Holidays

Orlando 2017 – Day 14 & 15

Day 14 & 15 – Typhoon Lagoon, a last visit to Outback and Disney Springs

Due to travelling home the following day, we decided to have a relaxing day at Typhoon Lagoon for our last full day of the holiday.

As we normally travel to Orlando in October / November, either Typhoon Lagoon or Blizzard Beach are closed (alternate years) for refurbishment.

Unfortunately, 2017 fell that Blizzard Beach was closed and being the much better of the two parks, we were a little disappointed to be stuck with Typhoon Lagoon.

We hadn’t visited Typhoon Lagoon for over 10 years, but to be honest, not a lot had changed. The waves are really good fun but after visiting all the new attractions at Volcano Bay, we just found all the slides at Typhoon Lagoon really lame in comparison.

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The weather was also quite overcast and I couldn’t help wishing that we had gone to a theme park instead as it was quite cold.

Nevertheless, we made the most of the day. We did all the rides and the boys spent most of the day in the waves.

After going home and doing a bit of packing, the boys had one last dip in the pool before  we headed to our favourite restaurant, Outback. As always, the food was delicious.

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The next morning, after packing up all of our luggage and loading the car, we took a few photographs of our home and car for the two weeks before heading to Disney Springs.

We had a wander around Disney Springs and visited the main Disney Store which was decked out for Christmas before arriving at Raglan Road Irish Pub for our 1pm reservation.

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They have quite an extensive GF menu and both myself and Fin had beer battered cod in a gluten free batter with chips and tomato sauce which was delicious. It was so nice to have a change from the normal burger, steak and ribs options.

After our meal we visited Erin McKenna’s bakery which is just around the corner from Raglan Road.

Everything is gluten free and vegan and the choices were amazing! You can visit their website here.

We bought a few doughnuts and cookies and you would never have known they were gluten free. They were quite expensive but TOTALLY worth it.

Finally, we went to the Disney Photopass Studio and had our final photos added to our card. We only found out about this by chance and whilst they don’t have a huge array of backgrounds, they were a nice touch to finish off the holiday.

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Sadly, it was then time to make our way back to the car and head to the airport.

It was an easy drive and the car drop off to Alamo was really straight forward. We were lucky enough to be chosen for premium security and flew through which was brilliant as the queues for the regular lines were huge.

The flight was on time and uneventful and we all slept on and off all flight after what had been a manic but amazing 15 days.

I can honestly say it was the best holiday of my life and as we touched down at Gatwick, I was absolutely devastated to be home.

Beth

x

 

 

 

Holidays

Orlando 2017 – Day 13

Day 13 – Hollywood Studios
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We had an early start this morning as the boys wanted to do the Jedi training. We got to the car park at 8.55am, gave all the bags to my mother and Andrew and me and the boys bolted to the queue.

It was already huge by the time we got there and we were told there was a 45 minute wait and it was quite likely that we wouldn’t get a place and would be on standby.

The boys wanted to wait anyway but Fin’s bloods were super high which means he needed to go to the toilet every 5 minutes so we explained to the cast member and asked if he could wait with Andrew outside of the queue and then join us at the front once we got there.

He opened the ropes and took us straight to the front of the queue. It was so kind of him and I’m not sure we would have got on otherwise despite being there before park opened. He said people start queuing outside the gates at 8am to get a place.

We were booked on to the 3:10pm session and then had some photographs by the harbour with the Christmas Tree.

We then made our way to our first FP for Tower of Terror. I love this ride and the boys rode it for the first time and loved it too.

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After this we headed to the 11am showing of Beauty and the Beast. The boys weren’t amused but I insisted!

Next we did Rock n Roller Coaster. I love rollercoasters but I hate this ride. It really bashes your head around and even though it’s good fun, I could never ride it more than once.

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We then watched the Storm Trooper parade and headed for lunch at Backlot Express where me and Fin both had the gluten free chicken tenders and fries.

Next we went to the Indiana Stunt show but it was standing room only so we headed to Star Wars instead and watched the 15 minute film there and then met BB8, Chewbacca and Kylo Ren.

Had to be back for the Jedi training at 2.40pm and the boys got their robes and then marched over to the Temple Stage where they took on Kylo Ren and Darth Vader. It was really good to watch and the Memory Maker photographers took over 500 pictures which they saved to a photo pass card and gave to us for free.

