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Unread 13 Feb 18, 05:22 PM  
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i love jack
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Update #17 5/8/18 Can I persuade my family to wear matching T-shirts? Florida 2018 Pre-Trip Report

Florida 2018 Pre-trip report

So we are nearly at 6 months to go so I thought its not too early to start the pre-trip report!

We are:

Me, Emma, 40 something, I quite regularly forget my actual age, in fact I have just set up a new email address and inadvertently put my sisters year of birth instead my own . This will be my 14th trip to Florida I think. I am so excited to be going back and am avidly reading trip reports and have a new obsession...YouTube! Loving Tim Tracker. I am the main planner, photographer, Bath and Body lover!

Andy, currently in his 40s but will have had a big birthday by the time we go. I think this will be his 9th visit. He is not sharing my love of Tim Tracker ! Andy is our driver and happy to go with the flow.

Josh, 16, should now be spending time revising for his GCSEs but currently prioritising his love for playing hockey and rugby! We will be away for results day which could be a good or bad thing! 2016 was the first time Josh hit the coasters so hes looking forward to revisiting them.

Dan, 14, also rugby mad and also obsessed with YouTube, but also not feeling the love for Tim!

This is us in 2016 (the boys hate this photo!)



So, we think this will be our last trip to Florida for a while with the boys (hmm - will I be eating these words like so many of us! ) We all love Florida but there are so many other places in the world we really ought to see! I signed off my trip report in 2016 thinking that next time we went we wouldnt do Disney. The boys had enjoyed the Universal Parks so much more and loved spending time in the pool at the villa, so we had thought we would do just that... but, Florida without Disney it just seems wrong! There are maybe one or two things at each park we would really miss, The Lion King Show, the fireworks, walking up Main St, USA...anyway, lets start at the beginning!

Accommodation

We are going back to the villa we stayed at in 2016, it was perfect for us. This was the first thing we booked back in January 2017! Its just off the 27 which is a location we like.





Flights

Id been looking at flights for a while, but needed to definitely get my annual leave confirmed before committing to booking, but the minute that was done I was on the case! I looked at a few options and debated indirect which weve never done and I was keen to keep costs down. Then I looked at going into Miami rather than MCO. There were loads of posts at that time from people asking about staying in Miami or driving straight up. Dan has asked previously about going to Miami as apparently lots of YouTubers live there.
Then back at the beginning of January I found Virgin flights from Heathrow to Miami they were around 2,000 less than flying into Orlando from Manchester or Gatwick and for 300 more we could get Premium Economy for the return flight. So I booked them quick! Heathrow is nice and convenient for us and coming back PE gives us more baggage allowance. We really didnt want to spend a fortune on flights as its such a small part of the holiday but I am pleased to be flying Virgin again.

Dan has recently shown me a YouTube video of someone flying Upper Class and wow that looks amazing but with a cost to upgrade our return journey of 1166 per person, no thanks! (or maybe just me and Andy...would that be wrong?).

Since booking weve had a schedule change and are departing at 11:35 arriving at 16:25 which is earlier than originally planned which is a bonus.

After lots of deliberation and looking at hotels we have decided to bite the bullet and drive straight to Orlando. We looked at some lovely hotels but felt that wed just be itching to get to the villa so canned the idea of a Miami beach day (and it turns out Dan was getting confused with LA )

Other Hotels

In 2016 we stayed at the Hard Rock Hotel to take advantage of the Express Passes which was fantastic, so a night at a Universal Hotel was a must do. I looked at all three of the hotels which include the passes and decided on Portofino Bay, and having also carried out a bit of Dibb research decided on a Club level room. This will give us breakfast and access to drinks which will be good, we may or may not make use of the other food options.




I have booked the Premier Inn, Bath Road for the night before the flight. I havent flown from Heathrow for years but this seems to be a Dibb favourite. We normally convert our Tesco Clubcard vouchers to book our airport hotel but for some reason I completely forgot about doing this, anyway, the Premier Inn was a bargain 37.50.

Instead I converted our Tesco vouchers to hotels.com vouchers to book an overnight beach stay. Andy and I got married in Florida in 2000, we had a week in Key West and a week in Sanibel, weve not been back to either place so have decided to go back to Sanibel. Its about a 3.5 hour drive from the villa and were looking forward to repeating some of the things we did on our Honeymoon...

