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 11

Day 11 – Volcano Bay

We packed up as soon as we woke at 7.30, put all the luggage in the car and headed to the diner again for breakfast. Me and Fin both had bacon, sausage and breakfast potatoes. He also had scrambled eggs with his.

After this we headed to Volcano Bay as guests have early access from 8.30 am before the park opens to the general public. You have to catch a shuttle bus in from the main Universal car park if you are not on site.

I had read before we left that as it was newly opened, some people were arriving at 6.30am to start queuing and some were still being turned away as the park was at capacity.

From our hotel, it was a 2 minute walk into the park and we were there with sunbeds right in front of the volcano by 9.15am.

The park operates a Tapu Tapu system where you are issued with a wrist band upon entering the park. Then, if there are queues for a ride, you tap your band against the sensor and it puts you in a virtual queue and vibrates when it’s your turn to ride.

We decided to try and do all the rides beforethe official park opening of 10am to give us the best chance of walking straight on. We managed to do them all apart from the main drop slides in the actual volcano by 10.40am and didn’t have to queue for anything.

The Aqua Coaster which attracts the biggest queue was ‘Ride Now’ and we went around twice as there was no one waiting.

After we had done most of the rides we sunbathed for a bit while the boys played in in the waves which occur every 20 minutes and then went on the wild river which was good fun but the currents were really strong.

Lunch was carnage. You had to queue in a 4 deep line only to then be directed to a specific window depending on what you wanted to order and then queue again to actually order then wait for your food and queue again to pay! It was a totally ridiculous situation and took me 40 minutes from starting to queue until paying, by which time I had lost the will to live.

Then, as I was walking to the table with the 2 GF meals and 3 drinks, a boy walked backwards into my tray and knocked 2 of the drinks all over the floor. He was mortified and kept apologising. Told him it was fine even though I wanted to kill him but at that point was just relived that none of the drinks had tipped onto the food and just made do with the drinks we had left between us.

After lunch, I built up the courage to do the drop slides. I hate them but have this weird thing where I don’t want the kids to think Andrew is more fun than me so make myself do everything that he does!

I did the blue one first. You stand in a capsule, then the floor disappears and you shoot down and then corkscrew in twists and turns until the bottom. It was horrific and water shot into my ears making me partially deaf! Finally, I braved the red one which is pretty much a vertical drop into a horizontal tube. It looks worse than the others but in actual fact it was nowhere near as bad.

The worst part of both rides was the 200+ steps you had to climb to the top! I needed oxygen by the time I got there!

We left around 5.30pm even though the park doesn’t close until 7pm as we had a reservation at Bahama Breeze and wanted to pick up some presents on the way back.

We headed to Bahama Breeze by 8.30pm and was a bit disappointed with the place. There was no real atmosphere there and they had very little GF options meaning me and Fin both had sirloin and mash (which was lumpy) and even though I asked for the steaks to be Medium / Well they were quite bloody and chewy. My mojito was also probably one of the worst I have ever had.

Cian had chicken wings with fries, my mother had goat curry and Andrew had Seafood Paella. They all loved their food so think we were just unlucky. Fin ate half of his then laid out a napkin on the table and promptly fell asleep!

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Water parks seem to wipe him out!

We paid the bill, headed home and went straight to bed as we were all exhausted from a busy few days.

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 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