Day 1 - Sofitel Hotel
We met at school for 4pm on Saturday and we were all very excited. After the bags were loaded onto the vehicles, we said our goodbyes and waved as we drove off. Big thanks go to David Kennedy and Suzy Thomas for driving us to Gatwick.
We checked in our luggage and had a lovely meal at the hotel. All the students settled well in their rooms and slept well.
This morning saw us eating a gigantic breakfast of cereals, fried breakfast, pastries and muffins and a variety of juices and hot drinks - so no one went hungry!
Passport control and security was a breeze! As I type, we are waiting to board the plane. The students have really enjoyed looking at the sights of the airport and the planes waiting at the gates.
We will check in with you all when we get to the house and have settled in.
See you soon!
Day 2 Flying to Florida
With a 10 hour flight ahead, we all sat down planning which films to watch and making sure the time passed quickly. The flight was really good and we were really well looked after by all the staff at BA. Jamal and Mr Vadi were very happy to get their food before everyone else!! The cheesecake was amazing! All the pupils were perfectly behaved and were a real credit to the school. There were a couple of bumpy moments that needed seatbelts! Edward alarmed some of the passengers by repeatedly saying the plane was going down, we had to remind him to say the plane was descending. Once the Plane had landed the students were invited to have a look in the cockpit and have a photo taken in the pilots seats. We then made our way through customs and immigration and went to collect our luggage. From the airport it was a 40 minute drive to the Villa. Gift bags were waiting for all the students at the villa. Everyone was shown their room in the villa and we all started to unpack while Mrs Gardiner went shopping with CWSNF. We had a selection of pizzas and relaxed in our new home for the next 2 weeks. Holly managed to get the TV to work but we realised after a really long journey here …after joining the two dining tables to make a big square we knew it was time to go to bed.
Day 3 The Villa and Boggy Creek
Mrs Gardiner had got some great breakfast cereals, pancake mix, fruits, pastries and breads. With her trusty assistant chef, Edward, she prepared the pancake mix to create a mountain of delicious tasty pancakes. It was a really great moment to have everyone around the dining table and eating together…in case you are wondering the pancakes were finished with great aplomb and the mountain became a hill and then disappeared! All the pupils cleaned up and put all the dishes away – which made the morning go smoothly. The swimming pool was way too inviting after our late arrival from the night before, so as you can imagine there was a definite need to take a dip. Liam was in there first followed by Kaylie….who spent ages making waves. We decided to all go shopping to get our basics for the next few weeks. The group split up and went on a mission to find all the items on their shopping list – Supermarket Sweep US style! After sandwiches and snacks for lunch we all got ready for some alligator hunting, actually more like alligator spying…no one wanted to catch an alligator. We drove for 30 minutes toward Osceola Wildlife Reserve and took a jaunt on an airboat around Boggy Creek (yes that’s the name!!). We were immensely lucky as we managed to see five alligators in their natural surroundings (think David Attenborough) …..”In the murky waters of the creek lie some of the most ferocious beasts known to man”. The noise of the airboat was immense with the wind, the water spray and really close up sights were a great way to start our start to adventures. Michael said he loved it and wanted to go on it again. After a short stay at the house, we all got ready to go to Disney Springs for our evening meal and bowling. The food was traditional Southern cooking with all food sourced from Florida – really great home cooked style meals. Connor was amazed at the speed at which his cola drinks were be refilled! The bowling alley was deep in the heart of Disney Springs – which is a myriad of lights, sounds, music, air balloons, shops and restaurants on every stretch of space. The moving piano man on wheels was quite a sight – he just kept turning up wherever we were. Jack found the Star Wars store, we will be back (nice).
