Go Back   theDIBB > DIBB Members Trip Reports > Walt Disney World and Florida Trip Reports > Pre-Trip Reports
Forgotten Password?
Notices
Florida Tix
Reply
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Unread 8 Sep 18, 08:53 PM  
Link to this Post
#1
Man v Disney
Getting Excited
 
Join Date: Jun 15
Man v Disney Back once again like a Floriday Master - July/August 2019 - Updated 7th July

Hi again.

Three years after our epic four week stay we are heading to Florida again. Here is a link to our last report - 2016 trip report When I re read our last report we described it as a once in a lifetime going for that long (who doesnt! ).

The title for a report is always one of the hardest things to decide. Something relatively short that someone hasnt done before! Not easy on the Dibb, I can tell you.

As a teacher, when I mark homework I often listen to music and its been quite a bit of mid to late 90s classics recently!

I wasnt allowed the Faithless classic Insomniac or Prodigys Firestarter (!) as part of a title so we settled on something based on the classic Renegade Master! It felt right as we are once again returning to Florida and in a true Renegade style have sneakily made this another (almost) four week trip.

The Hows and Whys.

We had always planned to return in 2021 as it will be DWs 40th that year and our 20th Wedding Anniversary so a 2019 visit wasnt on the cards at all. In our last trip report we mentioned DWs Grandma, sadly she passed away in early 2018 at the phenomenal age of 97 and one of her final conversations with DW was that she wanted us and the kids to have fun, amazing experiences and make memories with any inheritance we got. Heres a picture of her with the kids, she was always asking after them and wanted to know everything they were up to.



We have decided to surprise the kids with another Florida experience, after all they will soon be at the age when they might not want to go on holiday with their mum and dad (eek, why do they grow up so fast!). It made sense to do this with them and make more amazing memories before they get too old. We have done a lot of walking holidays (Cumbria, Kinder Scout and the 3 peaks (proper version well 2 out of 3)) as well as some cultural escapes to France and Italy. So a return to guaranteed hot weather, fab food, amazing service and big cars in a country we understand and love is a no brainer.

The Whos

This trip will include the four of us, so it will be:
Jamie Man V Disney thrill seeking, food loving, primary trip author, this will be my third Florida experience.
DW (Han) loves Disney, chief researcher, food lover, secondary trip author, loves to surprise us and the most experienced of us all when it comes to Disney.
DS (Josiah - 14) liking rides more and more, will probably be taller than all of us by the time we go, enjoys food a lot, 3rd Florida trip.
DD (Eliana - 12) horse obsessed, loves coasters and most rides (not Tower of Terror! ), the more adrenaline the better selective food eater, also 3rd Florida trip.

Here we were on the last trip:

and this was us over this summer (spot the growing kids!)


The Plans

Monday 22nd July. Travel down to London and stay at the Crowne Plaza hotel near Gatwick. Hopefully drop our suitcases off the night before we travel and do all we can in advance.

Tuesday 23rd July. Fly out on BA2166 at 9.25AM. We arrive in Tampa International Airport at 1.55PM.

1 night in Tampa at Harborside Suites, Little Harbor, right on the beach in Tampa.

24th July. Drive to Caribbean Beach Resort and have a meal at Disney Springs.

25th - 29th July. When we hit the parks we will hit them hard for the 5 days, so trying to make sure we have got the worst of the jet lag out of the way.

Move to a villa for 3 weeks Sunny Palms Retreat. This looks ace and since booking it has been given preferred partner status with homeaway.com, so feel really confident we have another good one.

11th 12th August. Universal, staying at Loews Royal Pacific Resort.

15th - 16th August. Universal, staying at Loews Royal Pacific Resort.

19th August. Fly home on BA2167 at 5.35PM. Arriving into Gatwick at 7.05AM on Tuesday 20th.

Car Hire

Hiring a car again, a must if staying in a villa. Also, a quicker way to get to the parks than buses. Wed also be stuck in Tampa without it, so really we had no choice We have a Ford Escape (or similar) alongside our flights from British Airways.

