Okay, so be prepared for a very long blog post as just like 2 years ago, I am sitting at Gate 85 at Orlando International Airport using the free WiFi before boarding my flight to London Gatwick.
Ok, so back to my last full day on the program:
2nd September: Me and Hannah got the A bus bright and early to Disney University where we visited Partners so she could withdraw all her money and then visit Cast Connection and Company D for the last time. I got a couple of bits and bobs including (another) Cast Member hoodie which was reduced and I've got to wear on the plane right now! :D Then we headed back to housing to dump the stuff we'd bought and I did a bit more packing/attempting to shut my case before meeting her on the E bus to Hollywood Studios as, of course, I had to do my last tour to Endor! We got to the Studios (accompanied by her roommate Gemma) and we went to the Sci-fi Diner for lunch which was great :D Then I headed to Star Tours whilst they went character hunting - I did my last tour to Endor (the flight attendant was Mikey!) and had to sort out a couple of admin issues with Linda, one of the icon managers including such exciting stuff as getting my last shift authorised for payment seen as I 'apparently' clocked out twice?! Anyways, once that was sorted and more photos had been taken, I went with Hannah and Gemma to watch the Bloc Party Bash - I saw the show by the hat and then went round to Star Tours to see the end and I filmed it so I can watch it forever more :D As we were boiling hot by this point we decided to go on the Great Movie Ride before heading back to housing.
Once I got back, it was time to meet Kevin as he kindly drove me to the All Star Music Resort which was where I was staying from Thursday until today. I handed in my housing ID and key and was not sorry to say goodbye to Vista Way! We went to the All Star where I got changed and then we met Hannah and Gemma before driving to the Contemporary for dinner. It was really nice (and rather posh!) and I even ate scallops! :O Then we walked to the Magic Kingdom (which only takes about 10 minutes) just in time for Wishes.
It was slightly strange because 2 years ago when I watched Wishes on the last night it made me feel very emotional and sad to be leaving. Well, this year, I just didn't get that and I routed it down to the fact I had so much exciting stuff to look forward to over the weekend and during this week that it wasn't a time to be sad! After Wishes, I said goodbye to people and popped into the Emporium (of course) to get a pair of earrings I wanted and a ring that I'd had my eye on before walking out of MK to the bus stops. As I walked alone out of the park, it dawned on me that this was quite a poignant moment (deep thinking for an airport right now, I know) but the fact I was walking out alone for the last time filled me with a feeling of determination for when I return home. It felt like I was closing the Disney book for now and I'd completed my time as a Cast Member so I felt very contented rather than sad. :)
I got the bus back to the All Star and collapsed into sleep as I was so tired!
3rd September: My official last day as a Cast Member... so I got up in time for Kevin to take me to the airport (yay, car!) so I could get my domestic flight to Atlanta, Georgia! :D I was flying AirTran which is the US equivalent of Easyjet but it was perfectly acceptable. The flight only took an hour and I had to wait about 30 minutes for Nick at Atlanta Airport as he was driving from his University in Auburn, Alabama! I managed to meet him okay and we headed for a shopping mall about 30 minutes from the airport in the search for a pair of shoes I'd seen in Charlotte Russe which I LOVE but cannot find in a Size 9 (US) anywhere :O Bless him, he ended up driving me to about 5 different shopping centres in and around Atlanta looking for these shoes and we couldn't find them anywhere :( I fully appreciate his patience though, thanks Nick! Then we headed to Cheesecake Factory which was AMAZING... the portions were massive and we took our actual cheesecake home to eat later! After dinner, we drove to his parents house which is the middle of nowhere but is a beautiful area. It was an amazing house and it was so dark at night we could see millions of stars which you just wouldn't see anywhere near a city! We were both really tired so we headed to bed around midnight.
4th September: Six Flags! I was very excited about going on some big rides so we got up early and drove to Six Flags Over Georgia which took about 45 minutes. When we got there, we realised it wasn't going to be as crazily busy as we'd thought it would be - in fact, the longest we queued all day was about 20 minutes! We went on all 8 of the main rollercoasters - I thought I was going to die about 3 times. Seriously, after going on those coasters, it makes Disney look so SUPER safe and secure! There were 2 rides (both wooden coasters) which I felt like my spine was about to be crushed and 1 ride called Ninja which I am pretty sure gave me concussion because it hit my head against the sides so much... but the other rides, particularly Batman and Goliath were really cool :D We went via a couple of shopping malls on the way back to his house and got back in time for my first American Football game. Nick's team (Auburn) were playing and it was the first match of the season so he was glad that he caught the game even though I literally didn't understand any of it. We had some yummy kebabs with baked potatoes and this amazing sweetcorn stuff which was a good meal for dinner :D then Auburn won the game so smiles all round. After staying up for a while watching You Tube and films we were both falling asleep so went to bed around 1am.
