This will be our third family trip to Florida; tLP's second, much to her confusion and disgust. She finds the concept that we existed before she did to be bizarre beyond belief.
We learned last time that whilst staying in Lake Buena Vista may well be cheaper than staying on International Drive, you can't really do it without a car.
We learned the first time that a week is never long enough.
And this time, we have learned positive lessons.
It is worth spending the night near the airport for an early flight, rather than getting up at silly o'clock in the morning, fretting throughout the drive there about the time it's taking and what might have been forgotten, and finally arriving more fit for bed than a mammothly long journey.
It is definitely worth doing a spot of research in advance, rather than rusting to the breezy assurances of the hotel receptionist, if you need a taxi large enough for two wheelchair users and a lot of luggage.
Flying from Gatwick as a group requiring special assistance is a dream. From the chap who hailed us as we got out of our taxi, to the pager we were given so we didn't have to sit in a corner waiting for our escorts, to the security staff who kept the girls and myself together even during pat downs, and who only made me taste the nicer of Mog's blends, the whole experience was much calmer and gentler than at bigger airports.
Sadly, suitcases containing miscellaneous articles including, but not limited to, wheelchair chargers, boxes of catheters, and small packets of saline are always going to attract attention, and they probably should.
Virgin Atlantic staff - medical engineering staff stuck on a neverending loop about the ventilator battery aside - have been absolutely outstanding. I think they've probably spent nearly as many man hours preparing for this holidays as we shall be spending on it!
Special appreciation goes to the cabin crew who repeatedly reinflated Mog's Burnett Support. We thought it was deflating itself, but I think the toddler sitting behind us may have contributed a little!
Mog managed the flight superbly. I'm sure the fact that we spent the night at the airport helped considerably. But I had come armed with pain killers, sedatives, muscle relaxants and assorted emergency meds, and she needed none of them. Perched on the very edge of her seat, wedged in by a wobbly Burnett and a stack of pillows, she kicked and grinned and enjoyed herself mightily.
Lesson learned - the financial pain of a direct flight is very very definitely worth paying.
The chap who greeted us at Orlando posted us to the front of the customs queue then disappeared to find our luggage. No queues no delays, and our friends who had been upstairs on the plane caught up with us in time to catch a monorail over to our shuttle and on to the hotel.
And the hotel had sorted rooms so we and our friends are close enough for the children to visit, but far enough apart that they can't hear the girl's early morning strops. It's all good, as is the make-your-own waffle breakfast.
Our more energetic friends disappeared off to take Jedi Knight training lessons this morning whilst we pottered around, picking up supplies and generally getting a feel for our location (ok, ok, by going for a long walk in the wrong direction before finding the short cut back to the hotel).
And in the afternoon, time spent finally meeting a family who have been net friends for a decade or more; the lovely Alesha and co. I'm writing this on my phone so can't link, but you'll find Alesha at Obtaining Mercy on the links over here--------->. Unless you're reading this on a phone, in which case you won't. But she's lovely, and her blog is worth reading, and she makes beautiful jewellery.
Lesson reinforced; the Internet is in itself neither good nor bad, but we can use it as we choose. And I choose to use it to connect to friends, and it turns out those friends are friends no matter what distance there may be physically.
I could put that more succinctly but it's late, I've been awake since 2.30, and I'm now typing as much to keep myself awake as to share anything useful with anyone.
The girls were on top form for the visit; tLP happy and chatty and keen to tell her jokes. One day she'll find a real punch line, but in the meantime laughter over the random surreality convinces her she's a master entertainer. And Mog decided to get very chatty, named her new toy money after Alesha, gazed long and hard at the handsome Isaac (but don't worry, L, you remain her favourite!), and told us all how much she wants to go to see Mickey and go shopping for a new dress.
Both girls fast asleep beside me here in our room now, as I blind type this; the light from the screen being too much of a contrast to the dark room for my eyes to proofread. Which is a rubbish excuse, but still, my apologies.
And now I must join them; I woke up at 2.30 Florida time and it's now 2.30 UK time and although I know I haven't, my body is adamant I've stayed up 24 hours.
A lovely restful day, and tomorrow we need to find a Small World, some Pirates, Winnie the Pooh, some spinning teacups, and a set of princesses. It's all good.