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Old 4 Jan 20, 10:44 AM  
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Leyfy's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 11
Location: Essex
Return of the Pint Pointer - July/August 2020 UPDATE 07/03

So as I've already booked a few things for our trip next year (and I didn't get round to writing a trip report for our last Florida/cruise adventure. "I sat on round a pool/on a beach/cruise ship and read a book" doesn't make for the most interesting of trip reports! ) I thought I'd start a pre-trip for our next trip to Orlando.

If you've not caught any of our previous adventures you can find them here.

We are Kim and Phil.

Phil likes to do this:

I like to take photos:

We've been to Florida eight times since 2013 and love lots of different places there, including Key West and Naples. Last year to keep costs down we didn't go to Orlando and I have to admit I missed the planning and the theme parks, even though we had a lovely relaxing time (we did nine nights - one in Miami, four on a cruise and four in Key West). So this holiday was is going to be an all-out theme park extravaganza! It's also a big holiday as someone (not me!) has a BIG BIRTHDAY but we're not allowed to talk about that because apparently it's not happening!

We love the Boardwalk area and when free dining was released back in April booked five nights at The Beach Club with free dining and the $300 gift card. Those dates were booked as the 15th to the 20th of August, with the intention of it being the last bit of our trip before we flew home.

With the Disney bit booked, we worked backwards to sort dates for the flights. I've been saving Avios points like mad and had enough for flights to and from the US for both of us (along with my BA companion voucher). Using Head for Points they suggested booking the outbound flight and adding the inbound when they were free. The day the flights were released I dutifully booked two outbound seats on the afternoon BA flight on the 30th of July into Orlando (with the intention to return on the 20th of August after our Disney stay). Anyway, I'm in the middle of this two year course with work which involves two summer residentials. I headed off to the first residential (which was the last week of August this year) and on our final day they announced the course dates for 2020 - yep, it was when we were still away! 17th to the 19th of August, so right over our Disney dates!

So I got on the phone to Disney and managed to change our dates to check out on the 15th of August. Next up I phoned BA and after lots of backwards and forwards of checking various days and airports (as there were no seats left on the Orlando flights by this point) we ended up with flying out from Miami on the 26th of July and leaving from Miami on the 15th of August! Phew!

Ive been keeping an eye on prices for our 9 nights on International Drive and my plan was to book with Barclays rewards with Expedia, as I get 5% cashback. I also had it in my mind that wed like to stay at the Embassy Suites - we love the location at Pointe Orlando as its walking distance to lots of our favourite restaurants (Helpful when only one of us can drive - eg: me! ) and I thought that the free breakfast would mean we could keep our spending down as we tend to only eat breakfast and dinner. However, the prices were eye watering and I couldnt even find Embassy Suites on Expedia for the dates we were looking at! Id also been looking at a few other hotels in the area and had half thought about booking the Avanti Suites, but after reading a few reviews online I wasnt too sure and the price wasnt great. I was reading a few posts on The Dibb and decided to check out netflights (who I have used before). I saw an absolutely BARGAIN for the Rosen Inn, including breakfast. Less than 600 for nine nights! I was really happy with that price, so after a quick text consultation with Phil, that was booked!

Our original plan for the first couple of nights was to pick up a car at Miami airport, stay overnight at The Pelican Grande in Fort Lauderdale and then drive up to stay at a Disney value resort (probably All Stars Music) for two nights so we could head to Hollywood Studios for all the Star Wars stuff. Anyway, we had a couple of discussions about it and Phil quite rightly said that he wouldve literally have just finished work on the Friday and if he was going to have three weeks of trekking round theme parks then he would like a couple of days relaxation first! So we decided to stay in Fort Lauderdale for a few nights instead (we both preferred it over Miami). The Pelican Grande is a lovely hotel but quite expensive and all we want is a pool, access to the beach and near to Bokampers (a bar we found last time with great beer and food). So after extensive Expedia searching, we booked a couple of nights at Royal Beach Palace hotel. Three nights there cost slightly more than one night at The Pelican Grande, so its saved us a bit. Weve also decided not to bother hiring a car until we have to drive to Orlando, so that also saved a bit too. Plus both of us HATE driving round Miami (especially the airport) so that saves trying to navigate after a nine hour flight! We will get a taxi and then pick up a car at Fort Lauderdale airport to drive up to Orlando.

Ive booked a couple of little extras so far. First of all Ive booked the No. 1 Lounge at Heathrow with my dragonpass, which is only 10 for the two of us. We used the No. 1 Lounge last summer and it was lovely compared to Gatwick, really quiet and there seemed to be a better choice of food and more room to sit down.

Ive also booked Discovery Cove ultimate tickets in the Black Friday sale, so our SeaWorld and Busch Gardens tickets are sorted. Weve never made it to Aquatica, so we might do on this trip, but Volcano Bay is a must. We still need Universal tickets but Ive not seen any prices Ive been happy with. I know theyve opened a new water park, but I cant believe how much the tickets have gone up in price since our first visit together in 2013!

I still have two more things to book on the accommodation front too. I realised that Id booked the Rosen for one day less than Id intended. The intention was Rosen Inn, Royal Pacific at Universal for two nights then five nights at The Beach Club. We love the Royal Pacific but its soooooo expensive! We had a discussion about staying two nights at the new Aventura resort and one night at Royal Pacific. In the end we decided that wed stay at Royal Pacific for two nights, then one of the Disney preferred partner resorts near Disney Springs for a night, before going on to the Beach Club the next day. Although we wont yet have our Disney tickets well happily spend an afternoon at Disney Springs and possibly head over to watch the fireworks from the Grand Floridian in the evening.

So, still to do:

Royal Pacific resort
Universal tickets
One night at Disney springs
Airport hotel and parking
Book our ADRS
Make a fastpass selection list

203 days to go!

Thanks for reading

Update 02nd Feb
Update 15th Feb
Update 03rd March

Edited at 09:55 AM.
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