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Unread 7 Jan 18, 12:23 AM  
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Fluzz
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cyclops We're OK With Crazy- Oct/Nov 2018- Pre-Trip

Greetings and thanks for clicking on my third ever pre-trip report!

We are at just under 300 days to go now and since New Year, the fact that we go to Florida this year now has meant Im giving it more thought. The desire to write about our trip is building and who am I to stop it?! Found a good Finding Dory quote for the title and Im off

The Cast



Me: Sarah, 33. Likes: holidays, eating out, reading. Dislikes: Packing, not having a holiday booked. Chief planner and spreadsheet wrangler. Enjoys the planning, runup and Dibbing as much as the holiday itself.



Joe: 31. Likes: holidays, Raspberry Pis, being handy. Dislikes: Travelling to get to said holiday, the texture of ceramic (hand the man a plant pot and watch him go!) Chief bad influence.

Background/Too Much About My Life (skip if you just want Florida chat)

As I mentioned, there are two other pre-trips and one trip report floating around here on The Dibb. We had our first trip booked for the end of November 2014. It was terrific, until we had to come home early for a family issue at home. I completed the trip report for the days we had and Im really glad I did.

Due to that we rebooked and went back in November 2015. I think I said on here that we didnt get the bug. On our return there wasnt a desire to go again any time soon. The run up to that trip had been insanely busy. I had been rushed off my feet at work and travelling overseas right up until we went so I was stressed, Joe had been out of work for over a year, had quit smoking three days before we went and we had just got the keys for the derelict house we purchased in a concentrated bout of madness in October 2015. As such there was a lot going on and we really were not able to chill out and enjoy. It was a good trip but we were both exhausted, moody and grumpy a lot more often than we should have been. We didnt get very far with the voice notes in the fortnight and I did not even contemplate a trip report, which I now regret. Ah well, such is life.

Since then nothing has really cleared up to be honest and in fact life has got even more complicated! Joe is still out of work but has not been looking for a job as we still need to finish the house renovation. We have owned it for over two years now and are almost there but there is still a lot of work to do. Every single thing you could think of to go wrong has gone wrong. I could write tens of thousands of words on the happenings and no one would believe a word of it as the process has been that farcical. It has been an incredible drain on the finances and the mental health, I am not going to lie, but we will get there and will love living there.

However, when we do live there it will only be 3 days a week as I have a new job 150 miles away in Glasgow As there is a lot more work in Joes area down there (we are from Aberdeen originally), I suggested at some point in 2016 that we perhaps look down there for jobs, to see if we could make a Monday-Friday thing work. I then subsequently found and managed to get my dream role within a few months of my suggesting it! We thought that it would just be a couple of months then the house would be done and Joe could join me down in the flat I rent during the week, we could sell the flat in Aberdeen and split our time between the new house and Glasgow. However I started the new job in March 2017 and here we are. We have been apart during the week since then, which is not fun. It is the new normal but of course we would rather we were together!

Our current flat has been on the market since August and not a soul wants it. Hence we are paying property costs for the flat, the house (double Council Tax due to the empty premium) and my rental in Glasgow. My finances spreadsheet screams at me every time I open it these days.

Add to that other things we have had going on in the background, and sometimes the foreground, and this pair of control freaks has felt like we are not in control of our lives for what seems like forever now. Despite everything and thanks to my super bargain hunting and air mile saving we have still managed to have holidays (not to Florida), with varying degrees of success. What was successful was a last minute bargain all-inclusive to Mexico in 2016. I wasnt sure how wed get on with a resort break but to our surprise we both really enjoyed it:



We folded those ourselves don'tcha know...

The Trip

So anyway, even though we had not been back to Florida and didnt have the bug, I remained a lurker on The Dibb. I watched the Spring furore around the 2018 free dining being released with a passive interest...