After this we went to Toy Story Mania for our 2nd FP and then had pictures with Chewbacca followed by the Indiana Jones Stunt Show which the boys loved.

We then did our 3rd FP on the Star Wars ride and then I managed to book a 4th FP for Fantasmic.

We walked up to Rosie’s American Diner for tea and watched the new Christmas projection on to the Hollywood Tower of Terror, followed by one more ride in Tower of Terror before heading for our fastpass for Fantasmic.

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Despite the FP there was hardly any seats left, but we managed to get some on the side plenty of time before the show started.

I love Fantasmic, it is my favourite end of day show from any of the parks and it didn’t disappoint as always.

It was a bit mad trying to get out and then for the first time ever we lost our car. Wandered around the lot for ages before finally finding it 15 minutes later!

We were worried that there wasnt enough at Hollywood Studios to fill a full day but we hardly had a minute spare.

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The park looked gorgeous all dressed for Christmas and they even played Christmas songs all day and had fake snow falling as we left.

All in all, it was an enjoyable but tiring day!

Typhoon Lagoon tomorrow for our last day!

Beth xx

Holidays

Orlando 2017 – Day 7

Day 7 – A mad day of park hopping!

So, today was scheduled as a rest day but for various reasons, instead we decided to do a park hop to fit in some extras.

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Firstly, we went to Animal Kingdom as the boys wanted to do Everest and Flight of Passage again. We had a lie in and got to the park at 11am.

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We did Everest first, then the Jungle Trek and It’s Tough to be a Bug again before heading to the Rainforest Café for our 1:15pm reservation.

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Our meal was lovely once again and we were served personally by the chef. I had the bacon cheese burger and Fin went for the ribs with fries. We then shared the white chocolate and raspberry cake for dessert.

Our Fast Pass for Flight of Passage wasn’t until mid afternoon and so after lunch we made our way over to Dinosaur again.

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Flight of Passage was every bit as good the second time around and I was a little sad that it would be the last time we got to experience it.

Next, we got in the car and headed to EPCOT as Cian wanted to do the Test Track ride which was closed due to a technical error when we were there on the Sunday. He is obsessed with cars and so if he had missed out on this opportunity he would have been gutted.

As we had used all 3 of our Fast Passes, I was then able to book an additional Fast Pass for Test Track in EPCOT.

Tip: You can only book Fast Passes in different parks once you have used all your first three in one particular park. Also, once you have paid the parking at one Disney Park, your ticket covers you for any of the parks on that day.

The boys loved designing their own cars but I was totally unprepared for the speed of ride which took my breath away.


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Lastly, we headed to Hollywood Studios for the Star Wars Galactic Spectacular. We were scheduled to go to Hollywood Studios on the 9th November but the Star Wars event finished on the 8th so we didn’t want to miss it.

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En route, I booked a FP for Rock n Rollercoaster so that we could ride as soon as we got there. I had forgotten how rough this ride was. I love rollercoasters but this really bashes your head around and I had quite a headache by the time we got off. Once was definitely enough.

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There was loads going on in the Studios. There was some screening to do with the Christmas Parade which there were huge queues for and there was also a Christmas event being filmed. In addition, Fantasmic was taking place at 7:30pm which meant we had front row seats for the Star Wars show.

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I’m not a Star Wars fan by any stretch of the imagination but it was really impressive with illuminations of scenes from the films along with music and finishing with fireworks. We were really glad we had made the effort to see it.

We didn’t eat at the Studios as we were still quite full from our meal at lunch and so we grabbed some pizzas on the way back to the villa.

Our much anticipated dolphin swim was scheduled for the next day at Discovery Cove and we could not wait!

Beth

xx

 

Holidays

Orlando 2017 – Day 6

Day 6 – Magic Kingdom

I’m not going to lie. Magic Kingdom has never been my favourite park and after seeing a lot of reviews on the It’s Orlando Time Facebook page slating the crowds, I was kind of dreading our visit.

We arrived at 9:45am, a little later than planned, and queues for most rides were already showing 30 to 50 minutes on the app. Coupled with the fact that it was a gazillion degrees, I was not optimistic for the day ahead. We queued for about five minutes and then the ferryboat arrived and we made our way over.

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The park looked beautiful and is already decorated for Christmas. We had some lovely pictures in front of the castle then headed to Adventureland.

