Eeeek! Going on holiday is literally the best feeling in the world as far as I’m concerned. Waking up isn’t even that bad. I got to put my minnie mouse sweatshirt on in preparation and get all excited! Our flight was at 10am so we had really good timings as far as I’m concerned. We got to the airport about 7.30am checked in, had a mooch through duty free then we had lounge passes for Newcastle Airport so we just went to the lounge to chill. It was lovely we got free breakfast and drinks (although I’m not going to lie I did miss my staple holiday burger king hash browns).
Boarding time came and I was so happy because FINALLY 4 years after the original release (I think) I got to fly on a DreamLiner! Thomson did a little display at take-off to show you how clever the lighting system is etc. and I was mega impressed.
I was even more impressed when the person sitting in the third seat with us decided to relocate to the back of the plane so we could spread out a little 🙂
I was really jealous because Laura was super prepared for the plane with a bag full of all of the potential wires she might need on board; I will definitely be that prepared in the future! There was a portable charger, phones cables, headphone splitters, an adapter that changed the silly 2 bits for headphones on a plane to just one. Best bag ever!
If you have ever travelled to Orlando through the Sanford Airport you will know how terrible passport control can be! Luckily, the passport control wasn’t too bad, but the luggage took ages!
We had gotten a free hire car through Alamo when we booked through Thomson holidays. I had hired a car through Alamo previously and know that they have so much flexibility about what car they can give you, so we obviously talked the talked and got a ‘free’ upgrade. At the point of pick up we did ask them to add an extra driver onto the insurance so we could both drive, it wasn’t particularly cheap but it was something we thought would be worth it. (I will come back to this later).
Then disaster struck. As EE mobile customers we had changed our plans when they introduced the new USA data packages at the start of the year… however, we got there and it didn’t work! I know that sounds like I’m being really dramatic for no good reason BUT we were relying on it for SatNav and we had ZERO clue where we were going to get to Disney. It started to rain Florida style (i.e really bloody heavy), and we got lost.
However, that feeling of anger and frustration soon dissipated the moment we crossed that ‘Disney World’ sign…
Okay so I stole this photo because I didn’t have one but it’s an important moment
Now there was roadworks which was a little infuriating because it spoiled the magic a little bit, BUT, it was so exciting driving not the Disney World property (it was the first time I had personally done it).
The All Star Resorts are pretty much in the back corner of the resort but the fact we were staying on Disney made it perfectly fine; we passed the Disney World McDonalds to get to it haha. Check in was nice and quiet and only took a few minutes. We were given our magic bands that we had pre-selected our colours for, they were preloaded with our room key, fast pass AND bank card; super clever! We had also bought some skins for them to reflect our favourite Disney Princesses; I had Ariel and Laura had Rapunzel.
Let me tell you, finding our hotel room wasn’t easy. However, we did feel a bit like they knew us because they put us in the Broadway building! We were on the ground floor, which usually I would be a little bit nervous about but Disney is potentially the safest place on Earth so I managed!
There were Broadway show posters around the building which was pretty cool. Even better the they were all Disney ones; obv.
Both times I’ve come to Florida before I’ve found that first night gets sort of wasted. You’re obviously jet lagged, the time between landing and actually getting in to your hotel is always ridiculous and I usually end up just going to grab some food and having an early night.
This time however, since we were staying at Disney I planned we should go to Disney Springs (what used to be Downtown Disney) and get some food and have a little mooch just to get into the spirit!
We jumped on the bus service from right outside the hotel down to Disney Springs; it took quite a while I’m not going to lie. My God, the renovations really had changed it a LOT.Not only was there lots of new shops etc. but because of new buildings and stuff the existing things feel like they’ve moved (I know they haven’t I was just disorientated).
We had a reservation at the House of Blues so we headed straight there. We were early but they were super good and accommodated us pretty quickly. Although I made my first rookie error – I forgot my ID so was restricted to coke.
It is like a fact of life that you can never go wrong with a Phili cheese steak sandwich so I started my America adventure with one for old times sake!
Our next stop was the greatest store in the world – World of Disney. The biggest Disney shop in existence. As much as I love this store, it is also a little bit overwhelming that there is so much you don’t really know what you want to look at.
We mooched a little bit more, then accepted defeat to our jet lag and headed back to the bus depot to go back to the hotel.
