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Old 16 Jan 19, 02:00 PM  
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Join Date: Sep 17
Location: Bournemouth
8 nights, 6 parks, 4 hotels for Lily's 21st - Nov 2018

First up Iíll give you some background on who was going on the trip and our history of WDW trips.

The Cast:
Me, Charlotte - 46 years old, happily divorced, cat loving, vegan, an obsessive holiday planner and long term WDW/Florida visitor. This will be my 9th trip to WDW, though that is over a period of 40 years now, Iím so old!

My daughter Lily; 21 year old Princess, shopaholic and her 5th WDW visit having been indoctrinated at the age of 3 months. This trip was all about celebrating her 21st. Due to her birthday being just before Thanksgiving we decided to go at the very end of November and for the first week of December this trip

(I cant seem to post photos on here at the moment as a new member so hopefully I can add some later)

Past trips:
1978 - My first visit aged 5 with my mum, dad and 1 year old sister.
1980 - with my parents and sister
1989 (when MGM studios, as it was then, first opened) with my mum, grandparents and sister.
1992 - with my then boyfriend
1998 - with my mum, husband, my eldest son Liam who was then 3 and my daughter Lily who was 3 months old.
2001 - 10 of us went for my sisterís honeymoon (obviously) and there was my mum, her boyfriend, sister, brother in law, niece (aged 18 months), me and my husband and our 3, aged 6, 3 and 2 year old Lewis.
2007 - 10 of us again for mumís 65th birthday trip, it was also my daughterís 10th birthday and my nieces 8th birthday as the 3 of them have birthdays 3 days apart.
2015 - Lily and I went to Fort Lauderdale for her 18th birthday (and mumís birthday) for a week. We couldnít not go to Disney at all though so still fitted in a sneaky 1 day excursion to Magic Kingdom.

How this trip come aboutÖ
So Lilyís 21st was coming up. As my kids are older now I like to take them away separately occasionally, cos you know having 3 to take away is expensive and they still argue, plus its nice to spend quality time with them. Just to note at this point I had already persuaded my friend Tasha we should book a trip to Florida in late 2019 (basically because of Galaxyís Edge opening then but I didnít tell them that) with all 3 of my kids, her and her twin 8 year olds, and her Aunt and 21 year old cousin, so WDW in 2018 wasnít really in the planning.

2018 sucked for me. I have multiple health issues and they got progressively worse this year. Originally Lily and I were going to go to New York for 3 nights, this then changed to LA + Disneyland for 5 nights but as my health got worse I was really worried about how I would handle an intensive city break. I couldnít leave my sofa for days on end so pounding the streets of LA seemed an unachievable aim. So I punted the idea to Lily of a WDW trip for a week instead, cos obviously thatís a lot easier to do right! My thinking with this being I could go back to the hotel if we stayed on site and I could hire a wheelchair if needed to to get around. Lil was all good with this so decision made, Orlando here we come!

My plan
So to try to explain the madness that happened, bearing in mind this was meant to be an easier trip because of my health issues. I originally booked 7 nights at Caribbean Beach Resort, job done. Well obviously not, that would be far too simple, and I donít do simple. As we all know CBR was a building site so no one in their right mind was staying there last year, or so every vlog I then watched told me. By this time in the year though most resorts were booked up for the week. So I thought, Clarion off-site for 3 or 4 days, then Pop Century for 2 nights, followed by Port Orleans French Quarter for 2 nights as a Ďtreatí for Lilyís birthday, cos £175 a night hotel should be a treat obviously! But oh no the Princess was not happy with this. ďCome on Mum, just 1 or 2 nights in a deluxe hotel would be lovelyĒ. Sigh, I know she is a Princess of my making and it was her 21st, so the plan became Rosen Inn first 2 nights, Beach Club 2 nights, Pop Century 2 nights, POFQ 2 nights.

In Lilyís defence after I booked Beach Club and told her it was £306 a night she did say ďoh thatís a lotĒ, lol. (We didnít even get free dining because I left it so late)

Anyway hotels were booked and Disney tickets but I started feeling a bit sad we werenít doing Universal this trip. Then I started watching vlogs where people were saying about how the Universal pass you usually get from the UK only costs around $40 to upgrade to an annual pass. So I started thinking Lily and I were going the year after and would have to buy a Universal ticket then, plus Universal had an offer on where the AP was for 15 months rather than 12 (of no use to us but seemed a great selling point at the time!) I may as well pay out $800 for annual passes now for 2 trips, rather than £600 for one trip next year. So that was that, Universal Annual Passes bought, and as Lily decided to pay me back some money she owed me from 6 months earlier, and weíd only got a day at Universal I decided to buy us Express passes and a photo pass. There was also an Annual Pass offer for rooms at Cabana Bay for $99 a night, so again I thought good price and we get an extra hour in the parks, yep lets do it. So 2 weeks before we were due to leave I cancelled Rosen Inn, bought Universal Annual passes, express passes and booked Cabana Bay for the first 2 nights.