This is an intermediate SUV and my car request. We could have gone smaller but I persisted in pushing for an SUV as I feel I need a bigger car when we are in the states. Rather than getting a sat nav (which would have added loads to the cost) we have decided to use the maps app on our phones.

Trip Report

We will be aiming to do a live trip report while away, like we did last time. It was easier for us to write the report as it happened, so that everything is fresh and we do not forget little observations or tips. In 2016, we found that it helped some people on their last minute planning for their trips too!

Over the last few years we have re read our report a couple of times and it has helped us remember fully what we did and kept the memories alive for us. Reading it again was our inspiration for wanting to write another one for 2019!

To be honest Id write one anyway, even if just for us and no one else read it. I looked at it again the other day and was amazed that the index had over 10,000 views. I dont think wed ever imagined that so many people would want to look at it. Its amazing and scary to say the least!



About the trip

We have got through the summer and the kids still dont know whats happening next year. They do know that we are going away for a few weeks. Han is doing a School Business Manager qualification over the next 18 months, alongside her job as HR manager and Admin co-ordinator across 3 schools. Josiah & Eliana have been told that we are going to need a long break to get away properly after such a busy year.

Im a Secondary Maths teacher and as you can all imagine, we rock up 5 minutes before the school day starts, lessons are magically planned by a fairy somewhere. Students behave impeccably all the time and I get to just sit and teach with no extra work whatsoever. On top of that as soon as the school day is done I can head home and sit down for the evening doing absolutely nothing. Or not! With Hans course on top of my usual crazy workload we have told them that a longer holiday is needed



We are planning to not tell Josiah & Eliana at all! (Have I said that a few times already... )

Rosemary, who you may know as DMIL from our last trip, is going to take us to London Gatwick on the Monday, we are flying from there to Tampa. We want to see how close to Disney we can get before they realise thats where we are going. In terms of flights we were happy for at most one stop and to arrive the day before so that we could get some of the jet lag out of the way. We also didnt want to feel pressure to land tired and to have to do something on the first day.

The kids wont find out what we are doing each day until it happens well only while we stay onsite. Once in the villa we will let them in on our plans for the remainder of the time (apart from one extra surprise).

We have 14 days of Disney tickets, 14 days of Seaworld/Aquatica/Busch Gardens tickets as well as a 2 week Universal ticket. We are going to do two separate nights at Royal Pacific Loews to get two lots of two days of Front of the Line passes a must for us in Universal to get the most out of it.

THE FOOD

In our last report we made a big deal about food!

Although we loved it, we said we would not do the Deluxe Dining Plan again. We thought it was just too much, however Josiahs appetite is growing impressively; he often out eats me at meals now. Im feeling the pressure to up my game

When we started looking at this trip we reread our 2016 report and saw that the 2 Table Credit meals were a real favourite for us.
So when they finally opened bookings in April 2018 (a week or two later than expected) we asked for quotes from everywhere on the condition that:

1) We didnt mind where we stayed (we will be out most of the days anyway, so the room is just for sleeping)
2) We did want the Deluxe Dining Plan.

We went for the cheapest option which gave us that, 14 day tickets, memory maker and the gift card. (We ended up at Caribbean Beach Resort, we have only stayed at Saratoga Springs previously). Our research since has shown us that the newly decorated CBR rooms are some of the best Moderate rooms available so we are excited that we are going to spend 5 days there. Also, the construction and improvement work should be completed by then. Hopefully, the gondola system which takes guests to Epcot & Hollywood Studios will be open.

As you probably know, the DDDP gives 3 table service and 2 snacks per day, which is a lot of eating!

Our plan is to only eat twice a day, but to do the majority of the 2 TC venues.

Its looking like this:

Wednesday

Later Lunch once we have driven up from Tampa Rainforest Cafe (1TC) We loved T Rex last time, a bit loud, but a great atmosphere. We have gone for Rainforest instead as the menu looks a little better but the atmosphere is still great. Itll get us into the mood and stretch our stomachs ready for the eating ahead. We are thinking of using the one at Disney Springs so that we can eat here using a TC but not activate our park tickets.

