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Unread 15 Mar 17, 06:41 PM  
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lallan's Reviews
Hotel Reviews: 2
Lallan's Family Vacay March/April 2017 Pre-Trippie **UPDATED 18/3/17 & 22/3/17**

Hi all

Well I've decided that I really enjoyed doing my impromptu live shopping/spending report in the summer last year that I'm going to attempt to do a full in depth report this time!

**see last years live report HERE**

So this time let's do it right. We're a family of 5 👩;👦;👦👨;👦hubby and I and our 3 boys aged 11, 9 and 5.

On with the intros:

Me - Lallan

I'm Louise. I'm 31 and obsessed with holidays and the planning of holidays...particularly Florida holidays! I love Disney princesses and all things girly. I love shopping and I love budgeting and keeping notes on absolutely everything. My husband on the other hand hates that I do this and thinks of me as some sort of dictator when I'm in holiday planning mode. And I should probably point out now that I over use exclamation marks ALL the time! 😛Bit random but I am also very short at only 5' tall. I couldn't pick a favourite ride but I do have a soft spot for the carousel of progress and the great movie ride for the nostalgia! My favourite restaurant is Olive Garden or Steak N Shake.

DH - Taylor

Taylor is 32 and enjoys the holidays I plan once he's actually on them... any time before that he's not that interested. I show him pics of menus and shops I want to go to and he pretends to listen. I run all our plans by him as I make them and he replies with a nod of his head and a "mhmm" :angry: lol
He is NOT a Disney lover and much prefers universal. He does like the Pixar movies though. His favourite ride is the Hulk. His favourite restaurant is anywhere that has steak on the menu...he's a proper meat eater! He really enjoyed his porterhouse in Manny's last year.

DS1 - Baillie

Baillie is 11 years old. He is Xbox obsessed and very tech savvy unlike me or Taylor. We need to consult him if something happens on our phones or laptops (or even our TV!). Baillie is a total gamer and he spends wayyy too much time with headphones on watching YouTube that it's like talking to a brick wall sometimes. He's a bit like a sulky teenager a few years too early! He still enjoys our family holidays though so I cling on to the hope that this will continue as he grows up even more. Baillie takes after me and is also very short for his age but his personality more than makes up for what he lacks in height. He's saved up 160 and wants to buy expensive headphones so is looking forward to visiting Best Buy. His favourite ride is rip ride rocket and his least favourite is tower of terror...he actually passed out on this in 2015 so i think that's put him off for life. His favourite restaurant is CiCi's Pizza or Taco Bell.

DS2 - Lucas

Lucas is 9 years old. He is our wee blondie. He also likes his Xbox but he's not as obsessed as the other two and mostly plays FIFA. He is a dedicated footballer and Taylor is a coach at the club he plays for. Lucas also spends a lot of his time watching YouTube videos but it's not all game orientated, he prefers watching challenge themed videos or vlogs. He likes listening to music a lot too. He has managed to save 140 but wants to keep his money until we get home and buy a swegway...we'll see if that actually happens as once we hit the shops he can quickly become spendy happy just like his mum (). His favourite ride is Rockin' Rollercoaster. His favourite restaurant is Logan's Roadhouse and everywhere we go he usually eats Ribs and gets himself into a right sticky mess!

DS3 - Justin

Justin is 5 years old. His front tooth has just fell out and instead of putting it under his pillow for the tooth fairy here at home he's keeping it until we get to Florida so the American tooth fairy can visit and leave him dollars...very wise is that boy! His first tooth fell out in Florida last year so I think thats where his thinking is coming from. Even though he's only 5 he's following in his oldest brother's footsteps and considers himself quite the gamer too. He is minecraft obsessed (and is actually very very good at it with all the things he builds) and he loves watching people playing scary games on YouTube. His favourite is Five Nights At Freddy's known as FNAF (just so you know what I'm referring to later on!) and he's saved up 180 (has more saved than his big brothers! ) and has a list of shops such as Hot Topic and Game Station that he wants to visit. He's only 5 but the boy knows what he wants...what can I say, YouTube and videos of American kids unboxing toys have a lot to answer for! His favourite ride is The Haunted Mansion (there's a running trend with Justin, he's a strange child that really enjoys scary things!) but he doesn't do roller coasters. His favourite restaurant is none really...he has a varied diet of chicken. Always chicken. Or hotdogs. Well he does love Golden Coral but that's for the cakes and chocolate fountain and cotton candy!


