Day 1: Come Fly With Me | Back to the Magic 2013

Back to the Magic Report Index (and here’s the Pre-Trip Report!)
[Today’s photographs can be found on my Flickr and the whole collection of days can be found here.]


Gatwick to Orlando with British Airways, Villa + Publix
August 14th, 2013

Premier Inn has “a great nights sleep guaranteed” policy, and we had a great nights sleep indeed! The air-con wasn’t blasting in our faces and it was quiet and dark – all essential for when sleeping in a hotel room.

Included in our room price was a buffet breakfast. So we got ourselves showered and dressed and made our way back down to the Thyme Restaurant which had a buffet area tucked away around the back.

It was your usual breakfast buffet affair with full English components – bacon, eggs, hash browns, beans etc.

There were cool dispensers filled with cereal, as well as ones you could pick up in packs (i.e., Weetabix), fruit, yoghurt and a selection of pastries and juices.

Hot drinks were self serve from the Costa Coffee machine located near the buffet area.

The breakfast was fine – nothing special, nothing bad – all as expected. Premier Inn, I feel, gave us a better night in a hotel than the Hilton did.

After brekkie we went back up to the room to freshen up and gather all our stuff to go to the airport. By now I was bouncing off the walls and itching to just be in the terminal waiting for the plane!

On the way out we passed a door that someone had clearly scared…it made me laugh every time we walked past the door!

We handed back our room key card – really a little post box could handle that job – as it was unnecessary time wasting! Down the lift and across the road to the terminal. And I mean literally across the road. I took this photo from outside the Premier Inn!

Up the travelator (because travelators are more fun than lifts!) and then past the check-in desk for British Airways – glad in the knowledge that we had done bag drop the night before *sunshine* It was pretty busy.

I grabbed a couple of clear plastic bags for the liquids in my handbag – a lippy, rescue remedy spray and a hand gel, and then waited in line to go through security. A beep free experience and through to the other side. It is always at that point that it feels so real, that we are really going on holiday!

With that reality though, I suddenly became super nervous and nausea hit me too. I took my travel sickness pills and squirted Bach’s Rescue Remedy on my tongue and started to feel calmer. I am not normally a nervous flyer, but was so overcome…not a nice experience at all. I requested that both my boys not talk to me for a bit while I calmed down. They went off for a wander, I hooked up to some wi-fi to check in and let my family know we would be boarding soon, and then we were off to the gate! BA is gate 57/58 from looking at the photo, I didn’t jot it down in my diary.

We were sat towards the back of the plane, so whilst the first class were called, we put on our flight socks and waited to board.

Having put on some weight for this trip I was worried about fitting comfortably in the seats, but I was fine, and had panicked and stressed for nothing. The loos were a bit of a squish, not gonna lie – how people get on with the mile high club is beyond me *smirk* I also did ask for the seatbelt extender. I had brought my own that a friend had leant to me, but it would seem I couldn’t use that one. It’s never a problem asking for one, and in all the times I’ve had to request one, it’s never been an issue for the cabin crew. I also had problems with the tray table this time around, but I was expecting that as I have my own spacial awareness of my size, so we just worked around that by sharing a table with my son who I was sitting next to on the flight to Orlando. I report these things so that you, if you are a size 26/28/30, don’t have to worry.

We sat back in our seats – row, erm 31 I think, and waited for everyone else to board and to taxi to the runway. We could start watching the in flight entertainment (IFE) as long as we used BA’s headphones – you could use your own once airborne if you wanted to.

Having now flown both Virgin and British Airways to Orlando I can compare the two. The IFE for BA was okay . I don’t think there was a great a selection as on Virgin, but there was enough there to keep us entertained on the flight. I watched 3 episodes of The Walking Dead, an episode of Red Dwarf, then The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, Oz The Great and Powerful and then a nature documentary as we were landing. I know that there wasn’t much that interested Liam as he asked to play on my iPad for a lot of the flight, as well as picking up his DS.

The take off was smooth, but I still squirted rescue remedy like it was going out of fashion and clung onto my hubby’s hand. I don’t know what the cause of the super nerves were, but once in the air, I was absolutely fine.

The familiar click clunk sound echoed around the cabin as the pilot turned off the seat belt light, and we waited for the drinks trolley to glide down the aisle. This is where BA had the edge over Virgin. BA had some crew going front to back and the others going back to front and meeting in the middle. It felt like an age on Virgin before we were fed and watered because of starting at the front each time!

It wasn’t long before lunch was being served. Liam and Steve both had bangers and mash, whilst I had pasta. Here are the photos of that part of the flight!

The bangers and mash came with some veggies and the starter was a mozzarella salad. We also had a bread roll and a bottle of water. Wine was available if you so wished.

The dessert was a rather nice pear and chocolate pudding.

