Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Staycation Numero Dos! (Part 2)

It's been a while! So much to catch up on, this is going to be a long one I tell you now!

So... Friday 7th was EPCOT day. We headed over there just before lunch taking the guest bus. We got lunch at the Coral Reef restaurant which I'd never been to before... it's got aquariums all along one wall which is really cool. Bit weird to eat fish whilst watching fish though! Anyway, I actually had a caesar salad with shrimp and the others had a mixture of food from fish to pork. The food was yummy but the service was a bit shoddy to be honest. After we were all filled up we walked around the aquarium section of 'The Seas' which I never knew existed and then did the Nemo ride. After that we went on Mission:Space (Orange, obviously) and then went around Mousegear for a bit. Then we headed to the World Showcase - it was very odd being in the UK Pavilion with Hayley as that's what brought us together as friends!! We spent quite a while there - had a cider & black in the R&C and she went around the shops looking at everything that had changed. Then we walked around the rest of the countries... I tried Saki for the first time in Japan which was actually quite yummy and we looked in all the shops. We headed back to the R&C around 7.30pm and checked in for our reservation which didn't exist... Fern was assigning and she did a great job of getting us sat within about 20 minutes. We were on 514 which wasn't ideal but the whole of lower deck was closed because it had been raining so we just walked down to lower deck to see the fireworks. I had fish and chips (standard), Laura had the veggie pie which she said she liked and then the others had the surf & turf which went down well I'm glad to say! I had the jaffa tarts for dessert because I'd not had them as dessert before... but I think I preferred mandy's mess! We had Ani as our server and she was great. We wrote her a GSF. So, after this it was actually EMH! We left the R&C and went back to Future World to go to the Character Spot where I met Mickey, Goofy, Donald and Pluto :) We did Soarin', then we went back into Mouse Gear for a bit and then headed home after 12 hours in EPCOT.

Saturday: It was back to work day! I was in for a Mid... so we had breakfast at Pop Century and then the others all headed off for Busch Gardens whilst I got the guest bus to work. Got there just in time because the bus took forever to turn up but it was all fine. Work was good. Nothing else to really report there. After work I went home to the Commons and had all of about 6 hours sleep before getting up to be back at work for a 10.45AM on Sunday. The others went to Universal Studios that day. After work, I met Nick and we did Soarin', before heading to DHS and doing RnR and ToT. Then we drove to Mall of Millennia to meet the others who had finished at Universal by this point and we all went to Cheesecake Factory - NOM! After this, we headed home in separate cars and Hayley & I finished off our cheesecake in the room!

Monday: I'd managed to switch my shift to an AM and the others went off to Kennedy Space Center. So they dropped me at Commons at 9am and I got ready for work there and got the bus. The shift was pretty non-exciting as it's been so quiet recently that AMs seem a bit pointless. After work, I managed to get the guest bus back to Pop, get changed and get back to DHS to meet them at about 7pm for our reservation at the Brown Derby. This is a signature dining location (the only one of our trip) so it was 2 credits on the DDP (Disney Dining Plan). I paid extra to have potato & leek soup for starter which was really good... then my entree was a chicken dish with a celery root puree and some nice sauce on it. To be honest, it wasn't good enough for my liking considering it's signature and the cost of the food (had I been paying for it) because the entree just wasn't hot enough. It tasted nice, but not lukewarm. Nevertheless, the dessert made up for it because I had a chocolate trio thing which was goooood and then a champagne flight which was great! So, afterwards Dan went back to the hotel whilst Hayley, Laura and I made the most of EMH! It was so much fun!! We did the animation class twice (drew Grumpy and Piglet), saw the Little Mermaid show (random), did RnR (twice!) and ToT, danced with the characters at the Disney Junior Dance Party and saw Fantasmic again! It really was the most Fantasmic evening!! We went home exhausted but happy at 1am!

Tuesday: I was a PM which I couldn't change unfortunately. They were off to Typhoon Lagoon so we had breakfast together and then I spent the morning relaxing and reading my book before getting ready for work and getting the guest bus there. Work was fine... pretty standard. I thought I was training but it turned out I wasn't. I missed going to Boma for dinner because that's where the others went but that's okay. They picked me up at Cast Services and we went home... I ended up walking/running around Pop Century when I realised I was still in costume in the most un-fitting location ever! Haha! Ooops.

