Fi's Mutterings

Disney, running, swimming, living with disability, challenges…


Why was it fab?

We went to Walt Disney World for the February half term and when we came back everyone asked how our holiday was. I said it was fab, wonderful, fantastic – all those words which I usually use.  My mum asked me “Why was it fab?”  I was stumped.  I can’t explain why it was one of the best holidays we’ve had.  WDW, or any Disney holiday for that matter, is always a good holiday.  It’s why we keep going back.  It’s hard to put it into words but, for us, it really is like coming home.  So, why do we keep going back?  So much so that we decided to join Disney Vacation Club back in 2009 so that we now only have to worry about finding money for the air fare, park tickets and food?

Could it be the fact that as soon as you arrive at Orlando International Airport and check in for the Magical Express we are definitely feeling the Disney difference?  No driving to the resort for us.  Just as well, the last thing my husband or I want to do is to drive after a 9 hour flight, on the wrong side of the road, not knowing where we are going.  We’ll leave the hire car for a couple of days later.

Maybe it’s because the cast members welcome you with a smile and explain everything carefully.  They also don’t mind that my son it picking up a copy of every leaflet they have on display and is constantly pointing things out to us while they are trying to explain our check-in papers.

On this last trip there was also some new stuff for us to see following the Fantasyland expansion in Magic Kingdom and the re-imagined Test Track in Epcot.  We also tried some old attractions which we’d never looked at before because my son wasn’t ready.  I can’t think why we never really looked round Innoventions at Epcot.  I liked the new disability guest assistance pass/system they have now introduced.  On previous trips, we have been able to get a Guest Assistance Card and use it to go through the Fastpass entrance to most attractions.  Now, you have to go and get a return time and then go back through the Fastpass entrance.  I think it’s better because I think it is fairer to those who haven’t been able to get a Fastpass time and have to wait in line.  We now have to wait the same length of time as the main queue but we can wait somewhere more suitable for our son, even if it isn’t very far from the entrance to the attraction.

The main reason I think this trip was fab is because we were all relaxed.  We had planned to take part in the runDisney Royal Family 5K and went to the Expo – that was brilliant and if I hadn’t had to fit everything in a suitcase, with a weight limit, I could have spent a lot of money!  We had also booked Cirque du Soleil – awesome!  We need to go again because I’m sure I missed loads.  Finally, we also went on the Wild Africa Trek.  We had been planning to go to Kennedy Space Centre but my son picked up a leaflet about the Wild Africa Trek and my husband wanted to go.  It was amazing.  We had two guides behind the scenes of Kilimanjaro Safari.  We went over a rickety rope bridge over the hippos.  We also stopped off for a light lunch/snack.

Finally, we had a lot of character meals as we had the dining plan on this trip.  I wouldn’t usually get the dining plan as it really is too much for us – my son and I could have shared a pizza at Via Napoli but as we were on the dining plan we had to get one each.  We tried some new restaurants – some we will definitely go back to (Liberty Tree Tavern) and some we won’t (1900 Park Fare, Sci-Fi Diner).

Oh, and one more thing, we upgraded our hire car to a Mustang 😀

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Winnie the Pooh Day – 18 January

It’s Winnie the Pooh Day!  Apparently, the day of A A Milne’s birth (18 January 1882) is celebrated as Winnie the Pooh Day.

As many readers of my blog will know, I love Disney but, more than that, my favourite characters are the 100 Acre Wood gang, especially Eeyore – I think it’s because he just gets on with it and tells everyone not to worry about him.  I know he comes across as gloomy but, hey, I still like him.  Anyway, I was brought up on the tales of Winnie the Pooh and loved the books long before I saw the Disney short films.

When my grandma died, my mum and her sister bought their grandchildren (my son and my cousin’s son were the only great-grandchildren my grandma had at the time) a big story book each.  My mum chose a large Winnie the Pooh book for my son.  Amazingly, the book is still intact 18 years later!  If you saw how my son has treated most of his books, you’d be surprised it’s still here.

