Day 1 – Up, Up & Away! {Orlando, Florida, Flashback Fridays}

4th August 2011
A rather stuffy night in the hotel, I heard Steve get up in the night to turn the air-con on, and it also felt like the longest sleep ever! I think I woke up ever hour – must have been the excitement!

The alarm had been set for 6:30am – we had V-Room passes and wanted to make the most use of them. Showered and dressed, we made our way to the airport.

I have to say, for an expensive hotel, in my opinion, it was no better than a Premier Inn and I wouldn’t stay there again. It was only convenient because of the walk to the airport.

As we walked past the check-in area, it was packed  – we were very glad to have done the twilight check-in the night before.

A quick scan of our boarding passes, through to security and x-raying of our hand luggage. Steve bleeped as he went through. After a thorough pat-down, he realised he’d left coins in his pockets -__- oh well, security crisis averted!

Down to the departures area and we popped into boots to get some meds for me as I could feel a cold coming on. We then made a quick pit-stop in duty free for a squirt of perfume.

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We found the V-Room quite easily – just next to the duty free shop…through the corridor, up the lift and into the lounge.

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It wasn’t very busy in there at all, and we had a great view of the planes landing and taking off. We sat right by the window at one of the lower tables to plane watch.

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Breakfast in the V-Room (which is included) was plentiful, with cereals, milk, yogurt, juices, pastries, eggs, bacon, sausage etc.

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Liam had a bacon sarnie and then disappeared to play on one of the computers, whilst Steve and I grabbed some brekkie and hooked up to the wireless. I spent some time going on the Disney forum and editing my photos on my iPhone.

Before we knew it, our flight was being called and we made our way on the travellators to Gate 21. I literally had enough time to put on my flight socks before our row was called and it was time to board our plane!

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The aeroplane was lovely and clean which I would expect since it was one of the new A330-300 Airbus. We sat in row 65, D, F & G…which we chose a while before our flight. They were the last row and right next to the loos. Handy, but may prove annoying as the flight goes on!

There was a pre-flight safety cartoon shown on the seat-back TVs which I found amusing (although, of course, it is a serious part of the flight) but I was still pretty nervous :( A smooth take-off gave me some confidence (not the best of flyers!), however someone a few rows in front required oxygen, not sure why…he was okay though by the time we were in the air – perhaps a panic attack.  With us now safely at altitude it was time to enjoy the long flight ahead of us! I hoped that it wouldn’t drag too much as I know that was a worrying factor of this journey for hubs!

The touch screen, seat-back entertainment system was great!

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Movies included: Paul, Harry Potter 7: Part 1, Gnomeo & Juliet and Tangled.

TV included: Family Guy, Glee, Doctor Who and The Simpsons.

Music CDs, plus games like Bejewelled, Pac Man and Poker.

Sitting at the back meant we were served last for drinks and food. Our lunch was served at around 1:15pm. There were three choices – mac & cheese, sausage & mash and fish pie. I went for the mac & cheese, and the boys, sausage & mash.

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No nuts on the plane these days

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The starter was a Greek salad and the pud was an ‘Uglies’ chocolate mousse. All well received and tasty enough for aeroplane – even though it looked quite unappetising!

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I killed time on board watching Paul, Gnomeo & Juliet and Tangled (omg, I’m so in love with that film! Every time I watch it now, it reminds me of this holiday!), as well as Family Guy, The Simpsons and The IT Crowd. Being able to choose what to watch really helps speed up the time! I did try to crochet, but it gave me a headache, so won’t be trying that again! We all took wanders up and down the plane to stretch our legs. We tried to have a little kip, but I think excitement got the better of us on the way out!

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Around 7pm we got afternoon tea – egg mayo or tuna mayo sarnies – possibly the two stinkiest sandwich fillings ever! Along with a tea/coffee and a cookie.

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We then started to make our descent, turns out we had clearance to land early and we made it Orlando in 9 hours!

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The flight length, which were all dreading, wasn’t bad at all and went a lot quicker than we though. The seat-back entertainment system was great – so great in fact, that my son didn’t play on his DSi once – and boy is addicted to it!!