I had left this a bit late and sort of panic bought our flights. I actually like flying Norwegian Air but I still have a soft spot for Virgin (plus you get free booze) so I decided to buy flights with Virgin going direct to MCO from Gatwick and returning via Boston back to Heathrow. These were £385 each which I thought was ok, though in November they are usually a reasonable price but I had left it late. We had done non direct flights on previous occasions when the kids were little, and it wasnít too unbearable, and the time in Boston of 2 hours seemed not too short or too long so this seemed a viable option. I obviously regretted this later! I also gave in and asked for wheelchair assistance for the first time.

I was way more organised with our dining bookings than I was with the hotel bookings, or so I thought. I donít think I actually kept any of my original bookings from 180 days out.
Iím vegan and have a dairy allergy. I havenít eaten meat for 30 years and remember the dark days of visits to Florida where even getting a vegetable on your plate that hadnít been deep fat fried was just not gonna happen. Thankfully those days have gone now and I had been happily planning visits to many of the Disney restaurants that particularly cater for Vegans. Those on my original list were; Tusker House, Ohana, Trailís End, California Grill, Spice Road Table, Blaze pizza, Mama Melrose Fantasmic Package, Ale & Compass and Be Our Guest for lunch. I had difficulty booking BOG and CG, but everything else was all easy enough.

I used Touring Plans reservation finder and managed to get Be Our Guest for lunch pretty soon. California Grill was more elusive though, it seemed any time an alert came through it was around 3am our time and I was sleeping. Then as is my way I started tweaking my plan. I thought Lily and I would feel a bit uncomfortable with the character dining so decided to cancel Tusker House and Ohana, and change to Boma breakfast for the last morning. This seemed a good idea as we are staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge in 2019 so that would get us excited for the next year. I also decided that as Lily is a big fan of all things Christmas she would probably enjoy the Candlelight Processional (spoiler alert, she didnít), and Neil Patrick Harris was the narrator when we were there so I decided to book the Dining Package at La Hacienda de San Angel last minute.

Now usually when planning a Disney trip weíve been pretty strict about doing 2 days on, 1 day off for rest/water parks/shopping but as weíd fitted in a last minute Universal trip that was totally out the window. It meant I now had to fit the 2 Mk, 2 Epcot, 1 HS, 1 AK visits into the 6 full days we had available, so much for a relaxed trip this time!

So our final plan ended up being 8 nights, 6 parks, 4 hotels and being a non-driver we were ubering it everywhere.

Final itinerary:
Day 1 Fly with Virgin, check in Cabana Bay around 7pm and then off to Cowfish for Dinner
Day 2 Ė Universal and IOA using our Express passes, Cheesecake Factory for dinner
Day 3 Ė Dennyís for breakfast, shopping at Premium Outlets, check in at Beach Club, dinner at Ale & Compass
Day 4 Ė Breakfast at Grand Floridian Cafť, Fast passes in MK for Haunted Mansion and Space Mountain, relax at Beach Club then evening in Epcot and watch Illuminations while having dinner at Spice Road Table
Day 5 Ė Full day in Magic Kingdom; fastpasses for Big Thunder Mountain, Pirates and Splash Mountain, lunch at Be Our Guest, followed by the boat over to Fort Wilderness for dinner at Trailís End, then back to MK for Happily Ever After, then back to Pop Century
Day 6 -A relaxed morning and then into Epcot for the afternoon/evening with our reservation at La Hacienda de San Angel and the Candlelight Processional
Day 7 Ė A full day at Animal Kingdom, then transfer to POFQ and in Disney Springs for the evening with some food at Blaze Pizza
Day 8 Ė a late start and over to Hollywood Studios with a Mama Melrose ADR at 4, fast passes for RR, ToT and Alien Swirling Saucers, followed by Fantasmic and Jingle Bell, Jingle Bam.
Day 9 Ė check out of POFQ and go to AKL to Boma for breakfast and get excited for our next trip. Then the Magical Express to MCO for our flight to Heathrow, via Boston.

Woo, hoo Orlando here we come!

Edited at 03:52 PM.
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