Thursday

Breakfast - Crystal Palace (1TC) We have been here for breakfast on the first day of each of our previous trips. Its a tradition! And we get into the park early
Dinner Citricos (2TC) Possibly our favourite overall meal of 2016. We had considered Cinderellas Royal Table and did this in 2012 as a breakfast and liked it, however the menu didnt blow us away so it lost out!

Friday

Early Lunch - Sci Fi Diner (1TC) Loved this in 2012, but couldnt fit it into our 2016 plans. Had to go again, great experience. We dont really have many burger options on site apart from this, so it happily makes the list.
Dinner - California Grill (2TC) Didnt go to plan in 2016 and needs another fair shot (with a shirt this time and bits of tooth not falling out! ) See the last report !

Saturday

Early Lunch - Sanaa (1TC) One of Hans favourites unique, delicious food a must for us.
Dinner Tiffins (2TC) Came out of left field as we hadnt really read much about it, however we have read only good stuff since discovering it. It would also appear we may be able to use this as part of the Rivers of Light Package, so an extra reason to try it.

Sunday

Breakfast The Wave (1TC) Our favourite breakfast of 2016 a must for us.
Dinner Coral Reef (1TC) DDs favourite from 2016, also a really great experience.

Monday

Lunch 50s Prime Time Caf (1TC) Loved this in 2016 and chosen because of its great menu and unique service.
Dinner Hollywood Brown Derby (2TC) One of our favourites from 2016, amazing food (and gets us the Fantasmic seating)

Once offsite in 2016, we settled into a routine where we would have breakfast in the villa, go to a park for opening, have a snack mid morning. Wed head out about 1.30 get a late lunch as most restaurants lunch menus are cheaper, then head back to the villa for 3-4 hours to rest. Return to the park in the evening when its quieter and cooler.

Once off site we will be eating out every day as there are so many good restaurants, some we are revisiting and others that we have heard a lot of good things about or have intrigued us.

This particular list (in no particular order) has changed on a number of occasions!

5 Guys, UNO*, Sweet Tomatoes, Perkins*, Steak n Shake, Teak Neighbourhood Grill, Millers, Golden Corral*, Cracker Barrel, IHOP*, Giordanos, The Knife, Kekes*, Olive Garden, Bahama Breeze, Cheesecake Factory*, Dr Suess (Universal day), Colorado Fondue Company (Altamonte)*, The Cowfish*, Leaky Cauldron (Universal day), O Charleys*

The restaurants with a * are the new ones for us.


September update

Discovery Cove has joined the party as quite a number of the holiday elements have come in under budget and we can have a treat day there we all loved it in 2016. We were thinking that when we do our 2021 adventure we would come here, however that is going to be a West Coast only trip so if we were going to do DC, it needed to be on this surprise visit.

We have gone for a cabana again and will do a swim with dolphins for me and Eliana, but dont think well go for the package with the buoy again, that really would be pushing it!

I am well into tracking flights as well at present. My spreadsheet has been looking at holidays of a similar duration, using the same travel days and seeing how the costs are increasing as we close in on our actual dates. I have also been tracking costs booking directly with the airlines for the last few weeks for the full duration, as far ahead as they will book.

Manchester to Miami has looked the best for quite a while, most likely with Virgin and 1 stop on the way, probably at Atlanta. Although, that price continues to creep up.

Here is a copy of my spreadsheet if it helps, at least to see how the prices creep up!


** UPDATE **

Flights are booked! After months of tracking and monitoring, we have taken the plunge. Around the end of August we were able to search for our exact dates and this meant looking at every option! Flying out from London or Manchester to any of Miami, Orlando or Tampa.

Now, Tampa has always featured as one of the more expensive options compared to the others and we were preparing ourselves for a potential drive up from Miami.

However, when we came to being able to look at our exact dates we were in for a surprise. The cheapest option with any airline was coming in as London Gatwick to Tampa, direct with British Airways. This had always been one that was too expensive! We waited a couple of days to see if the BA end of summer sale was due and were in luck as it started around the same time. Tickets were booked using our British Airways Executive Club membership (is it executive if you only used BA once for a trip to Rome?) which gave us a little bit more off as well. We managed to get return tickets for less than 700 each (about 640 each I think) and add a car for the entire trip (car was about 750), all through the BA website.

