STUDIOS

We had a day off when C&L and family visited Universal, it is located about an hour away from Davenport in what is basically south Orlando. They had a lovely day mostly in the Harry Potter area with Edie using her Hermione wand to make stuff "move", i'll try and find some images, they stopped for donuts on the way back, but as the kids were flagging didn't make it through to 9 pm for the fireworks which was an original intention. It as fun place, much changed I'm sure from our 1997 visit but ET is still there although massively updated.

Edie had great fun with her wand , now what exactly does "Expelliarmus" mean, well I'm so glad you asked Harry fans, here you go..... Expelliarmus is a disarming spell, and is used to knock the opponent's wand from their hand. It is commonly used in the dueling club of Hogwarts and in many of the Harry Potter movies. Although called the 'Disarming Charm', it is only used to take wands from your opponent, whereas other spells can be used for summoning or pushing away an object.

Here is a very brief you tube video of Craig & Leanne's day out

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FIREWORKS

We were lucky enough to be at Disney's world resort to celebrate their 50th anniversary which meant spectacular fireworks every evening at both Magic Kingdom and Epcot, on reflection we all agreed it was the Magic Kingdom ones that were the best which is to take nothing way from Epcot who used huge screens to coordinate Disney classic songs and screen time with the fireworks over the world lake. By fireworks down main street in front of the castle at Magic Kingdom just edged it for us it was , sorry to repeat the word, just MAGICAL!

Do hope these videos do it justice. It should be noted that each "performance" at both parks lasted about 20 minutes with a crescendo finale, our video has captured about 20 minutes combines across the 2, you will easily see which park is which, over the lake at Epcot and in front of the Castle at Magic Kingdom.

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EATERIES AND SHOPPING

We went to very few shops apart from those inside Disney Parks for various souvenirs and gifts, Keef bought himself a NASA T-shirt inside EPCOT but for those outside we got SIM cards from AT&T, Food shopping from Publix, and we visited the old style US store Cracker Barrel and the Magicians Gift Store on the 192.

Restaurants we eat at or got take aways were in no particular order, i-Hop and Applebee's at Berry Town Centre , Ponderosa on the 192, McDonald's on the Disney World Resort Estate, Mexico and China in EPCOT, Planet Hollywood at Disney Springs, take away fish and chips from the English bar in Berry town centre, where I had a draft pint of old speckled hen whilst waiting, a great place run by a nice English guy from London who had been there for 14 years. Plus for breakfasts Rainforest café in Animal Kingdom and the Royal Table in the castle at Magic Kingdom, all very magical. I think thats it... oh C&L ate at a Donut place on the way back from Universal on the last Thursday. We also did up sandwiches etc. which we ate in the parks to save a bit of money but mostly in that heat and humidity it was drinks we needed, lots of iced water and Sprite , which worryingly cost about £4 for a small bottle.

Here is a short slideshow to capture those events

Chinese lunch at the Nine Dragons, China, Epcot, absolutely scummy

Final Applebee's meal. What a nice place and great food all just up the road at Berry Town Centre #ace

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HIGHLIGHTS

Being able to spent so much time with family and sharing and building memories, especially nice to see our grand children Edie and Tate, little Tate is learning so fast, his speech and height have come on in leaps and bounds, "did it", "no way", "duddle". Seeing Manatees, such lovely creatures. Edie's 6th birthday, Cinderella brekkie in the Magic Kingdom Castles Royal Table. Breakfast at the Rainforest Café Animal Kingdom, steak to die for at Outback, plus that weird Onion ring. Old store magic, rocking chairs and legging it after Tate's faux pas at Cracker Barrel. The Magicians head and all those totally over the top shop front / displays along the 192. Cheap fuel, not cheap in the US's eyes but certainly cheap for us. Edie dressing up as Snow white. Soarin' at Epcot, Edie 5 Grandpa 4. Guardians of the Galaxy white knuckle ride with Leanne at EPCOT, the best ride I have ever experienced. Lightening lanes (thanks Craig!) Nostalgia for G&G, especially the Indiana Jones show at Hollywood Studios and the massively updated Its a small world at Magic Kingdom , Lazy river at both Typhoon Lagoon and Regal Palms. The Toyland shoot 'em up ride at Hollywood Studios, with Leanne trumping the score line even with Tate on her lap. The Mickey and Minnie Goofy train ride at Hollywood Studios. Chinese lunch at EPCOT. Ice cold water and crusher in 257 Bergamo, Regal Palms resort. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, Crush Dudes, Animated drawing instruction by a Disney animator at Animal Kingdom with Edie, Pula from the Lion King. All those Princess characters and others and the delight on Edie's face when she got their signature and a "duddle" from them, plus Granny and Grandpa learning who the hell the were and which Disney movie they were in, lots to watch and catch up on whilst recovering from Jet Lag. The very efficient and easy "meet & greet" at Manchester Airport. Temperatures near the 100 degrees Fahrenheit mark most days, sun bronzing. That fab storm on almost the first night, spectacular! Watching and listening to our team in the Premiership the wonderful Reds, Nottingham forest and its a small world coincidences meeting the guy from Sawley Marina at Animal Kingdom car park #COYRs Some of the fab shows like Beaty and the Beast and the absolutely amazing Frozen show, Tate and Edie dancing along, us all singing Let it go and other "classics" #livetheatre but the top theatre show for A&I (probably the best we have ever seen) was Disney's Cirque Du Soleil "Drawn to Life" , how on earth those uni cycling girls and the Jungle book characters managed the jumping n foot up with no harness I will never know. #spectacular We also loved the Simba theatre show at Animal Kingdom. Magic Kingdom 3pm parade twice especially tinker bell , the fire breathing dragon , Tate waving at Mick Mick and wanting to Duddle Minnie, Craig's love of Gaston from Beauty and the Beast at the Gaston Tavern in Magic Kingdom. Land rover safari at Animal Kingdom. Planet Hollywood lunch at Disney Springs and sing along on the big screen, reminded Keef of his fave Hard Rock Cafe's. The guy in Epcot who said to me "go birds go" as I was wearing my Eagles shirt Craig had bought me for my 64th birthday. What part of Philly are you from he said, Nottingham in England I said #haha Spectacular thunder and lightening on the first night in Polk County, we filmed it, it is a feature along with high temperatures (34c-39c generally about 4pm each day) in Florida, luckily although we were in Hurricane season we avoided those unlike one of our previous family holidays to Jamaica in 2009 when we encountered Hurricane Ivan. Bad news. We did chat to a young couple from Oklahoma in Dino land at Animal Kingdom who said Tornadoes (they were in the alley) were not as bad as Hurricanes, small comfort eh? #smile Having ice on tap, McDonald's cold (very cold) chocolate milkshakes and their McFlurry, all thirst quenching and heat busting! #survival

