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Old 28 May 16, 10:06 PM  
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Caroian
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The "Years in the Making" Trip Report Apr/May 2016 - The Post-trip Pre-trip

So here we are. Back just over two weeks from a fantastic three week trip to the magic, and in an effort to keep it all alive, I've decided to have a go at a trip report. In all my planning, reading trip reports was one of the most useful, and exciting, things that I did. So I guess it would be nice to contribute a bit back!

I really wasn't sure that I'd write one of these. First of all, I'm not sure who'll read it! I was also cautious because I wasn't sure that all my trip companions would see "sharing details with random strangers on the Internet" as a good thing. Nor want their pictures shared! I also feel like some of the great trip reports I've read are a lot to live up to!

But here I am anyway. I know it will help to keep the memories alive, to make some sense of the copious notes I always keep when travelling but often never tidy up, and also help keep me focused on sorting the pictures for a photo book. Because I didn't plan to publish this (I keep detailed notes on most holidays anyway) you won't find many food pictures (or even necessarily what we actually ate) or costs for anything listed here. I also don't usually write down strict timings - so you won't find those either. The final thing that you definitely won't find is brevity. Because I'm absolutely not know for that! But hopefully you'll find something of use and/or enjoyment.

I also did not write a pre-trip report, so in the absence of that, here is a bit of background in the form of a post-trip pre-trip.

This trip has been an awfully long time in the making (hence the title) I'm almost cringing to admit that it's 25 years since I last went to Florida as a child. There is a big world out there and whilst I've been busy exploring, it has never popped back to the top of the list of destinations. However, I always knew that I wanted to take my children. My first visit was in 1983, at the age of three and a half.


(No early entry required here - that's just how it was then!)

I still remember it now. Granted some of the memories are just snippets of specific memories (I'm fairly sure that the sound of torrential rain on the roof of our hire car on the way from the airport is actually my very earliest concrete memory. That, or getting on our Pan-Am plane. And I definitely remember jet lag, looking out on to a pitch black St Pete's Beach and not understanding why it was dark!) And some are quite likely pseudo-memories that exist only because of the photos and family stories. But I know that I loved it. And so I thought the age of three to four was a fantastic age to go.



So the plan was to go before our first child started school. Our son was born in November 2011, so starts school this September. Four and half was going to be ideal. And then the "dream plan in my head" was that our second child would be almost three, so also at a good age to enjoy it, and our final child would be around one. I was expecting taking a toddler to be the biggest challenge of all. Except... Plans don't always work out. Multiple rounds of fertility treatment later, we've had to accept that our son will be an only child.

One of the consolations was Florida at four and a half was going to be on an even bigger and better scale than previously imagined.

So, the cast:



Me, Caroline, 36. Super excitable and the main planner in terms of where to go when and what to do. My husband Ian is 35 the geek in the planning. He's responsible for the family Wiki and all the spreadsheets (a software engineer by profession). Our son - obviously. He's Thomas.









And then my parents. My dad has always wanted to go back to Disney but my mum is very take it or leave it. I don't think she'd ever have said they could go just the two of them (although they are cruise addicts, so maybe he'd have got her on a Disney cruise eventually!) When our son was born, my dad threatened to confiscate our passports if we ever took him to Disney without letting him come!



Also making a cameo appearance is my brother. He has lived in San Francisco for over 10 yrs, but would be joining us for part of the trip. My brother is so laid back he's almost horizontal, and his although he'd planned to join us all along, his final plans were made incredibly last minute. However for those panicking about booking stuff, we were able to add him to several of our ADRs and he got most of his Fastpasses to match ours. The only Fastpasses he couldn't get just a couple of weeks before were 7DMT and Test Track.

Bigger and better meant a full three weeks, and all of them onsite in at Disney. We soon picked April time because it was good for me work wise, out of school holidays and seemed a good time both crowd and weather wise. With there being five of us for three weeks knew we wanted plenty of space, and ideally everyone sleeping in a proper bed, which meant a two bed at OKW was a logical choice.

We booked, direct with Disney, on the day that free dining was released last year, almost exactly one year to go. My dad made the actual booking as, being retired, he had the time to sit on the phone (although I was at work fiddling with online booking too!). He sent me a message the minute it was confirmed saying we were off to see Mickey, Minnie, Goofy etc... I may have done a little dance of joy!

We booked flights separately with BA. We knew we wanted direct - as the budget covered it - from Gatwick as we live pretty close. I used to be a reasonably loyal Virgin flyer, but lately cannot justify their prices. I see flights as a big tin can to get you from A to B. I've had good and bad service on all the major players, so price and timing are what is important. BA were hundreds of pounds cheaper than VA, so that's who we booked.

We arranged car hire through Alamo, for collection at the DCCC. We wanted to make use of the Magical Express and avoid one of us having to drive after the flight, plus squeezing all of the luggage in to the car at the airport, so this is why we'd arranged it that way. I booked one night at RPR through BA at a great rate. Universal and SeaWorld tickets were booked through Orlando Attractions as this was the best price we found. I booked Dine with Shamu and Behind the Scenes direct with Seaworld. We also booked Gatorland tickets through Attraction tix when they had an adult-for-child offer, and Ian and I booked the zip lines at the same time. KSC was booked direct also. Finally we organised stroller rental from Kingdom Strollers. And all of that brought us to the autumn!