Wednesday: Hayley took me to the Marriott hotel at 9.15am for me to pick up a rental car. The others then all went off to Clearwater whilst I drove to Port Orleans to pick up Rob (a friend from my first program) and check him into the hotel as a favour. Then I went back to Commons to change and pick up Paul, Sam, Sophie and Vicki as we were off to Natalie's wedding!! We had a nice little road trip over to Daytona Beach which I'd never been to before and we found the hotel... it was raining in Orlando but bright blue skies in Daytona which was awesome. Met a super excited Natalie and helped her get ready! It was a very simple ceremony on the beach with her parents, his family and then about 8 of us from her Disney Family as well as the officiant lady. We only spent about 45 minutes on the beach but it was so simple and perfect, it brought a tear to all of our eyes! We took a billion pictures, then drove over to the pier area to have the post-ceremony dinner which was at Joe's Crab Shack! It was like 5pm by the time we got there and we were all starving! I had yummy coconut shrimp but everyone in the party of 15 were enjoying themselves. Kindly, Natalie's Dad paid for the whole meal which was super nice of him. Afterwards, we wondered along the beach and took MORE pictures before heading our seperate ways. Natalie, Senal and families were off on a Disney Cruise - Vicki and Sam had also managed to book it too - then the rest of us back to Orlando. We left at about 8.15pm and so by 9.30pm I was at the Polynesian for the reservation at O'Hanas with Nick, his mom and brother! Crazy socialising day overall! I've never been to this restaurant before but heard a lot about it and if I hadn't been so full of shrimp then I would have appreciated the food a lot more! I used my table service DDP entitlement which I'd missed using when the others went to Boma so that all worked out well. Afterwards I drove home to Pop totally exhausted again!

Thursday: Up early to drop off the car as I only had it for 24 hours. The others came to pick me up and we drove to Animal Kingdom. I maingated Nick's mom and brother before we went off to do the Lion King show and wonder around a part of DAK I've never even seen before - the Rafiki's Nature Reserve! Saw lots of animals and fun stuff. We had lunch at Tusker House which is character dining so I met Mickey (again), Goofy, Daisy, Donald and Minnie! Also, saw Kista, one of our co-ordinators who transferred over there a couple of months ago which was nice. The food was awesome - a kind of Indian/African buffet type food... nom. Afterwards, we went back to EPCOT as we had dinner reservations. We walked around the rest of the world showcase that we didn't see before and I spent a ridiculous amount on a handbag (Dooney & Bourke.... need I say more....). Dinner was at Teppan Edo which I'd been very excited about eating at because I'd heard such good things - and it lived up to expectations. They cook everything in front of you which is really cool. We got sat on a table with another 4-top who were from Norfolk so we talked about all things British with them which was really nice.

Friday: The last full day of the Staycation and I had to work an AM. Ugh. But first, we went for a character breakfast at the Beach Club which was okay... the food is nice but I enjoyed our other character dining experiences more. Then I walked to work... the shift was rather boring and I couldn't wait to get out of there because after work I got changed and met Hayley to go over to MK for the Halloween Party!! Mickey's Not-So-Scary which was highly anticipated... basically, we got LOADS of candy (I'll be eating it through 2013 I think), met Merida, Snow White, Rapunzel & Flynn, Cinderella & Prince Charming, Gaston... rode Haunted Mansion, saw the parade complete with headless horseman on a real horse, saw the fireworks and had a pretty good time :-D It was nice to go to MK on their last night too. We left at about midnight and headed home.

Saturday: We just literally got up, packed, had breakfast and then I was dropped back at the Commons and I had to say goodbye :-( It was an amazing 2 weeks though and thoroughly fun being a proper tourist. I did lots of things I'd never done at Disney before and we hardly encountered any queues at all! I was completely and utterly exhausted though! I got ready for work and I was a Mid... I got lucky as I was 307 for the AM and 508 for the PM so money-wise I had one of the best shifts ever. Afterwards, I still had 2 QS DDP entitlements to use before midnight so I busted a gut to be out of there by 10.15... Nick picked me up and we got Earl of Sandwich! Then we decided to go see the midnight showing of Finding Nemo 3D which has just come out so basically didn't get to bed until 2am which is my own fault! It was really good though!

