So, we’re a month out from our trip, and as things get closer, I thought it would be worth looking at the massive changes we’ll be facing since our last trip – personally, Disney and overall.

Firstly, this will be our first trip since Chris’s amputation, and the first taking our own chair, rather than hiring an ECV over there. Previously, we had security down to a fine art for me picking everything up while he had the alternate checks since he couldn’t walk through the scanner, so we’ll see how this goes! It does mean that he can use the chair right up to the gate, and then on arrival in Florida.

Manchester Airport, and T2 in particular, have gone through a lot of refurbishments since we were last there. I’m looking forward to seeing the new Escape lounge. One downside is that the meet and greet drop off is now a little bit offsite, so will apparently require an internal bus transfer. Luckily, collection is the same as before, so I’m not trying to drag all the extra luggage across the airport!

Virgin have upgraded their fleet, and the new planes no longer have The Bubble – the upstairs seating section that was our preference. We still have Premium Economy flights on the way out and snagged a bargain upgrade for upper class on the way home! Hopefully lie flat seats mean I might get some sleep on the way home!

The pandemic has had a massive effect on travel, not least that the last two attempts at this trip have been delayed and rescheduled! The biggest impact now is that we need covid tests before we fly and on our return. We’ve got both booked at the drive through centre near the airport. Based on the changes announced this week, we’re just confirming which test we need on our return.

Finally, Disney. Where do I start?! We were last there in 2018, so missed Toy Story Land, Galaxy’s Edge and Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railroad at Hollywood Studios. There are also new night-time shows at Magic Kingdom and EPCOT, and the recently opened Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, not to mention the Skyliner between EPCOT, Hollywood Studios and several resorts. EPCOT itself is in the middle of a massive re-imagining.

When they reopened after the initial lockdown last year, Disney implemented a park reservation system, meaning that as well as your tickets, you need a reservation to say which park you want to visit that day. We got all ours booked as soon as possible, just rotating round the parks! We have 14 day tickets, so that’s 3 visits to Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom and 4 for EPCOT and Hollywood Studios. In fact, tickets have also changed. Previously we would get 21 day ultimate tickets, but they are no longer available, so we have 14 day instead, giving us a couple of Disney-free days at the start. To be fair, we don’t go to the parks every day, but it’s nice to have the option!

The other big change is the removal of Fast Pass Plus, and its replacement with pay-for DIsney Genie Plus. We’re undecided at the moment if we’ll use the pay for service at a cost of $15 plus tax per person, per day or stick to the free one. For future trips, it looks like the UK sellers may have it included in the ticket price, but that’s for another trip!

As for this blog, I’ve now got a GoPro Hero 9, and a decent video camera on my phone, so expect some video footage as well as photos. I’m finally starting to believe it will happen, though I don’t think I’ll fully believe it until the first wave of heat hits when leaving the airport – yes, even in January!

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