We also did some "practice runs" with our son, which started with a trip to Legoland last summer. He really loved everything and had no fear about any of the rides, and he had great stamina too. Ian and I "practiced" with a trip to Alton Towers for our wedding anniversary, which happened to be less than two weeks after the Smiler accident. As a result, when we arrived we were given free return tickets to use before the end of the year. That one worked well, because return we did... Taking Thomas this time. We went back in September once the schools were back. The place was a ghost town and we queued for nothing! Thomas rode the Octonauts roller coaster five times in a row, and numerous other times too, and named it his absolute favourite ride! Our final bit of "practice" was an unscheduled trip to Paulton's Park just a few weeks before going, with our nieces who live close to there. Even then, he loved the caterpillar roller coaster, riding it twice in a row, and the small pirate ship which he also ride twice in a row. Remember this fact for later!













Back to the autumn. In the meantime I started losing weight. I didn't have a lot to shift, but it needed to come off Florida or not, and the holiday was a great motivation. I've been a 12-14 ever since giving birth, but had to admit it was creeping much more towards 14. So I bought a pair of red shorts that I loved in a size 12 (14 was not available, so I didn't have a choice) and whilst they did up, they were not comfortable and created an enormous muffin top. So fitting in to them properly was my goal. Just over a stone lighter, and they were a fab fit. I actually lost a few more pounds after that and set off for Florida very comfortable with my weight and size.

I made a homemade countdown chart next, with Velcro numbers to change. We then revealed the holiday to Thomas at 99 days to go, and let him change the numbers. He's a smart kid and we hadn't been super discreet, so he had more than an inkling, but was delighted to have it confirmed. I then suggested that he ring his Grandpa to tell him. Once on the phone he asked his Grandpa if he wanted to come too - and was delighted with the response that Grandma and Grandpa were most definitely coming!



The rest... Well, you know the score. We used the busy day guide and our preferences to come up with a schedule. Made ADRs. Slotted more stuff in to the rest breaks which dwindled the closer it got. ADRs and Fast passes went pretty much without a hitch. New Tripp suitcases were purchased, new clothes and plenty of themed T-shirts were acquired and then, before we knew it, we were setting off for the airport!
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Old 28 May 16, 10:39 PM  
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Mel49
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Sounds like you had a fantastic trip planned and look forward to reading more especially with a 25 year gap since your last visit. It sounds like you have tried to prepare your son well and it will be great for his grandparents to experience his first visit with him too
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Old 29 May 16, 12:43 AM  
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1983 was my first trip too.very different from today's trip
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Old 29 May 16, 08:07 AM  
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Caroian
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Thank you both for reading

It was really lovely to be able to do as a whole family.

And yeah, things have changed A. Lot. since 1983. A lot is unrecognisable. But then, so much is still exactly the same!
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Old 29 May 16, 08:17 AM  
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jorm35
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Looking forward to hearing all about your time there. My eldest was that age too on his first trip - loved meeting buzz and woody 😀
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Old 29 May 16, 08:54 AM  
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Sounds like a fab trip coming up!

Love taking our girls to theme parks for 'practice trips!'
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Old 7 Jun 16, 11:28 PM  
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My first and last trip was also in 1983, can't wait to return next year!
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Old 8 Jun 16, 12:22 PM  
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Oh I am so excited to read your report after this! Loving the photos of your trip to WDW as a child, amazing to see how quiet Main Street was back then!

And Thomas is just gorgeous, I can't wait to read all about your trip with him!
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Old 13 Jun 16, 08:57 AM  
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great start ..looking forward to more
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Old 18 Jun 16, 10:33 AM  
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Caroian
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Originally Posted by jorm35 View Post
Looking forward to hearing all about your time there. My eldest was that age too on his first trip - loved meeting buzz and woody 😀
Buzz and Woody was definitely a highlight!

Originally Posted by ely3857 View Post
Sounds like a fab trip coming up!

Love taking our girls to theme parks for 'practice trips!'
Practice trips are great! Unfortunately having now taken him I can't really justify too many more theme park trips this year without it feeling like we are "spoiling" him!

Originally Posted by OnOurWay View Post
My first and last trip was also in 1983, can't wait to return next year!
You will love it - although not recognise it. We've also been since then, but even so much of it was not recognisable!

Originally Posted by Lisa_Lollipop View Post
Oh I am so excited to read your report after this! Loving the photos of your trip to WDW as a child, amazing to see how quiet Main Street was back then!

And Thomas is just gorgeous, I can't wait to read all about your trip with him!
Thank you! I know that you've read some of the other days by now (I'm just even slower at responding to these comments than o other days I think) but hope it is living up to expectation!

Originally Posted by Jockey View Post
great start ..looking forward to more
Thank you.. I hope the rest of the report is meeting expectations!
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