5th September: After an amazing lie-in which was well overdue, we got up around midday and had some pizza for lunch before heading to Stone Mountain with his Mom which is a local national park-type place, it's the biggest piece of exposed granite in the world apparently. As it was Labor Day weekend, they were having a special laser show and fireworks which was amazing! We also went up the Sky Ride to the top of the mountain which was great views and really cool :D We headed back and got home about 11.30pm before staying up chatting to his brother, Alex, before sleep at about 2am... we didn't really think it through seen as we needed to be up early the next day at 7.30am!
6th September: The day to hit downtown Atlanta. Firstly, we went to the CNN building and had a tour of the building which was interesting - especially to see how a TV station works differently in America to the way it works in the UK. Then we went to the Aquarium which is also the biggest (I think) in the world before grabbing a snack lunch and then heading to the World of Coca-Cola which I loved! You could see how a bottle of Coke was made and the history of the company, it was very interesting. After that it was time to get some dinner and then head to the airport :(
As this was the third goodbye I'd said to Nick, it wasn't too bad and I'm sure I'll see him again soon but I was very sad for the weekend to be over because we'd had so much fun and it was great being out of Orlando. When you visit somewhere like Georgia, you realise that not all states are as concrete and impersonal as Florida is...
I got back to the aforementioned theme park state and it was time for one of the scariest things I've ever done in my life...
Renting a car.
And more to the point - driving a car, in america, on the wrong side of the road! Plus the fact it was dark! It was only about $200 to rent the car for three days and so split between the three of us (Hannah, Katie and Moi) it was only about $80 each and the convienience made it worthwhile! I drove back to the hotel without any major incidents and parked up before meeting the others in the room. We decided we wanted a little joyride so drove to Walgreens so I could buy some credit and then back to the All Star before collapsing into sleep again.
7th September: Universal day! Been looking forward to this day since we last went to Harry Potter World :D Unfortunately, this time I had to pay the $112 entrance fee ($119 with tax!)... we went to the Studios first and did most of the rides in the park including Jaws which I didn't do last time and the Simpsons Ride which was AMAZING. I really loved it. Including all the jibes towards Disney which was just amusing. We also did Rip, Ride, Rock It twice and The Mummy twice plus Disaster (which had changed since 2007), Men In Black and Shrek 4D. Then we headed over to Islands of Adventure and literally spent the rest of the day in Harry Potter world... did the castle ride twice and I did the Chinese Fireball side of the dragon ride. I got a griffindor t-shirt and a Hogwarts branded glass before the park closed at 7pm. Then we drove to Downtown Disney for a bit before going back to the hotel... exhausted again!
8th September: My last full day in Florida! Had a lie-in and then we went to Ihop for brunch which was immense as usual. Then headed back to the hotel and I went and lazed by the pool for a few hours which was amazing before we got our stuff together and I drove Hannah to the airport. That then left Katie and I, so we went to the Florida Mall where we got Chinese Food (YUM) and I looked for the elusive shoes which was a let-down again! Then we drove back to the hotel where we picked up our laptops and went to McDonalds to use their free Wifi :D Spent a couple of hours there before heading back to do the inevitable re-packing. Just about got everything in the cases!
9th September: TODAY! Had breakfast and then finished the re-packing. Drove to Downtown Disney where on the spur of the moment, I checked in at the Virgin Atlantic DTD check-in.. only costs $10 and it was worth getting rid of my heavy bags! Then we went to the cinema and caught a film called the Switch which was cute and a good old rom-com with Jennifer Aniston in it - you really can't go wrong. LOL. 90 minutes later we emerged, ready to drive to the airport. Got slightly lost on the way despite having sat-nav but got here in plenty of time and have sat at the gate since about 3.30pm. I am going to be boarding in about 45 minutes.
I don't really feel sad about leaving, I am really excited to be seeing my friends from home again and am looking forward to the cold weather! But, it's slightly bittersweet to be shutting my Disney ICP book again even though I feel ready to. I will post again soon with a comparison of my two ICPs and what happened during the flight home! :)