Unfortunately, I won’t be able to celebrate Winnie the Pooh day by watching any of the stories on DVD as all of ours were on video and my son wore them out!  I really should get round to replacing them with DVDs… hmm…  I can read my son’s book though 😉


Train Journeys

I like travelling by train, especially on my own but travelling with my son is also a lot of fun. Train journeys give me time to relax and catch up on my reading, if I’m on my own. With a journey taking just over 2 hours from York to London there is plenty of time to just sit and read 🙂

When I travel with my son, he always has a cup of tea and then we’ll play Uno. It’s taken a while but he’s finally got the hang of the game and doesn’t need so much help.

Of course, the reason I like train journeys is that a lot of the time I’m off on holiday 😀

Do you like travelling by train? What do you do to pass the time? Do you read? Listen to music?


Who is your favourite character of all time?

As you know, I signed up for NaBloPoMo and, as my writing hasn’t been exactly frequent or regular of late, I need all the help/inspiration I can get.  So I looked at BlogHer’s November 2013 prompts.  They give prompts for each week day so there should be enough to keep me going if I don’t think of anything else to write, or you may get two posts in one day!

So, what is the prompt for today?

Who is your favourite character of all time?

Oh help!  How can I pick just one character?  OK, I guess I’m going to have to change it to “Who is your favourite Disney character?”  That’s not so hard, anyone who knows me knows that I love the Winnie the Pooh stories and that out of all the characters Eeyore is my favourite.

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London: Day 3

Tuesday was our last full day in London, we were getting the train home at 9 am on Wednesday morning so that I would have time to do all the washing and shopping to get my son ready for school on Thursday.  Where are we going to go next?  Buckingham Palace.  I’ve always wanted to see the inside of Buckingham Palace and this year I actually looked up how much it would cost to go in.  Yes, on the face of it it’s a lot of money (£19 for adults and £17.50 for students) but then you find out that, like the London Transport Museum, if you get your ticket stamped and sign it you can go back at any time in the following year (as long as they are open, this year was 27th July to 29th September).  I can get back to London and Buckingham Palace before 3rd September 2014.

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It was worth it.  There is an audio tour which takes at least an hour and a half to get round, depending on how long you spend looking at the rooms/exhibits.  The display of the Coronation outfits was breathtaking.  Included in the exhibition was a letter from one of the suppliers explaining that although funds were tight, they could still produce a high quality dress and suggesting solutions on how to reduce costs.  The Coronation dress was stunning.  The Queen was, maybe still is, tiny!  The waist of the dress was so small and the shoulder of it came to lower than my shoulder height and it was in a case which was about 4-6″ off the floor, I’m 5′ 6″. WP_20130903_005 Unfortunately, you aren’t allowed to take photos inside the State Rooms but you can find a photo of the dress on the Royal Collection website.  After going round the State Rooms, we decided to stop in the Tea Rooms for a sandwich and tea.  The prices were reasonable and the sandwich was actually a *huge* baguette.  I cut them in half and they still wouldn’t fit properly on the plate!

DSCF0943On the way to Buckingham Palace we saw the band going in to St James Palace to get ready for the Changing of the Guard.  We didn’t see it as we were waiting to go round the State Rooms at the time of the Changing of the Guard at 11 am.

While we were there, it would have been silly not to go and visit the Royal Mews as well.  I mean, who doesn’t want to see spectacular coaches and cars?  Again, there is an audio tour which tells you all about the different coaches and also has first hand accounts of different events and jobs by the people who do them.  If you want to get a job there, good luck!  It seems to me that it is something that you are born into as most of the accounts were given by men whose fathers and grandfathers had done their job before them.  The main attraction is, of course, the State Coach which was built in 1762.

DSCF0973 DSCF0974 DSCF0975After the Royal Mews, my feet were killing me so we decided to wander down to the Embankment to see the Houses of Parliament, take a picture of Big Ben (yes, I know Big Ben is the bell, not the tower/clock but who would understand if I wrote “take a picture of Elizabeth Tower”?).  As it was our last night in London, we had already decided that we were going to try Garfunkels and went in to the restaurant on the Strand.  As it was before 5 pm when we were seated (we sat down at 4.55 pm), we were able to take advantage of their lunch menu which meant that we could get 3 courses for £10.95 and free refills on soft drinks, bargain!  The food was good – my husband and son had salad as their starter and I ordered a garlic bread that we could share; we all had cheeseburgers and fries for our main course, yum; pudding was apple crumble for my son and I and cinnamon waffle for my husband.