The light was really pretty as we were leaving Disney Springs; although my photography skills from the bus were something less desirable.
The light was also still really nice as we got to the hotel and I have to share the pics because it makes the resort look so nice!
It was up bright and early to get to Cafe Mickey’s for breakfast (yes like an absolute child). If you want to do a character meal you definitely should book in advance. We booked about 3 months in advance for our breakfast. We chose to go early too so we could eat and be done in time for Magic Kingdom opening.
As you eat Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy and Pluto come around for photos and autographs. Kids literally love it, and grown up kids like us enjoyed it too. I’m glad we did it as our first morning as it forced us to get up; when we could’ve quite happily slept, and it meant our first character experiences were with the main group.
I would definitely suggest knowing in advance who is having pictures taken and in what order etc. as they are doing rounds as quickly as possible and we saw children too scared so missing out. Don’t be afraid to ask for a selfie either! We all know you get a better angle.
Character breakfasts are pretty expensive so make sure you get your fill from the buffet as it then can double up for lunch too; the Mickey waffles are always a breakfast favourite.
We then jumped on the monorail (from the station inside of the Contemporary resort where the cafe is). This was the most security I had ever seen at Disney as they did the bag search BEFORE you got on the monorail. I did appreciate the extra security but just be prepared if you’re in a rush to make sure you leave extra time.
Magic Kingdom is; in my opinion, the only place you should start your holiday to Disney World. If it is your first visit I would recommend getting the ferry from the main car park as the castle appearing across the lake is super magical. However, since we had been for breakfast at the Contemporary resort it wasn’t feasible for us.
I had never been to the Magic Kingdom in time for opening but I had been told/read that there was a new park opening routine. You now enter into the park and head down Main Street to the front of the castle where; at opening time, a show commences with all of the main characters.
This was my favourite picture I got of the show; how much do they genuinely look in love please??
Once the show is over, the park opens. Yeyyyyy!!! (Obviously you have to take advantage of the small crowd and take selfies in front of the castle first though).
Because we were super organised for our trip we weren’t particularly worried about what rides we got on because we knew we were getting on everything we wanted to at some point in the holiday. However, if you haven’t booked fast pass tickets there are a few options you can do. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is ALWAYS busy so that might be a good option to in the queue for first, Space Mountain is another. Or if you want to get on as many rides as possible aren’t really bothered about which ones, heading to Frontierland at the back of the park might be the best option for you.
We decided to go up into Fantasyland and start with some tradition; Peter Pan’s Flight, It’s A Small World and Mickey’s Philharmagic. We then headed over to Frontierland and jumped on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.
We had fast pass booked in Epcot for the afternoon (it’s Laura’s favourite park so we compromised on spending half of our first day in each), so we headed back to Main Street to have a mooch through the shops. Grabbed a little snack for the monorail from the bakery…
A Minnie mouse cake pop!!! I was amazed! And it was red velvet inside. And we headed over to Epcot.
We arrived at Epcot at the PERFECT time as Daisy Duck was just getting ready to begin photos. So we stopped for a quick one on our way in.
We then had a browse through the plaques outside because we knew one of our friends had a picture of her and her brother engraved. God they are hard to navigate. But we found her! Haha it was so funny!
Then into Epcot we went. Now, Epcot is one of those parks that most people will say is there favourite park. I don’t really get it. I think it’s because I’m a ride junkie and there aren’t many big rides; however, there are apparently plans to add new ones by the anniversary celebration!
Once again, if you are doing fast pass, Frozen Ever After is definitely worth booking. It’s the newest ride in Epcot so it’s always busy; plus it’s Frozen… It’s placed in Norway (obviously) around the World Showcase section of the park. It’s actually a really good log flume ride! I thought it was going to be a case of sit in a “boat” and just go around the story; like so many Disney rides are, but it had drops and everything! It was also musical. Winning all round.
Right next door to the ride you can go and meet Anna and Elsa! Once again the queue is pretty long but it’s in the shade which is a nice break from the heat if you go in summer.
Is started to rain in the afternoon; pretty much par for the course I know. So we took the time to go and meet some more characters before giving up for the day; to be fair we were also pretty sleepy from our jet lag and full packed day of walking.
We had left our car over at the Contemporary Resort so we jumped back on the monorail back to Magic Kingdom then went on the hunt for tea. We had decided before we came that we were going to keep eating meals in the park to a minimum; due to the inflated prices. So we headed out of Disney World and onto the 192; which to be fair is practically attached. And headed out on the hunt for Walmart and then food.