Yeah well, what began as a passive interest. Call it the stress and upheaval of it being my first month in a new job in a new city on my own. Call it the desire to have something to look forward to at a time when surely (surely) we would have far less on our plates and life will have settled down into a nice controlled routine again. Call it the fact that we STILL have not got to stay at the Wilderness Lodge after booking it twice. Call it whatever you like but mid-April found me making a case to Joe for booking. Thanks to the new affinity for all-inclusive, the free dining plan made it an easy pitch. Therefore way back on the 14th April 2017, I pressed book on:

Check in to Disneys Wilderness Lodge Sunday 28th October 2018 for 14 nights.
14 day Ultimate Tickets with Memory Maker
Disney Dining Plan
$200 gift card
DisneyLife subscription

For a total of 4,886.
Bam, that was that. Third time lucky!

Hotel/Dining


We chose Wilderness Lodge as it was the hotel that appealed the most. In 2014 we had gone home before our stay rolled around. In 2015 we were due to stay there the first 5 nights but the construction that was going on led to Disney offering us the opportunity to switch at no cost so we ended up in the Poly (nice, but probably would not stay again). Since then we have gone to the real Pacific Northwest and spent a week in Seattle and a week in Vancouver, Canada. It is probably my favourite part of the world and we both love it very much. So Wilderness Lodge it was.

Previously, as we did not book our Disney accommodation direct and did not get our tickets from Disney (first time was from Attraction Tickets Direct and the second time Disney let us belatedly upgrade our 2014 tickets to annual passes as we returned less than 12 months later), the dining plan was not an option. This time however, even though we could probably have got better value with a room discount instead or something, I just really fancied having credits. Being able to eat whatever and not be annoyed by the inflated cost if it turned out to not be great was appealing. I was also quite happy to have an excuse to read all the reviews and menus and have it be part of the planning. Joe was happy as he thought it would make it seem more like an all-inclusive deal. We dont actually have form for eating very much during our trips so I foresee a lot of sweet treats being taken home in the suitcase but we will see.

Flights

Come November it was time to book the flights! I have the BA credit card so had a companion voucher that meant buy one get one free if we used Avios. In addition you still get a free regional connection on a long-haul redemption. You also get the best value from these if you fly PE or higher so we were aiming for Club World. I was actually in the US with work on the flight release date but thankfully they were still free when I remembered! We had also discussed and had decided that we could fly from Inverness in order to save Air Passenger Duty (were both a lot more blas about driving these days given weve been shuttling from Aberdeen to Glasgow to see each other all year). This would save over 400.

I rang up to book as you cant book Avios redemptions with connections. Sadly the BA line was so busy that it wasnt even accepting people into the queue, it was just cutting off. I was afraid someone would snaffle the LGW-MCO flights so I booked only these online, paying 679.60 in taxes and charges for the one way flights (you still have to pay the taxes and charges on both tickets when using these vouchers.).

The next day I called up to add the Inverness connection, ready to argue if they tried to charge a change fee. Thankfully they did not, but of course due to the APD issue I was expecting to actually be due a refund. The agent quoted me 20 extra tax each to add the Inverness flight. Clearly the system had not taken into account the flight originated in Inverness, so no APD. When I pointed this out, the agent was not very nice and said I dont know what to tell you. She was not to be budged and wouldnt listen to reason. Due to this I panicked and booked the flight from Aberdeen instead, thinking that if we were not going to be saving we may as well fly from the most convenient airport!

Thankfully, when I called back two weeks later to book the return flight, I got through to someone that knew what he was doing and got the system to spit out the right price. This meant that I was only 20 more to add on the return journey! However, he advised that as the first flight was moving from Aberdeen to Inverness he would have to charge me a change fee. To my relief, he listened to my argument that I shouldnt have to pay this, as the only reason I booked from Aberdeen was due to an incorrect price quote from the first agent. By the time I rang back the next day to add on the +1 day regional connection, he had approval to waive the change fee. So all right in the end but a right faff of multiple phone calls, different information given and dodgy IT. Sort it out BA!

Final flights:
Inverness - London Heathrow Sat 27th October
London Gatwick Orlando Sun 28th October
Orlando - London Gatwick Sun 11th November
London Gatwick Glasgow Mon 12th November

Back to work a jet-lagged mess on the 13th. You may see the deliberate mistake (ahem) that we cant very well drive to Inverness like I mentioned earlier as we are not flying back in to the same place so cant leave the car there. Oh well, well deal with that later.

