DAY 16 – THURS 22nd NOV


h well, I suppose it had to come eventually. The last day of our holiday.

Up at 7:30AM and Tam and I take an early morning walk around the Boardwalk. It is a beautiful morning and is strangely quiet considering it is Thanksgiving.

We return to the room and get on with the boring job of packing. We are out of the room around 10:30AM and Bell Services take care of our luggage while we go down to the pool to relax before the long journey home. The pool is fenced off and a lifeguard is checking your ID to make sure you are staying at the Boardwalk.
This is a very nice way to spend the last few hours of our holiday, just reclining in the Florida sunshine while the girls splash around in the pool.

Eventually we have to move ourselves and we all have showers in the health club and change for the airport. I usually wear jeans on the way home. It may be a little warm in Florida, but there is nothing worse than getting off to the plane in Gatwick in near freezing temperatures with a T-shirt and shorts on.

The rest is all boring. The plane takes off an hour late at 7:00PM, but the flight is as pleasant as a return flight from WDW can be. I watch Planet Of The Apes, which I really enjoy. I can’t think of a Tim Burton film that I didn’t like.

Back in Gatwick we make our way to the train station where the true realisation that we are back in the UK hits us. We have a couple of trolleys laden with suitcases as we approach the escalator down to the platforms. I am not particularly worried as I know that we came up in a lift on the way out. We all hunt for the lift entrance, but can’t find it. Granny(J) goes off to ask a railway employee for directions and comes back shaking her head in disbelief. She has asked the man where the lift is only to be told that there isn’t one. She tells him that we came up in it on the way out and he says ‘Ah, the lift only comes up from the platform. It doesn’t go down.’
The only one-way lift in the world. So here we are in the second largest airport in the UK struggling to get heavy suitcases down an escalator. Thank you very much for the reminder why I prefer to holiday in the US.

Well, that’s the end of the actual report, but you just know that you are going to get a summary as well, don’t you? You lucky people.



If I ever win the lottery this is the first place I am going to buy a house. Upmarket without being snobby, beautiful and relatively unspoilt (70% of Sanibel is Wildlife Preserve) with a wonderful year round climate.
I tell you, I have travelled just about everywhere in Florida south of Orlando and this is easily the prettiest place I have come across. The only other place that comes close is the Keys.



I got bitten silly in Sanibel, mostly due to useless insect repellent we bought in Superdrug. Once we got decent stuff when we went on the kayaking tour I was much better.
WDW was no problem.



Once again we were very lucky. We really only had a day and a half of overcast, cooler weather. The rest of the time it was 80 degrees all the way. The evenings cooled down to mid 60’s most of the time.



We all really enjoyed our time together. Sometimes you just click with people straight away. It was just a shame that they weren’t there for longer with us.
Now if I could just teach them to speak properly…… like what I do.



Apart form the obvious reductions in hours and lack of Early Entry, there was very little evidence of any serious changes in WDW. There were plenty of Streetmosphere characters in MGM and the usual high standard of entertainment in Epcot. Indeed they added showings of Fantasmic! and extended the hours on a couple of days.
The vast majority of the CM’s were as excellent as ever.



A very comfortable experience indeed. The walk in shower and whirlpool bath were especially welcoming after a long day in the parks. I particularly enjoyed just sitting out on the balcony enjoying the atmosphere and gazing out over the Boardwalk entrance.



Now we come to the exceptionally painful part of the summary.
We are probably going to save our DVC points next year in order to go on the 7 day Disney cruise in 2003. This means that we will probably not be returning to Florida in 2002. It could be a whole 18 months before we get back to the Boardwalk! I can feel withdrawal symptoms setting in as I write.

The thought of a holiday in Majorca or Ibiza beckons. I am preparing my Union Jack T-shirt and knotted hankie.
Please don’t misunderstand, Tam and I have visited many places in the Med and usually enjoyed them. It’s just that once you have had the best, it’s hard to settle for the rest.

Finally, I’m sure that many of you would like to know how a fairly reluctant first time visitor like Granny(J) enjoyed Florida and WDW. I asked her for her thoughts and opinions and she wrote the following.