The food was good for aeroplane food, but it is a shame that they didn’t have anything more plain for the afternoon snack as my son didn’t like a thing. Why caterers think kids like jam or cream cheese sandwiches is beyond me! I’ll remember to bring him something on board for the return flight.

Being at the back of the aircraft was convenient for the toilets, and thankfully, not too many crowded around which can sometimes happen on long-haul flights, and is a complaint I hear about those seats. We could easily go to the galley to get drinks, and there was all that space to stretch our legs.

Of course, being the last row on the aeroplane, meant we were the last people off…

We stepped off the plane and I could feel the heat through the tunnel! Amazing! We were finally in America!! We walked to immigration control, and there was a big snaking queue, but you have to get on with it don’t you, so we just joined the line. Eventually it was our turn and the officer who was cheery and friendly asked us what we did for a living, where we were staying and how old Liam was. We all had our fingerprints and photos taken, and then moved on to get our cases. Which we then had to put on another carousel to be sent to the terminal – saved us having to lug them onto the transport to the terminal.  We located our bags again, and went straight to collect our hire car…

The first thing to hit us was the heat! It was like an oven!! After the crappy UK summer, it was glorious to feel the warmth on our skin and see the sunshine.

We could pick any car we wanted from a row of cars, so I picked a white Chevrolet HHR. We could only fit two of our cases into the boot, so the rest had to go onto the back seat.

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I’ve only driven an automatic car once before, so took a moment to compose myself for driving out of the car park! Adjusting my mirrors and remembering to have my foot on the break pedal as I put the car into reverse. I tentatively reversed out of the car parking space and drove towards the exit. Our driving licenses were checked and our credit card was swiped.

It was a bit disorientating to start with, but soon enough I was relaxed with the driving. There were barely any cars on the road which helped! Went through a few toll roads and we all go very excited when we started seeing signs to Disney, International Drive etc.

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And then seeing restaurant signs and lots of “Oh look! It’s *insert restaurant here!”

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It took about 3 hours from landing, getting off the plane, through immigration, getting the car and the drive to the villa. A long time? Yes, but to be honest, we didn’t really notice!

We eventually found the villa and took the tour. We were impressed with everything and especially loved the homeliness of it. It was fun opening doors and discovery what each room held. Our bedroom had a mahoosive bed – I think I had to roll over twice just to get to Steve on the other side!! Liam went and picked out one of the three twin bedrooms to call his own for the duration of hour holiday.

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Saw the swimming pool and jacuzzi…we couldn’t wait to dip our toes into our very own pool!

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After the tour, we left our cases unpacked and went straight to Walmart for some supplies. We had written a list of essentials, and quite sad of me, but I was looking forward to going to an American supermarket!

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We stocked up on lots of bottles of drinks and water, cereal, bread and loo roll! There was a hot deli there, so we picked up something for dinner. We used our Citibank card, but was asked for ID, which, oh panic, Steve didn’t have on him…luckily, they were happy enough to accept another bank card and another crisis averted!

I take pictures of everything, so you will see lots of random photos in my trip report…like this one of pots of Philadelphia that we don’t get in the UK!

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And this one of snack packs!

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And this one of the hugest bottle of milk I’ve ever seen in my life!

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The drive home in the dark was a lot more tricky, and I nearly went onto the wrong side of the road…the horror!!

We had some dinner and then just crashed into bed at around 10pm. I woke up at 2am, then 3am…after a chat in the middle of the night to my hubs, we fell back to sleep and got up at around 8am. We Skyped back home (oh the wonders of modern technology!) to let them know we had arrived, unpacked and planned what to do for the day!

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All photos from this day can be found on my Flickr!

Read the next day:
Day 2 – Our 2nd Wedding Anniversary: Downtown Disney and Paradiso 37 Restaurant 

Read the previous day:
Day 0 – To Gatwick & Beyond!

You can find all the days here:
Orlando, Florida Vacation, Flashback Friday Series Index

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