Day 22: Bon Voyage | 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.]


Orlando, Florida to Gatwick, London with British Airways
September 4th, 2013

Here we are. The final day for our 2013 trip to Orlando, Florida, and one that is filled with not very much! After our last full day yesterday and visiting all the four parks in one day, we actually just ended up chilling out in the evening after dinner and all the packing did not get done! Eep! It meant rushing around like fools this morning packing all the bits and bobs we still had around the villa.

By the time we had faffed around doing that, it was more or less time for us to drive to the airport. On our first trip in 2011 we flew with Virgin and they have the benefit of a baggage drop at Downtown Disney. This meant we could go early in the morning, check-in our bags and then have a morning and a bit of the afternoon at a park before going to the airport. This time, however, we flew with British Airways and they don’t have such a luxury – and boy did we miss that! It would mean some clockwatching to get to the airport in time to get our bags checked in, and that’s another reason why we didn’t bother with going to a park (that and faffing!)

We waved goodbye to the villa and the community that we had called home for the past 3 weeks. We loved staying here in 2011, and again on this trip. We know we’ll be going back in the future, and I’ve actually pencilled in with the owner some dates in 2015, but sshhh, no one knows!

The last day on any holiday is always a downer isn’t it. As you drive past the places you visited, you know that you won’t be seeing them again for a long time, it’s all quite upsetting – well, it is for me at least! I love our holidays to Florida, and for 3 weeks we don’t have a care in the world! The drive to the airport is that slow, getting back to reality feeling!

The drive to MCO is about 40 minutes or so, so we left in plenty of time to get to the airport, drop off our hire car and go and line up. Whilst pulling our cases out of the car, we noticed that the holdall that we had bought the DAY BEFORE had ripped! I was fuming! There wasn’t time to go back to the 192 and complain, and it was basically $40 down the drain. I had no clue what we were going to do about checking it in, and hoped that the staff would have a solution!

Despite us being early to the airport, a queue was already forming at the British Airways desk, so I sat to one side with our six cases and hand luggage, whilst hubs and the boy joined the queue. As well as the ripped bag, we were also concerned that our cases were overweight. We did have to do a bit of juggling of stuff, and we knew that a couple might be borderline.

When it was finally our turn to approach the desk, the first thing I asked was for some help with the broken bag, and the gentleman got a couple of plastic bags and tape and we were able to secure it. Some of our cases were over by a couple of kilos, but we were not charged for this. A label was wrapped around the handle to say that they were heavy and their weight (for the baggage handlers I would guess), and we went on our way to grab some lunch from the food court. Nothing special, just McDonalds, and I wandered off to spend the last few dollars in my purse on some magazines to bring home.

Once we ate, we went through security – the line was huge. Nothing compared with what our first visit was like. We had to go through the full body scanners, and it didn’t like me at all. I had a couple of TSA agents come over and question me, and then needing to pat me down. Then put me back on the scanner and swab my hands and shoes. I laugh now, but wow, at the time, did I feel like a criminal – a horrid experience and I was nearly in tears. What’s worse, is that the reason that the machine went off, or so I was told when another agent came over was because of all the sparkly bits on my t-shirt – all I had to do was lift it a bit and I was scanned fine. Worse still, those behind me just went through the regular scan thing – including Steve and Liam, so it’s almost a farce as far as the full scanners are concerned!

This experience did put me on edge, and all I wanted to do was go home. Luckily the wait to get on the aeroplane wasn’t too long, and our row was soon called.

However, a thunderstorm was approaching. The pilot explained that the reason we had been taxing for so long was because the planes were being moved to the other end of the runway, but then it wasn’t safe for take off, so he was turning off the engine to conserve fuel! And all we could do was sit and wait. After maybe an hour, the pilot spoke again saying that we were having to go all the way back to the original take off point – arrrrrrgh! Then, when they showed the emergency procedure video the sound kept dipping, and boy oh boy was I feel nerves! I never ask for alcohol on a flight, but I did on this one!

