Third Times A Charm – Our Highs, Not So Highs And Some Lows

We landed on Friday afternoon after a very smooth flight from Orlando (via Atlanta) with Delta. Having spent the weekend either sorting out our washing, goodies or sleeping, I thought I would put together some thoughts of our most recent trip before getting to work on our Dine Around Disney 2014 Trip Report! (you can read the pre-trip report here) It may be a while before I even start writing my trip report, I took 8000 photos this time around (a lot will be duplicates or blurry!) but it will take time to delete and do a bit of editing and collating of photos for my reports.

A bit of background, this year we went for 2 weeks (our two previous trips have been 3 weeks). We also stayed onsite at Disney’s Old Key West (normally a villa out in Davenport), we only went to WDW (and a day at KSC) and we upgraded our free Disney Dining Plan to Deluxe. So for us, this was an entirely different holiday!

And now, on with the highs!

Indirect Flights with Delta
This was our first time flying to Orlando indirect, and it went off without a hitch. Had just the right amount of time at Atlanta to clear immigration, pick up our bags, drop off our bags and go through security again to head to the gate for our next flight.

The service with Delta was brilliant. Several rounds of drinks, a meal, two snacks and more drinks. We upgraded to Economy Comfort (on the long haul part of our journey) and it was well worth it for the extra leg room. The plane was lovely and modern, with a good selection of IFE. Wouldn’t hesitate to book with Delta again!

On board out next flight!!! #orlando here we come!!! #dinearounddisney2014 #tppb

 

The Deluxe Disney Dining Plan
We paid to upgrade from the free Disney Dining Plan to Deluxe, and for us, it was so worth it! We had some fabulous meals, that we certainly wouldn’t have been able to afford otherwise, we bought lots of snacks to bring home as ‘free’ gifts for our friends and family, and we left having only 2 credits left – and this was because, the store at OKW said they couldn’t switch them to snack credits for us.

To give you an idea, I paid $1,871.10 to upgrade from DDP to DxDDP. After adding up what we spent on meals and snacks, even we were shocked… $4,687.88. We figured out, that on a 3 week holiday, we would normally spend around $2K on dining, snacks and groceries for the villa, that was my justification for upgrading (as well as knowing how much we enjoy dining out), and seeing those figures in black and white, I know how worth it is was – as well as all the great restaurants we got to try out!

We tended to have an early breakfast (although, by heck, did we get bored of breakfast food! so switched several ADRs) and a late dinner. Some days we would have a counter service lunch. Full details will be in my trip report!

We were eating fillet #steak and #lobster for dinner. Not gonna lie, the deluxe #disneydining dining plan is awesome! #dinearounddisney2014 #day2 #tppb

#lobster #lunch #dinearounddisney2014 #tppb

#desserts at #kouzzina by Cat Cora at #disney #boardwalk #dinearounddisney2014 #tppb #day3

 

The On-Site Perks
We loved that we could charge everything to our room, including the boy (he’s 15) without worry about who had cash on them. We could send stuff back to our resort, we got free parking at the theme parks, and of course the free magic bands which held our FP+ and dining plan credits. This would be the thing that would draw us back to staying onsite.

Watching Wishes from Three Different Locations!
It’s weird to say that we didn’t watch Wishes at all inside Magic Kingdom! We saw them though from California Grill, Narcoossees and from the boat dock at Grand Floridian. We also caught the last few bursts from Polynesian after the Spirit of Aloha show. It was awesome so see them from different vantage points, and I never realised just how far behind Cinderella Castle the fireworks are let off from!

Wishes from Grand Floridian-Citricos

 

Finally Getting My Mickey Balloon!
I’ve been wanting to buy one since our very first visit – and I finally bought one! I deflated it and brought it home!

3rd time lucky!!! Finally got my #purple #mickey #balloon #magickingdom #MK #waltdisneyworld #wdw #disney #orlando #florida #dinearounddisney2014 #tppb #day2

 

Character Selfies
It was my thing this trip to get selfies with the different characters we met – they were all up for it, and it was such fun!

#mickey #minnie #donald and #goofy #selfie #dinearounddisney2014 #day4 #tppb

 

Getting My Empty Cinderella Castle Shot!
Breakfast on our first day was at The Crystal Palace, before rope drop, so it was empty down Main Street and I got my prized pic!

Practically Perfect In Every Way

 

Kilimanjaro Safaris
We all really love this ride, and our tour guide was fab – very enthusiastic and knowledgeable, and managed to point out lots of animals on our safari – I think the most we’ve ever seen.

The Lion Sleeps Tonight

 

Kennedy Space Center
We all LOVED visiting KSC – had such an amazing day out, no crowds to deal with, a slower pace of a day, and such awe inspiring things to see. We all shed a tear when we saw Atlantis – superb! It was also nice to get out of the Disney bubble for the day.

Journey To Atlantis

 

Festival of Fantasy
The new parade is fantastic! So much better (I think!) than Celebrate a Dream Come True. So bright and colourful and full of magic and whimsy. Wish we could have watched it more than twice!

