It’s taken me a few weeks since coming back to write this up! However, I really wanted to do a report because I love reading other peoples and we were able to get some great tips from other reports. This was our 3rd trip in 3 years, we only done Disney this time and without a doubt this was the best one by far. So here is our TR, apologies if it isn’t as exciting as some others on here, it may also turn out to be a long one! To try and keep it shorter and note the highlights, tips and ‘could have been betters’
It was me, DH, DD (9) and Niece (DN, 5). We flew from Gatwick with Virgin, having travelled from Northern Ireland the night before and staying at the Holiday Inn (reviewed separately). First time flying with Virgin and perhaps my expectations were too high but I wouldn’t deliberately choose to fly with them again. I’m a bit of a nervous flyer, even though I fly all the time (I find it’s getting worse as I get older!). We got on the plane to find we were on 2 separate rows and one seat each row was broken with a ‘do not sit’ sign attached to the seatbelt – aggghhhh! So we had to stand for 20 mins while they checked the log to see why they were broken. They moved 2 other passengers, who had paid for extra legroom, for take-off and landing so me and DD could have seatbelts that worked. We were able to move back to the original seats when the seatbelt signs were off. To be honest, I wasn’t that annoyed because it wasn’t the fault of the cabin crew, they did everything to keep me from totally freaking out. They even brought us complimentary champagne to apologise which helped with the nerves! Everything including car hire with Alamo (got 10% discount by booking online using BRIT code discount), went smoothly and we were at Disney’s Saratoga Spring (SSR) in no time! So, so impressed with SSR – reviewed separately. We got free DDP with booking – invaluable and so much food to get through in 2 weeks; we had many credits left over!
Overall holiday ‘magical moment’ – getting chosen to be the Grand Marshalls of the Celebrate a Dream Come True parade on 15th May! We were at the park for rope drop and getting some photos on the way to Splash Mountain when a Cast Member asked if he could take them for us. He was so friendly and we got chatting about all things Disney and after about 5 mins he asked if we would like to be Grand Marshalls – could not believe it! We have seen the parade so many times and wished we were in that car and now it was actually going to happen. We met him again at 2.30pm and he presented us with our Mickey ears, embroidered with our names and certificates! We got into the car and all the characters were high-fiving the kids on the ways to their floats. Our names were announced and the parade started with us leading! We had a Photopass photographer follow us the whole way so many photos to remember our amazing experience. We had so much fun and felt like Royalty! At the end we hopped out of the car, went into a roped off area, were supplied with drinks and watched the rest of the parade go past – all of the characters came over and hugged, waved or blew kisses at the children and the Fairy Godmother threw her sparkles all over them which they picked up and brought home! Such a wonderful experience and one that none of us will ever forget!
Dining Highlights - Earl of Sandwich (the Hawaiian was amazing, as was the kids meals and breakfast sandwiches), always packed but queues moved quickly. 1900 Park Fare breakfast, both children loved it, DN was amazed by the whole thing and both children were very proud when Mary Poppins told them they had lovely manners! Sci-Fi Dine In Theatre, excellent theming and great burgers, highly recommended. Cinderella’s Royal Table - food was lovely and we were able to use 2 dining credits instead of paying which included the photo package. Sizzlers – yes it’s a pile it high buffet type place but we love it! Locations at LBV and lower I Drive are the nicest ones. Boma breakfast – one word, amazing! Johnny Rockets at Pointe Orlando, we would not leave Orlando without at least one visit! Spirit of Aloha dinner show – food was great and plentiful, some amazing fire tricks, must do at least once. Mickey’s Backyard BBQ – so much fun, the ribs and corn bread were to die for! Free soft drinks, beer and wine. Characters were dancing with the kids all night and main show was great fun – everyone was thigh-slapping! This was crowded and not for the faint of heart because it’s every man for himself but we loved it! Portabello at DTD – I had the ravioli which was amazing. Kids were able to have steak here from the kids menu which was a nice change from chicken nuggets or pizza! Yak n Yeti in AK, really nice quick service with outside seating. Ghirardelli - get the choc milkshake, it's the best one you'll ever have. They got my order wrong a couple of times and gave free choc bars, without me complaining! Pollo Campero - great, healthy quick service with a Babycakes outlet - healthy cakes! Wetzels pretzels- a must!
Epcot Highlights - Soarin, always a favourite especially the part where you can smell the orange groves which takes the edge off motion sickness. Living with the land tour at Epcot – so interesting to see behind the scenes and DH, who grows his own vegetables, was in his element! Ragland Road – superb atmosphere and food. The Seas with Nemo and Friends – could easily spend a few hours in here. Illuminations. The whole of world showcase – you can just eat your way around the world so don’t plan on a lunch or dinner that day. Boulangerie Patisserie in France is of particular note as is Lotus Blossom Cafe in China.
Hollywood Studios highlights - Tower of Terror which DN LOVED (remember she’s 5!), Muppets 3D (I LOVE Miss Piggy!), photos with Phineas and Ferb – the CM’s play games with the kids in queue, which can be long. Beauty and the Beast on stage – amazing show but get there early because it fills up fast. Star Tours – recently revamped and much better than before but beware motion sickness will be worse! Honey I Shrunk The Kids playground – nice for a little rest while the kids have fun. Indiana Jones was amazing as usual but they stopped the show halfway through because of a thunderstorm. Also love the Walt Disney; One Man’s Dream exhibit – if you, like me, are fascinated by Walt and Roy Disney and their brilliant-ness to have made all of this exist you will love this exhibit which is often overlooked.
