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keith
01-12-2013, 04:41 PM
We flew out on Saturday morning from Manchester. Bit of a glitch as the plane we were due to use had a problem and left orlando a few hours late, but they swapped planes and thankfully, we were only delayed 30 mins which was made up during the flight.

We flew upper class this time and I must admit it was amazing. There was a queue at the checkin desk but they whisked us past it and opened up a new desk. They seemed to have all our details ready and so the normal typing of essays that goes on even with online checkin, seemed to be short circuited and we were out of there and up through fast check security. I dont know if Manchester was on a higher alert than usual but there were queues at all the security lines so having fast track did actually help.

Then through to the lounge. We're very used to the Escape lounge being snotty with us because we get access for "free" from the bank. They often say "we're full" even though we know they have a second lounge they can open. So I thought I'd try an experiment this time.... showed the bank access card and immediately a smarmy smile followed by "we're completely full", then gave in the upper class lounge invites. Sigh followed by "yes sir let me show you to our business lounge" which was across the way, same style as the "busy" one and completely empty. Anyway, once in there it was nice enough, bacon and sausage sandwiches were ordered and a variety of drinks consumed.

Soon enough it was time to board. Again upper class very useful in terms of boarding first. Once on and having turned to the left, it was easy to find our seats or perhaps I should say pods. We chose 6a/k which were recommended by Sir Slowhand. They were indeed great. Right in the nose cone of the 747 so no one walking past all the time. The windows were fine to peer out of but they didnt have any storage at all. However, not a problem since there's only 1 seat either side, all the bins were half empty. So that proved to be fine.

Once sat down, we were offered champagne, proper champers not the "sparkling wine" which they point out isnt champagne in premium economy. Also top ups were plentiful :). It's a small cabin and before take off I think we pretty much knew every one else and we'd all decided to take full advantage of the champagne to the extent that the crew dedicated a couple of people to opening bottles and going round topping up. Needless to say, my memory gets fuzzy after this point :lol:

The UC cabin was great. Small, quiet and just exactly how flying should be. As everyone else has said, it makes putting up with anything less very very difficult indeed. Seat very comfortable with plenty of space and of course it folds down flat for sleeping. That's an interesting process in itself. The cabin crew come and press some buttons which unfolds the seat and reveals blankets pillows and such. So by the time they've finished, it really is comfortable and great for sleeping.

For the first time ever the food was "ok->good". I can't go for "great" because the menu had been suddenly changed and the new didnt seem as good as advertised. I had mackerel for started which was SOOOOO tiny I had to try not to giggle but in fairness, it was very tasty and a nice change. Beef fillet had changed to beef stew which was a fairly typical stew. Desserts very nice and the cheese tray/port excellent too. Throughout the meal, the service was restaurant quality. The table was laid, proper cutlery used and options offered and the passengers names used which is a nice touch. I couldn't actually eat all on offer, it was too much and in terms of drinks, at this time I had a couple of glasses of different wines to try, a glass of port, a glass of champagne etc. even I had to admit to being beaten and just gave up and went to sleep.

Flash forward to America.... landed slightly ahead of time. People warned me immigration queues were bad now, 3/4hrs, well not yesterday, it was completely empty and we were through in 10mins or less. Bags straight out first on the conveyer so that was immediate. Over to alamo, we'd done the savetime stuff and although it's often debated, we decided to try just going to the garage. They briefly checked and said yep long as we have the bar code we didnt need to go to the desk and directed us to the row of cars. We'd chosen an SUV this time but after going through the options DW, who enjoys driving in the states, liked a ford escape which although not really the same size as we ordered, was new and nice so there we go. It's actually a great car and we're really enjoying it, especially like the sirius radio.

Out of the garage we had full instructions from Wendy on how to get to the I4 and it was perfect. (basically comes down to north exit for as long as we could, followed by exit 1b). Through 2 tolls, onto i4 and blam :) all great.

So we had time to do a quick publix stop for fried chicken :D and onto the villa. The kind villa owner had arranged everything for us perfectly and everything was immaculate as it always is. Dumped the cases and headed back out for that 730 ADR at le cellier EPCOT.

Parked at the boardwalk as you all suggested and valet parked. Quick boat ride to EPCOT and to guest services where a very confused CM looked at our uk 21 day ultimate voucher and got totally stuck :) a few mins of explanation and all done, we received two RFID cards one for the annual pass, one for the 21day. These cards are proper plastic like credit cards unlike the rubbish cardboard APs were made off but dont have the expiration dates on, so the CM wrote those on. We also bought tables in wonderland which doesnt do much these days except "pay for the gratuity". It's $100 for AP holders but we'll save way more than that in tips especially since we'll be visiting victoria and alberts later in the trip!