Sunday: I was a PM. Thankfully I got a mini-lie in before going to Panera to meet Nick so we could run over our itinerary for our upcoming trip next week! (Yes, going on holiday again!!) We decided our driving routes and got to work finding hotels. Then he dropped me off at work and I was in 307 again which was okay but pretty non-eventful.

Monday: I was a Mid and training as well. Woke up with a sore throat which was due to complete tiredness and lack of sleep. Aimee was my trainee and she was pretty good... we were in 510 for the AM and 303 for the PM which was okay. It got pretty busy towards the end and she coped okay so that was good... but I was just waiting for the day to be over. After work, Nick picked me up and we shared some food at Chevys because despite being super-tired I was also super-hungry!

Tuesday: I worked a PM which originally was training but ended up not being. I was in 303 again and it was pretty boring. I ended up picking up 3 tables on lower deck at 8pm... the last of those not sitting until 9pm so I got out pretty late at about 10.45. Basically I started as section 303 and ended up as section 704. Joy. Luckily I was feeling a bit better than the day before and it was my Friday which was good. The after-work treat of the day was McFlurries from McDonalds and a good conversation & catch-up with Nick after a pretty eventful week for both of us!

FINALLY it's my day off today! I've already spent the morning on the phone to my medical insurance company about the fact they've tried to bill me (again) for $477 worth of blood tests which should have been covered...exciting. Now off to the outlets to return something to American Eagle before coming back and having a good tidy up! Then I'm going to meet Tyler later as he just broke it to me last night that he's leaving the program early..... :'(

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Staycation Numero Dos! (Part 1)

Well, let's go back to last Wednesday shall we...

Tyler and I managed to get to MK with about 2 minutes to spare before the MM&Y... we got a spot near the Partners statue and watched it from there. Then Wishes. Then we walked to the Contemporary and there were a million new CPs who had all been to MK there so the bus home kinda sucked... eventually got home and crashed out.

Thursday was back to work because I'd switched my days off. I worked a PM and I was in section 311 which was a bit sucky. Plus it meant I was back on ice yet again as my sidework. Non-eventful evening.

Friday I was a Mid again... unfortunately I ended up outside for the AM and inside for the PM (ideally it's the other way round). My section was 508 for the AM which was okay but one of my big-top tables never even got sat once - this shows how dead the parks have got recently. I had a quick break and came back for 4.15pm to find out my section was 106 for the PM - a 3 table section yet again - and ice was my sidework for the third day running! I was a little bit annoyed but I made the most of my section by turning and burning. I had a nice table of Brits whose daughter had just celebrated her 18th birthday so I made a fuss of that and gave her a shoutout, crown, glowing tinkerbell etc. Got them a table down on lower deck to watch the fireworks from. They were dining plan as well so they had dessert and didn't leave until about 9.45pm... it was EMH as well but luckily I didn't get sat after 9pm. Simultaneously I had a table of Floridians on the table next to them - honestly the most stereotypical Americans I've ever met. Actually quite hilarious. Especially considering they were sat next to these super-English people.... the boy actually asked me to "Speak American" for him and then proceeded to ask me if there was anyone who looked like the boys from One Direction working at the R&C so he could take a picture and wind up his sister at home. It was a totally random end to the very long day! After work, I met Nick and we got a Burger King (makes a change from McDonalds!).

Saturday was my Friday for 6 whole days! Needless to say, I wanted the shift to go quickly but it dragged of course. I was a 1045 and then I had section 508 yet again. It was boring and hot. I persuaded the assignor to not sit me too late and then not sit me during the time I was waiting for the PM server to take their break so that I could get out quickly! I did the quickest bank out in history then got to costuming by about 5pm to grab a new shirt... got the bus to Chatham when I got a text from Hayley that she was outside the Commons!!! She was arriving that afternoon and made the snap decision to come pick me up from the Commons so that was exciting! I literally met her, went to my apartment and packed my last few things before leaving again and we went to Pop Century to check in!

When we had checked in, the Magical Express arrived and with it, her sister Laura and her sister's boyfriend Dan! So that was a good coincidence... we got them checked in and realised their room was the opposite end of the resort to us so they said they would move us the next day. We got our resort mugs as part of our dining plan as well which was quite exciting because it means unlimited soda in the resort (like I don't have enough unlimited soda in my life...) and then we went to our rooms to put our luggage away and got some quick-service dinner (I had a chicken breast Parmesan with salad... nom!) before we went to Walmart for a few things. Finally, we went to bed - all of us exhausted! I felt like the one with jet lag!

