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Unread 10 Feb 18, 02:58 PM  
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Mad Hatters
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The Mad Hatters in Florida May/June 2018 Pre Trip Report

Hello and welcome to our pre trip report. This is the first time for us to write up a trippy, but having read so many on here, we felt it would be nice to do one ourselves and give us something where we can look back on our days in such detail.

So, Ill start with a little background about us. We are the Hatfields. I have been to Florida 6 times over the years (2000, 2003, 2005, 2013, 2015 and 2016).

The trips in 2000, 2003 and 2005 were as a child, with my parents (mum, dad, sister and me). Then in 2013, my parents booked a big family trip for us, this was for my sisters family (husband and 5 kids) and for me and my eldest son Joshua. (It was booked before my wife (Grace) and I were together and before Trayvon (youngest son) was born).

2015 was our honeymoon trip, which my mum and dad joined us on. This was for 3 weeks staying at The Embassy Suites on I drive. This was Graces (wife) first trip. And she loved it. Certainly understood why I loved going there so much.

We decided to go back in 2016 just before Trayvon turned 2, meaning he didnt need a seat on the plane, which seemed like a good excuse to go again. This time we went for 15 nights and stayed at The Ramada Plaza, again on I drive. We did meet up with my parents for part of this trip, but they went out before we did and then flew home a few days before us.

We havent ever stayed on site at Disney before, but Ill come back to that later on. So, for the cast of this trippy..


Me (Adam) Age 30

I am chief planner and trippy writer. I work as a maintenance engineer. Everyone at work knows me for being organised and someone who loves to plan. I have to admit to how much I enjoy the whole planning for our holidays. Spreadsheets galore! Im always excited for the food out there too haha. Massive meat eater here, love steaks, ribs, burgers etc. Basically anything that isnt good for me. My hobbies include going to the gym, watching motor racing (big F1 fan) and I love football (Arsenal fan). I absolutely love going to Florida. My favourite park is and always has been, Epcot. My favourite character has to be Gaston. Think I must have a little man crush on him (cartoon version though, obviously). I have never been one for the bigger rides, but I am getting there, having concurred Space Mountain last time round. I was hoping to tackle Rock n rollercoaster this time round, though I am unsure if I will be able to. I was diagnosed with a heart condition early last year, but hopefully it wont affect the holiday.



Wife (Grace) Age 26

Grace is the artistic one of the family. She is the mother of Trayvon and step mum to Joshua. She has just recently started an administrative job. Her hobbies include reading, keeping fit and making craft items including clothing, house decorations and Mickey ears (she made so many that she has had to sell some, as we were running out of room to store them lol). Think she got a little carried away with making them. Like me, she is a massive carnivore. She generally hates salad and veg, so you will notice her food in the food pictures, with the distinct lack of greenery. Her favourite park is The Magic Kingdom. She is beauty and the beast mad, but also loves Merida from Brave. She loves all the big rides and so will be the one to take the kids on to the ones I am too scared to go on.



Eldest son (Joshua) Age 7

Joshua is my oldest son and is Graces step son. This will be his 4th visit to Florida. He loves all the usual things that kids love such as super heroes, playing on the PlayStation and Xbox, going swimming, star wars, Lego etc. He also enjoys going to a boxing club. When it comes to food he does well in trying new things. He is looking forward to having steak and lobster at Longhorn Steakhouse. He absolutely loves fruit loops so expect to see that as his breakfast pretty much every day of the holiday. He loves all of the rides and last time he really enjoyed going on Expedition Everest. Now he is a bit taller, he can get onto most things.



Youngest son (Trayvon) Age 3

Trayvon is our youngest son. This will be his 3rd visit to Florida. He also loves his superheroes. His favourites are Thor and The Hulk. He loves mickey mouse. and Donald and goofy and Minnie and pluto etc as he says when he is rambling on about Florida lol. He is a little slow with his eating and unlike all of us; he is obsessed with fruit and vegetables. Absolutely loves them which we are really proud of. He should be able to get on to quite a few more rides this time as he has grown quite a lot from 2016 obviously.



My parents (Mick and Sue) Both Age 57

My mum and dad will also be coming along on the holiday with us. We get along with my parents extremely well, my dad is my best friend, was the best man at my wedding etc. They both love Florida, this will be something like their 10th trip since 2000. My mum loves all things Disney and/or the colour purple. She doesnt do any big rides or some of the smaller ones either. Think thats where I get my wimpy side from. My dad loves Florida for the weather and the food. He loves the big rides. The only ride so far that he wont re ride is Tower of Terror which he hated. Grace intends to drag him onto this.