As we have the Executive club we were automatically given an extra driver, so that we can share the driving if we feel we want to. BAs car partner is Avis, and having read some reviews and watched a few YouTube videos we decided to investigate the Avis preferred option to save us battling at the desk over unwanted insurance etc. Han signed us up for this for free online, which means when we get through immigration and have our cases we can straight to the garage, rather than wait around in a queue!



We also changed some money over to dollars, which we are going to do gradually, on our Revolut card. The rate was 1.269, which compared favourably with what we could get elsewhere. The summary on The Dibb was showing most rates being 1.23-1.24 so we did slightly better with Revolut.

A treadmill has also been purchased to be used by us all to get our stamina up ready for the high step counts well get through!

That's where we are up to at the moment. Obviously, the onsite restaurants will depend on the availability when we book. So our ADR date is already saved in our diaries!

Excited to be going again - and remember if you happen to see us around, please don't tell the kids!
__________________
Trip 1: 2 weeks SSR with DDP 2012
Trip 2: 4 weeks SSR and villa with DDDP 2016
Trip 3: 4 weeks CBR (1) / Villa (3) with DDDP 2019

Edited at 10:09 PM.
Man v Disney is offline Boy Mouse Click to view Members Gallery Click to view Members Trip Plans
4 more weeks of fun...
Reply With Quote
Unread 16 Sep 18, 08:13 PM  
Link to this Post
#2
Man v Disney
Thread Starter
Getting Excited
 
Join Date: Jun 15
Update...

A surprise piece of information has meant that we need to book our ESTA's a lot earlier than planned.

It's my 40th in November and Han has booked a week long break over Christmas in New York as my present from her and the kids! And, we get to watch Hamilton on Broadway! I've been told about that, but the kids haven't and they will go crazy when they find out. Its all about Hamilton at the moment in our house.

I'm so excited as I've never been and ever since watching Home Alone 2 as a kid I've always wanted to go to New York, and ideally around Christmas!

So, ESTA's will need to be booked over October Half Term so that they last for both excursions.

Coming back to the Florida holiday, there is not much that can happen at the moment. I am watching a lot of videos about Tampa International Airport and the new Sky Connect so that I know exactly where we are going.

I've also been looking at the driving routes on the Tuesday and Wednesday to make sure I know roughly where I am going. From what I can see the internet is suggesting that there are not any toll charges between Tampa and Orlando. Is that the case?

I suspect that we may do the KeKe's breakfast in Tampa when we wake early on the Wednesday, before driving over to Orlando. This will free up a morning when we are in the villa to take it easy for a bit longer.
__________________
Trip 1: 2 weeks SSR with DDP 2012
Trip 2: 4 weeks SSR and villa with DDDP 2016
Trip 3: 4 weeks CBR (1) / Villa (3) with DDDP 2019
Man v Disney is offline Boy Mouse Click to view Members Gallery Click to view Members Trip Plans
4 more weeks of fun...
Reply With Quote
Unread 23 Jan 19, 08:03 PM  
Link to this Post
#3
Man v Disney
Thread Starter
Getting Excited
 
Join Date: Jun 15
Food update - 181 and a half days out from arriving at disney, 1.5 days out from ADR booking:

Whoever thought that sorting meals could be so difficult! The days have swapped around so much as the Touring Plans and Dibb best day guides have been updated and refined. Meals have come and gone too!

We almost swapped Citricos for Narcoossee! Then we almost swapped Citricos for Be Our Guest Dinner! T Rex, Cinderella Royal Table have also been reviewed and discussed about possible inclusions. We think this is the optimum meal combo for us but who knows...

Wednesday: This is still Rainforest, although at one point in the last month T Rex came and went as an opening day meal...

Thursday: The first day in park is still MK. Crystal Palace breakfast, tea is still Citricos...is it Dinner or Tea or is that a regional argument!

Friday: Still Epcot. The Wave for breakfast has moved to today and new in for tea is Ohana!