Sunday: day one of the Staycation! We decided to go to Seaworld because it was a bank holiday weekend so we wanted to avoid Disney... this was a good plan. We got there at 10.30am and went to see the Dolphin show. It's been a long, long time since I did the shows at Seaworld so that was something new! It was very impressive. Hayley and Laura got the all-day dining deal which worked out good value for them - it was $30 for the day and you could get unlimited food and drinks from certain locations in the park. We got loads of bottles of water because it was a very hot day! Anyway, we spent the entire day in the park - saw almost everything including the Shamu show (still didn't like it... didn't like it when I saw it 8 years ago either), an acrobatics show, sea lions show (loved it), saw some whales getting frisky in the tank (hilarious), saw sharks, touched sting rays and finally saw the special sea lions show that they put on for the bank holiday weekend which was basically a piss-take of themselves! It was very amusing. Really tired, we left at about 9.15pm and went back to the resort to sleep!

Monday: up VERY early at 6am. This was gross but necessary because it was morning EMH at Animal Kingdom! Wahoo! It opens at 8am and that was the time we got to the park. I have never been there that early in the day and it was really nice. Minus the having to get up at literally the crack of dawn... the park looked beautiful in the early morning sunlight. We went straight to Safaris and saw loads of animals... I made the discovery that they've got rid of the Little Red & Poachers storyline which was a bit sad because it was amusing but also better because it means you have a little more time to see the animals. We then went over to Everest and did it twice! Then we got some breakfast at Pizzafari - I had a spinach and goats cheese fritatta which was more like a quiche consistency in a round shape with 'breakfast potatoes' aka wedges. Yum. Loving the dining plan so far! We then went over to Dinoland USA and did Dinosaur, Primeval Whirl (used to be one of my favourites but really needs updating...) and then got in line to go to Finding Nemo the Musical. We also randomly met Russell and Dug from 'Up' which was cool! By this point it was about midday so we left the park (just as it started to get busy!) and we went to the Premium Outlets for a bit of holiday shopping... I managed to not spend much money. Then back to the resort for a couple of hours. We then got ready to go to Magic Kingdom (yes, on Labor Day...) for the LAST showing of MM&Y! We got to MK at about 7pm and had our dinner at Tony's Town Square Restaurant. Italian themed... I had a pasta dish with shrimp and garlic sauce. It was nice but not amazing. We  did get a nice table by the window and the service was reasonably okay considering it was Labor Day and busy in there. After dinner, we caught the end of the night parade and then got a spot for MM&Y and Wishes. We were a little bit too close to the castle for Wishes really but seeing MM&Y from there was good.. just a little bit sad it's done forever. They are bringing a new show to MK in November called 'Celebrate The Magic' which I'm sure will be really good too but I don't even know if I will see it.... (more on that later). After the fireworks were done, we left and got the resort monorail back to the TTC and managed to get home in about 45 minutes which was impressive. SO TIRED!

Tuesday: Not quite such an early start on this day... but we were off to The Other Park - Universal's Islands of Adventure! You could instantly tell from the wait times it was not a busy day... and the fact it was only open until 7pm. We went pretty much straight to HP World and walked-on to the Forbidden Journey! Then did Duelling Dragons (sorry... Dragon Challenge) where we rode Fire. Dan doesn't like big rollercoasters so he sat this one out. Then we got butterbeer at the Three Broomsticks before leaving HP World to go to do water rides! We went on Jurassic Park first (I should mention, it was a bloody boiling hot day and I got rather sunburnt so I didn't mind doing the super-wet rides on this occasion!)... then we went on the Popeye Rapids ride (I forget the proper title) and got absolutely soaked. We thought, seen as you can't get much wetter, we'd go on it again.... so we got on the ride and did half of it. Until it stopped. Half way up the ramp for the big drop... we sat there drying off in the sun at a bit of an uncomfortable angle until we got the announcement that they needed to close the ride and would be evacuating us all off it! Exciting! Never been evac'd off a ride before... so after about another 10 minutes someone came round and let us off, guided us down the steps and off the ride. The best part was that we got a 'fastpass' equivalent to use on another ride! The park was so quiet that it was a little pointless but we ended up using it on the log flume ride because that had a 45 minute wait... so we got wet all over again. Other highlights of the day included the Spiderman ride (walk-on), the Hulk (walk-on), Dr. Doom's Fearfall (walk-on... seeing a theme here?!) and going in the shops. It was a super good day out even if I did end up quite red!