I originally had a Fast Pass for the Haunted Mansion but the boys didn’t want to go in (they definitely weren’t scared though!!) and so I quickly changed it on my phone to the Jungle Cruise which had temporarily been re-named the Jingle Cruise for Christmas. We also did Aladdin’s Magic Carpet and Pirates of the Caribbean.

It was 12:10pm by now so we headed to Columbia Harbour House for lunch. Me and Fin had gluten free chicken tenders and chips which were prepared especially and brought out personally by the chef.

Headed straight to Thunder Mountain and then made our way to the parade. We had a fab spot but we were in direct sunlight and I actually thought I was going to melt at one point. The parade was excellent but a lot shorter than I remembered from five years ago.

After this, we headed to Tomorrowland for our Fast Pass for Space Mountain. We then did Mickey’s Philharmonic, Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Test Track.

We then had pictures with Buzz Lightyear, which made Andrew’s day, before heading for our next Fast Pass for the Buzz Lightyear ride. We still had an hour to kill after this so I made everyone go on It’s a Small World, the Little Mermaid ride and Peter Pan’s flight much to their disgust!

Next we headed to Liberty Tree Tavern for our dinner reservation. It is a thanksgiving type of feast and all I can say is Wow! The chef personally brought all the Gluten Free courses and everything was delicious.

We had warm gluten free rolls and salad for starters then beef pot roast, roast pork, roast turkey, gluten free stuffing and gravy and red skinned mashed potato. It was so tasty and expertly cooked. For dessert, we had warm gluten free brownies with vanilla ice cream.

Unfortunately, as we were so hungry, I forgot to take a picture until we had almost finished!

We left the Liberty Tree Tavern at 8:40pm just in time to get a decent enough spot for Happily Ever After. This was hands down the best ever show I have seen in Magic Kingdom. The projections onto the castle were so clever and the music and the variety of films they used really made it for me. Amazing!

The show finished at 9:20pm and despite a huge queue for the ferry, we were in the car and on the road by 10:15pm so not too bad at all.

After leaving the villa at 8:45am, we didn’t get home until just before 11pm so it was a very long day.

So….Magic Kingdom … was it busy? Yes

Were the queues huge? Yes

Did we have a blast? Hell Yeah!

Beth

xx

 

Holidays

Orlando 2017 – Day 5

Day 5 – Aquatica

None of us woke up until 8:45am and so didn’t get to Aquatica until 10:15am but it was empty and so we parked right by the entrance.

We had such a lovely relaxing day. We bought the dining package which was $25 for adults and $15 for kids for an entrée, dessert, snack and all day refillable drinks in a souvenir cup which we definitely maximised the use of, as the weather was scorching.

The boys spent the majority of the day either riding the slides or just having fun in the pool.

The gluten free options for lunch were probably the worst we have come across. They were able to do hot dogs but no fries and I had a burger in between two pieces of hard gluten free bread.

We managed to do all the slides and I even braved the one in a cylinder where the floor disappears form under you. I was terrified but it was actually not as bad as I expected. I made the boys go on first to suss it out obviously!

We left the park at 5pm and then the boys spent a couple of hours in the pool back in the villa before we went for food at Outback.

I love Outback and it’s probably one of my favourite restaurants in Orlando and as an added bonus, they have a extensive gluten free menu!

I had a rib eye steak with a loaded jacket potato and Fin had bbq ribs and a jacket potato. Randomly, as I didn’t want my second side, they brought me two loaded jackets.

The food was delicious, as always and everyone agreed it was our best meal yet.

A very long day awaited us in Magic Kingdom the next day and so we headed back as soon as we had paid our bill.

Beth

xx

Holidays

Orlando 2017 – Day 4

Day 4 – Animal Kingdom – 31/10/17

I first set foot in Animal Kingdom in 2005 and I fell in love with the place. Since then, it has been my favourite Disney park and I couldn’t wait to get back!

As it was Halloween and there were huge events on in Magic Kingdom and Universal, we scheduled Animal Kingdom thinking that it would be quiet! WRONG!

We got to the park at 9:05 and the car park was already rammed!

As we walked in, there were loads of photo pass photographers waiting to take photographs in front of the Tree of Life and we had quite a few done before we headed to our first planned attraction – The Lion King.

This is a show and I wouldn’t waste a fast pass on this as it shows almost every hour and holds a huge amount of people. As long as you are there 15 minutes before the next showing, it’s very unlikely that you won’t get in.

The Lion King is one of my favourite films and I love the show that they put on in AK. It is bright, full of vibrant colours, music and acrobatics. It puts you in such a good mood and it’s impossible to leave without a smile on your face.