Day 4 Discovery Cove
Today was an early start as we went to our perfect day at Discovery Cove. The weather was perfect, the sun was out and a great blue sky greeted our drive there. We were treated like royalty as we began our day with a grand breakfast – Jack and Jamal have discovered French toast and love it! We were taken to our own private area in the resort where we had our own fridge and snacks. We then got changed into our swimming vests and wetsuits….fetching to say the least. The first part involved having a slow swim in the “Lazy River” – which was nice and warm. Jamal and Michael did really well, considering that they were both feeling nervous about swimming…..they went around twice! Clearly the nerves evaporated! At precisely 11.05 we were whisked away to have a safety talk about what to expect with our time with our dolphins. The group split into two smaller groups and we met our dolphins for the day – Capricorn and Clipper – we were able to be up close and play with the dolphins, we ended up getting our dolphin to jump, talk and carry us back to the cove. Jamal counted that he had 8 amazing experiences during the morning!! The day still did not end there…we were then allowed to swim with a plethora of reef fish, sting rays, manta rays and ….sharks. Luckily the sharks were behind a glassed area, however, Mr Vadi was so engrossed in this that he did not realise this and swam right into the glass wall!!! There is film evidence and we are happy to report the sharks were fine and not scared by the experience. After another swim and drinking a gallon of salt water …it was time go home. After a short break at home, two laundry loads, more swimming (no one gets tired of getting into water), Mrs Gardiner’s military style room inspection, we headed off to our Italian Restaurant. The food was amazing but everyone was far too tired for dessert, in fact 3 students had fallen asleep before the second course had been served!! Once the meal was done, 8 sleepy students and 3 sleepy teachers returned to the villa for a good night’s sleep ready for the next adventure in the morning…. Universal Studios!!!!!
By the way ….we got to 10 amazing experiences.
Quiz….how many exclamation marks have we used…???!!!???
Day 5 Universal Studios
It was an early start today. Mrs Gardiner woke the students and they slowly surfaced and gathered downstairs. We had a small breakfast of cereals, croissants and fruit before heading off for our VIP day at Universal Studios.
We drove for about half an hour and were greeted at the entrance by our guides, Dave and Dawn. They gave us our VIP lanyards and escorted us to the VIP lounge where another selection of breakfast options were available...who can say no to another chocolate croissant, muffin or vanilla Danish? I certainly couldn’t.
Our first port of call was the Despicable Me ride. Because we were VIPs, our guides took us through the alternative entrance and we were able to 'jump the queue' on this ride and all of the others. The Despicable Me ride was a simulation ride which means it had a huge screen which made you feel part of the film - and the 3D glasses made it even more real! We all enjoyed this and thought it was a great start to the day.
Our next ride was The Rocket. Edward, Liam and Connor were particularly looking forward to this ride - the fastest ride at the park. Those who wanted to, whizzed through to the ride and before we knew it we were settling into the cars and selecting the music we wanted to listen to. Edward listened to MC Hammer - Hammer Time whilst Mrs Gardiner listened to Gloria Gaynor's I Will Survive! The ride was awesome!
After The Rocket ride was finished (and we did all survive!) we headed onwards to the Jimmy Fallon ride which involved another simulation film of us in a race with him around New York City. We won - of course! The Mummy ride was a particular favourite too and we enjoyed being scared by the Mummies, fire and the roller coaster in the dark.
The morning continued with other rides but for Jamal, the highlight was seeing The Blues Brothers car driving down the street and then watching them play and sing.
Lunch was at the VIP dining area and we had an excellent selection to choose from. After a lovely rendition of Happy Birthday to Tom from the charity, we met The Simpsons, but sadly, Maggie was in the crèche so we saw Homer, Marge, Bart and Lisa. Photos and handshakes plus hugs were enjoyed by all. We headed off, a little full in the tummy area, and went to The Simpsons ride. It was hilarious! Another simulation with 3D glasses with a virtual roller coaster and a trip to Krusty Land!
Jack was soon in his element when he spotted the Back to the Future DeLorean car on the way to the Men In Black laser ride. Jack's experience with Halo and Black Ops came in handy when we had to fire laser guns at the invading aliens - a fun ride which we all enjoyed.
Then came our magical experience...Harry Potter World. We entered Diagon Alley and went into a special meeting with Ollivander the wand specialist. In the wand shop, surrounded by boxes and boxes of all varieties of wand, we watched Michael and Connor cast spells with their wands. At the end of the demonstration, all of the students were given their own wands to take home. It was lovely to hear about all the different spells they would cast - ranging from swapping bodies with other people (Jamal), making £50 notes (Connor), teleportation (Holly), to move objects without touching them (Parice) and turning people into animals (Kaylie).