Next to the park! I didnt see any old style park entrance at the international gateway they were all mickey heads with rfid. LOADS of cms helping people and despite having just bought them, all went well and through we went. It seems a LOT faster than the old style!

Le cellier on time for our 730 reservation although not seated until 8pm I was started to doubt we'd be out for our illuminations at 9:30 but still. We had the cheese plate to start with along with the ice wine flight (which turned out to be three rather strong dessert wines). Main course was pepper steak with au poivre sauce for me and rib eye with red vine reduction for DW. I'd have to say although nice, mine was total pepper overload. If I was on a snobby cooking programme I'd have to say that the flavours were clumsily overdone rather than being subtly applied. DW's was really nice though, the sauce a perfect companion to the very sizeable steak. LE Cellier was as ever packed and apparently still booked up 6 months in advance. It's another dining plan casualty in my books having believed its own PR and thinking it's the very pinnacle of fine dining which it sure isn't ;-) but still, it's a nice, if expensive, steak meal at the parks. For the two of us, with a couple of cokes and the small wine flight for one, it came to $145 as ever, you can get SIGNIFICANTLY more and better offsite but par for the course for Disney.

A nice walk outside and illuminations was just about to start so we took our spot and watches. Wonderful as ever and because it's christmas time, we had the extra five minutes of "peace on earth" which, if you've never seen it, is amazing and they seem to fire off more fireworks in those special five minutes than the other twenty!

Back to the boardwalk on the boat, and then back to the villa to sleep having been mostly awake for 24 hrs at that point :lol:

So everything worked out really well and I do think the upper class experience, whilst not worth the thousands they charge if you don't use miles, is great. Certainly easier to arrive somewhat relaxed when traveling that way.

Today we plan to chill a little. Maybe a mall later or a quick shop somewhere but no huge plans :)

Beccaberry
01-12-2013, 05:10 PM
*SIGH* Sounds lovely so far!!!! Glad to hear you made your reservation!

Esmeralda
01-12-2013, 05:31 PM
Ah the nose cone.... it really is a nice experience isn't it :D Well it all went swimmingly for you! Cool!

Johnie
01-12-2013, 06:03 PM
Well I'm at MK right now if you want to stalk me :-)

keith
01-12-2013, 06:25 PM
Well I'm at MK right now if you want to stalk me :)

already stalked you last night at the beach club on the way back from EPCOT :D so that's one holiday activity checked off

Johnie
01-12-2013, 06:27 PM
already stalked you last night at the beach club on the way back from EPCOT :D so that's one holiday activity checked off


Haha, you are very good sir!

Tony G
01-12-2013, 06:55 PM
I had to snap myself out of 'dreamworld' after reading that - I'm not quite ready to return to reality just yet!

Have a wonderful time and keep the posts coming, if they're anything like this one, they'll be a great read.

Vikki
01-12-2013, 07:28 PM
Love that lounge story! Pleased you made the ADR!

Dawn
01-12-2013, 07:59 PM
I love the Mickey head ticket reader things. Especially because my mum kept breaking them. :lol: She has a bent index finger due to arthritis and the scanner could never read her finger properly. Needed the "special" CM with the laptop to sort her out every time.

Britchick
01-12-2013, 08:08 PM
you have the luck of the irish with immigration! and Le Cellier... $145 for 2...wow!

Slowhand
01-12-2013, 08:13 PM
What a fantastic start to your trip Keith.
My biggest mistake was to fly UC a few years ago thanks to Mr Branson and his FC programme, but once you`ve done it then there`s no way that you want to turn right again on boarding the plane. :lol: [That said, I would never pay top dollar for the privilige as the cost is sky high!]
It`s great to hear that your villa was up to expectations and that you managed to make your ADR at Le Cellier, even though off site you could have had [if I dare say it] a better meal at a fraction of the cost. Nevertheless you made up for it by Illuminations after dinner to get you into the Disney spirit, so maybe the cost pales into insignificance.
A great ploy with the lounge at Manchester BTW, I must try that on our imminent trip. :thumbsup:

Mari
02-12-2013, 01:35 AM
Wonderful start!!

The flight sounds really good :)

Tink
02-12-2013, 03:38 AM
Thank you for letting us know you arrived safely. :hug2: I hope you enjoy every second!!!!

Deafjeff
02-12-2013, 07:01 AM
What a brilliant start to your holiday!