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HIGHLIGHTs GALLERY

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LOWLIGHTS

The first and last days. The first day after arrival in Orlando International airport was a nightmare. Hot and sweaty with tired children (and adults!) we were made to wait and queue "in line" for 3 hours to get through border control at US customs. They only had a couple of booths open, ridiculous with at least 3 UK planes arriving at the same time. Then after that due to taking the unexplained "option" of having our luggage transported by staff across from arrivals terminal to terminal A (something if we knew the full facts we would never do again) #hintsandtips we lost 2 suitcases for at least an hour and a half. We collectively had a huge amount of luggage with 5 suitcases on the way out, 2 trunkies, stroller (UK pushchair ;) ) and numerous item of "carry on" luggage so just 2 much to lug for and already fractious and tired bunch. Eventually got them back (they lost 14 items of luggage in total that night) Keef complained to the manager. You had to use the monorail to get over to Terminal A. After getting that sorted and the hire car we had some Edie histrionics when Craig first used the hire car, just a learning to drive it issue, and Edie as a result of her tiredness, all sorted pretty quickly. BUT and here is the BIG "butt" none of our phones worked ( google maps used our roaming credit up amazingly quickly and cost a fortune, we hardly got out of the Alamo car hire place before it was gone) so navigating to Regal Palms in Davenport was a nightmare, we only had a tourist map Linda had sent for guidance, and we drove around and around trying to find it, no chance, stopped at a 7/11 to try and buy a detailed map, no dice in the USA, all use Google maps, so stuffed, Keef took executive decision at about 11.30 pm US time and got us 2 rooms at the Days Inn on the 192 , hugely overpriced and antiquated but perfect for a exhausted family. Not a day we all wish to remember. Sorted with essential US AT&T SIM cards the next morning when we finally found 2700 Sand Mine Road, Davenport


The last day by comparison was no where near as bad but still a bit frustrating as having loaded the Chrysler Voyager, a huge beast, but ideal for all us lot, with the bags (an extra one as well that C&L had purchased in Walmart, Clermont (on the 27) for all the Disney extras, plus Edie's birthday. Anyhow the car wouldn't start, some technical fault on the throttle , luckily hadn't happened during the 3 weeks , but meant a whole lot of hassle we could have done without, also no go for our free ride on the wheel at Icon park on International drive and personally for Keef the chance to briefly re-visit Villas at Somerset off the 192 we had stayed at back in 1997. All sorted via Alamo hire company who sent a guy out to tow it away and get 2 Ubers to the airport, time there went quite quickly even with the 1 hour delay in flying departure to 8.40 pm. Keef rang Regal Palms reception to get a extension to 12 noon, free of charge. K had to walk up (bit hot) before noon to check out but got to watch Forest in the bar Vs Everton so every cloud has a silver lining #happybunny


Plus Aerosmith's white knuckle ride breaking down at Hollywood Studios just as we got near the front of the queue. Oh and Craig scraping his back on Regal Palms water slide whilst using the go pro, #smile oh and humidity, being chucked out of the lazy river as a precaution against thunder and lightening (never happened!). Edie banging her legs and cutting them after the massive waves started at Typhoon Lagoon and Keef treading on Annie's food in the same aftermath. That dripping tap, grr and needing to use the loo plunger #notnice Also the overwhelming use of "just too much" sugar and salt in and on everything. Maybe dieticians in the states need take a closer look, no wonder governments and health schemes are removing the subsidising of diabetes medical care in the States, it does seem to be a huge growing problem #politicalpointover