So the thing is we were definitely NOT supposed to be going to Florida this year. We were definitely not supposed to be going last year either but you know how easily things can accidentally get booked when you happen to be just browsing Airlines websites ...*hangs head in shame

Last year it was virgin flights at 1,672.20 for the five of us that I couldn't not book... But this year it was Thomas Cook flights at 1,289.90 for the five of us that I just couldn't not book (damn that hotukdeals! ). There was a flash sale with a select number of seats so I snapped these up on 1st December.

So our dates are Friday 24th March until Saturday 8th April direct from MAN-MCO. We'll leave on Thursday 23rd at lunch time and drive from where we live just outside Glasgow all the way down straight to Manchester airport to do sundown check in. Then we'll head over to the Travelodge we stayed at last year in Didsbury. It's in Parrs Wood Entertainment complex so has a bowling alley and plenty of restaurants to choose from for dinner. Travelodge cost us 30.20 for a family room with added wifi for all the boys devices.

I have booked Meet and Greet for the car which we always do as it's so convenient for coming home. This cost us 47.04 booked via Looking4parking.

We have booked a 7 seater (dodge caravan or similar) with Dollar via usrentacar. This cost 391 for the 15 days.

Finding a villa was a bit of a tricky task this time round. We normally go in summer time so Easter time is new for us and a lot of villas seemed to be booked. I managed to book one that I found on a well known auction site for 750 plus 200 refundable damages deposit. The owner is lovely and gave us such a great deal as it was already booked for our dates but a member of the other family had taken seriously ill and they had to cancel their holiday (poor family ). I was a bit funny about the villa at first as it's in an area that's a bit out of the main touristy area. The community is called Spring Lakes and it's in the Hunter's Creek/Buena Ventura Lakes area. Initially we weren't planning on doing Disney this year only universal so the villas location was ideal as it's quicker to get to universal but then that totally backfired as our park choices changed after I had already went ahead and booked the villa But it does look like a lovely villa so mini-panic is over!

That brings me onto our ticket fiasco. The Disney 14 day ultimates were originally coming in at over 400+ each and I wasn't willing to pay that. But universals tickets had also increased a lot at now around 230 each compared to last year where we paid 100 less per ticket. I was in a bit of a pickle over it all to be honest and fought a battle in my own head weighing up the options. Taylor and the 3 boys all love Universal so much (as do I as I'm a huge Harry Potter geek) but we kinda done it to death last year. And then a miracle happened and practically made the decision for me! Disney only went and completely reduced their ticket prices on some sort of special offer if traveling before summer. So decision made I went ahead and bought these and the best deal I could find was with Thomson. I paid 1,327.20 for 3 adult tickets and 2 kids tickets including memory maker. I was very pleased as I was having slight Disney withdrawals as we never went last year #superdooperexcited

Last year we went on a big family trip with DH's family so my in laws and my nieces. However, this year my mum and dad are going on the exact same dates (although they're flying virgin from Glasgow) but not staying with us in the villa. They much prefer I drive and are staying in The Avanti Resort. They don't usually do theme parks even though they go to Florida multiple times a year but they've decided to join us to spend quality time with their grandsons in the happiest place on earth They like to do their own thing though so will only meet up with us from time to time.