Much as it hurts me deeply to let someone else have the last word, it seems I must defer to Granny(J). See you all in 2003.




Before my memory lapses and my experiences over the last two weeks become somewhat blurred at the edges, I must now write my thoughts of the many varying images I have experienced during my first visit to the U.S. of A. My visit couldn’t have started better - spending the first night in The Hilton Hotel in downtown Orlando and a visit to Downtown Disney in the evening – warm, full of excitement and unusual smells, sounds and sights.

On our way to Sanibel, we passed through what I had imagined the highways to be like – dead straight roads, full of motels, fast food outlets etc etc. Having stopped at the beach at Indian Rocks beach on a hot November morning, it was a joy to feel that fine white sand between the toes and to watch the pelicans. I now knew we were getting close to that paradise island. And paradise for me it was – white sandy beaches stretching in every direction with more sea birds and wading birds than you could possibly count - and THE SHELLS - I had so longed to see, yet I had never imagined quite how many. Beautiful sun rises and sun sets and the warmth of a southerly sun shining on us for the whole of our visit, which was made even more adventurous being able to cycle to so many wonderful parks and natural places; just the best way of seeing such an island. To add to all this, we experienced such close contact with the dolphins and alligators and many other wild creatures. I should also mention the more than adequate and wholesome meals we enjoyed in a wide variety of restaurants, from the Bubble Room to the The Mucky Duck to mention just two. These and the delicious ice creams gave us the energy to get back into the saddle for more exploring.


NOW – I have to say Disney World was never anywhere near the top of the list of places I long to visit – it conjured up false images of those early Disney films I had so enjoyed in my childhood (not hard to guess I must be in my sixties!). Those memories were treasured and I thought it sacrilege to caricature/commercialise them.

Perhaps here I should add that I am more of a watcher of people than a taking part person, partly due to personality type and partly to being born on a small, mostly cold, rather wet but green island! I do envy the American enthusiasm and genuine interest in other people and thereby their friendliness and good naturedness (and sunshine), which was very evident everywhere I went.


On arrival at The Broadwalk, I was very impressed, and who could not be, with the style recreated there. I know Americans think big with all the space that they have to play with and that has been one of the most lasting impressions – the scale of everything. Hard – no - impossible to imagine without a visit. However many photographs, films or lectures from the Stringer family one may have had, you cannot even guess at the vastness.

Epcot and the Animal Kingdom were my very favourite parks. We were lucky enough to hit Epcot when the wine and food festival was on and the atmosphere was truly cosmopolitan. With such space for the comprehensive promotion of each country, I really felt ‘I was there’. Yes, the Spaceship Earth did certainly impress me Kevin – how was so much contained in that sphere that looked as thought it might float away like a bubble from the outside? The Animal Kingdom of course for its animals in as natural an environment as can be maintained and contained by man; the Animal Kingdom Lodge – so impressive and with such a genuine air about it, especially eating at Jikos. The Safari, the Kali River Rapids (the only ride I did twice as I was not quite wet enough on the first trip) and the Dinosaur. Had I read the ‘physical considerations’ in Tips & Information more closely, I might have been put off. A great ride and it would appear that my heart is in tip top condition, not so my skeletal frame which is recovering from the Dinosaur, the cycling and walking. How many miles - maybe 100 miles in two weeks? Any advance on this figure?

All the other rides and parks had their own attraction varying from Peter Pan’s Flight to the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Too many to comment on.
Finally, the fantastic Fantasmic and the Reflections of Earth in the lagoon. Who could not be amazed by such an emotional exhibition of man’s expertise in combining fireworks with music.

All in all, the Disney Experience had a high wow factor. My only nagging doubt is the cost, not only monetary but more especially ecologically. However I will not be churlish and dwell on this and I am so grateful to Tammy and Kevin for asking me to join them on a fantasmic two weeks with India, Georgia and Grandma Stringer. However, Mozart still wins over Mickey, Opera over Oprah, Monet over Minnie but I wouldn’t have missed the experience for the world. I am always open to new experiences although I know my limitations and this was certainly one of those never to be forgotten holidays.