Bergamo villa issues

Also having to chase Maintenance /Housekeeping all 3 weeks to get them to change towels and bedding, they mostly did a good job but never washed the floors as witness by how black the undersoles of the kids feet were when they didn't wear socks. The other annoying factor was the previous people who are likely to be fined re the bins. I spoke to the collectors who come each day as it was never emptied. They will ONLY take away if in big black sacks. We bought some and after I forced them to clean our the fly ridden full bin we never had another problem and they took it away everyday #greatfellows

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NOW AND THEN

We visited Magic Kingdom at Disneyworld Florida for both the 25th anniversary celebrations in 1997 and then again for the 50th anniversary celebrations in 2022. Craig was 15 when we first visited and kindly invited us to accompany him with his own family aged 40 (it was for his 40th birthday celebrations) Great fun, I've provided some graphical comparisons so you can see what has changed over the years both from the Disney perspective and from our families perspective. #nostalgia

image of Disney's Magic Kingdom entrance Walt statue comparison 1997 to 2022 - 25 and 50 years after its inception
Disney's Magic Kingdom entrance Walt statue comparison 1997 to 2022 - 25 and 50 years after its inception

We stayed at 257 Bergamo Drive, 2700 Sand Mine Lane, Davenport in 2022 and Villas of Somerset , Kissimmee in 1997, not far from each other, see this Google maps direction chart

image of comparative residences 1997 to 2022
didn't quite manage to revisit due to car being kaput on the last day, but hey ho we were close

Back in the day (1997) we visited both Typhoon lagoon and Blizzard beach (closed for refurbishment 2022) , the place where on Summit Plummet the steepness of the slide meant your budgie smugglers almost cut you in half as they were drawn up inside your nether regions #smile . The Disney world arch at entrance seems the same , Animal Kingdom was not built, many of the "traditional" rides have been updated. technology is now so advanced in comparison, Honey I shrank the Audience (class leading technology back in 1997) is replicated via many "experiences" in 2022 not least the very clever Pixar shorts 3D experience and its a BUGs life show. We went to Paradise Island in 1997, its no longer around but the entertainments and shopping hub is now the massive Disney Springs complex on the Lake Buena Vista site. In 1997 we went to one of the first ever Planet Hollywood restaurants there (owned by Stallone & Willis) we loved the one we went back to in 2022 at Disney Springs.

image of The evolving Walt Disney World entrance arch
The evolving Walt Disney World entrance arch

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FLIGHTS

We flew from Manchester Terminal 2 to Orlando International terminal A (via monorail off landing area) and back again start and end of the holiday, sitting both times in the same seats over the very noisy wing area, headphones up to highest you could barely make out what the film or music was. Food pretty good though. We were flying Virgin Atlantic on what I thing was a 737 but I'm no expert.

Here are our return tickets

Here is a You tube video of flying to and from Orlando by Virgin Atlantic

Plus a few more images

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DISNEY PARK TICKETS

Here are the tickets we used for our 14 day experience, you also had to use them to confirm any Lightening Lane bookings, there was a charge to skip the queue, on only one ride , Galaxy, their latest mega-ride you had to use a new concept which they may well expand in the future to join a virtual queue , booking online from 7 am at home, and then again at 1 pm in the park. Note the virtual queues , for obvious reasons ran out pretty quickly, it was like booking concert tickets online. #innovation The credit card style tickets are known as a Disney Fast Pass Plus

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SITE PLANS AND MAPS

These are copies of the official guides you can pick up at each park and Disney springs, they are available in all languages as I found when I almost claimed a Spanish version before realising my language skills barely exist #luddite Each section features the cover, a full site map, some words about the park and an index of where to find what, I do hope it helps inform #hintsandtips

MAGIC KINGDOM

ANIMAL KINGDOM

EPCOT

DISNEY HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS

DISNEY SPRINGS

If you want more information or maybe to download printable site maps (not sure how current they are?) this site may well help , click HERE otherwise that's all folks

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TYPHOON LAGOON

We went there on the Friday we had a free day, we had booked an afternoon session at EPCOT but as a Virtual queue for Galaxy was 8 pm and then got cancelled we decided not to go and went back to 257 Bergamo to chill.

The wave machine was mega and scary

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AUDIOBOOK


CRAIG'S MOVIE

Craig very kindly put this movie together in November 2022 and gave us a full screen premier with popcorn (yuk!), Maltesers, cakes, biscuits and lunch at their house, its wonderful, i love the specialist Disney font and the clever way he has used Apple's iMovie app to show 2 videos running in the same frame, so clever. It includes all of our selected images and videos from the fun family time, making memories.

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THAT's ALL FOLKS

Thanks for reading. A lovely fun holiday time where the highlights well and truly outshone the lowlights


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As a final piece de resistance have a look at what you can do with the Disney Photo Pass app, all in one guide to booking stuff, searching for stuff, setting up lightening lanes, and generally controlling your visit, to make it even smarter Disney have introduced a smart watch, even more money for them #haha #innovation #hintsandtips

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