Our spending money changes year to year because of the exchange rate. This year will be the lowest amount of dollars ever but we still work on the basis of changing 2500ish and dividing it up into daily amounts. This year it will be $200 a day for 15 days so we need $3000 (plus the boys have their own savings on top that I'll need to change for them). This will be for everything including food, petrol, parking and shopping. For anyone who read my report last year will already know that I calculate my daily spends and at the end of each day I carry any leftover money from that days budget over to my 'shopping fund'. This works so well for us and it's easy for me to manage. It also means we end up with LOTS of lovely things to bring back...please do read last years report as it'll give you an idea of just how much I love to hunt for bargains and how far I can make our money stretch.


Although I am a little bit of a drill sergeant I also realize that with 3 kids it's not always feasible to have a minute by minute itinerary and I have to try to work with my DH's laid back approach as well to keep everybody happy. So my plans always have to be quite flexible and this suits us fine. We're not the type of family that get to the parks for opening ceremonies and stay all day until after the fireworks. It just doesn't work for us. We like to fit in a bit of relaxing by the pool, park time,some kind of shopping (be it only nipping into the dollar tree or Walmart) and at least one meal out all in the one day but not necessarily in that order. These kinds of days tend to keep each of us pleased.

A first for us is this time we are visiting Kennedy Space Centre. I bought tickets from American Attractions and it cost 145 for the 5 of us. The boys are all really looking forward to this so it should make for a fun day out. Time depending we might spend some time at Cocoa beach while we're out that way. We've been to this beach before and although we prefer Daytona the boys do still like a play in the sand and a swim in the sea so we may as well while we're close by.

We're also doing the Characters In Flight tethered balloon ride in Disney Springs. I bought a deal on Orlando Groupon and it cost me 66.82 ($80.50) for 7 tickets... 5 of us plus another 2 as a treat for my mum and dad.

I've bought another deal on Orlando Groupon that was called 'Ultimate Date Night' that includes 2 cinema tickets and a $100 eGift card for Restaurant.com. This cost 16.24 ($20). My mum and I are going to go and see the new Beauty and the Beast at the AMC cinema in Disney Springs with this voucher... I'm so excited to see this I literally cannot wait! I've not redeemed any of the restaurant.com voucher yet as I was hoping to buy a House of Blues coupon but seems they've taken it off the site now so I'll need to pick other restaurants.

That brings me nicely on to our food plans! I'll start by letting you all know we're not 'park eaters' other than snacks and maybe a few counter service bites. Our reasons being we done all the character dining years ago when DS1 & DS2 were much younger and felt it was far too costly and the food not all that great. I understand you're paying for the experience but it's just not for us. There are some really lovely looking restaurants I fancy on site like Calli Grill and Le Cellier but I think these would be wasted on our boys at the moment so keeping them for the future when it's 'just us two' We are however quite partial to a turkey leg or two!

We tend to have breakfast in the villa most days. I do fancy trying out Steak N Shake's breakfast menu so might give that a try. And maybe IHOP as DS1 just LOVES pancakes. We used to frequent ponderosa for breakfast but feel the price has gone up too much recently. It is beginning to sound as if I'm a total tightwad but that's not the case (honest )...I just like to get value for (DH's) money.
Restaurants we like are cheap n cheerful places like Golden Coral, CiCi's and Steak N Shake. Diners and buffets, although not for everyone, are great for us. We also love Steakhouses like Logan's and Manny's and I also really loved Olive Garden last year and can't wait to eat their Chicken Marsala again! After reading many food reports on the dibb I have a few places we've never been but I'd like us to try this year. On the list is: Millers Ale House, Buffalo Wild Wings, Teak Neighborhood Grill and Longhorn Steakhouse. Also want to get to Appleby's, Bob Evans and maybe Cracker Barrel. So as you can see nothing fancy for us!

Last up is my favourite recreational activity... Shopping! If you read last years shopping report you will get an idea of the kinda things we usually buy. for DH it's trainers...lots and lots of trainers! For me its normally beauty stuff. I can't wait to get back to Sephora I normally go a bit mad in the Yankee Candle outlet but that won't be necessary this trip as this somehow happened last week...