After dinner, we took a slow walk back to the hotel.  My feet had recovered enough that we didn’t need to go on the tube or work out which bus went to Kings Cross.  On the way up the Strand, and whichever roads we also walked up, we passed a lot of the theatres and I said that I would love to go to see any number of the shows.  My husband asked why I didn’t just book something and we could all go?  I said, because most of the shows I want to see he wouldn’t.  Solution?  I’m going to take my son in October, on my own 🙂  Planning the next trip now.

 

 


London: Day 2

Monday dawned lovely and sunny and, after a filling English breakfast, we headed off down Euston Road towards Regent’s Park and London Zoo.  It’s not far, just over 2 miles (about the same as us walking in to town from home which we do on a regular basis).  DSCF0920We got to London Zoo at about 10.30 am and went straight to a ticket booth, after being waylaid to have our photo taken (they try to sell it to you at the exit with a range of backgrounds).  After my success at the London Transport Museum, I asked if they offered concessions for disabilities, they do but carers have to pay for themselves, that’s OK I expect to pay my way.  I paid using Tesco Days Out vouchers which I’d ordered using my Clubcard points so only had to pay about £5 instead of £45, bonus.

As soon as we got through the entrance, my husband went straight to the reptile house to see the snakes, we lost him for about 2 hours!  My son and I went round the aquarium and then in to the reptile house to find that my husband wasn’t finished yet, not a surprise.  My son and I went to look at the programme of events to plan the rest of the day while my husband finished in the reptile house.  Plan for the day:

12 pm – Tiger Talk
12.30 pm – Animals in Action
1.30 pm – Penguins Live
2.30 pm – Deadly Birds
4 pm – Giraffe’s High Tea

The Tiger Talk and Giraffe’s High Tea weren’t all that interesting but Animals in Action was funny and informative.  I love penguins so Penguins Live was going to be good, even if it wasn’t and the birds on show for Deadly Birds were amazing, gorgeous and all but one were from the UK.  The presenters were good too.  One of the handlers/keepers for the Deadly Birds show stayed out for a good 15 minutes, maybe more, at the end of the show to answer questions.

Somehow we managed to fit in lions, otters, gorillas, monkeys, meerkats, birds, prairie dogs, ant-eaters and so much more in between the talks too.  DSCF0895We also saw the old Penguin Pool which is, unfortunately, just a water feature now as it is a Grade One listed building so they can’t knock it down.  I’m glad they can’t knock it down as it was built in 1934 and looks amazing.  Unfortunately, it isn’t very penguin, or other animal, friendly.  They can’t knock down the old Elephant House either.  If you are interested you can find out more on the London Zoo website’s article about Architecture at the Zoo.  While I was looking up the information, I found a link to the London Zoo Stampede, a 10 km run so got a bit distracted looking at that too.  Wouldn’t it be amazing to start and finish a run at London Zoo and go round Regent’s Park for the rest of it?  Maybe I’ll have to remember it for next year.

My son had a great time and wants to go back on our next visit to London.  I had to tell him that there are other things to see in London too.

We stayed until nearly 6 pm, I’m not sure how late it was but we heard the announcement that the zoo was closing in 20 minutes so it was at least 5.40 pm.  At which point, my feet and back were hurting and we had to find somewhere to eat before walking back to the hotel.  Fortunately, I’d looked up the Baker Street area on the laptop the previous evening and knew that if we couldn’t find anything else, there was a KFC near Baker Street station.  As it happened, we couldn’t be bothered to try to find anything else by the time we’d walked round Regent’s Park so it was KFC followed by a walk back to the hotel for another early night.  Day 3?  Buckingham Palace and the Royal Mews 😀


London: Day 1

Earlier this year, we realised that we wouldn’t be able to have a family holiday this year as I can’t go away during Easter and Summer holidays and my husband’s rotations mean he is away for the half term holidays. Our compromise? Going away for the 3 teacher training days between the end of my holiday scheme and my son going back to school. We decided to go to London so that we could go to London Zoo, again, and visit the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace. As we got the train at 11 am and arrived in London at 1 pm, we also made the most of the afternoon and went to the London Transport Museum too.