Our initial holiday plans

We decided upon this trip pretty much as soon as we got home from our 2016 Florida holiday. We looked to see if it was possible to do in 2017, but unfortunately couldnt make this work financially, so had to settle for 2018. We asked my parents if they would be interested in coming along with us again and they were very excited to know more of our plans.
So the initial plans were to do a split stay. None of us have ever stayed on site at Disney before, so this was a big part of the plan. Holiday timescales were flexible, but we really wanted to stay for around 3 weeks. Dates were to coincide with May school holidays. I started pricing up based on 2017 prices. Our initial favourite resorts were Coronado springs and Caribbean beach. Obviously, with the building works announced this changed our minds about them. We were hoping we would be able to get the free QSDP. We considered the DDP, but ultimately wanted the flexibility of the QSDP and would pay OOP for any TS restaurants. The plan was for a week at Disney followed by around 2 weeks on International Drive. On I Drive, we wanted to get a hotel with free transportation to the parks. We dont tend to drive on holiday (enjoy a few drinks through the day if we want, no parking fees etc to worry about). We also use Uber as and when we want to get to places. We never feel restricted without a car so doesnt bother us at all not having one. It is something we may do next time though as we may do a few days at the coast towards the end of the holiday.


Dates and booking

We ended up booking our flights in January 2017 with Thomas cook. We are departing on May 17th and our return flight is 7th June. We are flying from Manchester, direct to Orlando. When the free dining offer came out, we jumped straight on it, booking it through My Magic Holiday. Then in May, we booked our airport hotel for the night before we fly and our airport parking (APH parking). Even though we only live around 40 minutes away from Manchester airport, we always stay the night before we fly. In 2015 we ended up stuck on the motorway for hours due to an accident. It took us the best part of 6 hours to make the short journey there. Had we been flying that day, we would have missed our flight, so it showed us how worthwhile it is to book it. Plus it means the holiday starts a day earlier haha. May also saw us book our hotel on International drive and our tickets for Universal studios. So with all that, our plans were set; 7 nights at Disneys Port Orleans Riverside followed by 14 nights at Homewood Suites on International Drive. For the parks we had our Universal/IOA/Volcano bay tickets and Disney 14 day tickets sorted. We were also very happy with the free QSDP.


Accommodation

For the night before we fly we have booked the Premier Inn Runger lane north, next to Manchester airport. This is where we usually stay and ticks all the boxes for us as its cheap, clean and comfortable.


For our Disney segment we fell in love with Port Orleans Riverside. Its such a stunning looking resort from the many pictures and videos we have watched of it. Its a shame we wont get that much time there. In hindsight I think we should have gone for 9 or 10 nights at Disney, but never mind. We opted for a standard room here as we wont be spending that much time in the room.





For the International Drive part of the trip, we chose to stay at the Homewood Suites. It has the transportation to the parks included; it is located close to pointe Orlando which is the area we prefer to stay. It has spacious rooms also, due to being suites. We would have liked to stay at The Sonesta ES suites (parents stayed there in 2016), but it was too expensive.





Food Plans

The only onsite table service restaurant we have previously eaten in, is Beaches and cream last year. This year we fancied doing a few others but had to whittle down the list to just a few. We booked the following ADRs:
Be our guest - breakfast on our first full day
Sanaa - evening meal
Ohana - breakfast
California grill - brunch (parents only)

Some of the snacks that we are wanting to try this year in Disney are as follows:
Dole whip float
Beignets
Funnel cake with ice cream and strawberries (tried the funnel cake with powdered sugar and wasnt impressed. This sounds good though).
Le Fous brew
Chocolate peanut butter crunch cupcake
Pepper jack Pretzel

And some of the International drive restaurants we are planning to visit (some are new to us, and some are favourites of ours):

Fogo de Chao (table booked)
Longhorn Steakhouse
Bubba Gump
Tappa Torro
Red Robin
Buffalo Wild Wings
Olive garden
Bahama Breeze
Giordanos
Hard Rock Caf
Cheesecake factory

So, with our dollars purchased, everything booked and planned as far as we can, we are just waiting for the 60 day window to book our fast passes. Counting down the days.

Thanks for looking.

Adam

Edited at 09:00 PM.
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Unread 10 Feb 18, 05:33 PM  
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jools1302
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It all sounds great Adam, i am looking forward to your trip report. Hope the FP booking goes smoothly, enjoy the build up to flight day!
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Unread 10 Feb 18, 05:54 PM  
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Mad Hatters
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Originally Posted by jools1302 View Post
It all sounds great Adam, i am looking forward to your trip report. Hope the FP booking goes smoothly, enjoy the build up to flight day!
Thank you Jools, it feels so close now that Im sure the countdown will fly by.
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Unread 11 Feb 18, 05:25 PM  
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Sounds like a fab trip Adam! Your boys are super cute & must be getting very excited
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Unread 11 Feb 18, 08:27 PM  
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Originally Posted by sheluk View Post
Sounds like a fab trip Adam! Your boys are super cute & must be getting very excited
Thank you so much shel. They really are super excited. Trayvon asks most days if we are going yet haha.
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Unread 11 Feb 18, 08:44 PM  
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Sounds like a fab family trip you have planned
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Unread 11 Feb 18, 08:52 PM  
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Originally Posted by vanlou View Post
Sounds like a fab family trip you have planned
Im sure it will be. Cant wait for fast pass day. Can do even more planning then.
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Unread 12 Feb 18, 09:01 AM  
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This sounds like it's going to be an awesome trip. 3 weeks, wow! We love Longhorns too, in fact so much that we went twice on our trip last summer! I hope you all have a wonderful holiday I will look out for the trip report.
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