We opted for Chuy’s. Laura had never been before, and I had recently discovered it whilst in Texas in March. It’s such a good Mexican; and if you make it during happy hour there’s free chips! I introduced Laura to queso; which is my favourite, and grabbed a frozen margarita.
It was still raining and miserable. So we decided to call it a night, get an early night of sleep and be ready to head back out first thing in the morning!
Day Three –
Day three and back to Magic Kingdom! We got there early as it was extra morning magic hours for hotel guests. What was open was limited but we took advantage of meeting Tinkerbell as soon as we got in the park because she usually has a big queue! It is a little bit awkward meeting the characters when you’re a grown up because they want to keep the illusion alive and talk to you as if you believe it’s really them, Tinkerbell was super good at that… She commented on Laura’s purple hair and on my buns and super glitter bum bag which was a little awkward.
One bad thing about Disney is if you’re having a ‘fat’ day or a non-picture-esque day it’s just tough because you can’t miss out on a full day of photo ops haha. I had been really looking forward to wearing this outfit. Turns out it did not photo well at all and I looked roughly the size of a truck.
We had the seven dwarfs mine trails booked for first thing – which is such a good rollercoaster. It’s not particularly scary or big or whatever, but you sit in carts that rock as you go around the track. There’s also a section right at the end of the ride where you can see the statues that were in the original snow white ride (Laura taught me that!)
We then went next door to meet Ariel and play on the Little Mermaid ride (you sit in the shell and experience the story of the little mermaid WITH songs). Then it was time for a little bit of breakfast. Day three and we were breaking our rule about buying breakfast in the park. We went to Gaston’s Tavern in Fantasyland. I got the BIGGEST cinnamon roll ever!
It was pretty much the size of my head (evidently looking fat on photos didn’t have that much of an effect)
It was super hot! So we decided to just stick around the fantasyland section of the park and find as much shade as possible. Although this was my third trip to Disneyworld there were still a few rides I had never been on (Peter Pan was one of them that we went on during our first day in the park), and Winnie the Pooh was one of them.
It took quite a while for the queue to move, but it was one of those cool lines that had games for the kids to play whilst waiting. I obviously also found my own fun too… I decided to chill out in Eeyore’s house.
We played on the steamboat, teacups and the carousel too. Which are some of my favourite rides in Fantasyland even though they’re kind of cheesy and typical fair.
We only spent 2/3s of the day in the park before we headed back to the hotel to get showered and changed. This was because today was special. Jen and Amanda had come to visit from Texas!!! Eeeeeek!!!
We had such big plans to do whilst they were visiting but in reality we were still jet lagged and then tired from the heat and walking. We headed to Pointe Orlando to go to the English Pub for a drink before heading upstairs to get some food with music. There were loads of options of places to go at Pointe Orlando it was a really good choice!
Disney’s big ‘launch’ this year was the avatar section of Animal Kingdom. As you’d expect I was super prepped and booked a fast pass ASAP. We headed to the park for opening (8am) and after Laura grabbed a frozen coffee (to her dismay that she had to drink through a paper straw), we headed over to Pandora. I must say it looks AMAZING!!! So ridiculously magical.
We took a few snaps and headed towards Avatar Flight of Passage. Baring in mind the park had just opened and it was the crack of dawn, the queue was already crazy! Luckily our fast pass took us right on by.
The idea of the ride is that you are training to become a Na’vi and learning to ride a banshee. Ultimately, it’s a simulator but it’s so clever! The banshee that you are riding even breathes between your thighs! (That sounds rude but it’s not). You soar through the world of Pandora and nose dive off cliffs. So much fun & definitely worth a visit.
We didn’t plan to spend long in animal kingdom as we were heading over to Amanda & Jen’s hotel for a day by the pool. But we thought we would take advantage of our early arrival and jump on Kilimanjaro Safaris and Expedition Everest.