These are all currently hiding in the shoe cupboard under the stairs! Tesco had large jars scanning at 3 and tumblers scanning at 2 so i just HAD to stock up!

I love my Uggs aswell and this also somehow happened last week...

This was the result of a major sale in van mildert, I couldn't not buy them! Look how pretty these moccasins are:

8! I'm wearing them as slippers and they are heavenly!

So the Ugg outlet is also off my shopping list but there will be trips to all the outlets and the malls and of course my faves TJ Maxx, Ross and Burlington to see what bargains I can get my hands on Dollar Tree is a favourite store of ours and we always bring back loads from here. Especially all the American sweets as they're so much cheaper in here than in walmart or target.

So I think I've covered pretty much everything. Our countdown currently stands at 11 days so as you can imagine the boys (and me maybe even more than them! ) are getting very excited!

This weeks task is to get the cases down from the loft and also to start printing off some of our documents.

I hope you enjoyed reading and I look forward to reporting our trip for you all. I will attempt to do it live while we're out there but that's not a promise. It may end up being a day or two behind but I will try my best.

For now that's all folks!

~Louise x

UPDATE 18th March ...
also known as '6 days to go'

So today we are supposed to be getting the cases down from the loft to get packed. I'm not feeling too great today, really struggling with hay fever so sneezing continuously and my eyes are stinging so much and only opening about a fifth of the way...not pretty 😵

Although packing has still to be done this week I have been busy getting organized in other ways. I purchased this fabulous fitness tracker from Amazon called the 'UP move' by Jawbone. Last year my mother in law had a fitness tracker and I found it interesting to know how much we were walking each day so settled on this one as it was reduced to 15.39delivered 🙂

I've also managed to dig out DS1's 'Leave A Legacy' locator for when we go to Epcot. My inlaws paid for Baillie and our niece Gina to have their picture placed on the walls in Epcot way back in June 2006 when our baby was only just a year old (hard to believe he's going to be 12 this year ). It was DH, DS1 and my inlaws first trip to Florida and it was a great thing to do to mark the special occasion. Although we've been back to Disney a number of times since then I've always forgotten to bring this little booklet and we've never been able to find it by memory. So finally, 11 years on, we're all set to go and see it at 'East-1-A-4-6-17'

All our documents are now all printed and organized. I printed off the movie voucher for my mum and I for our date night. While I was on AMC's website checking show times for Beauty and the Beast I decided to sign up to their 'Stubs Insider' club. It's free to join and comes with the perks shown above and more which you can't see in the pic. There was also a premier version of this that costs $15 for annual membership but the freebie suits me fine and the free refills on popcorn will be put to use when we visit 🙂

I logged on to restaurant.com to redeem our credit. I noticed I had an additional $10 bonus added to my account along with my $100 from my Groupon deal. I bought a $10 voucher for Avanti Pizza and wings. Might use this to get take out one night. I then also bought $50 voucher for American Kitchen Bar & Grill located in the B Hotel at crossroads area and $50 voucher for Cowgirls Rockbar on I drive. DH might be up for their burger challenge...

Also wanted to give a shout out to fellow dibber 'chrisxal'. I got in tough with her via pm after seeing a post of hers in the food forum about how she had compiled a huge list of the restaurants and the days that they offer kids eat free. She shared this with me along with other fantastic lists she had made that I just know I will find really helpful. We chatted back and forward for a bit and she is such a lovely woman, so thank you Christine if you read this

I should be able to fit another little update in before travel day is upon us. Until then,


~Louise x

UPDATE 22nd March ...
Pre-Travel Day tomorrow

Brrr, it's freezing up here in Scotland at the moment. I need sun in my life! Lotion at the ready...

Another bargain from tesco 10 for the price of one, not bad eh?

