Now we went to Orlando, Florida back in February 2018 & I wanted to do a blog post about what our plans were & whether we stuck to them & hope that this may help anyone that’s planning a trip to the Sunshine State Florida.
• TAKING EACH DAY BY DAY WITH NO PLANS. We didn’t plan our trip day by day, we just decided the day before each day what we would do however I think the best thing to do is plan your trip prior to going.
• 16 OF US WENT. Yeah, that’s right, 16 of us went being my parents, my brother, me, my partner, my 2 children, my sister, my brother-in-law, 3 of my Nephews, 2 of my cousins, my cousin-in-law & my second cousin.
CHECK-IN & FLIGHT PLANS.
• CHECK IN 72 HOURS PRIOR TO FLIGHT. We did do this although me & my sister had trouble checking in therefore we had to check-in on the day at the airport.
• 24 HOURS PRIOR TO FLIGHT YOU CAN BOOK YOUR SEATS & YOU CAN DO THAT EARLIER AT A COST OF £60 PER PERSON. We chose not to pay the £60 per person to book our plane seats well in advance as due to our huge party size it would of been expensive however we booked our seats the day before travel & we were all seated together thankfully.
• 23KG BAGGAGE ALLOWANCE. So we were allowed 23kg baggage allowance which we didn’t go over however if where you’ll be staying in Florida has launderette facilities I recommend not to pack as much.
• SUITCASE EACH. We all took a suitcase each meaning that we had 4 suitcases.
• KIDS HAND LUGGAGE/ENTERTAINMENT BAGS. I did the kids a back pack each and in that I added some things they could use for entertainment as well as some snacks. They didn’t use much of it though due to the onboard entertainment.
• WE FLEW WITH VIRGIN ATLANTIC. Love flying with them, highly recommend them.
• VERA ENTERTAINMENT SYSTEM. This was onboard on the back of every seat and it has movies, tv programs, music, games & a dedicated system for children also on it you could view the flight map, we used this quite a lot.
• HAND LUGGAGE. We were entitled to 10kg of hand luggage/carry-on each. The kids had a bag each and me & my partner shared a bag.
• MEDICATIONS IN HAND LUGGAGE. I have many chronic illnesses and my Daughter is on medication too and all of our medications were packed in our hand luggage for the reasons of if any of our suitcases went missing we still had our medications as well as needing them during the flight.
• TAXI TO AIRPORT. We went by taxi to the airport. Much easier.
• FLIGHT TIME. Our flight time was 11.30am meaning we arrived in Orlando International Airport at around 3.30/4.00pm US time which is 5 hours behind U.K. time.
• LONDON GATWICK. We flew from London Gatwick North Terminal. Not a very big terminal but there were places to eat and drink there, a few shops & a soft-play area for the children to play in.
• SPECIAL ASSISTANCE AT GATWICK AIRPORT. Because 3 of the children all have learning disabilities we were sent social stories which are always good for people with learning disabilities and they were each sent a lanyard each which was green with sunflowers on it and this symbolised that they needed special assistance with things such as not having to queue for security & able to be first on the flight.
• MY SON WAS SCARED OF FLYING. My son whom has learning disabilities was very scared to fly however he did it and was absolutely fine and the airport staff and flight staff were praising him and I think that really helped.
• FLIGHT TIME. Our flight took around 9 and a half hours.
• MEALS ON FLIGHT. We received 2 meals going- one hot meal and one afternoon tea/lunch.
• DRINKS ON FLIGHT. Staff came round around 3 times giving us drinks and you could go up to where the drinks part was and help yourself. All drinks were free of charge excluding champagne.
• KIDS MEALS ON FLIGHT. The kids could have a kids meal however please be aware that this needs pre-booking in advance otherwise the children will get a normal adults meal.
ON ARRIVAL IN ORLANDO.
• IMMIGRATION & CUSTOMS. You have to go through this, the queues were very long being that 2 or 3 International flights all arrived around the same time but they recognised the children’s special assistance lanyards & we managed to skip the lines & get through in around 30 minutes. You have to have your finger print and photo done too.
• CAR HIRE. We hired a 7 seater Dodge car from Alamo. I highly recommend you drive out there.
• CAR TOP PACKAGE. We went for the highest car package. You do get FREE car hire however we paid more to have sat-nav, full tank of gas & a booster seat for one of my nephews.
• WHERE WE STAYED. We stayed off Disney property at a hotel called Comfort Suites in Kissimmee.
