We get up around 7.45am and attempt to fit everything into the available luggage space. Even though we have bought a couple of additional hold alls, it’s still very tight due to a healthy dose of shopping and lots of presents from Susan.

We have decided to use Virgin’s Downtown Disney check-in and attempt to get the car out of valet parking. Unfortunately the battery is dead and they have to start it with jump leads. This means we don’t reach the check-in until 10.15am and the queue is huge. Luckily the old silver flying club membership comes to the rescue and we can use Upper Class/Premium Economy check-in, which has no queue.

Thankfully the car starts and we drive a couple of hundred yards to the AMC cinema where we are going to watch A Nightmare Before Christmas 3D. I think this is a great movie, but the 3D effects are not spectacular. Having said that, it is easy on the eyes, sometimes I find 3D films difficult to watch. The audio in the cinema is excellent and certainly enhances the experience. Susan enjoys it very much as she is a fan of Danny Elfman who wrote the music and provides some of the voices. Deb and Matt are the only ones that haven’t seen it before and Deb says she preferred The Corpse Bride.

We are off to the Turf Club at Saratoga Springs for lunch. Well, we would be except the car won’t start again. Luckily a Disney security van is passing and they are very happy to start us with jump leads.
Over at Saratoga we enjoy a nice meal where me, Tam and the girls finish off the dining portion of our holiday with sirloin steal for all, which is very good. Mine seems to be the smallest steak of the four and I ask Georgia if she is going to eat all hers. Matt insists I put this in my trip report as he reckons I’ll sulk if she doesn’t leave me some steak. I do, she does, so I don’t.

We talk to Deb and Matt about their potential DVC purchase. Deb would like to buy, but has left the decision to Matt. As she says, it is a lot of money, not like buying a pair of shoes. I have to point out to her that some of the shoes she has bought on this holiday are probably more expensive than the DVC!
We are now running a book on whether they will buy or not. It’s currently at not to buy 2-1on, to buy 11-8.

Back at the car the flippin’ thing won’t start again. Matt seeks assistance for us and another security team is despatched, I’ve been very impressed with the ladies and gentlemen of the Disney security service as they have been incredibly helpful and friendly.

It’s time to say goodbye to Deb and Matt as they are off for 2 nights at the Rosen Shingle Creek. There are hugs and farewell’s all round. I’m sure I see a tear in Matt’s eye, although he would probably claim that these are tears of joy.
It’s sad to see them drive off, but as we are getting together next weekend for a holiday de-brief and are going to Dublin the week after to see Bruce Springsteen, it will not be a long parting.
Tam breaks any maudlin feelings by chasing their car down the road waving and blowing kisses.

The remaining persons now drive over to Epcot via a run to the Animal Kingdom to try and get some charge into the battery.
We arrive at the Rose and Crown just after 4.00pm where there is another DIS Meet in progress arranged by Florida Sun (Sue). Now I must admit that this is the worst DIS Meet I have ever been to. Perhaps I should explain fast before I get a rude e-mail from an irate Welsh lady (Sue). How can you enjoy a DIS Meet when you cannot drink and you have to leave all these happy holidaymakers to get on a plane and fly home? It just ain’t right, I’m telling you.

I enjoy chatting to John (Night-train) and Vernon for a while, sorry I didn’t get around to meet everyone properly.

We say farewell and walk back through Epcot where we just have time to pop into watch Oh Canada, as Tam has wanted to do this all holiday. The film here is getting very dated, but now has a sort of nostalgic feel to it.
Exiting Epcot, it’s now time to say goodbye to Susan as she is off to the Wilderness Lodge for 2 nights. There’s just too many farewell’s on this last day for my liking.
Back at the car we all cross our fingers and hope it starts. It turns over slowly and at first I don’t think it’s going to catch, but at last it bursts into life and we’re off on our journey home.
The rest is the same as ever, although I shouldn’t complain too much as it goes very smoothly with no delays or hold ups.


So what was good and what was bad?

Weather – Some really lovely days and nights. It was very hot at times, but I love the humid Florida nights where you walk out from an air conditioned building to be hit by the heat.

Villa v DVC – Deb and Matt much prefer staying in villa whereas the Stringers usually enjoy the on-site experience, so it was really interesting to see how we enjoyed doing the opposite to what we normally do.
We all loved staying at Reunion. It’s a fantastic place and the Rock Weekend was just the icing on the cake. My only problem is having to drive if you want to go out in the evening, as this means no drinking.
Of course, you have the advantage of more space, your own pool and games room and much less hustle and bustle.
Is one superior to the other? No, and why should it be? I am just very grateful that I got to enjoy both wonderful experiences and hope I will do so many more times in the future. I hope Deb and Matt enjoyed their week at the Boardwalk as much as we enjoyed our time in Reunion.

Golf – One of the advantages of going with other people is that you get to try things you wouldn’t normally try. Matt enjoys golf, so I gave it a go as well. It was a huge amount of fun and we will doubtless be hacking around together again soon.

Food – As always in Florida you get a huge range of dining experiences, from the humble burger to plush sit down restaurants. One thing that is a constant is the excellent standard of service.
Victoria and Albert’s was just amazing. We will undoubtedly be returning here.

Deb and Matt – I have read reports from many people who have been on holiday with friends and would never go again. Perhaps we are strange, but I can’t think of a single instance of friction between us for the whole holiday. They have to cope with our children as well as us, so they may think differently!
As I said before, we did things for the first time on this holiday and they did too, that’s one of the joys of travelling with friends, you try new things.
They don’t hinder our holiday at all, they enhance it. The Debster and The Mattster are just cool people, ok?
Oh yes, and they took the plunge and joined the DVC. Welcome home.

Susan – It was lovely to meet up with Susan again. I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating – I have never met anyone so generous and kind as Susan, she never has a cruel word to say about anyone. (With the exception of certain politicians!).
Susan, you may care to note that this is the third time we have travelled across the Atlantic to see you. It’s about time you sorted out a flight across to our side of the pond, don’t you think? I can arrange very reasonable bed and breakfast rates with Tam.

Food and Wine Festival – It gets bigger and better every year. My only regret is that we didn’t spend more time doing some of the free wine tastings and food demonstrations. We had such a good time snacking and drinking from the booths.

And the bad?

Georgia says she didn’t enjoy the record low temperatures we endured on a couple of nights.
The car not starting on the last day was a pain.
Being bitten at the villa. Probably our own fault for lack of insect repellent.
The girls didn’t enjoy going off and doing things on their own as much as we thought they would. Tam and I thought they would jump at the chance of a bit of independence, but they much preferred to be with us.
And the worst thing of all – flying home while the rest of our friends remained behind in Florida.

So, what’s next on the holiday horizon?
Flights have already been booked for next August. This is the only part of the trip that is set at the moment. We fly into New York and out of Orlando. The plan at the moment is to go for 3 weeks – 4 nights in New York, 4 nights in the mountains of North Carolina, 5 nights at Hilton Head, 2 nights at Universal Florida, 6 nights at Reunion.
Deb and Matt will hopefully be joining us at Hilton Head onwards.

Thanks to you all for reading and for the comments and feedback, I hope you’ve enjoyed it.
See you soon.