Somehow, the first time I came to Disney I totally missed the safari. Seriously, me who loves to see animals! It’s really cool. You jump on a safari truck and have your own guide who talks you around the park. Obviously, it’s not a REAL safari but the animals have big enclosures that you get to drive through. The giraffes are my favourite because they just come to check you out; and stand in the road so you can’t go past…
By 10am we were back in the car (which was scorching hot already), and on our way over to Jen & Amanda’s hotel. They were staying at Sheraton Vistana Village in a lovely two bedroom apartment. There were quite a few pools but we opted for the adults only so we could drink and chill in piece. Jen and Amanda went to the bar to get cocktails. This is what I received…
… a coconut carved into the shape of a monkey with my cocktail in. Honestly, I don’t know why I was even vaguely surprised haha.
We did have a lovely morning/afternoon though just chilling around the pool. It was nice to just have time to natter without deadlines of having to go out etc.
Once we got too hot/bothered/tired however, we decided to throw some clothes on and drag Laura to Chick Fil A (as a rite of passage). Then grabbed clothes to shower and get ready to head to Universal Walk.
Our original plan was to grab food and have a night out at Pat O’Briens, however, none of us were staying particularly close to Universal so instead we decided to just go for dinner and some drinks. We were totally playing by ear though and hadn’t booked anywhere so we had a wander and opted for Vivo Italian Kitchen. There was a bit of a wait for a table, so we wandered a bit more; checked out the chocolate factory, then settled down to watch some live music.
I felt so lucky having 3 of my favourite people together in one place. Then the food was unreal!! (Although I did end up feeling ill and literally needed to go home before I vommed). It was so nice but then I had to face the sad reality that Jen and Amanda had to go home tomorrow.
Before taking Jen & Amanda to the airport we decided to go for Brunch (another American rite of passage). Brunch in Florida does not seem as alcoholic as Texas so it took some hunting to find somewhere we wanted to go. We ended up deciding on KeKe’s as it came highly recommended.
We thought we had gotten there early but it turned out there was quite a line outside, I think we may have waited about 25mins but we managed to get some seats on the terrace so it wasn’t too bad. Breakfast was yummy and although there was a screaming kid waiting to be seated for the majority of our meal it was thoroughly enjoyable.
Then it was the sad time; dropping Amanda and Jen at the airport. Honestly, it’s so horrible saying goodbye to people when you know you won’t see them again for so long (9 months!!). It then became a worse day when we had to go back to the car hire people to negotiate the fact that they had robbed us. About 90mins later we ventured off back to Disney to go to Typhoon Lagoon water park.
Like I said I have been to Disney twice before but had never been to the water parks. We thought it would be the perfect way to spend a few hours in the sun. It is so stressful finding somewhere to set up at a water park and deciding what items you are happy to risk losing to theft, and which items you’re going to put in a locker to then have no access to at all… Because we were just planning to go on the slides really and not spend much time chilling, we decided to lock up our valuables so I didn’t have a camera for photos. But of course, in Disney they have photographers taking photos for you.
I have never witnessed photos worse than those you get coming off slides in Disney haha. Definitely made me realise I needed to go on a diet. They are so bad I’m not sharing them. However, the park is worth a trip. The new slice (I think it’s called Miss Fortune’s Falls) was brilliant and we got on everything we wanted in just 2 hours or so.
Then it was back to get dressed and ready for my favourite night time show… FANTASMIC!
Fantasmic is a water and light show held in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. It was very drizzly and sort of crappy when we got there and I was super nervous the show was going to be cancelled. We decided to head through some shops first and I purchased my necessary light up ears; which interact with the show!
We had fast pass tickets to the show so we could make sure we had good seats. So we went and found somewhere to sit (still not sure whether the show was going ahead) and crossed our fingers! We did get some Disney themed bottles of coke whilst we waited too which in true Disney fan style we loved!!! The diet coke bottles said “meet me at the castle” whilst the full fat coke said “Main Street’ – if only I liked Diet Coke!
Luckily, the show went ahead!! Honestly, I absolutely love the show. But because of the water, smoke, lights and fireworks etc. it’s really hard to get good photos. I took a few videos but I can’t upload them on here so this smokey image will have to do of some of the cast on the steamboat (I love that even Meeko from Poachontas is there).
If you do go to see Fantasmic you have to be super prepared for the exit! It is a huge crowd at the end of park hours and you need to be ‘on it’ – unless you want to go and watch the Star Wars Fireworks after anyway.
We were lucky though and there was a bus to our resort there just as we got out.
Universal day! So far we have stuck to the Disney parks, and because of parking and the distance we decided to try and condense Universal into just 2 or 3 days. So the aim of the day was to get all of Universal Studios crammed in.