My boy playing Uno while waiting for his tea to cool.We left home on Sunday morning just before 10 am to walk down to the bus stop to get the bus to the station. We only had a small case between the 3 of us and backpacks/bum bags for the train and the price of 2 single tickets plus a concessionary bus pass = less than a taxi. Also, being a Sunday the bus was fairly empty. We made it to the station in plenty of time and found the platform to wait for the train. I’ve decided I love Grand Central trains, they offer free wi-fi to all of their passengers 🙂 Their cups of tea are cheaper than East Coast Mainline too (I discovered this when we came home as my son’s tea cost £1.50 on our trip to London and a coffee and tea for my husband and son on the way back cost nearly £4!)

We arrived in London just after 1 pm and walked down to the hotel.  We fully expected to have to just leave our bags and check in to the room later so we were pleasantly surprised when the lady on the reception said that the room was ready so we could go straight in.  We stayed at the same hotel as we stayed in last year as although it can get a bit noisy, it is within spitting distance of Kings Cross and St Pancras stations after all, it is clean and reasonably priced with a full English breakfast included.  This trip, we were in a room on the ground floor and, whilst it was nice not to have to carry the suitcase up the narrow, winding staircases, I don’t want to be on the ground floor again.  Anyway, I digress, we took our bags into the room and then left for our first walk across London.

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We walk a lot when we are in London.  I even know how much because I wear a pedometer and for the 3 days we walked in London it didn’t register less than 21,500 steps!  That’s got to help my virtual walk doesn’t it?  I like walking in London.  What I particularly like now is that every 300m they have the Barclays Cycle Hire docking stations with information maps on the sides (if my son could ride a bike I’d hire them).  They have 2 maps, one showing a 15 minute walk radius and the other showing a 5 minute walk radius so it’s easy to find out where you are and whether or not you are going in the right direction – love it!  It’s so much easier than trying to read one of the large fold out maps although I used one of those too.

First on the agenda for this trip?  The London Transport Museum.  My husband and son have been there before but I hadn’t so this was new for me.

DSCF0855Another thing which was new for me on this trip was actually asking if organisations offered a concession price for disabilities.  London Transport Museum surpassed my expectations, not only did my son get in for the concession price I also got in free as his carer.  Nice one LTM.  Also, another bonus is that the ticket is valid for a year so if my husband wants to take my son back

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within the next year, say while I’m working over Easter or Summer holidays next year, they don’t have to pay as my son’s ticket will allow my husband in as the carer.  If we all 
want to go again, my husband has his ticket and I’ll go in as the carer.  I’m not a great lover of vehicles but I did enjoy the LTM 

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especially the RouteDSCF0880master and LM buses which I remember from when I was at school.  My husband had to sit in the cab of a bus, for old times sake 😉

After the LTM, we walked for what seemed like miles, just wandering and looking around until eventually we decided that we should look for somewhere to eat.  When we couldn’t find the restaurant we wanted we decided to go to the kebab shop near Kings Cross which my husband had tried last year.  My son and I had burger and chips which was OK but nothing to write home about.

After a lot of walking and knowing we were going to be doing a lot more on Monday thanks to London Zoo, we just relaxed for the evening in the hotel.


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Disney Films – My top 10

OK, so I was looking through my 101 in 1,001 list and thought I really ought to try to clear some of the backlog.  I mean, I’ve only got until next September to finish it and there are some very basic tasks on there which shouldn’t be too hard to do.  I came across my task to “Make a list of my top 10 Disney films and blog about them” so here I am, making my list and putting them in a blog.

This is quite a hard list to compile as, let’s face it, there are a lot of Disney films out there.  I think I may end up with more than one list – Disney animation, Disney Pixar and the “live” films.

Disney Animation

  1. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977) – no surprise here as Eeyore is my favourite character.  I also like all of the other 100 Acre Wood films: Tigger Movie (2000), Piglet’s Big Movie (2003), Pooh’s Heffalump Movie (2005) and Winnie the Pooh (2011)  
  2. Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas (1999)
  3. Beauty and the Beast (1999)
  4. The Lion King (1994)
  5. Peter Pan (1953)
  6. 101 Dalmatians (1961)
  7. Aladdin (1992)
  8. Mulan (1998)
  9. Bolt (2008)
  10. Tangled (2010)

I also like Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Dumbo, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and many more but those are my top 10.