Festival of Fantasy

 

Villainy in the Sky Fireworks
The fireworks at the end of Villains Unleashed were out of this world awesome! The event itself, not so much, but again, will write about that fully later on.

Hell Fire

The Not So Highs


Our Homeward Bound Flight

Sadly, our Delta aeroplane from Atlanta to London was one of their crusty old ones. We were spoilt our our trip out, and it was a huge disappointment! However, the flight was super quick – less than 8hrs, and the landing time of just after midday, meant that we didn’t seem to suffer as badly with jet lag.

The Lack of Rain!
As seasoned August visitors, we were expecting some rain…we saw barely any! I know that shouldn’t be a not so high, but man alive, the rain brings that humidity down, and some days it was extremely hot – we all missed the rain!

Our Old Key West Room
I know you don’t spend too much time in a hotel room, but wow, was our room dark – even with the lights on and the blinds up. I’m a lover of light, so it was difficult in a dark space. I don’t know if all OKW rooms are like this, but this one was.

Fortunately, we were not biting each other’s heads off, but as a family who is used to staying in a villa, this was some transition, including, sharing one bathroom, one living space and one bedroom! Never again! It’s back to a villa for us whilst we still holiday as a family.

The view from our room was of the golf course, but if you looked in the other direction, it was of the aircon units (we were in 3823), so not very pretty, but not enough for us to complain about it.

We had to complain several times though, about leaking from the air con unit in the kitchenette area. Two days before leaving, they offered to move us but that was pointless, so they gave us a $100 gift card instead.

Miserable Waitress at Cape May Cafe
On the whole we had awesome servers at each of our meals, but our waitress at breakfast at this restaurant was just awful. She got a low tip because of it, and we feel no shame in that.

Not fitting everything in!
Two weeks was always going to feel like a squeeze for us, and it really was. We only got to Animal Kingdom the once, didn’t even tour Epcot World Showcase properly, never saw the electrical parade, missed several rides, and well, the list could go on. There are reasons for this, which I will discuss in my lows.

And finally, the lows

Villains Unleashed
We were all sorely disappointed with this event. It seemed to be over subscribed, the lines to meet characters were 2-3 hours long, the villains pre-show at Fantasmic was three awful ‘comedians’ trying to gee up the crowd (but failed), the merchandise was only available at one spot and sold out, the lines for drinks were up to an hour long, it was fantastically chaotic, and I heard people complaining about it whilst there and around parks in the following day or so. The fireworks, whilst amazing, did not make up for the lack of organisation, and my husband did email to complain – he wrote a very long email detailing our disappointment at the event, and to our surprise, they phoned us on Saturday to express their apologies and to offer us a refund.

It could have been amazing, but way too many people, way unorganised and just too long to wait for everything.

#disney #villains unleashed at #disney #hollywoodstudios

 

Disney Buses
I knew that buses were not going to be for us – we are a car family here, and why I thought we could manage without a car for a few days at the start of our hols is beyond me! But we wanted to give the whole onsite thing a try, so had arranged to pick up a hire car on our 4th day. Big mistake!

Not realising how long buses can take, we were often close to the wire or late for our ADRs. For our ADR at the Beach Club it took us nearly 2 hours to get from OKW to BC. We had waited 20 mins for a bus to Downtown Disney (on advice from the reception of how to get to BC), we got on it, and as it was about to leave the resort the driver announced it was going to AK. That is not what the front said! So he turned the bus around to drive us back to Hospitality House, where we had to wait again for a bus. Eventually got to DD, to wait for a bus to BC which stopped at other resorts first. I checked out my photo times to see if I was exaggerating the time when I’d mentioned this to our friends, and nope, we left our room at 08.32 and got to Cape May Cafe at 10:37.

After that debacle, we decided to move our car hire a day forward – none of us could take it any more!

Can't wait to get a car. The buses are a bit of a joke!! #dinearounddisney2014 #tppb #day3

 

The Amount of Construction and Hoardings
I know that there will always be ongoing improvements, but this year, everywhere you seemed to look there was something going on. With all the hoardings up around Downtown Disney, it felt very cramped in some spots, so we didn’t spend much time there. It was a shame to see hoardings near the castle at MK, as well as around the tree at AK, and well, just everywhere to be honest. I’m glad we were not first time visitors – that would have been so disappointing to see!

Being Stopped For Speeding
My bad, I was over the limit, and fortunately, the officer let me off with a warning. I never speed in the US, and had literally just picked up the car, put my foot down to overtake to exit, and then saw the sheriff’s car and lights. My exact words can’t be written on a family forum and I admit to bursting into tears. I had already been having a bad couple of days, and this was the icing on the cake. After that, I didn’t go 1 mph over the limit for fear of getting a fine, and made use of cruise control (which, I might add is AWESOME).