After the show, we posed for a picture with Timon before heading to our first fast pass of the day – Kilimanjaro Safari.

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This is extremely popular and the queues are 60 minutes + within an hour of the park opening. With our FP we only queued for 10 minutes before we were loaded on to our truck.

As well as seeing lots of animals, the ride itself is made even more entertaining by the guide and the totally uneven paths throwing you around the jeep.

Next, we made our way to “It’s a Bug’s Life” which is a 4D show inside the Tree of Life and I won’t give away any spoilers but it is really good fun with a few surprises thrown in!

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We then decided to make our way to Pandora, stopping for lunch on the way at Pizzafari.

The chef made us gluten free pepperoni pizzas and brought them to our table despite it being a self service restaurant which I was really impressed with.

After lunch, when we walked into Pandora, all I could say was WOW! Even though we had seen pictures, they do not do it justice. The attention to detail and workmanship is out of this world and you literally feel as though you are in another land.

We then entered the queue for the long awaited Flight of Passage. Despite being in the fast pass queue, we still waited approximately 25 minutes but it was totally worth it!

It is without a doubt THE best ride I have ever experienced. You feel as though you are actually riding on a banshee through Pandora. The colours and the smells are amazing and I really can’t put it into words, you need to ride it to understand! If you are unable to get a fast pass I would definitely wait in the standby queue. You won’t regret it!

Next, we went straight over to the Na’vi River Journey which was nice enough but nowhere near worth the waiting times in the standby queue.

Throughout the rest of the afternoon, we managed to ride Expedition Everest 3 times, Dinosaur and Primeval Whirl by constantly booking one fast pass after another.

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We also had photographs with Russell from up and the one and only Donald Duck!

We then made our way back over to Pandora for the Na’vi Drum Ceremony!

Finally, as we had utilised all our fast passes, we booked the last one of the day for the Rivers Of Light show on the lake.

The whole stadium was packed and the atmosphere was really peaceful with lanterns blowing and music playing.

Whilst I enjoyed the show, it wasn’t up to the normal Disney standard and I much prefer Fantasmic at Hollywood Studios.

Our last stop of the day was at the Rainforest Café which is located at the front of the park. Again, I hadn’t made a reservation but I presented my Landrys card and we were seated within 10 minutes.

The chef came to see us straight away to discuss gluten free options and we both ordered Bacon Cheese Burgers with fries which were delicious.

Then after a very long but enjoyable day, we headed back to the villa for a well needed rest. We got in at 10pm after leaving at 8:30am that morning.

Luckily we had a lazy day planned at Aquatica the next day.

Beth xx

Holidays

Orlando 2017 – Day 3

Day 3 – Sea World

As Sea World didn’t open until 10am, we had a later start and arrived as the park opened.

It was relatively quiet so we decided to try and do all the big rollercoasters first on the basis that the queues would be smaller than later in the day. There are currently 3 rollercoasters in Sea World, Kraken, Manta and Mako. Fin was a few inches too short for  all 3 of them so he also wanted us to “get them over with” as he was gutted that he couldn’t ride.

We loved all three of them. Mako was a new addition since we were there in 2012 and the VR headset had been added to the Kraken ride which was out of this world!

We watched the sea lion show and then headed for lunch where we visited the Spice Mill restaurant. As there was nothing specifically gluten free on the menu, I asked one of the servers if they could cater for us and they immediately called the chef.

He offered to make us bacon cheeseburgers on gluten free buns with fries and despite there being huge queues, he told us to sit at a table and he would bring them over. It was absolutely delicious and one of the best Quick Service meals of the whole holiday.

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After lunch we managed to fit in the dolphin show and the main Shamu show along with at least 3 rides on Journey to Atlantis where we got soaked and one last ride on Manta which is my favourite.

The park closed at 6pm and we had more than covered everything that we wanted to. My main reason for visiting Sea World is for the rollercoasters rather than the shows and in reality, I don’t feel there is enough there to fill a whole day.

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At some point this year, their new ride Infinity Falls is due to open which is a high speed family rapids ride. This was being built when we were there and looks like it will be great fun.

Once we left the park, we headed to the Disney Wilderness Lodge resort where we had a reservation at the Whispering Canyon Café. The restaurant is based on the ground floor of the Wilderness Lodge hotel and the entrance hall / reception is stunning.