Pixar

  1. Pixar
    1. Monsters Inc (2001)  
    2. Cars (2006)
    3. Toy Story 2 (1999)
    4. Toy Story (1995)
    5. Brave (2012)
    6. The Incredibles (2004)
    7. Cars 2 (2011)
    8. Ratatouille (2007)
    9. Toy Story 3 (2010)
    10. Up (2009)

    There are only 14 feature films made by Pixar to date so I’ve only missed 4 of them off.  They are A Bug’s Life (1998), Finding Nemo (2003), WALL-E (2008) and Monsters University (2013).  I haven’t seen Monsters University or WALL-E yet so they haven’t been considered for the top 10.

    Disney “live action”

    1. The Santa Clause  (1994) (also The Santa Clause 2 (2002) and The Santa Clause 3 (2006))  
    2. Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)
    3. Cool Runnings (1993)
    4. The Mighty Ducks (all 3 films) (1992, 1994, 1996)
    5. 101 Dalmatians (1996)
    6. The Sorceror’s Apprentice (2010)
    7. The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
    8. The Princess Diaries (2001) and The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement (2004)
    9. National Treasure (2004) and National Treasure: Book of Secrets (2007)
    10. Pirates of the Caribbean (all of them) (2003, 2006, 2007, 2011)

    A mention must also go to Mary Poppins(1964), Tron (1982), Tron Legacy (2010), The Pacifier (2005), Sky High (2005), Freaky Friday (1976 and 2003), Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971) and all of the Herbie films (Herbie: Fully Loaded (2005), Herbie Goes Bananas (1980), Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo (1977), Herbie Rides Again (1974), The Love Bug (1968)).


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Disney’s Princess Half Marathon Weekend

I really wanted to enter and run in the Disney Princess Half Marathon next February when we are going to be at WDW on holiday anyway.  Unfortunately, circumstances have conspired against me and there are no places left 😦  I knew I would be cutting it fine by leaving it so late to book but I wanted to make sure that we had the hotel and flights booked before I spent all that money on the run.  There are some places left on the Family 5k run though so maybe I’ll try to book places on that for myself, my husband and my son.

Oh well, I will do a Disney half marathon one day and, you never know, maybe I’ll do 2.  I would love to be able to get the Disney Coast to Coast Challenge medal which you get if you complete a marathon/half marathon at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland within the same calendar year.  As it costs a lot to travel to the USA, I thought it would be an impossible dream for me until someone mentioned to me that the WDW Marathon weekend and the Tinkerbell Half Marathon weekend at Disneyland are one week apart in January.  So, in theory, I could complete the half marathon at the WDW marathon weekend and then travel cross-country to Disneyland for the Tinkerbell half marathon.  Phew! That would be tough but so worth it for the bling, don’t you think?  I would then treat myself and the to a few days at Aulani in Hawaii too though.  After all it would be a shame to travel that far without making it worthwhile.


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Animal Kingdom: Top 10 Things to Do

After 4 weeks, here we are at the last of my Top 10’s for the main parks at Disney World.  After I’d finished the first one for Epcot, I looked at my 101 in 1001 list and realised that I only needed to list 5!  Oh well, I listed 10 for that so decided that I should also list 10 for Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios too.  The lists for the Magic Kingdom and Epcot were fairly easy, the one for Hollywood Studios was not.  So, here I am with the Animal Kingdom and I am going to try to get to 10.

Animal Kingdom Entrance

  1. Go on Safari at Kilimanjaro Safaris
  2. Get soaked, if you are unlucky like me, on Kali River Rapids.  If you go in Winter take a waterproof, if it is hot and sunny don’t bother, you’ll dry in no time 😀
  3. Go hunting for the Yeti on Expedition Everest
  4. Watch the Jingle Jungle Parade
  5. Go to see the Festival of the Lion King Show
  6. Go and learn lots of neat stuff at Rafiki’s Planet Watch
  7. Meet the characters at various locations around the park
  8. If you can get to the park in time for the Rope Drop show, go and see it
  9. Go and see Flights of Wonder bird show
  10. Go for a stroll around the Pangani Froest Exploration Trail and Maharajah Jungle Trek
Wishing Watering Hole at Rafiki's Planet Watch (Conservation Station) in Disney's Animal Kingdom

Wishing Watering Hole at Rafiki’s Planet Watch (Conservation Station) in Disney’s Animal Kingdom