After the first round of drinks, the trolley never came back round, instead the cabin crew walked around with trays of water and juice and handed them out – a bit odd I thought, but I imagine you could have asked for something else if you wanted it. I also saw people coming from the galley with snacks – crisps, biscuits that sort of thing. But they never mentioned it on the flight or brought anything around.

A few walkabouts to stretch our legs and then about an hour before landing, sandwiches were given out. We all had a chicken caesar salad sarnie, and oh my, they were goooood! No photo I’m afraid! But I do have my from the air photos…will they do?!

As we started the descent, the pilot told us that there was a storm and we would be experiencing turbulence…and made everyone buckle up – including cabin crew! The plane did do a couple of hairy drops, some kids (and adults) were screeching (screaming seems a bit too harsh of a word to use) with each drop and I heard a few [kids] shout out “are we gonna die?!” After a really smooth flight, it wasn’t a very pleasant descent and there was a big round of applause when the pilot safely landed the aircraft. He even came over the tannoy to apologise!

We disembarked and could feel the heat through the tunnel as we made our way to immigration. It was however, bucketing it down with rain! Another plane had landed at about the same time, so it was pretty rammed. There were a fair few bratty kids around, and I don’t mean the little ones running around, but some stroppy older kids. I felt quite sorry for some of the parents to have to put up with such mouth! I’d have kicked my boy back on the plane to the UK!

A Spanish couple, who were in front of us decided to try and cut the line…as we were snaking around a big gap appeared where someone wasn’t concentrating on it moving forward so the female of the party decided to duck under the tape and push in…she soon got sent back after a stern telling off from a fellow Brit, and skulked back to her spot in front of us. And then, after all that rushing trying to get to the front, then took their sweet ass time to shuffle along as the queue moved forward…ignorant people! Honestly!

After queuing for what seemed like forever, we were finally called forward. Questions included what we did, where we were staying and why were we visiting Orlando. Did we have any food or more than $10,000 dollars on us. Yes and no were those answers, so they re-scanned one of our cases (I had some Cambridge shake packs in my case) and we were then on our merry way. We each also had our photo and finger prints taken.

This time through the airport was a lot longer than last time, I’m sure of it – hubs insists it was longer the first time – maybe that time I was over excited and didn’t know what to expect, and just didn’t notice the time frame. This time I was dreading immigration, having read horror stories about the wait times…that probably didn’t help! (I also realise I used the word ‘time’ quite a lot in that paragraph!)

Onto the monorail and into the main terminal to go and pick up our car from Avis. We waited forever in a very short line to talk to an agent – it was not our day for speedy service let me tell you! No hard sell for us at the desk. We were allotted a Chevrolet Malibu which I was more than pleased with. The spec was Chevrolet Impala or similar (a car I drove last time out there), so I was excited to jump behind the wheel and get used to the car whilst the boys loaded up the car with our luggage.

We had turned the sat nav on when we landed, so it was ready to go by the time we exited the car park. We stayed in the same Dibb villa as on our first trip in Tuscan Hills, Davenport, and the sat nav took as a different route this time. We went through 3 tolls from what I remember, and avoided the 192 completely. A shame as was quite looking forward to seeing it all again – but hey, we’d be using that road every day of our holiday so no biggy!

As we pulled up, we smiled at the familiarity of the villa and felt ‘home’. There wasn’t the mad dash around the villa like the first time to see everything, as we knew where everything was! But of course, I took a few snaps for my report ^_^ It was also very lovely to see a card and bottle of bubbly from the villa owners. I have just re-built their website, and it was a thank you from them. Went down nicely!

It really was a case of dump and run – no sooner were we at the villa, we were back out and driving to Berry Town Centre to go to Publix and pick up some provisions and dinner for that evening. It was going to be Walmart, but I really wasn’t in the mood – the one nearest us is huge and busy, and we were all really tied and just wasn’t up for trolley wars!

Our essentials included loo roll, washing powder, bottled water, drinks, sandwich making stuff – bread, butter, ham, cheese, etc, snacks and hot chicken with side salads for dinner. A couple hundred dollars lighter (I also bought foody bits to bring home!) we were back at the villa tucking into fried chicken – which was a huge amount! I forgot that things are bigger in the USA, so a chicken wing isn’t a tiny little thing, but a huge pterodactyl sized wing! There were leftovers for the next couple of days…

I dropped my sister a text to say we were there and if she could just spread the word amongst those that would want to know and we then found our beds to fall into!

And finally, what is up with inanimate objects being scared today?!


Read about the previous day: Day 0: T-Minus – Gatwick North Premier Inn

Read about the next day: Day 1: Come Fly With Me – Gatwick to Orlando with British Airways, Villa + Publix

Read ALL the days! Back to the Magic Trip Report Index 2013