• CLOSE TO THEME PARKS. The hotel was fairly close to all of the theme parks, around 20 minutes to Disney & 30 minutes to Universal.
• ATTRACTIONS NEAR HOTEL. Right near our hotel was Old Town which has shops & restaurants, car shows & Fun Spot.
• ON ARRIVAL AT HOTEL. We planned to unpack which we only did a little of, Walmart to do some shopping which we didn’t end up doing till the following day, dinner at Checkers (my favourite) which we did and it was super affordable & then bed.
• FREE HOT & COLD BREAKFAST BUFFET. This was included with our hotel booking & we took full advantage of it and they had a wide variety of things to choose from.
WALT DISNEY WORLD.
• MY DISNEY EXPERIENCE APP. This is a downloadable app available on both App Store & Android. On this app you can do all of your fast passes on it. Disney dining reservations, you can get attraction wait times on it, your Memory Maker photos & videos on it & more.
• MEMORY MAKER. This is a photo and video pass service. This includes all of your ride, character meets photos and videos etc. We got this FREE with our Walt Disney World tickets & it normally retails for $199 each person.
• MAGIC KINGDOM. We planned to spend 2 days here, 1st full day & last day. We did indeed spend 2 days here but instead of the last day like we planned we spent the second to last day here. I got to spend my birthday there too. We watched the Happily Ever After night show & fireworks and it was amazing and well worth watching.
• DISABILITY FAST PASSES. Because 3 of the children & myself being disabled we were able to access the disability fast pass service. We just had to go to guest relations in the Town Hall in Magic Kingdom to set it up and it was set up for the duration of our holiday/vacation, something we didn’t even realise.
• FAST PASSES. Even with the disability fast pass service you could still have 3 fast passes.
• WHEELCHAIR HIRE. You could hire out a wheelchair for only $12 a day and it’s a service we had to use once.
• MAGIC BANDS. These are like wristbands/trackers. On these your tickets are stored on them, fast passes, photo pass & more. If your not staying on Disney property then you have to purchase them but they are very affordable and super handy and I’d highly recommend them to you.
• FOODS & DRINKS. We planned to visit Casey’s Corner in Magic Kingdom to have one of their famous hot dogs but didn’t get a chance to but definitely will next time & they are HUGE but still very affordable. We loved having the Nestle Mickey Mouse icecream sandwiches which were $5 each and delicious. There was also the option of purchasing a cup and getting FREE refills however we didn’t do this. We planned to have a meal at Planet Hollywood however didn’t in the end.
• EPCOT. We planned to spend one day here which we did do. We watched the Illuminations: Reflections Of Earth fireworks which are amazing and well worth watching.
• ANIMAL KINGDOM. We planned to spend 1-2 days here and we spent 1 day here. We planned on watching the Rivers Of Light night show but unfortunately didn’t get to do it.
• HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS. We planned to spend 1 day here which we did do. We planned on watching the Star Wars fireworks however we didn’t get to do them.
OTHER THEME PARKS.
• UNIVERSAL STUDIOS AND ISLANDS OF ADVENTURE. We planned on spending 2 days here however we actually spent 3 days here.
• FOODS & DRINKS. We planned to have a meal at Hard Rock Cafe which we did do. We also planned to visit the Chocolate Emporium on City Walk however we didn’t get to do this. I planned on having a Krusty Burger which I had however personally I don’t think it was any different from a burger elsewhere.
• SEA WORLD. We planned on spending 1 day here which we did do.
• BUSCH GARDENS. We planned on spending 1 day here which we did do.
• WATER PARKS. We planned on spending 3 half days at 3 water parks however we only spent 1 full day at Volcano Bay.
• GIRLS DAY & BOYS DAY. Us girls went to Discovery Cove which was amazing and the boys went to the Orlando City Soccer Ground & NASA Kennedy Space Center.
• SHOPS. We planned on visiting the outlets, Disney Springs, Florida Mall, Mall Of Millenia & Dollar Tree. We visited Disney Springs, Florida Mall & Dollar Tree.
• FLIGHT. Our flight time was around 6.30pm US time. We were estimated to arrive back in the U.K. to London Gatwick at around 7.00am however we actually arrived back around 8.00am due to the adverse weather conditions from the Beast Of The East storm.
So that’s what our plans were and how we stuck to them or didn’t stick to them. Hope you’ve found this somewhat helpful and informative. Sorry it’s a bit all over the place but I’m sure you get the gist of it.
Have you been to Florida before? Let me know if you have and what your plans were etc in the comments.
As always thank you so much for reading.
Until next time,