We started with Diagon Alley. The last time I was here the Diagon Alley part of Harry Potter World was built but not open. I was lucky enough to get a preview of the Hogwarts Express ride on a ‘test ride’ but had to turn around in the train station and go straight back. So I was super excited; I even adorned my men’s Harry Potter t-shirt from Primark I decided to wear as a dress for the occassion.
It has been designed soooooo well! I couldn’t believe it. You literally have to go through a hidden entrance from London into Diagon Alley. We headed straight to the Escape From Gringott’s ride which did not disappoint!!
You enter underneath the (sometimes) fire breathing dragon, and into a hall full of robotic goblins. They are so lifelike it’s crazy! The rid itself is amazing too! You get in a cart and fly around the banking levels of gringotts and get chased by dragons! I loved it.
We then found Knockturn alley and ventured through all of the shops. Although the Hogwarts castle is breath taking over in Hogsmeade, the level of detail they put into Diagon Alley just doesn’t compare. AND they have the Knight bus waiting just outside in ‘London’ too.
We then headed around the lake to Men in Black and the Simpsons; the classic rides. The weather started to turn for the worst though and it got black and stormy looking…
I managed to get my picture with Milo on the his bench though which is always one of my favourite pics when I go to Universal. I loved The Simpsons when I was little so that’s potentially why but I’m not even a fan now at all haha couldn’t tell you the last time I watched an episode.
We went round to do ET just as the heaven opened. Then were faced with the decision of whether to brave out the rain of give up for the day. We decided to grab some lunch then decide.
We had lunch in one of the random burger places which was the typical over priced crap and I remembered why I hate buying expensive food in theme parks haha. Afterwards, it was still raining, but we decided to make a run for it to the Transformers Ride which was at least indoors. The queue for it was HUGE!
However, it was still raining which forced us to just call it a day and head back to our hotel.
We had a meal booked in Epcot and really to’d and fro’d whether we should still go. But, we couldn’t cancel it and discovered we would be charged whether we went or not. So we jumped in the shower, got dressed and manned up and got on with it. Luckily, it stopped raining yeyyyy!!!
When we got to Epcot we had booked to go on the Nemo ride (which I had never been on before) so went there first. Although the ride was a pretty typical kids story ride, it was totally worth it. When you come through the end of the ride you go into the aquarium and VOILA THERE ARE DOLPHINS!!!!
I am such a dolphin fanatic it is ridiculous. I was literally like a kid in a candy shop. Laura was taking the mick out of me.
Granted, we were then almost late for our reservation because I was totally absorbed, but Laura managed to pull me away, and we headed to China to eat in the Nine Dragons Restaurant.
The menu was limited but the food was yummy! I also thoroughly enjoyed my cocktail; although Laura complained hers was too strong and she couldn’t drink it haha!
After food we stuck around to watch the World Showcase firework display. I have never really been a fan of Epcot, but after discovering the dolphins and watching the firework display my opinion shifted. The firework display was breathtaking. I do love a good firework display!
We decided to have an easy morning and a lie in was in order for both of us today. So once we did get up we decided to head over to Blizzard Beach which is Disney’s other water park Blizzard Beach. I definitely wasn’t as impressed with Blizzard Beach as I was with Typhoon Lagoon; although Laura preferred it. We plonked ourselves down on a little beach and slowly made our way around the slides.
We had a pretty chilled day; my highlight was sitting on a little chair halfway in the pool reading my book, then the bad weather came, so we left (pretty short story really).
I was excited for the nighttime though! As part of our attraction tickets online deal when we bought our park tickets we got free tickets to go and see La Nouba by Cirque Du Soleil. I had seen La Nouba the first time I went to Disney and absolutely loved it; to the point I have now seen five Cirque Du Soleil’s altogether.
Laura picked our restaurant for the evening which was the Rainforest Cafe. Now I’ve got to say, I wasn’t a huge fan, it was a little bit tacky for my liking but clearly I’m in the minority as they are all over the world and hugely popular! The food was really good though.
We then had a little mooch around the shops of Disney Springs before heading to the theatre.
As per usual, I was blown away by Cirque Du Soleil. I think Laura really enjoyed it too. But afterwards we were exhausted. We had booked into the late show so it was almost 11pm when we were waiting for our bus back.
Totally worth it though.
And a great first week in Orlando!!