Day 22 - Friday 3rd June
Tam and I are
awake just after 7.0z0 am and make a spur of the moment decision
to try and ride Ratatouille before we pack up to go home. We
sneak out, but India tells us later that she heard us leave and
so she gets up and follows about 15 minutes later.
Early entry is 8.00 am, but they are already allowing people in through the International Gateway when we arrive at 7.30 am. The queue for Ratatouille is already out the door, but moves quite quickly and is probably only about 20 minutes. Tam and I think this is a great ride and the way the cars (rats?) move is very clever and Tam loves the smell of food in one of the scenes.
We pass India in the queue as we exit. If you want to make the most of early entry these days you need to arrive at least 30 minutes before gate opening, which is ridiculous.
Back to the
room via the bakery where we get a couple of cinammon rolls as a
peace offering to Charlie and Georgia, although if we'd tried to
wake Georgia to ride Ratatouille we'd probably been left with one
We shower and begin the packing process. At 10.30 am a couple of blokes from Disney security turn up to gather information about the stolen jewellery. They tell us that the police will not be coming - they can call them but they have no idea when they will attend. This is not what we were told. The best they can do is take down the information and give us a claim number. We ask if Disney will recompense us or do we have to claim off our insurance. They don't know. We have to contact Disney with the claim number and they may or may not pay out. We ask if there's any specific e-mail address we should use. They don't know. We ask if the Disney security claim number will be sufficient if we claim off our insurance. They don't know - it might be or it might not be.
Considering they have had a week to sort this out I don't think this is very good. I guess we'll have to try and work things out when we get home.
We check out of
the Boardwalk and Charlie gets an Uber XL for us. The driver is
pretty good and manages to get all 5 of us with our cases and so
gets a good tip as the fare to the airport is only $49.
At the airport the bag drop desk isn't open yet so we go to McCoys for lunch. Georgia and I split a Cuban Sandwich and Turkey Wrap. Both are nice, but the fries that come with them are heavily salted. We drop off the bags and are through security in reasonable time.
The rest is pretty much the same as normal, long flight, little sleep, long train journey the other end with an hour wait in Reading for the connection.
There's an awful lot to summarise on a 3 week holiday. Overall we had a wonderful time as we always do in Florida.
It's such a lovely place. Our accomodation was ideally placed for easy access to the beach and restaurants. We always find plenty to do along with some relaxation time. The biggest downside is the cost of everything. It says something that the prices in WDW were somewhat similar. Sadly hurricane Ian has done extensive damage to the Gulf Coast. I hope Sanibel and Captiva can recover quickly.
We were exceptionally lucky with the weather. Before we left I was expecting rain - let's face it you can't expect to 3 weeks without any precipitation even in the Sunshine State, but the couple of storms we had were either overnight or brief and didn't detrimentally affect us at all. It was mostly beautiful blue skies, very hot and humid on a couple of days. It reiterated my belief that early in the year (March to May) or later (October/November) are the best times to visit. I suppose that climate change may have an affect on this in the future as the storm season seems to get later year on year.
We thorougly enjoyed our time here. This was helped enormously by our visits to Earl's Hideaway. This place might not be to everyone's taste, but it suited us down to the ground. The bikes, the bands, the booze! Kennedy Space Centre was also a highlight. I'm not sure you would return to this part of the Gulf Coast every holiday, but having driven through quite a few resorts it stands out as a quieter area without many large resorts. I'd take a Sunday afternoon in Earl's any time I could.
This is going to be the most difficult to sum up. We had a fantastic time as we always do, but there are some worrying aspects to today's Disney. On the plus side both Kidani Village and the Boardwalk were great, I was surprised at how much we liked the view from our balcony in the Boardwalk looking over the Swan and Dolphin. I had expected to miss the Boardwalk view, but I actually liked the quieter aspect of our lawn view room.
Many of the changes in the parks didn't affect us too badly as we have been so many times that we don't feel the need to ride everything as often as we can. We can dip in and out of the parks and enjoy downtime at the pool and meals at Disney Springs or in the resorts. I really don't know how I would advise someone going for the first time how to plan to get the best from their visit, it's all got so complicated. I like to think that I know the parks pretty well and I'm quite experienced in the ins and outs of how to get the best out of a WDW trip, but the latest restrictions imposed in the name of helping the visitor are frankly ludicrous.
Genie, Genie +, park reservations, Individual Lightning Lanes - where do you begin to work your way through the complexities. Please buy our incredibly expensive multi-day tickets to our theme parks and by the way you will also have to pay for passes on top of that every day unless you want to wait in line for over 2 hours for the big rides. Oh, and some rides you need to pay even more for. And you have to get up before 7.00 am every day if you want the privilege of even having a chance to book.
As I mentioned in the trip report, it seems like many of the older CM's have departed and there are lots more younger people. I don't view this as neccessarily a bad thing, but we did have a few times when we encountered young CM's either going through the motions of being polite or not bothering at all. Ride maintenance was also a definite issue. I've never been before when so many rides have been out of commission for so long.
The cost of everything has gone through the roof. When you are approaching $10 for a beer and $15 for a burger it's got very expensive. Of course the exchange rate doesn't help at the moment.
This all sounds very pessimistic (and to some extent it is), but we still had a great time. I guess the difference for me is that at one time I would have been happy to go back to Walt Disney World every year. Now I would be happy to return every 3 or 4 years. I hope there are changes in the future that make me alter this view. Getting rid of Bob Chapek and bringing back Bob Iger seems like a good start, but they really need to return to the days when you felt like you got value for money from your visit even though it was expensive. Today's product doesn't give me that feeling.
As a follow up to the jewellery debacle - after weeks of filling in forms and chasing Disney for a response Georgia was finally recompensed for the stolen goods. Surely it never used to be this difficult? If we hadn't kept chasing I'm sure they would have just ignored the whole thing.
It was lovely to meet up with our various friends. Unfortunately our time with Sharon, Keith and Evan was cut short. Even more sadly Sharon's father passed away not long after she got home. Just goes to show that there are many things in life far more important than a Disney holiday.
Finally I would like to dedicate this trip report to our friend Lu Beth who sadly died recently. She joined us a couple of times in WDW and was a lovely, fun lady. RIP Lu Beth, I'll never forget us all wobbling out of Victoria and Albert's after enjoying wine parings with every course.
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