There was a lovely place called The Lighthouse where we went for breakfast which is still there. I worry about to going back to places in case theyre not as good as you remember.



We also hired a tandem and cycled round the J.Ding Darling nature reserve which nearly killed us as we were complete amateurs and didnt take any water so we may not repeat that experience!



This time I need to find a sand dollar. Sanibel is renowned for its shells but again last time we were amateurs and went out looking in the evening and I now know we need to be out early morning.

I debated booking the same hotel we stayed at but again worrying about going back to places I have been previously, instead, thanks to Gopherlass report have booked Casa Ybel. We have a beachfront 1 bedroom suite which looks lovely. Hoping for a view like this.


from their website


Tickets

So, about that not doing Disney! We decided we couldnt completely not do Disney but we felt we wanted this holiday to be a bit different to last time and then I was reading Wizzos trip report and he had got a just a 4 day ticket. We thought that would be perfect. We ordered from Orlando Attractions, we can have 1 day in each park and can come and go from the same park on the same day but cant park hop. This will mean careful planning of fastpasses and deciding the best days to go to ensure we make the most of the tickets but it will mean we will have more non park days and just enjoy the villa, the pool, and the boys can maybe have a couple of lie ins!

We then ordered the 3 park, 14 day tickets for Universal which include Volcano Bay. We also ordered these from Orlando Attractions and got actual tickets for both so no visit to Will Call

Airport Parking

We have booked T3 long stay parking through the Heathrow website. Its a 10-15 minute bus transfer but you get to keep your keys which we prefer. This was 70 for two weeks.

We have also sorted insurance and car hire through Alamo brits, opting for our fave a dodge caravan or similar.



I think the only thing to do is 3 of our ESTAs and watch the countdown counting down!

Edited at 08:15 PM.
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Unread 13 Feb 18, 05:35 PM  
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A very interesting pre-trippy Emma and if you're a 40 something your parents must be extremely old.

And if you've read my regular responses over the years - please get your ESTAs done now.

The question posed in your thread title is currently being debated.

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Unread 13 Feb 18, 06:24 PM  
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Ooo Im looking forward to this, Im at the when can we actually go again stage now because of college and GCSEs so its on the burner for a while until further education/ jobs are thought about . ( and how do we actually pay for uni ? My goodness thats an expense) . Bit sad about it and I suppose dh and I could do a sneaky week on our own , which would be both fab and sad really if you get what I mean .
What is it about men and Tim tracker , my dh says it his voice but I love him ( preferred him with the tash but reckon he was getting stopped too often so off it went ) .
Wish I was going
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Edited at 08:36 PM.
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Unread 13 Feb 18, 07:28 PM  
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"Can I persuade my family to wear matching T-shirts? Florida 2018 Pre-Trip Report"
I'll wear one if you take me.
Hope you have a brilliant time when it comes around.
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Last time, possibly?
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Unread 14 Feb 18, 10:11 AM  
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Hey there! I love the photo of you all on Main Street it looks awesome. This sounds like it's going to be a fab trip. You know I love reading your trip reports.

But hang on how can they NOT like Tim Tracker I love his vlogs! Oh well, I guess all the best you tubers live in Miami or is it L.A.? I'm sure there's not much more than 2,500 miles between them.

What day do you arrive in Orlando? We are there from 31st July and leave on 16th August. I know I could work it out from your countdown but I'm feeling lazy...I think we will overlap slightly.
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Unread 14 Feb 18, 10:15 AM  
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Sorry me again, I did think when you said you didn't have up to date ESTAs that you might get told off! I haven't updated ours yet either, but as they are still valid at the moment and run out in April I kind of think that waiting until April will be better than doing it now as they don't tag the overlap time on the end like they do with a passport if you renew early. I guess I'm just a bit tight and while I'm happy to spend thousands on a holiday I'm not happy to pay my $14 early...
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Unread 14 Feb 18, 10:27 AM  
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Loved reading your pre trip report. Have fun. I need to sort out our Estas next week.
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Unread 14 Feb 18, 10:28 AM  
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And I don't think my son or hubby will wear Disney t-shirts! So think it's just one for me and daughter 😀
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