My Weight Gain Before The Trip
And how badly it affected me whilst there. I promised myself at the end of last year’s holiday, that I would lose weight for this trip. I didn’t (well, I did, but didn’t keep it off) and so resigned myself to the fact that I wouldn’t be able to do as much/walk as far etc. Little did I realise how much my weight was going to halt my abilities, and I felt everyday, like I had ruined the holiday for not only my family, but also for me.

I was okay the first day, but after that, things went downhill. I couldn’t walk very far without getting breathless and needing to sit down somewhere. The heat was overbearing for me this year, and so, with all the sweating, I got bad water retention in my feet and legs, which I’d never had before. And that hurt. I then got a huge blister on my instep and on my toe, and was hobbling around like a fool. Because of this, we missed rides and shows because I just couldn’t cope. I was adamant to my boys to go off and leave me, to do their thing, but they refused to leave my side. There were days when I really wanted to just hire a mobility scooter, just so I could get around without being in pain, but to me, that felt like I was defeated, and I would rather have taken things at a slow pace around the parks, than hire one. And so we did, and it was that slow pace that meant we just couldn’t fit everything in.

Just as my blister healed, my other foot decided to give out – I was less than impressed and having spent every day of the holiday either crying in pain or at my own failings (yes, I was on the one woman pity party train) I have vowed to not go back to Orlando until I have shifted the weight I want to.

So, if you’re one of those readers out there who is wanting to/trying to lose weight for your Florida holiday, my advice – DO IT. Just do it, you will regret it if you don’t, as I did not only this year but last year as well. A few stone off makes all the difference, which I know from my first trip in 2011 when I lost 5st.

The upside of all this, unlike other years, where we’ve all gotten colds and wotnot, we were all bug free.

Our last day in#orlando of #dinearounddisney2014 and spending it in #magickingdom #waltdisneyworld

 

Despite this lowest of lows, I, and we all, had a fantastic time on our third visit to Orlando. We did miss going to Universal/IOA and Aquatica, but staying in the Disney bubble for the perks and dining plan were brilliant. I think the fact that this wasn’t our first time, it made, not being able to do everything less painful to bear, and we know that we will be going back in the next couple of years, when hopefully all the work will have been completed!

A full trip report will come as soon as possible, but here is a list of where we went and where we ate – so any questions, feel free to ask me!!

  • Magic Kingdom
  • Animal Kingdom
  • Epcot – Future World
  • Epcot – World Showcase
  • Disney Hollywood Studios
  • Kennedy Space Center (inc. lunch with astronaut)
  • Blizzard Beach
  • Winter Summerland Miniature Golf
  • Disney Quest
  • Downtown Disney
  • Olivia’s Cafe – Old Key West Resort (dinner)
  • The Crystal Palace – Magic Kingdom (character breakfast)
  • Columbia Harbour House – Magic Kingdom (counter service lunch)
  • Narcoossees – Grand Floridian Resort & Spa (signature dining)
  • Cape May Cafe – Disney’s Beach Club Resort (character breakfast)
  • Kouzzina by Cat Cora – Disney’s Boardwalk(dinner)
  • Chef Mickey’s – Disney’s Contemporary Resort (character breakfast)
  • Flying Fish Cafe – Disney’s Boardwalk (signature dining)
  • Boma – Animal Kingdom Lodge (breakfast)
  • Sanaa – Animal Kingdom, Kidani Village(dinner)
  • Olivia’s Cafe – Old Key West Resort (breakfast)
  • Yachtsmans Steakhouse – Disney’s Yacht Club (signature dining)
  • ‘Ohana – Disney’s Polynesian Resort (character breakfast)
  • Warming Hut  – Blizzard Beach (counter service lunch)
  • Spirit of Aloha – Disney’s Polynesian Resort (dinner show)
  • Akershus Royal Banquet – Norway Pavilion, Epcot World Showcase(character breakfast)
  • Turtle Shack – Old Key West Resort (counter service lunch)
  • Whispering Canyon Cafe – Wilderness Lodge (dinner)
  • Fulton’s Crab House – Downtown Disney Area (signature dining)
  • Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue – Fort Wilderness (dinner show)
  • Hollywood Brown Derby – Disney Hollywood Studios (signature dining)
  • Rosie’s All-American Cafe – Disney Hollywood Studios (counter service dinner)
  • Cinderella’s Royal Table – Magic Kingdom  (signature dining/character breakfast)
  • California Grill – Disney’s Contemporary Resort  (signature dining)
  • Pecos Bills – Magic Kingdom (counter service lunch)
  • Tusker House – Animal Kingdom (character lunch)
  • Jiko The Cooking Place – Animal Kingdom Lodge (signature dining)
  • Restaurant Marrakesh – Morocco Pavilion, Epcot World Showcase (lunch)
  • Casey’s Corner – Magic Kingdom (counter service lunch)
  • Citricos – Grand Floridian Resort & Spa (signature dining)
  • Crossroads at House of Blues – Downtown Disney Area (lunch)