The rest of our time at the park was spent revisiting favourite rides (The Rocket and The Mummy) and a special viewing of The Blues Brothers for Jamal. We all 'Bent over and shook our tail feathers' and showed some 'R.E.S.P.E.C.T' whilst Jamal, our 'Soul Man' fist bumped with Jake and Elwood. Special photos by the police car rounded off a fun boogie in the street.
Our little legs could take no more so we headed back to our mini bus. During our ride home, energy was revived and Liam, Edward, Jamal, Parice and Michael headed to the pool. Fun and games were had, Mrs Gardiner won the handstand competition and Michael did well with the beach ball volley ball. Kayleigh has done well with blowing up the rings (which no one else could do!) and being really helpful. She's a star.
It was lovely having our evening meal around the table and chatting about our favourite things of the day. It has been lovely hearing the children share their best moments, their fears that they conquered and their thoughts about the next day. Everyone is taking their turn with laying the tables and clearing up. Parice and Jamal's drying up skills are superb!
After a little bit of chilling time, which involved playing pool, we sorted the washing from the tumble dryer - and yes, there was an odd sock, because there always is! Bedtime came a little earlier today as we have had very long and tiring days and we were all very grateful for the opportunity to catch up on some zzzzzzzs!
Tomorrow sees us visiting Disney for a full on experience of the Magical Kingdom.
Day 6 - Disney's Magical Kingdom
Today started with another legendary stack of Mrs Gardiner's pancakes and some awesome American cereals. The students were grateful of the slightly later wake up call (8.15am) and were ready to leave by 10.20am. We headed off to KFC for a slightly early lunch. Mr Vadi was in heaven and Jack happily shared a table with him - munching on chicken strips, potato wedges and (weirdly) scones!
We headed off in the mini bus to the Magic Kingdom and we all shouted out when we saw the welcome sign. Our fist excitement was the mono rail from the car park to the park entrance where we all had our entrance cards handed to us.
Our first impression was one of pure amazement. Kaylie loved the castle and couldn't wait to see the parade with the characters.
We walked up Main Street looking at the sights and singing along to the Christmas songs being piped everywhere we went....yes, Christmas songs! We headed to our VIP area so we could watch the parade and enjoyed some Mickey Mouse ice creams while we waited. Jack was an absolute gentleman and offered his chair to another person so they could watch in comfort - a lovely gesture. Jamal loved the parade so much that he stood for the majority of it, waving at the characters as they went by. Kaylie shouted out the names of the characters as they came by and got a high five from one of the seven dwarves. Michael couldn't believe who he was seeing and kept saying "wow, this is the best day of my life!" We saw all of the popular characters: Snow White, Peter Pan, Belle and the Beast and Ariel. There were many more but too many to mention....please see the photos!
During the afternoon we enjoyed many rides - Connor, Edward, Kaylie, Liam and Parice loved Space Mountain. Michael and Jamal loved the Speedway ride where they got to drive racing cars around the track. Michael was a little bit unsure on the accelerator so his ride was a little bumpy whereas Jamal was unaware that his driving was being assessed by Mr Vadi who concluded that me may need a few more lessons!
Dinner was at Tony's restaurant - where Lady and the Tramp had their iconic spaghetti meal. We had a selection of pasta and pizzas followed by Italian ice cream. We were ready for dinner after a full day of walking around the park and it was nice to sit and talk about the excitement we had had.
We headed back across towards to the car park on the river boat and watched the fantastic fireworks which concluded a truely magical day at the Magic Kingdom.
We arrived home and decided to have hot drinks and a cookie around the table and talk about the day. Kaylie went straight to bed and Liam chilled on the sofa. Michael had a glass of water and zoned out whilst Edward, Parice and Connor chatted about Space Mountain.
Tomorrow we head back to Universal Studios but we go to Islands of Adventure. We've got an early start tomorrow - beginning with showers all round!
Day 7 – Universal Studios Islands of Adventure
Another early morning…another stack of pancakes!
