Now here’s a strange thing. I’m writing this pre-trip report at 6.30am from a hotel room in Ningbo City, China using a notebook given to me by our good friend Susan from Tulsa, Oklahoma and a pen borrowed from Virgin Atlantic. The world is indeed a small and wonderful place.
The strangest thing is that I actually got close to 8 hours sleep last night. Normally I struggle for nearly a week with jetlag, but after 30+ hours of travel and work (straight off the flight to the factory), I went to bed at 10.00pm last night and slept through until nearly 6.00am this morning. How can this be? What made this happen? Why do birds suddenly appear every time you are near? Well, I have a theory. I have a theory about most things in life and hopefully this one is better than my theory that Disneyworld was created by tiny little pixies carrying tiny little spades and singing ‘Hi Ho’ in tiny little pixie voices. This theory is not widely accepted. In fact the only people to believe it are me and Eldred, the king of the pixies.

So, why do I not have jetlag? Well, last night I ate at a Mexican restaurant and one of the things I had to drink was a Ginger Margarita. It was made from ground up ginger root, there were even lumps of it in the bottom of the glass. Now I’m sure I’ve read that ginger is good for staving off jetlag and, as theories go, you’ve got to admit it’s better than the one about the pixies.
So, after a week in China I’ll return to normal work for a week before flying off to Florida on Saturday 23
rd May. As the purpose of a pre-trip report is to impart information regarding said trip, I guess I’d better get on with it.

The participants:

Me, Kev, 51. You know even I am starting to give up on the pretence that I am sex on legs and the nearest thing to perfection a woman could ever want. Age is gradually creeping up on me. I wouldn’t exactly say I’m falling apart, but there are aches where there shouldn’t be aches and wheezing at anything more than rising from the chair cannot possibly be considered a good thing. Still, I’ve got a wife that loves me and as she said to me the other day ‘Are you sure you can do that with a hamster and 5 pints of raspberry jelly?’ but that’s another story.

Tam, wife, 45. Officially in her mid-forties now, not something she’s particularly happy about I suspect. We’ve been married for 23 years now and she still can’t believe how lucky she is to wake up next to me each morning. I will admit this is more my view than hers, but let’s just leave it at that shall we?

India, daughter, 18. There is a possibility that this may be her last full holiday with us for a while as she is off to university in September to start a degree in renewable energy, exam results permitting. She insists she will be tagging along with us for years to come as long as we continue to pay. Her frugality and plain old ability to sponge reminds me of a younger version of myself. Fair brings a tear to the old eye.

Georgia, daughter, 15. Growing up too fast for my liking. There was a time when a cartoon and a colouring book kept her quiet for hours. Then she discovered boys. I’ve tried my best to put her off; lord knows she couldn’t have a more perfect example of how horrible the male species can be after living with me all her life, but she still seems keen on the nasty little creatures. I do my best to keep them at bay, but one made it through the barbwire and attack dogs the other day. I had to stun him with a Tasar, it was the kindest thing to do.

Dorothy, mother, 83. She’ll be known as Grandma throughout the trip report. I’m sure she won’t mind me mentioning her age seeing as how I blabbed about it last time she came with us. If you read the report of that trip you will know that it wasn’t entirely successful for her as she was in pain for much of the time and ended up being rushed into Celebration Hospital on our last evening. Thankfully she is fine now, but I don’t think she ever thought she’d get to Florida again, so when we sat her down to ask if she’d like to come, the words ‘Would you like’ and ‘Florida’ had barely left my mouth before she was off up the stairs to pack her case.

Also joining us will be Susan our friend from Tulsa. The lady has an encyclopaedic knowledge of all things Disney and a seemingly never-ending supply of patience, which she will need in buckets in order to spend two weeks with us.

Sharon and Evan (mother and son) from Texas will be catching up with us during our second week. They are amongst our oldest Disney friends. Evan has just turned 21 and is now legally able to buy the beer, a highly desirable state of affairs to my way of thinking.

We will also be meeting up with Rob (Fuse 04 from the DIS Boards) his wife and daughter for an evening wandering in Epcot. Rob and I plan to partake of a small glass of sherry at some point during the evening.

Finally on this people packed trip we will also be spending an evening with Martin and Mandy. We know this pair from work and by happy coincidence they are in Florida at the same time as us. They are both thoroughly nice people despite Martin being a Bristol City fan, don’t be too harsh on him, we all have our faults.
Mandy fell in love with Jellyrolls last time they were in WDW, so we plan to have a sing along evening there.

What are we doing?

Well, contrary to popular belief we do not take all our holidays in WDW. In fact we haven’t spent two weeks on-site since 2000. I know, I know, it amazed me as well – must try harder.
This year we are attempting to have a ‘take it as it comes’ vacation. No specific park days are planned; in fact the planning spreadsheet is bare except for details of which park has Extra Magic Hours.
The only things set are ADR’s for restaurants. These include The Wave, Blue Zoo and Narcoossee’s. Most other dining will be off the cuff, although we are hoping to try a couple of off-site restaurants, probably the Orlando Ale House and Bahama Breeze. We are definitely going for the ‘do as you please’ approach with as little rushing around as possible. Whether we will succeed in curtailing our natural instinct to pack in as much as possible into every day remains to be seen.
A water park is on the cards at some point so I can do my David Hasselhoff impression. Not the Hoff from bygone Baywatch years, but the more recent sad old drunk. I have the credentials.

Where are we staying:

First port of call will be the Hilton at Gatwick airport on Friday 22nd May thanks to a cracking sale rate of 67 per room including breakfast.
We are flying into Tampa with BA as Airmiles helped to reduce the cost considerably. From here we will pick up a car and drive to WDW. Originally we were going to have the car for the full two weeks, but in the end we decided it was just not worth the extra 300 to have it sat in the parking lot most of the time. I’ll be dropping the car off at the Dolphin as our first 3 nights are going to be spent at the Swan thanks to a great rate through the DIS.
Our next 11 nights are on DVC staying at the Boardwalk. We will have two studios. Tam, the girls and me are in one, Susan and Grandma in the other.

So the aim of this holiday will be to have a relaxing, fun, action packed, laid back, exciting time with perfect weather, great company and perhaps just a small sampling of alcohol. Not too much to ask is it?

Finally a mention of Deb and Matt, friends who would be joining us if it were not for these trying financial times we find ourselves in. We’ll miss you and will be raising a glass to you on more than one occasion.

Right I’m off to have a beer with Eldred and discuss the next pixie construction project. See you in two weeks.