Esmeralda
02-12-2013, 09:16 AM
Disgusting about the lounge though.... I would be complaining.

piglet
02-12-2013, 10:12 AM
We fly out in April UC and your description sounds so exciting we're really looking forward to it. Only travelled back UC before and slept most of the way so didn't get the full experience. Can't wait to go now

keith
02-12-2013, 03:13 PM
Disgusting about the lounge though.... I would be complaining.

yeah sigh :( they definitely have an attitude that the airport lounge schemes are less worthy than any other form of payment. I did have a minor, friendly, moan at them and they just said that the bank/lounge schemes are a discounted fee and they're only allowed to let people in if they have space available in the primary lounge. They can't open up more space or send them to the business part etc. I tried to say well if you dont want the business you should really just be up front and not enroll in the scheme to which one lady said yes we'd love not to take them at all. Sigh, way to miss the point.

keith
02-12-2013, 03:22 PM
We fly out in April UC and your description sounds so exciting we're really looking forward to it. Only travelled back UC before and slept most of the way so didn't get the full experience. Can't wait to go now

oh you're in for a total treat :yes: I know I'm not saying anything new at all but it's really the only way to fly.

Economy is awful these days IMHO. It's something to be tolerated for 9 hours and nothing more. That's "ok" when the prices were low but as the price goes up every year it starts feeling really bad. Premium Economy is just economy with some more leg room for double the price of economy. It's not until you get to upper class that you start to REALLY feel the difference.

Remember too that we flew from Manchester which is the worst place to do UC from because it's a third party rubbishy lounge v london which has a far better Virgin one.

The only problem with it is, unless money is completely no object, it's too expensive to consider paying out of pocket for in my opinion. Everything you get is great but it's not tangible enough for me to want to pay 3k a seat or more. So it comes down to having the miles.

Slowhand
02-12-2013, 03:26 PM
So it comes down to having the miles.

....and also to fit in with the few dates when reward seats are available. :toetap:

Slowhand
02-12-2013, 03:52 PM
Hey Keith, did you know that the VA cabin crew refer to seats 6A & K as the "honeymoon seats?
Apparently it is because couples occupying those places can play "footsie" when the seats are arranged as beds.

keith
03-12-2013, 12:10 AM
Well here we are at a very busy magic kingdom waiting for our be a guest reservation http://img.tapatalk.com/d/13/12/03/2eda7u8y.jpg

http://img.tapatalk.com/d/13/12/03/y6a2eta9.jpg

keith
03-12-2013, 01:07 AM
http://img.tapatalk.com/d/13/12/03/terysysu.jpg

keith
03-12-2013, 01:10 AM
http://img.tapatalk.com/d/13/12/03/3ejuqyry.jpg

Tink
03-12-2013, 02:27 AM
Footsie?

Tink
03-12-2013, 02:54 AM
So pretty! Hope you enjoyed it!

Britchick
03-12-2013, 08:37 AM
Still as good? How do you compare the ballroom and west wing?

Slowhand
03-12-2013, 11:57 AM
You lucky things. I have tried to get a reservation for dinner there but there is no availability on any of our days from Xmas up to Jan 14th !!!!
I know it`s not the best cuisine in the world but it is a novel experience, particularly being able to have a glass [or two!] of wine while being in a park.
Hope you had a good time.

uscwest
03-12-2013, 12:36 PM
Keith it sounds like an excellent start to your trip. You got though customs faster than most US passengers do. I notice that you haven't exactly stalked Donna and I yet but you have managed to check into a couple of places we have already been, just a day or so later. I know you'll enjoy V&A later. Hopefully we can find time for a quick meet up.

keith
03-12-2013, 02:45 PM
Still as good? How do you compare the ballroom and west wing?

really good actually! Ballroom is a bit large and noisy but nice enough, I do think the west wing is the place to sit though. We chose the west wing yesterday and it's just a lot more cosy and quiet. Plus there are the extra bits like the thunder and lightning when the picture changes to beast and the rose etc.

Soon as we sat down the server brought over two glasses of ice water. OK I know, it should be like that everywhere, it's not hard, but yet it's still rare at Disney. So that was nice. The food was as good as ever, service attentive without being overly so.

Definitely the best in MK

piglet
03-12-2013, 02:50 PM
Apparently it is because couples occupying those places can play "footsie" when the seats are arranged as beds.

Oh dear do you think my DS would like me playing footsie with him?

Slowhand
03-12-2013, 02:55 PM
I reckon that your DH would prefer that you did it with him rather than with a total stranger. :lol:

Britchick
03-12-2013, 05:31 PM
good to hear Keith, I don't expect gourmet food at a theme park, i prefer the theming. Regards the UC seating, i reckon i'd ask for us not to be sat together, champagne, wine and port and himself would be snoring like a pig whilst taking an afternoon nap. He can sleep on a knife edge that one and starts snoring as soon as he drops off. I don't mind it but on a plane it's a tad embarassing!