Saturday: Its changed to Hollywood Studios. Early lunch at Sci Fi Diner, then tea at Hollywood Brown Derby.

Sunday: Its now Animal Kingdom. Sanaa in as an early lunch, followed by Tiffins for tea.

Monday: Its now Epcot. Coral Reef Lunch and Cali Grill tea.

In a nutshell, 50's prime time is out and replaced by Ohana (mainly because we have never been into the Polynesian resort and want to have a nosy around ). Lots of swapping of when and on what day too. In total, four restaurants that we didn't do in 2016, technically 5 if you count the disaster of Cali Grill. (See last trip report!)

I suspect that between tonight and ADR booking (40 hours and counting!) we will review again.

Then we can breathe until the FP date is nearing...while we will of course be starting to pack our suitcases with all the little bits and pieces we have got to make the trip amazing!

And best of all...the kids still don't know somehow...
__________________
Trip 1: 2 weeks SSR with DDP 2012
Trip 2: 4 weeks SSR and villa with DDDP 2016
Trip 3: 4 weeks CBR (1) / Villa (3) with DDDP 2019
Man v Disney is offline Boy Mouse Click to view Members Gallery Click to view Members Trip Plans
4 more weeks of fun...
Reply With Quote
Unread 23 Jan 19, 08:29 PM  
Link to this Post
#4
Eccle
Apprentice Imagineer
 
Join Date: Nov 10
It sounds like an amazing trip, what a great surprise! We flew into Tampa last year and im sure we didnt have any tolls

Hope you manage to finalise your ADRs. I am going in circles with ours!
Eccle is offline Girl Mouse Click to view Members Gallery Click to view Members Trip Plans
Portofino Bay, Beach Club and villa
Reply With Quote
Unread 24 Jan 19, 12:30 PM  
Link to this Post
#5
Kat11
VIP Dibber

 
Kat11's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 12
Mobile

Looking forward to this! Im torn between Citricos and Narcoossees? Weve been to Narcoossees before and it was fab, so not sure wether to stick with what we know or try something different? Im swayed to Citricos at the moment though I think?

Kat
__________________
DLP: Hotel New York-2008 & Hotel Cheyenne-2013
WDW: Villa - April 2011 & Villa - April 2014
WDW Onsite: OKW! - 1 Bed Villa October 2016
WDW Onsite: OKW! - 2 Bed Villa October 2018
WDW onsite: HRH/POFQ - October 2019
Kat11 is online now Girl Mouse Click to view Members Gallery Click to view Members Trip Plans
Fab4FamilyFloriday! HRH/POFQ
Reply With Quote
Unread 29 Jan 19, 10:24 PM  
Link to this Post
#6
Man v Disney
Thread Starter
Getting Excited
 
Join Date: Jun 15
Originally Posted by Eccle View Post
It sounds like an amazing trip, what a great surprise! We flew into Tampa last year and im sure we didnt have any tolls

Hope you manage to finalise your ADRs. I am going in circles with ours!
We hope its amazing too! What was it like going though Tampa Airport, it seems to be a popular hub airport for internal flights so I am hoping that the immigration is quick - there doesn't appear to be other international flights getting in around the same time. ADR's are sorted - about to post with our final selections!
__________________
Trip 1: 2 weeks SSR with DDP 2012
Trip 2: 4 weeks SSR and villa with DDDP 2016
Trip 3: 4 weeks CBR (1) / Villa (3) with DDDP 2019
Man v Disney is offline Boy Mouse Click to view Members Gallery Click to view Members Trip Plans
4 more weeks of fun...
Reply With Quote
Unread 29 Jan 19, 10:26 PM  
Link to this Post
#7
Man v Disney
Thread Starter
Getting Excited
 
Join Date: Jun 15
Originally Posted by Kat11 View Post
Looking forward to this! Im torn between Citricos and Narcoossees? Weve been to Narcoossees before and it was fab, so not sure wether to stick with what we know or try something different? Im swayed to Citricos at the moment though I think?

