Posted in Florida 2016

18th December 2016 (Day 1)-Travelling to Orlando (with Video)

Just 24 hours after Rosemary found out she was heading to Disney World for Christmas we were packing the car and ready to head to Gatwick.  Long queues at check-in because the day before there had been a lot of flights cancelled because of fog.  It was still really foggy and we weren’t sure of what would happen to out flight at this time.  Finally, after about an hour, we were checked in, bags dropped and heading to security.

We got some breakfast at Garfunkels (which was OK) and while we were there the gate came up and looked like our flight was one of the few leaving on time.  So after a little bit of shopping we headed to the gate.

Gatwick
Gatwick

We were relatively late in arriving there and went straight through and onto the plane.  Always worry that all the overhead bins will be taken when it’s like this but in luck and plenty of space.

Ready for Take Off
Ready for Take Off

Our experienced trans-Atlantic traveler quickly settled down in her seat with headphones on and the movies playing before take-off.

Take-Off
Take-Off

Smooth flight and arrived pretty much on time.

Clouds over Florida
Clouds over Florida

Immigration was SOOOO slow and finally got through and collected our bags. Then  had to join another REALLY long queue just to hand in the slip that says we don’t have any vegetables. So very slow!  But finally, after getting the monorail and going down 2 flights of stairs we were finally able to pick up our hire car.  And no queue at Hertz!

Car was a Kia Soul which had a really small boot and we could only get one suitcase in.  Also a lurid green, which was the same as our last hire car.

Hire Car
Hire Car
A very green car
Our previous very green car

We drove the Hampton Inn we were staying at (the South Lake Buena Vista one and not the same one we stayed at last time, you can read my TripAdviser review by clicking here). Checked in fine and quickly in our room.  We’d booked a suite which didn’t have separate rooms but did have a lot more floor space.

Big Room
Big Room
Big Room
Big Room

We popped out to Perkin’s on SR535 (at the Crossroads area) for something to eat as we thought it would be quick and decent.  Unfortunately the service was massively slow and food took forever to arrive, and when it did one of the dishes was stone cold. We were so tired by this point we didn’t make a fuss but eat and left.

Back at the hotel it was time to collapse.

Time to sleep
Time to sleep

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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.

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.