I had read about the restaurant before we travelled, hence the reservation, but nothing can prepare you for how totally random it is.

If someone asks for ketchup, the server screams “Ketchup” and every single table in the restaurant ends up bringing their bottles of ketchup to your table!!

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In the middle of the meal, the servers will just randomly shout instructions such as everyone stand and sing / dance to a song of the waiter’s choice or all children ride around the restaurant on a hobby horse. It was one of the noisiest, least relaxing meals I have ever had but Fin, especially, thought it was hysterical.

The plus point was that the food was delicious. We had the “All you care to enjoy skillet” which consisted of Family-style Mixed Greens Dressed with Apple Vinaigrette, Fresh-baked Cornbread, Slow-smoked Pork Ribs, Barbecued Pulled Pork, Oak-smoked Beef Brisket, Herb-roasted Chicken, Western-style Sausage, Mashed Yukon Potatoes, Buttered Corn, Seasonal Farm-fresh Vegetables, and Cowboy-style Baked Beans. As an added bonus, it was all gluten free.

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We also had a gorgeous gluten free chocolate cake with marshmallows, chocolate chips and ice cream for dessert.

While the food was lovely and the kids really enjoyed the atmosphere, I don’t think the meal justified the $230 price tag for 5 people. This was by far the most expensive meal of the whole fortnight but I suppose you pay for the location and the entertainment. Again, all this would be covered if you are on a Disney or Deluxe Dining plan which is amazing value.

Animal Kingdom tomorrow – my favourite Disney park!

Beth

xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holidays

Orlando 2017 – Day 2

Day 2 – EPCOT

We agreed to leave at 8:45am and so I had set my mother’s alarm for 8am the night before. I was awake off and on from 5am and eventually got up at 7:45am and started breakfast.

My mother was in the master bedroom on the ground floor and by 8:25am, I realised I hadn’t heard her moving around. I sent Cian to knock on her door and she ran out looking like the guy from the Prodigy’s Firestarter video. Apparently, her phone had turned itself back an hour and so she thought it was only 7:25am.

Despite this, we were out of the villa and on the road by 8:40 (without me having to use my whistle) and we arrived at EPCOT by 9:15am.

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The bag search took slightly longer as I need to show them the medical note for all of Fin’s medication and gluten free snacks but we were in the park and heading for our breakfast reservation by 9:30am.

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We had booked a character breakfast at the Garden Grill which is a revolving restaurant in the Future World West area of the park. I had come across the restaurant after reading several gluten free blogs and everyone raved about the GF Mickey waffles and they were not wrong.

The food was amazing!

We had cinnamon muffins, the all important Mickey Waffles, bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs and hash brown barrels as well as a massive bowl of fresh fruit and juices. You could order as much as you wanted but we found that the first serving was more than enough for us all.

During the meal, Chip n Dale, Mickey and Pluto stopped alongside our table to sign autographs and pose for numerous photos much to Andrew’s delight. I have literally never seen a grown man get so excited to have pictures with Disney characters in my life!

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All in all, it was fab start to our day and whilst it wasn’t cheap at $156 for 5 of us, it was worth every cent. For those people on a Disney Dining Plan or a Deluxe Dining Plan, this would be fully inclusive. You can read more about all the different types of Dining plans here.

We then queued to have our pictures taken with Mickey, Minnie and Goofy as you can’t go to Disney and not get a photo with the REAL Mickey!

After this we used our fast pass for Soarin’ where we spent the whole ride laughing at my mother who kept squealing and wiping imaginary mud from her face.

Originally, I had a further two fast passes booked for 2:45pm and 5:30pm but during the day, upon checking the app on my phone (all the parks have fantastic free WIFI), I found fast passes for Living with the Land and The Seas with Nemo at earlier times and booked these instead. This meant I used my 3 fast passes by 2pm and I could then make further selections for the rest of the day.

Tip: Whilst you can only make 3 fast pass reservations in advance, once you have used these on the day, you are free to make more, one at a time, for the rest of the day. There is a whole web page dedicated to getting the most out of your fast passes here. And whilst it is quite a complicated read, bear in mind that most non fast pass queues are in excess of 45 minutes, which means planning your day in advance will save you a LOT of time.

Living with the Land is THE most boring ride in the world and Nemo was a little young for the boys but we did them anyway and by 3pm, we had used all our fast passes and ended up getting 2 more for Pixar Movies and Spaceship Earth which meant we had utilised five in 6 hours.