It was an early one today because we were heading off to Universal’s Islands of Adventure at 8.30am. Everyone….and I mean EVERYONE needed a shower so Operation Shower Room commenced. Eleven people used 4 showers followed by mass sun spray on the patio. We did well and even had a few minutes to spare before we had to leave.
Once again, we had VIP treatment; being greeted at the gate by our guides from Wednesday, Dave and Dawn set the day in motion. We headed to the VIP lounge and enjoyed a light snack if we wanted and drinks. The chocolate milk went down very well with the majority of the students.
We headed over to King’s Cross Station and found Platform 9 ¾ ! The Hogwarts Express arrived and whisked us off to Hogsmeade in Scotland. It was a journey fraught with danger and Harry and his crew had to use some serious magic to get us out of a fix! We arrived safely and trooped off straight to our first rides in the Dr Seuss area. The rides here were very gentle and gave us some great aerial views of Dr Seuss land. We were lucky enough to have a photo with the cat in the hat and thing 1 and thing 2. Thing 1 took a particular liking to Liam (Liam was not impressed).
After starting the day with gentle rides everyone was ready for the first rollercoaster – The Hulk
The Hulk rollercoaster is an extremely fast ride which the majority of students wanted to go on. We paired up and zipped through the exit (as VIPs could do) and jumped the queue to the front. Everyone liked the ride so much we went on a second time!
What the students said about the ride:
Edward said, “It was outstanding, fast and long. I couldn’t wait to get on it. I wanted to sit at the front but sat at the back with Mrs. Gardiner – it was better at the back.”
Parice said, “ I was quite nervous because I hadn’t been upside down on a rollercoaster before. I was then really excited and it ended up being one of the best things I have ever done.”
Liam said, “It was awesome. I like roller coasters and have been on them before and I thought this was going to be better than anything I had been on before. It turned out to be about the same as the ones I’ve been on before but going through as VIPs was great.”
We then visited the Doctor Doom Free Fall ride – a vertical drop which was very popular with the students – and gave all students who were brave enough to go on the ride a fantastic aerial view of the park. We followed this by joining Spiderman as he battled bad guys in New York.
Next on the itinerary was Hogsmeade. First stop was lunch at the Three Broomsticks where butter beer and pumpkin fizz were enjoyed by all. After lunch we headed to the Hippogriff ride - a small rollercoaster enjoyed by most of the students, again we were able to have a second go on this ride. We then headed to Hogwarts to go on the forbidden Journey. The forbidden journey was amazing we flew through the grounds of Hogwarts and the forbidden forest, joined in a Quidditch match escaped from Dementors and ended with us landing safely in the great hall at Hogwarts.
After leaving the magical world of Harry Potter we headed to the water rides, Jurassic Park River Adventure, Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls and Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges. There was no escaping the water on these rides even those that wore water proof Ponchos still ended up soaked. Luckily the sun was shining so we started to dry off straight away.
After getting soaked we were all lead to a restaurant in the Marvel Super Hero Island, we were worried we were going to have another meal which none of us were ready for, thankfully we soon realised we weren’t there to eat we were there to meet some Marvel Superheroes. After lots of pictures and autographs from Spiderman, Captain America, Storm and Cyclops we moved on to our final rides Skull Island: Reign of Kong and one last go on The Hulk.
After a long exciting, fun filled day we headed back to the villa for some time in the pool and a lovely evening meal prepared by Mr Vadi.
Here’s a short description of the students:
Liam - Cool as a cucumber – is my hair alright?
Michael – I’m not sure, I’ll have a go, Oh wow! I want to do it again
Kaylie – Can I sit with you, I’ll look after you
Connor – It was alright I suppose with a sneaky smile
Jack – The Terminator voice!
Jamal – Oh. My. Days! Biggest smile EVER!
Edward – I want to sit at the front - faster, faster!
Parice – I’m not sure…...That was good, let’s go again.
