Posted in Florida 2015

24th July 2015 (Day 1): Travelling

Yes, we’re off again to Florida. We’ll be out there for 14 nights and left a pretty wet and gloomy London as you can see from the wet tarmac.

One advantage with Rosemary getting bigger is we no longer needed a full car seat, but just a small booster.  We picked one up for £5 in Halfords rather than hire one out there and it just hooked over my rucksack, so we could take it onto the plane if needed.  As it turned out we didn’t use it, so probably put it into the luggage next time to avoid having to carry it.

Flying Again
Flying Again

So about 10 minutes into the flight Rosemary settles in for the long haul with her headphones on, a movies and snacks.  Just got on with it and happy as anything just to sit and watch some films.

Flying
Flying
Flying
Flying

Guess we should have expected this as we worked out when we got home that these 2 flights bring her airmiles upto once round the world, so pretty experienced for a 5 year old.

Passing New York
Passing New York

We had an uneventful flight into the Orlando International Airport.  Customs was pretty quick as normal, although the queue always seems to be huge, and used the automatic machine to check ourselves through.  This meant we got to see the awful pictures the US Customs hold of us.  Guess being up for so long isn’t a good look!

We picked up our car (Budget rentals this time) and amazingly no hard sell to get a a bigger car.  Had booked an economy car and we ended up with an economy car.  This was the smallest car we’ve ever had in the US (a Mazda 2) and maybe in hindsight was a bit too small. We did manage to get one case in the boot but the other had to go on the backseat.  Will be interesting how we get the third case (at this time inside one of the large ones) in when it’s time to leave.  Still it’s just for one short journey, so we’ll work it out somehow.

hampton_inn_logoThis time we had booked a room at the Hampton Inn Orlando/Lake Buena Vista, which is quite close to Downtown Disney (now Disney Springs). As Rosemary is getting bigger we decided to save on the room and not get one with a separate bedroom but go for a standard room with 2 queens instead.  This was substantially cheaper, although we did get a massive bargain last time which we just couldn’t replicate.

We went for the Hampton Inn because they just seemed to get such consistently good reviews on TripAdvisor and are very highly rated.  Their rates are also very competitive, so we thought we’d take a chance (although not a big one) and booked this.

Bit shocked when we arrived to check in that we were the guest of the day at the hotel.

Guest of the Day
Guest of the Day

We got a little complementary basket with some snacks and drinks.

First impressions of the hotel were very good and we had a room right at the end of the corridor on the top floor which was possibly the quietest spot in the whole hotel.

We had a quick meal at a local Perkin’s that evening and straight to bed.

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Posted in Florida 2013

2nd December 2013 (Day 1): Travelling

Time to go to Florida again and this time we’ve got a little more time (14 nights compared to just 10 the first time) so we can pack a bit more in and see some more things while we are there.

So we left home and headed to Gatwick.  As we had planned ahead we were travelling this time with a car seat which I’d bought off eBay for the grand sum of £5.  Hiring one in the States ran to about $16 a day and as it is part of a child’s luggage allowance it seems like a sensible thing to do.  So I dropped Julia and Rosemary off at the front of the terminal with some luggage which could be loaded onto a trolley.  I then went and parked the car up in the long stay parking at the North Terminal and got the bus to the terminal with the rest of the luggage.

After checking everything in (including some confusion over the carseat, which the check in lady had put the wrong name onto somehow) we went through customs and security and got some breakfast. Fruit and pancakes seemed like an appropriately American breakfast.

Breakfast
Breakfast

We had only a little bit of looking around and it was already time to head to the gate.

Time to fly
Time to fly

And unlike our first trip, this time Rosemary got her own seat.  Which was a relief as she was really a bit big to sit on my lap for 9 hours the first time.

Time to fly
Time to fly

The flight was super uneventful and we watched some movies and in no time at all we landed in Orlando.  We had a bit of a wait going through the immigration lines (I think another flight had arrived shortly before us) but eventually made it out to pick up the car and head to the hotel.  Of course they asked us to upgrade and of course it turned out that they had no economy or budget cars available when we got into the parking garage.  But we ended up with a nice VW Jetta, which was very nice to drive.