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In between, we also managed to fit in Frozen Ever After, Mission Space and the Donald Duck ride in Mexico before leaving the park at 6pm so all in all, a pretty successful day.

 

We then headed to Applebees near the villa for a cheap and cheerful evening meal. They have quite a good choice of gluten free items as you can see below.

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After our meal, we went back to the villa where the boys played in the pool for an hour before we all headed to bed in preparation for the following day at Sea World.

Beth xx

 

 

 

 

Holidays, Type 1 Diabetes

Our Holiday of a Lifetime – Orlando 2017

In October 2017, after counting down the days for over a year, we set off on our holiday of lifetime to Orlando.

My motto on Disney holidays is “Go hard or go home!” and our type of holiday may not be for everyone but when it costs in excess of £10k, I want to squeeze out every last drop as who knows when we will be lucky enough to go again.

With that in mind, I spent the preceding 6 months planning! I followed numerous blogs and visited various websites to suss out the gluten free offerings. I looked at the estimated crowds and park opening times to ensure we went to the right parks on the right days and over time, I drew up an itinerary of what park we were going to on what day, what fast passes we were aiming to get, where we would eat lunch and details of all the reservations I had made for our evening meals. I even noted what outfits we would wear each day and yes, I do realise I have issues!

I also joined the “It’s Orlando Time” Facebook group where I found lots of brilliant tips and also loved reading the blogs that people wrote on the group whilst they were out in Orlando.

That’s when I decided to do the same while we were there as despite taking a million photographs, I felt it would be lovely to be able to look back and remember what we did each day.

As it is almost a year to the day since we travelled, I have decided to record the daily blogs that I wrote on here along with the photos from each day so that we can have a complete memory of what we all agreed was our best holiday ever!

As we were travelling with Type 1 and Coeliac, I am also hopeful that some Type 1 Tips and Gluten Free restaurants we found will be helpful to others.

Travel Day and Rest Day – 26/11/2017 & 27/11/2017

After staying in the Premier Inn North Terminal overnight, by 7am, the kids were bouncing off the walls so we all had showers and went down to breakfast where all the staff were dressed up for Halloween.

Every member of staff we encountered at the hotel both during the evening meal the previous evening, check in, breakfast and check out were all extremely friendly and polite and for anyone travelling to Orlando from Gatwick North Terminal, I would highly recommend staying here.

As part of the price, we had onsite parking at the hotel and as an added bonus, the terminal was a mere 5 minute walk away.

After breakfast, we headed straight to the airport to check in which was pretty painless and then headed to security. Due to all the medical paraphernalia I need to take for Fin, I paid £5.00 per adult (no charge for children) to go through the Premium Security as I always find this the most stressful part of travelling. They were amazing with Fin, immediately agreeing that he could bypass all the machines and agreeing to a pat down instead. As an added bonus we walked straight through with no queues and the whole process was over within 5 minutes. Well worth the £5.00!

We all had a drink in the airport (it’s tradition!) and then met a lady who, in her mid thirties, was travelling to Disney for the first time all on her own. She was so excited and asked me to take a picture of her and she then returned the favour and took one of us all in our Disney T shirts (which Andrew initially refused to wear but I knew I would wear him down!)

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The flight (Virgin Atlantic – Pretty Woman) was on time and the whole journey went extremely quickly. I watched all 7 episodes of “Big Little Lies” and the boys watched Cars 3, Spiderman and Kong: Skull Island.

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We had pre ordered gluten free meals for me and Fin and we were really impressed with them.

For mains, we had chicken in a soy sauce with sweet potato, green beans and peas which was really tasty. We also had a salad bowl, apple crisps and a raspberry jelly.

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Mid flight, they handed out “Fab” lollies and then towards the end of the flight, we had chicken salad sandwiches on gluten free bread with crisps and popcorn.

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Once we landed, we had to queue in immigration for over an hour which meant that by the time we got to baggage reclaim, all our cases were there waiting for us.

Headed straight to Alamo to pick up our car which again, was painless as I had already checked in online. We had paid for a Dodge Caravan and were told to head out to the parking lot and choose whichever one we wanted. We chose a white one, picked up our sat nav from the exit and were on the road by 7pm after landing at 5:20pm.

Tip: I changed my car rental booking several times before we left. Prices fluctuate hugely from month to month and whilst I initially reserved a car directly with Alamo for approximately £800.00, I eventually got the exact same car through Netflights (as a broker for Alamo) for £200.00 cheaper.