Day 8 – Rest Day (written by Parice)
Today was a rest day so because of this we woke up late and Mr Vadi was the one who got up the latest Holly had to go up and get him up at eleven because he is old and fragile and needs more sleep than the young people. We got up and had breakfast, we had cereal and pancakes, Mrs Gardiner and Parice had fried eggs. After we were all up and dressed we went shopping as everyone had money to spend. We started off at Walmart’s then we went to a Nike store nearby then we proceeded back to the villa and had a quick snack, before heading off to The Coca-Cola Orlando Eye. The Coca-Cola Orlando Eye was the spitting image of the London eye, we got to see outstanding views of Florida and all the theme parks we have been to and some of the ones we are going to go to. Mrs Gardiner missed most of this because she had her eyes shut because she is not a fan of heights. We then came back to the villa and most of the children went in the pool however one of them was asked to write this blog.
Day 9 - LEGOLAND written by Parice (with a little help from Holly)
Today we had an early start, at breakfast we were all greeted by smiley faces made from fruit loops and plastic cups that the adults had created the night before. We sat down for a lovely breakfast of cereals and pancakes. After breakfast we got ourselves ready for the day ahead.
We set off for Legoland it took about 50 minutes to get there the students were excited but the adult’s (except the driver) fell asleep as they had been up all night creating smiley faces with cereals! When we got to Legoland we met two ladies who would be taking us around the park as we were lucky enough to be VIP’s for the day.
The first ride of the day was a nice gentle merry go round which most people went on. We followed that up with a slightly faster ride - the dragon ride which is a roller-coaster.
Michel-thought this ride was okay.
Parice- thought it was an okay ride too.
Then we went on the lost kingdom adventure which was a fun ride where you had laser guns that you had to shoot at targets if you hit the target you got points. We went on this ride twice an everyone was able to improve their score on their second turn.
Next we went beetle bounce which is a ride which went up and then dropped. Some of the students said it made their stomach feel a little weird.
When we got off the ride we were given plastic cups by our tour guides which we were told could be refilled throughout the day, there was like a million different flavours to choose from.
After that we went on coastersaurus which was a wooden roller coaster it was very noisy but a lot of fun, we liked this so much we went on two times.
After that we went to lunch we had burgers and chips and whatever drink we wanted as we had the refillable cups. We all enjoyed the food we thought it was really nice.
After lunch we headed to the water ride, we got absolutely soaking wet the C.W.S.N.F got us wet by shooting us with water cannons. However we got are own back by shooting water cannons at them. Next we went on a boat ride. The boats were difficult to steer and some of us got over taken by other people. Some people had to swap seats with the person sitting next to them in the boat in the hope that they would be able to steer a little bit better (it didn’t help).
Parice has had to go to bed so the adults have taken over writing the blog.
After the boat ride we headed off to watch the Pirates Cove live Water Ski Show. We were all impressed with the stunts we were less impressed with the pirates spraying us with water! During the show our fantastic guides went and got us all ice lollies which turned everyone’s lips blue or green depending on how much they managed to eat before it melted in the heat of the day.
We then headed to the Lego Ninjago ride where we all got to practice our ninja skills, we soon found out that our ninja moves look a lot like dance moves. Next on the tour of the park was a visit to the Lego models. We saw Lego New York, San Francisco and Washington as well as visiting the Star Wars universe where a few students had a close encounter with Darth Vader.
As the day began to wind down we headed to are final two rides Project X a roller coaster that everyone who went on it enjoyed, and Mia’s Riding Adventure which was most people’s favourite ride that we were lucky enough to go on 3 times.
Before we left for the park each student was given a small gift by our wonderful guides.
Once back at the villa we all had a quick swim, before having dinner and watching a film together. The students finished the night off with several games of hide and seek, all the students thought that Holly was the worst at finding people and Liam and Edward were the best at hiding.
Day 10 – Dr. Phillip’s School, Sea Life Centre, Madame Tussauds and Hard Rock Cafe
It was Operation Showers again this morning. We got sorted and were ready to go to Dr.Phillip’s High School just before 9 o’clock. The students were looking forward to seeing the school and the students who attended. When we arrived, we were greeted by a lovely breakfast of bagels, bananas and granola bars. We tucked in and then said hello as the students arrived. We saw the on-site farm and petted some of the goats in the pen and two gorgeous miniature ponies in the field. Dr.Philips was a large high school, they have over 4,000 students!