Car collected
Car collected

We had booked a suite room at the Residence Inn at Seaworld through the British Airways sale.  At the time of booking the 2 room suite was cheaper than than the 1 room suite so of course this is what we booked for our stay.  We started to get a bit worried at check-in as it was taking a little while and we thought our booking had been lost.  Turned out that the check-in clerk couldn’t believe we’d got the room so cheap.  So looks like we got a good deal for our stay!

The room was really nice with 2 bedrooms, one with 2 queen sized beds and the other with 1 plus we had 2 bathrooms so there was never a queue in the mornings.  We had a good kitchen but the only problem was there was only 1 sofa so I can’t image staying there with 6 (or 8 people which is possible if the sofa is used as a bed).

Residence Inn
Residence Inn

Although it was quite late by this time we were all a little hungry so we went downstairs to the hotel bar and next to it was a little Pizza Hut and we got ourselves a pizza. Pretty sure I was more tired than Rosemary was.

Pizza Time
Pizza Time

And after that, straight to sleep having been up for about 18 hours.

Posted in Florida 2012

12th March 2012 (Day 1): Travelling

Here goes with our record of the trip to Orlando…

We flew out from Gatwick on BA, and booked long term parking at the airport car park.  We booked this well in advance and consequently it was very reasonable and certainly much cheaper than a taxi each way (in fact probably cheaper than a taxi one way) and much easier than getting the train.  Would recommend this route. Checked in (everything is self service these days but we wanted to change our seats if we could) and big kudos to BA as they had spotted we were travelling with an infant on lap and had swapped our seats already to give us a bulkhead seat. Had a quick walk around the airport.

At Gatwick
At Gatwick

And a bite to eat.

Coffee and Cakes
Coffee and Cakes

Got to the gate just as everyone was boarding (not quite at last call but pretty close).

At the gate
At the gate

And boarded the plane.

On the plane
On the plane

Rosemary was brilliant on the plane.  We had packed a lot of small toys to keep her entertained during the 9 hour flight but in the end didn’t need a lot of them.  I also had a lot of episodes of Something Special loaded on my iPhone and these really kept her entertained.  Would recommend the Fisher Price iPhone cover for your iPhone.  Together with some Peppa Pig stickers, which ended up on me, on Julia, on the seat, and pretty much everywhere, these kept her busy for 6 hours.  She then decided to have a nap and slept through landing and to the point of getting off the plane.

Asleep on the place
Asleep on the place
Asleep on the place
Asleep on the place

We cleared customs and collected our bags, although there is a really odd system at Orlando International Airport where you collect your bags but then immediately have to go up an escalator.  With 2 bags plus a child in a buggy we just couldn’t do that (and no lifts) so had to basically recheck our bags and collect them upstairs.  This really added onto the time to get out the airport. Got to the car hire (Budget) to pick up our car.  They always try to get you to upgrade but we had booked an economy car and decided that we would stick to this despite the girl behind the desk telling us we wouldn’t get two bags into the car (and we had a spare seat as there were only 3 of us).  Just how small are their economy cars?  So she comes back and says she’s has given us a free upgrade to a full size.  Of course when we got to the car bays there weren’t any economy cars up there.  So stick to your guns and don’t pay the extra and you may well end up with a bigger car anyway. So we ended up with a Hyundai Sonata.  Nice car but drove like a boat.  Never quite sure where it was going and felt like you were correcting the steering the whole time.

Hawthorn Suites

We had booked a suite room at the Hawthorn Suites Universal on International Drive.  Will come back to a quick review of the hotel in my next entry but generally a nice place to stay, although not an absolutely top hotel and it’s quite basic.  But friendly and nice facilities in the room.

So a very quick unpack and even though it was (in UK time) very late Rosemary was awake we went out to Perkins for a little bit of dinner.

Dinner at Perkins
Dinner at Perkins
Dinner at Perkins
Dinner at Perkins