Well this week has been mega stressful all thanks to Thomas Cook. It's such a long winded story that I'd be here all night trying to explain. But briefly on Monday we called trying to upgrade to Premium cabin but that's not possible as we're flying on an Airtanker. Basically thanks to SEVEN different members of staff giving me conflicting information and none of them actually doing their jobs properly I've been stressing all week. It lead to me having a very big public rant on their Facebook page about their incompetency and long story short I've been well compensated for my inconvenience. So stressing is now over.

Or so I thought! My baby Riley, our 11 year old Shih-Tzu was away to the doggy hairdressers today to get all nice n cut before her holidays to my inlaws. I was pottering about the house trying to sort the last of the bits and bobs to be packed.

How cute is my little Minnie Primark haul:

Sorry, got totally side tracked there!

So I was busy sorting when the dog groomer phoned me in a total panic saying she thinks Riley is having some sort of seizure. Heart in my mouth I had to pick her up and rush her to the vet. She's never had any kind of fit before and she's getting older now so I was worried sick. They checked her over thoroughly and suggested blood tests. These were done and showed no problems and she's actually very healthy considering her age now. The vet thinks it's just anxiety as with the cases being down and everything she knows we're going away. I explained she normally stays at my mum and dad's when we're away but since they're going to be away at the same time as us she's going to Taylor's mums. I'm now totally dreading this and I'm so worried she won't settle especially since they have a wee boy dog that Riley's really not very fond of! The vet suggested Diazepam to help settle her. So my poor wee dog is now doped up to eyeballs and I've got to leave her tomorrow. I'm honestly worried sick that she's not going to cope. She does have separation issues any time we go away as we got her when she was only 6 weeks old and she is a total lap dog, doesn't leave my side or take her eyes off me. So fingers crossed she's alright I'll keep you all posted. Here's how she was today after the meds ...

I could cry 😢 but here's hoping she'll be ok while we're gone.

This last week it's been Baltic and snowy, I've still been suffering terribly with hay fever, dealing with silly people at Thomas Cook and my poor Riley took ill...get me to my happy place already!

Plan for tomorrow is leave around lunch time and drive to Manchester. Get settled into hotel and have food nearby and then make sure we get somewhere to watch the darts starting at 7pm

Let's hope it all goes smoothly!

Can't believe the main report actually starts tomorrow!

~ Louise x

Edited at 01:41 AM.
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Unread 15 Mar 17, 07:19 PM  
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Fabulous pre-trippie - I've thoroughly enjoyed reading this. I haven't found any Groupons this year. Last year we had Cici's and Papa John's. The Date Night one sounds fabulous. Really looking forward to reading more.

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Unread 15 Mar 17, 08:30 PM  
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You are 1 day ahead as we go sat 25th man to mco. Look forward to hearing all about your trip.
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Unread 16 Mar 17, 10:43 AM  
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What a fab pre-trippie, I'm really looking forward to coming along on your holiday.
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Unread 17 Mar 17, 09:41 AM  
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Excited about Disney
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I look forward to reading your trip and will hopefully see you out there!
I am flying the exact same dates but from LGW
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Unread 17 Mar 17, 09:52 AM  
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Ooh I will be following along, I love a villa holiday as that is our choice of accomodation so its interesting to see other villas. Those Thomas Cook flights were a bargain no wonder you couldn't refuse to book them. Your DS sounds a bit like mine, when we are in Florida it was always the chicken tenders but nowadays its always hotdogs or steak.
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Unread 17 Mar 17, 09:57 AM  
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Good pre-trippie. Looking forward to reading the full trip report. Date night with your mum sounds good, I'll need to nab the grandkids to go and see Beauty and the Beast here.

Congratulations Rataouille92 on your wedding - I hope you have a fabulous day.
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Unread 18 Mar 17, 02:59 PM  
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New Photo Added by lallan - 18 Mar 17 1:59 PM.
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