We went home and got changed ready for the 9.30pm seating of the Hoop-de-doo Revue. I'd not seen this throughout my whole program so was quite looking forward to it... it was okay. As the resort had clearly emptied out.. the seating was probably only at about 25% capacity! It was still a good atmosphere though but the food wasn't really my thing (ribs and chicken and the singing/dancing was good. It was 2 Table Service credits on our DDP though which I'm not sure is worth it but there you go... but you do get free wine, Bud Light and sangria! We got our photo taken and we bought it so that was good. They also put on buses to return us to Pop which was very convenient.

Wednesday: MAGIC KINGDOM DAY! Up reasonably early to go and meet Tina & Tony at Company D so we could buy them some pins. Met them at 9.30am and went to Company D, Cast Connection and Property Control before finally leaving that area to park at the TTC. I got two more photo albums for the massive amount of $12... win! Got to MK in time for our reservation at the Liberty Tree restaurant.... SO GOOD. Definitely my favourite food so far (we're almost half way through the vacation now), I had a salad with so many yummy things in it! It had apples, candied walnuts, craisins, honey shallot dressing, cheddar cheese, lettuce and a chicken breast on top - NOM NOM NOM. Then I had a fruit crumble thing (I think it was rhubarb!) and Hayley had the toffee pudding so we shared and it was amazing. We waddled out of there completely stuffed and went to Haunted Mansion... then It's a Small World, Peter Pan, Philarmagic, Splash Mountain, Thunder Mountain, Pirates, Jungle Cruise, Space Mountain, Monsters Inc and Stitch! PHEW!! As you can tell... there were no lines!!! It was amazing! We saw 75% of a showing of the Castle Show (rapidly becoming my favourite character based entertainment at WDW!) and then went to Crystal Palace for dinner. This is character dining with Pooh, Eeyore, Piglet and Tigger. The food is buffet style and it was okay.... some nice pasta salads. Some standard stuff like chicken nuggets, mashed potatoes and vegetables. Several dessert options which were alright. Obviously the attraction is meeting the characters which I did really enjoy. Afterwards, we wondered around and then saw Wishes again! <3 Love it! The park closed at 9pm so we came home and went to the pool side for a glass of wine before going to bed. Probably one of the most productive days at MK I've ever had!

Thursday: This finally brings me up to date.... today, I got up early and met Nick for some breakfast at Panera. He dropped me off at DHS and went off to University and I wondered around watching Disney Channel Rocks until Hayley, Laura and Dan arrived about an hour later. We had reservations at the Sci Fi Dine-In theatre which was fabulous... I had a chicken burger with rocket and balsamic in it. Yum. Our server was Tula (I think) and she was great! Best service I've had so far on our dining plan without doubt. We didn't have to ask for anything, she constantly brought us refills, the food was great and she got about a 25% tip from us! :-) After lunch, we went to see the Beauty and the Beast Show which was really good (haven't seen it on this program so far!) then went and did an animation class (we drew the Genie!) before meeting Mr Incredible and SORCERER MICKEY! After this, we went over to Lights, Motors, Action (never want to see it again... that's enough times for one lifetime of that show...!) then straight over to Indiana Jones which was good. Then Star Tours, American Idol Experience and then we had fastpasses for Toy Story Mania in which I came last in our vehicle! Awful! Haha! Then we decided as it was 8pm already to just go and see Fantasmic even though we'd not intended on it... I LOVE THAT SHOW. I hope we get to see it again next week when we go for EMH. I swear they've put new fireworks in it at the end as well... it seemed to have a much better ending than before! We left after that and got back to the hotel at about 10pm where all I've done is wash my hair and write up this blog!

The only other notable thing to write about is that there is now a D-Day... the 23rd November is when my flight home is booked for. I got a really good deal ($400) so I had to book it. It's only $50 to change it and $200 to cancel I believe so that's good. But yeah, made me rather sad that I had finally put a date to it. Wahhhhhh.