Anyway, we took off without a hitch, and as the row of seats in front of us empty, Liam moved forward and had the row to himself. We all slept for much of the flight, and it seemed to go really quickly! I remember getting up to have a walk around and nip to the loo and thought “wow, only 2 hours left” Maybe the delay helped with that feeling – weird, but it felt like a very short flight!

I can’t remember what food we had on the way back, nor what I watched on the in flight entertainment. Although, I’m sure I watched a David Attenborough documentary but it hadn’t finished by the time we landed!

We touched down in the UK to good weather, and I sent a text to my dad to say we had landed – he was coming to pick us up. Whilst we were in America waiting to be allowed to take off, I had sent a text to him to advise that we would be later than scheduled.

After picking up our bags – the broken, plastic wrapped hobo bag survived the journey, and we walked out of the North Terminal to see dad waiting outside the Premier Inn where he had dropped us off just over three weeks ago. We then played Tetris with his car and our luggage – for a minute I thought one of us would have to be strapped to the roof ^_^

We told dad all about our hols to stay awake and try and beat the jet lag, and when we got home busied ourselves with unpacking – TSA had also opened all our bags – as discovered by the notes left inside them. Was not our day was it?! However, we did unpack all the American groceries that we brought back with us! Enough to last us until our next trip!!!

Stockpile

Going on holiday is amazing – a chance away from work and the humdrum of daily life to sun, fun and family time. But nothing beats coming home, to being in your own bed and seeing your family (at least it is for us!) We were going to be able to meet our baby niece who had been born the day we left to go to Florida, and I couldn’t wait to see our other niece who I had missed terribly too. Plus we had lots of pressies to give out, and no washing to do…the joys of staying in a villa!

Reflections of a second timer…

I did mean to do a similar section for our first trip, but never did, however, I am going to reflect on our most recent visitor as a second timer! My thoughts may well be all over the place, but I’m going to try and get them into some sort of order!

Not losing weight before we went, and actually gaining some did put a downer on the trip. It meant I couldn’t do as much as we did on our first trip – the level of walking, certain rides etc. If you are planning on losing weight, do it – you’ll be so glad that you did! I’m determined to get the weight off for trip number 3 in the summer, I’m not going to be miserable in the happiest place on earth because I got complacent and didn’t work hard enough.

However, an upside to taking things slower meant that we really saw things. The little things, enjoyed the atmosphere and the fact that we were there, instead of worrying about rushing around to do everything! I guess I had to find the good within the bad.

A teenager still loves going to Disney! He’s really looking forward to going back a third time – he’s a lucky kid ♥

August means rain. You know that! Remember to take towels in with you to dry off in the car on the way home. On one day we forgot to bring any – idiots, we should know better!

Book an early breakfast ADR for your first few days, you’re up at stupid o’clock anyways, and you get to see the landmarks in an empty park!

Take even less stuff than you think you need – I still think I packed too much :P

Get to water parks early – it makes the difference between finding a spot easily, or having to really hunt for one!

If you enjoy going to the same restaurants several times on the same holiday, try different dishes! And don’t be afraid to ask for take-out on leftovers or dessert! Similarly, don’t be afraid to say something (complain!) if something isn’t up to a standard you would expect.

Really explore Epcot World Showcase – I couldn’t believe how much time we could spend in that part of Epcot! There is so much to look at and try out, I think we could spend a day here no problem – in fact, we pretty much did!

Even if you’re not a planner, have some sort of idea of the rides/attractions in the park that you want to do. Same with Disney dining – you really need to book ADRs in the high seasons.

If you plan on writing a trip report, keep some notes while you are there – you will forget things! I’m going to do a better job of that on our third trip, like I did on our first!

And, I think, that’s it…if I suddenly get more pearls of wisdom, I’ll come back and share them.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my trip report for Back to the Magic 2013, and I can’t wait to be able to share our next one with you!


Read about the previous day: Day 21: Four Corners of the World – Hollywood Studios + Animal Kingdom + Epcot + Magic Kingdom + Dinner at Longhorn Steakhouse

Read about the next day: There is no more! It’s the last day of this trip report! Instead, go and read my pre-trip report for our next trip – Dine Around Disney 2014

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