After the school, we went to the Sea Life Centre and Madame Tussauds. The Sea Life Centre was full of exotic fish – large and small – in tanks which had small portals to put your head in to feel as if you were actually in the tanks with the fish. Michael was amazed and loved looking at the turtles and sharks and pretending that he was swimming with them, he laughed so much. Towards the end of the route of tanks, the students were able to touch some sea anemones; however, the students weren’t so keen. Mr. Vadi then read the sign saying we weren’t allowed, he is recovering and so are the sea creatures.
Madame Tussauds was next door and next on our list of things to do. The students weren’t that keen at first but as soon say they began to see the different stars of screen, stage and song, they began to get more and more excited. One of the highlights was being able to be photographed with President Tump in the Oval Office. We were all slightly disappointed at how pale he looked – we were expecting him to be a lot more orange! Also his hair was hilarious!
Highlights for the students in Madame Tussauds:
Michael – running away from a T. Rex and being on the E.T. bike.
Jamal caught up with his football hero Neymar and struck a pose with Mrs. Gardiner and Jackie Chan.
Kaylie couldn’t decide her favourite so had her photo with practically everyone!
Liam put on the glasses to pose with Elvis.
Connor was as cool as a cucumber but had a photo with the Uncle Sam character – ‘Your country needs you!
Parice was not ‘Sorry’ to pose with Justin Bieber.
Edward loved to strike a pose with Elvis too.
Mr. Vadi and Holly became part of the Grease cast. Holly looked particularly good in the Pink Ladies jacket and blonde curly wig.
Jack was giving Steven Spielberg some directing advice!
Mrs. Gardiner sat next to Sheldon and said, ‘Bazinga!’
We then made our way back home to have some pool time before heading out to The Hard Rock Café for dinner. We parked at the Portofino hotel (a replica of the Italian resort) and caught the boat to the park – a lovely way to start the evening, although we were expecting to be squirted with water at any moment as per the other rides we had been on over the last few days! We arrived unscathed and headed to the restaurant. We were shown to our seats in the private area and were overwhelmed by the amazing food (and size of the portions!) Fortunately, we were sat near to the balcony so we were able to pop out for some fresh air and wave at the crowds below.
Dinner ended and we returned to the mini bus to wend our way back to the house. On the bus Connor tried to wind up Mr. Vadi whilst Kaylie fell asleep on Mrs. Gardiner’s shoulder.
The students were very tired when we got back and they were all really happy to get to bed. The promised game of Hide and Seek was postponed until tomorrow evening – which gave the students more time to think of good places to hide.
Tomorrow is Sea World and we are going to be walking a lot – therefore, it’s time to sign off and get some sleep!
Day 11 – Sea World
We were all a bit tired again this morning but we were all looking forward to our last big day out at a theme park. We arrived at the park ready to see all the creatures and go on the really fast rollercoasters and were happy to start with a chance to stroke sting rays. Jamal really enjoyed this but worried that the sting rays didn’t really like it. After this we went to watch the dolphin show. All of the students watched, mesmerised, as the dolphins performed amazing jumps, spins in the air and waved with their tails. (At the end of the day, Kaylie, Liam and Michael all said this was the best part of the day!)
The rest of the day was filled with rides on VERY FAST rollercoasters – The Moka and The Manta, (Fun Fact: The Moka roller coaster is the longest, fastest and highest roller coaster in Orlando!)
We watched two more shows – the orca whale show – Shamu and the sea lion show. The sea lion show was very cheesy but the sea lions were very lovely and followed their instructions well. One of the human characters was wearing a purple checked suit which Jack thought Mr. Jackson should have one like that!
Our last ride was the Atlantis water ride. We all got a little wet on that one.
Our day concluded with a photo around the Christmas tree…..!!!!! Yes – the Christmas decorations were up and Christmas songs were blasting around the park!
We headed home, picking up some dinner on the way. After having a lovely conversation around the table about the day and what we enjoyed the most, we headed to the pool. Liam is still the handstand king….much to Mrs Gardiner’s disappointment. Jamal worked well to hold his nose to go under water and Edward was swimming almost the length of the pool under water with his goggles on.