Kat
Hi Kat, I am about to update this with our final selection and Citricos won out for us - too many great reviews about it to not go for it!
__________________
Trip 1: 2 weeks SSR with DDP 2012
Trip 2: 4 weeks SSR and villa with DDDP 2016
Trip 3: 4 weeks CBR (1) / Villa (3) with DDDP 2019
Man v Disney is offline Boy Mouse Click to view Members Gallery Click to view Members Trip Plans
4 more weeks of fun...
Reply With Quote
Unread 29 Jan 19, 10:44 PM  
Link to this Post
#8
Man v Disney
Thread Starter
Getting Excited
 
Join Date: Jun 15
ADR's are booked!

After obsessing about restaurants and timings we have booked and already made a change! Fine tuning...

Our first selection on ADR day was as follows:

Wed 24th
Rainforest 2.30PM

Thu 25th
Crystal Palace 8.20AM - we wanted 8AM but this was the earliest available, we keep logging on to see if we can move it!
Citricos 5PM

Fri 26th
The Wave 9AM
Ohana 4PM

Sat 27th
Sci Fi Diner 11.05AM
Hollywood Brown Derby 4.30PM - the latest we could get on the Fantasmic dining package - a lot earlier than the 6.30PM we wanted.

Sun 28th
Sanaa 11.45AM
Tiffins 6PM

Mon 27th
Coral Reef 1PM
Cali Grill 8.05PM - Boom - this was the golden goose and we were well chuffed to get this time - what a meal to finish the dining plan!

Well, after Han had got these booked and let me know I wasn't entirely comfortable with the time between the Sci Fi Diner meal and Hollywood Brown Derby. I didn't want to hold back on a meal if I didn't need to, so by the time we sat dow in the evening I had hatched a plan!

I proposed a change of swapping the Sci Fi Diner and Wave meals so that we would have more time on the Hollywood Brown Derby Day. This would only work if we could push Ohana back, as we couldn't push HBD back.

A quick search produced great results!
The Wave is now at 9AM on 27th, Sci Fi Diner is at 11.05AM on 26th with Ohana pushed back to 5.15PM. It did mean we had to swap our Epcot and Hollywood Studios day, but a quick check on the Touring Plans webpage showed that this would have minimal impact!

So now we can start to think about timings for the days and Fastpasses! A spreadsheet has already been put together so once we have finalised a few more bits I'm sure another update will come!

Getting excited, going to cross off another day on our countdown to the summer!
__________________
Trip 1: 2 weeks SSR with DDP 2012
Trip 2: 4 weeks SSR and villa with DDDP 2016
Trip 3: 4 weeks CBR (1) / Villa (3) with DDDP 2019
Man v Disney is offline Boy Mouse Click to view Members Gallery Click to view Members Trip Plans
4 more weeks of fun...
Reply With Quote
Reply
Holiday to Florida with Florida4less

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Forum Jump

Attraction Tickets Direct

All times are GMT +1. The time now is 10:28 AM.


Powered by vBulletin - Copyright © 2000 - 2019, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Attraction Tickets Direct

theDIBB Menu


US Dollar Rates
ASDA  $1.2228
CaxtonFX  $1.2148
Covent Garden FX  $1.2314
FAIRFX  $1.2165
John Lewis  $1.2292
M&S  $1.1984
Sainsburys  $1.2213
TESCO  $1.2236
Travelex  $1.2142
Updated: 10:05 23/07/2019

theDIBB Charities
Cancer Research UK
DIBB Members have Donated: £10,130
£


Macmillan Cancer Support
DIBB Members have Donated: £1,085
£

Euro Rates
ASDA  €1.0923
CaxtonFX  €1.0863
Covent Garden FX  €1.0962
FAIRFX  €1.0870
John Lewis  €1.0976
M&S  €1.0686
Sainsburys  €1.0914
TESCO  €1.0934
Travelex  €1.0851
Updated: 10:05 23/07/2019

Orlando Weather
Florida Time
Tue 23rd Jul 5:28am
Now: 23C/73F
Mist
Mist
Cloud Cover: 20%
Wind: 2mph - SW Arrow points to where the wind is coming from.
Pressure: 1015mb
Humidity: 88%
Illuminations Smoke
Updated: 09:20 23/07/2019