We arrived at our villa around 8pm and it was absolutely beautiful. We booked our villa through Citrus Grove Villas and you can see the full specification and details here.

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We paid £1,800 (including pool heat) for 15 nights for 5 of us. However, the villa slept 8 and so for a large party, it would work out at £15.00 pppn which is insane!

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It was located on the Regal Palms complex in the Davenport area. This is approximately a 30 minute drive from the parks but we love the Davenport area and don’t mind a slight drive in the mornings as it gives everyone time to get (even more) excited.

Prior to our arrival, I had arranged for the Villa Management Company to do a shop for us and so we arrived to a fully stocked fridge with all the items we had asked for.

While the boys had a game of pool, me and my mother unpacked and Andrew went to the local pizzeria to pick up pizzas for everyone. The local MIA pizza also catered for gluten free and we had the nicest GF pepperoni pizza ever!

After stuffing our faces, we were all exhausted and headed to bed!

As we were expecting to be a bit jet lagged on the first day, we had the one and only rest day of the next 15 planned for the following day and so everyone could have a lie in.

Day 1 – Pool Day and Disney Springs – 28/11/2017

The kids woke me up approximately 575 times through the night culminating in Cian coming into our bedroom at 4am and demanding to get up as it was “9am back home!”

After me hissing that unless he went back to sleep, we would be on the next flight back home, they finally gave in and I didn’t hear them until 8am when we all got up and had breakfast.

The boys and my mother then played games in the pool while me and Andrew went to Publix to stock up with some more supplies. It’s no wonder most people eat out on holidays out there are the groceries are SO expensive. We spent almost $100 and had very little to show for it.

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We picked up a couple more pizzas and ate them around the pool then spent the afternoon sunbathing and listening to music while the boys amused themselves.

We had made a reservation at T-REX for 5pm but as everyone was enjoying spending time at the villa, we rang to cancel. There were no other reservations left for that evening (it was a Saturday night) but we were told that we would just have to queue for one of the walk in tables. I had ordered a Landry card before we went and so knew we wouldn’t have too long a wait.

Tip: Before travelling, apply for a Landry card here. It costs $25 but that credit then sits on the card and if you have a birthday during the period of your holiday, you also get an additional $25 credit added to the card. Nb. They do not check the birthday in any way and so if you should tell a little white lie, then I’m sure you wouldn’t get found out!

We arrived at T-REX in Disney Springs at 7pm and I heard the maître d tell the man in front of me that there was a 105 minute wait. I flashed my Landrys card and we were seated by 7:20pm so they are definitely worth having. They get you priority seating to T-REX, Rainforest Café, Bubba Gumps and Yak and Yeti amongst others.

The food in T-REX was lovely but the portions were HUGE. They had a few gluten free choices but unfortunately the waffle fries weren’t gluten free and so Fin had bbq ribs and skin on mash which he spent the entire evening picking the skin out of much to my annoyance.

He then had an amazing chocolate flourless cake which he demolished.

Back home, both of the boys eat adult meals. In Orlando, there is NO NEED to buy adult meals. The children’s meals are more than ample and so save yourself some dollar!

For 5 main meals, 3 desserts and 5 drinks, the meal came to $136 but with the $25 credit and $25 birthday bonus on the Landry card, we only ended up paying $86 (plus gratuity)which for a meal for 5 people, smack bang in the middle of Disney Springs wasn’t bad at all.

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After we had finished our meal, we went to the Disney store to buy our Magic Bands and then headed to Guest Relations to get them linked to “My Disney Experience” which meant we were good to go for the following morning.

Tip: Magic Bands are not essential but I would highly recommend them. They act as your ticket to all the Disney parks meaning you just scan your wrist to enter. They are also linked to all your fast passes meaning you simply swipe at the fast pass queue at each attraction to release the barrier. In addition, they link to your photo pass meaning just one of the family needs to scan their band to ensure any photographs are linked to the family Disney account. All this can be done with tickets but it is so much easier not to have to fuss getting them in and out of your purse and with a gazillion things to fit in each day, every spare minute counts.

They also look quite cool.

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Once we had got our bands sorted, we headed home.

EPCOT would be our first Disney park the next day. I planned this first as I am with Homer Simpson in that it is “The most boring place on Earth” and so I wanted to get it over and done with.

As it happens, we had a pretty fab day!

More tomorrow….

Beth xx