Flying business which is very exciting. I will be back down to Blue in the Exec Club with no Avios left after that so no business flights in our foreseeable future unless I pull another points run to Hawaii off! Hawaii is actually in the diary for 2019 so it might happen but thats for another trip report

Itinerary

With staying onsite and having the dining plan, we also did not plan to hire a car due to Disney transportation being free. As the 2015 trip felt like far far too much and we suffered from trying to cram it all in (just wanting to hang out in the hotel room and sleep by the end), the agreed plan was to do Disney only and take advantage of the resort, having pool days and not charging about so the experience was a mix of full-on park touring and chill out resort holiday.

Given the Avios flights to Orlando are often booked up quickly, I had it mind that if we missed out we could fly into Tampa the day before instead. We could rent a car and go to Busch on our first day, then drive over to Orlando and drop the car off at the airport, picking up the Magical Express to start our 14 days at Disney. I really liked this idea, however Joe made the good point that on recent trips we have both been fractious and stressed after the travel and weve needed a couple of days to chill out and realign our moods (read: not bicker like children). So this idea was forgotten.

However since booking in April, an interesting and consistent phenomenon has taken place The following are all quotes from my better half:

Were still going to Busch though, right? No, we had agreed Disney and chill out only hadnt we? Well yes, but were so close, dont you want to go and ride Cheetah Hunt? Well yes, yes I do if Im honest. So it seems like well probably hire a car from the Disney Car Centre for a day or so then

Were still going to Discovery Cove, right?: Hmm didnt think so due to the expense, but do you want to? Yes, totally. Fine, looks like well Uber it over there one day then

Are we doing Universal this trip?
Hmm, again thought we had agreed no, maybe another time?
Thats a shame, while were so close
Joe, are we going to end up trying to do all the main parks again?
Seems that way, doesnt it?

No words people, no words.

None of this has been booked yet, but it seems like my justification for 14 nights in WL- we wouldnt be spending on other parks, car hire, and eating elsewhere- has been blown out of the water. This could be one unexpectedly pricey trip. I should be working overtime for a bonus right now rather than writing a pre-trip! This also makes me wonder at how many dining credits well have left. We may be able to be credit fairies and share with people next to us on our last few days. That would be nice!

Anyway, as expected this first entry is a mammoth 2,500 words. Why have a therapist when you have the Dibb pre-trip section, thats what I always say! Heres to a fun trip and I look forward to updating and reading along with others who are going this year!

Edited at 12:24 AM.
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Unread 7 Jan 18, 12:28 PM  
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wozza
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Sounds like a wonderful trip for some much needed stress relief!

You arrive on my daughters 18th birthday. Well be there celebrating!
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Fourth trip! 18th birthday celebrations!
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Unread 14 Apr 18, 11:07 PM  
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Fluzz
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Well today marks one year since we booked! Unreal, I can hardly remember it to be honest!

I have started to work up an itinerary and have been browsing the restaurant menus to get an idea of where we want to eat as ADR day is coming up! We have decided to try and do rope drops/early mornings, hotel time in the peak afternoon then back out at night. I have a plan on the go but we have very little in the way of "pool days" like I said we would have and I don't understand how we fitted everything in in 2015, as we do not have Universal in the plan at all this time around! Trying to make sure we are in each Disney park in the morning and at night too.

I have a friend that's off with her family next week so that's been nice to have someone to talk Florida with. They've never been so I can't wait to hear how they like it.
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Unread 15 Apr 18, 08:27 AM  
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Sounds like a fantastic trip. Like the let's only do Disney trips which include Busch, Discovery Cove and Universal. Plenty of planning to keep you occupied whilst in Glasgow although plenty of nice pub's!
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Unread 27 Oct 18, 09:30 PM  
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Fluzz
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Well I've not had the chance to update this but we're currently in the Gatwick North Premier Inn ready to go tomorrow! Excited! Still planning a trip report. See you on the other side!
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Unread 27 Oct 18, 09:40 PM  
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Have a lovely holiday.
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Here we go again
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