We eventually got out and got showered. After a little bit of telly we went to bed – looking forward to a rest day tomorrow full of more swimming a little shopping and a meal out at Planet Hollywood.
Day 12 Rest Day and Planet Hollywood
What can I say?
Shopping for Liam, Jamal and Connor
We all had a gorgeous lie in this morning, waking up when we wanted to and drifting into the kitchen to make breakfast. No pancakes today as the Pancake Queen was busy catching zzzzs!
The students were champing at the bit to jump into the pool, so after a suitable period of time between eating and swimming, the students got changed and got their towels ready.
Kaylie popped out to the shop with Mr. Vadi first to spend the last of her holiday money and came back with a bag full of treats. The second shift of shoppers went to check out the trainer shops and they eventually came back with their own bags full of treats!
Back at the house, Mrs Gardiner and Holly played in the pool with Michael, Edward, Parice, Jack and Kaylie when she came back. The blow up toggles and rubber rings were put to good use again and Michael did well swimming with his goggles and snorkel. Another handstand competition took place and Mrs Gardiner won – but only because Liam wasn’t there! He can REALLY hold his breath under water!
Lunch was served at the house and it was good to sit around the table (which Jack had laid) and chat about different purchases made that morning, games played in the pool and what Disney Springs would be like later. We cleared away and went back in the pool until 3pm. There were a few wrinkly hands and feet by the time we had to get out and get ready for the evening – especially Edward and Michael who seemed to be in there the longest. Edward had tried really hard to use his waterproof camera to get some shots – we all hope they come out well!
We all got dressed up in our smart clothes and went to Disney Springs. This is where people go to shop and eat at different themed restaurants. We split into three groups to head around to different shops to spend the last of our holiday money. It was good to see Parice spend her money on something for herself and something for her sister – it had been a bit dicey as she found it hard to decide on what to choose. We were all very happy that she did find something at last.
We met the CWSNF members at Planet Hollywood and were introduced again to Mark who oversees the running of the restaurant; Jack was totally in awe as Mark had managed the restaurant owned by Arnold Schwarzenegger. Jack then recited a part of the script to him which really impressed Mark. One of the highlights of the evening (aside from the amazing food!) was the fact that we were projected onto the huge screen – with a message underneath. Jamal was overwhelmed when Mrs Gardiner explained that we were famous for five minutes. It was great to be cheered by the rest of the restaurant. Michael went up to Mark and had a really lovely conversation with him – it was great to see him display such confidence, something which has grown over the last two weeks. Connor continued to have a joke with the adults – calling their names and then not saying anything! It was so nice to see him having a laugh with us.
The meal came to an end and we had so much food to take back to the house we had 2 carrier bags with boxes in. It is fair to say that we have NEVER gone hungry! Quite the opposite! The CWSNF people have made sure we have had plenty to eat whilst we have been out and about, at the restaurants and even making sure we had enough money for the supermarkets.
We made it back to the house via a stop at Walmart. Whilst waiting for students to come out of the restroom, the students noticed the Missing Person board. This provoked some very interesting conversations about why we, as adults, have kept counting them, linked them to an adult, made sure they went with an adult to the restroom and were always looking around us like meerkats!
The students headed straight to bed as they were all very tired. Our last evening in Orlando has been a lovely mixture of playing and eating out!
Tomorrow is our last day which will include tidying and cleaning, packing, lunch out and possibly another swim! Because we will be busy, this will be our last blog. We will be heading to the airport around 5.30pm and we’ll have a snack before boarding the plane around 9pm with take-off around 9.20pm. The night flight will whizz us back to the UK for an estimated time of arrival of 10.25am. Staff from The Abbey School will meet us and bring us back to school. Staff at the school will call parents to inform them of our estimated time of arrival ready for pick up and going home.
It’s been an amazing experience for the students. We have seen them grow in confidence, try new things, be more organised and independent, tolerate each other and interact with us as adults in a really lovely way. It’s been a privilege to spend the time with these young people and see them have this wonderful experience. I know that they will be full of stories and memories which will stay with them for many years to come.
We will be in touch regarding the film. For now – it’s so long from Orlando and see you soon…on Friday!!