Magic Kingdom hightlights – EVERYTHING! Walking up Main Street USA feels just as amazing every time! Bippidi Boppidi Boutique (BBB) - so worth the money to see the kids faces and they really felt like princesses for the rest of the day. Went to Cinderella’s Royal Table afterwards and their faces ached from smiling! Wishes Fireworks and the Magic, Memories and You show – such a special family moment. We tried watching from the other end of Main Street for a quick getaway after the show which worked however, some of the ambience was lost as it was difficult to see all of it – we should have bitten the bullet and got closer rather than being practical! Splash Mountain – walked straight on after getting into the park, Adventure Land and Frontier Land was empty until around 10am as everyone seemed to head to character meet and greets or up to Fantasy Land. The Teacups – a classic, DN has us going on again and again until we were nearly green! Monsters In Laugh Floor – love it. DH got picked on to be Mike Wazowski and played up to the part! Don’t go if you are easily embarrassed as they are sure to pick you as part of the show! Space Mountain – great but not for the faint-hearted. Tomorrowland Speedway – great for little ones, let them drive - DN had such fun as quite frankly she was a rubbish driver and we literally bumped our way around the track, by the end she couldn’t drive for laughing! Ice cream at Plaza Ice Cream Parlour!
Animal Kingdom highlights – It’s Tough to be a Bug, kids couldn’t believe we were ‘inside’ a tree! Show was different from the last time we seen it which was a nice surprise. Safaris are fab, great to be up close to the animals but get there early in the morning otherwise it’s unbearably hot. Expedition Everest for DN – she didn’t speak for about an hour afterwards she was in that much shock but she wanted to go on again during our next visit to AK so it can’t have been that bad for her! Flights of Wonder bird show was lovely and a welcome rest. Dinosaur – a lot of fun but really jerky so if you have a bad neck/back avoid! Festival of the Lion King – our favourite show.
Outside of Disney – Seaworld, good but starting to feel a little too commercialised however, if your other half is in the military your party (immediate family) gets in for free. If you do use this fantastic perk remember everyone in the party, apart from children needs photo ID (we had to drive back to the hotel for ours!). Managed to get in to feed and stroke the dolphins which was great and was enough to satisfy my need to get close to them without going to Discovery Cove. SHOPPING (!) – from Walmart, to Florida Mall and both outlets we got some fab bargains. Vineland Ave outlets were much better this trip. Boggy Creek Airboat rides – 2nd time doing this and probably wouldn’t do it again, it is great but much better experience the first time you do it. They also do a military discount for forces families (serving member go free). Celebration – just to sit by the lake to turtle and alligator watch! AMC Cinema at DTD - sooo expensive - $50 for the 4 of us plus popcorn, drinks etc. Also, just cannot come round to the idea of only salted popcorn being available! Although, the popcorn does have free refills.....!
Could have been better – not a lot but here are some observations; Turf Club at SSR, a bit bland and always seemed to be empty which isn’t a good sign. Innoventions at Epcot has the potential to be so much better, large space but not much in there. Character meet and greet in HS (near Disney Junior area) – skip this as the lines are so long – many of the kids there were not interested by the time they got to the front! Stitich’s Great Escape – was just weird, kept expecting something to happen but mostly it was just dark with gusts of wind blowing! Garden Grill at Epcot, just ok, very disorganised.
Tips – snack credits could be used for breakfast items and anything under $4.95 (although the plan states anything under $4.50). Get to MK for Rope Drop for a fantastic opening show where the Mayor of Main Street opens the park with his friends, the Disney characters. This will put you in such a good mood for the rest of the day! Bring your own costumes to BBB as there is a limited choice in the stores at Disney, which surprised me. Have the kids wear flat shoes with the costumes rather than the heels which looked very uncomfortable for walking around the parks and if your child is not used to ‘hair-up’ styles ask the fairy godmother to do it slightly looser as some children were asking for the style to be taken out after leaving the salon – soul destroying after paying so much! Also be prepared to pay an extra $12 when inside for a BBB t-shirt which they bring to the little girl in the chair and ask if you would like to buy it – it is pink and sparkly and of course the little girl will want it – and it is difficult to say no! If you are going to watch the illuminations at Epcot, we found the best place to see it was just outside of the Italy pavilion, we felt this was better than the preferred viewing location we had access to. Fast Pass the Princesses, Mickey and Minnie in Town Square Theatre then you don’t have to run around chasing autographs. Mickey’s Backyard BBQ finishes around 8pm so we had plenty of time to jump on the boat to MK and were right on time to get a good spot for the electrical parade and fireworks afterwards. Finally, take photo ID everywhere if you plan on buying alcoholic drinks. Disney, quite rightly, are very strict on ID and I got caught out a few times (I'm 31!) and wasn't able to buy margaritas! They wouldn't even let my husband buy two in case one was for me!
I could go on and on and on – we packed a lot into the 2 weeks - but I won’t! I’ve reviewed the restaurants separately also if that helps. Back in Disney at Christmas so some great new memories to look forward to! Thanks for reading.