Wendy
03-12-2013, 09:47 PM
So glad to hear that everything is going to plan :) and you enjoyed the UC experience :D Using miles for UC is the best way to go :yes:

Deb
03-12-2013, 10:10 PM
Loving this so far :)

keith
04-12-2013, 01:41 PM
Morning ! Here we are in epcot before the crowds for the undiscovered future world tour very cool to walk past all the people waiting to get in and have epcot to ourselves http://img.tapatalk.com/d/13/12/04/je5eda5e.jpg

http://img.tapatalk.com/d/13/12/04/anyze4aj.jpg

keith
04-12-2013, 01:47 PM
http://img.tapatalk.com/d/13/12/04/yja7eduv.jpg

In case I forget my name

catrancher
04-12-2013, 02:03 PM
http://img.tapatalk.com/d/13/12/04/yja7eduv.jpg

In case I forget my name

Yes, but if you're wearing that, and have to look down to remind yourself, you'll think you're "htieK". :mental:

How you'd pronounce that, I have no clue. :shrug:

Tom ( :macwave:... dyslexic by design...)

keith
04-12-2013, 03:06 PM
Where am I ? http://img.tapatalk.com/d/13/12/04/4a6a9u2e.jpg

Britchick
04-12-2013, 03:46 PM
i haven't got a scooby!

keith
04-12-2013, 04:51 PM
It's a hard one. I think lol

Tink
04-12-2013, 06:52 PM
So nice to be in EPCOT before the masses descend! Thank you for the photos! (And I'm not tellin' where you are)! :D (Ummmm... cause I don't know). :redface:

Esmeralda
05-12-2013, 01:54 PM
Looks Haunted Mansiony? But it can't be because this lot here would have got it waaaaay before me.

keith
05-12-2013, 02:04 PM
Looks Haunted Mansiony? But it can't be because this lot here would have got it waaaaay before me.

yeah I thought the same when I saw it! but no, it's actually in EPCOT if that helps :) and it's in a lift......

keith
05-12-2013, 02:22 PM
So yesterday we got up early to be at EPCOT for 8:30 for our Undiscovered Future world tour! I was really looking forward to this one, EPCOT being my favourite park.

EPCOT didn't actually open until 9, so we had to report to a CM by the gates who checked our names against a list and then let us in past all the people muttering how come they can go in. It was a little weird wandering through with so many people watching us but nice to see EPCOT without people :D

Once in guest services we were given a name badge and a battery pack+headset so we could hear our guide even if we were in busy areas. It worked really well!

Our guide started by explaining Walt's original plans for EPCOT which I think most of us already know but interesting details such as Walt wanted the latest technology everywhere and you wouldnt own it yourself. Basically you could go to work in the morning come back home and your tv, washing machine would all have been updated to the latest models whilst you were out. Apparently only people who worked or were in school would be able to live there (not sure what happened to everyone else!). It was a very interesting view on things that's for sure. Apparently Walt had no original intention for a magic kingdom but was told in no uncertain terms that he needed a "disneyland" in florida to be able to pay for his EPCOT plans.

I wont go through every bit of the tour in case people want to go but it was really informative and as we walked around, it was amazing how much we'd missed. The original epcot logo looked like a clover and there's a large one outside mousegear by the fountain which apparently WAS the exact centre of Disney property in Florida although they've since bought more which has changed where the centre would be.

I wish I could've recorded the day actually because there was just too much information to take in and remember.

We got to touch a tile from spaceship earth and see how the clever guttering directs rain away from the guests and down through its legs and away.

We also went in several VIP lounges made for the companies that sponsor some of the rides and shows including some old now unused ones which still look pretty amazing!

The highlight for many people was a VIP entrance to SOARIN. We were taken back stage and shown how they transport celebrities around and get them into rides without them being mobbed. We were ushered onto soarin this way and, although I hate the thing :lol:, everyone else loved the experience and said that bit was worth the cost of the tour on its own.

All in all it was a really well done tour and so much information! The only thing I would say is, it's EXTREMELY tiring. ok, I'm not exactly an athlete ;-) but it's four hours of solid walking with very few breaks. A few of our tour bailed out along the way saying they just couldn't do it and I must admit that by the end, I was more than ready to just collapse on a chair somewhere.

We came back onstage in China where we said goodbye to Dustin the tour guide and were given a brand new style pin as well as VIP fireworks viewing for a night of our choice.

Since we were there, we had lunch at Nine Dragons who gave us a discount because we'd been on the tour.

All in all a lovely day at EPCOT but wow, it was a hot and tiring day

Slowhand
05-12-2013, 03:27 PM
That seems like a great behind the scenes tour Keith.
We did one a few years ago which took us around the backstage of Epcot, although this one was based on the Christmas decorations [can`t recall the name of the tour], but I know what you mean about walking around WDW`s largest park with no rest beaks.

Tony G
05-12-2013, 05:14 PM
I've don the Keys to the Kingdom at MK, but always wanted to do the Epcot tour.

Thanks to your post, I'll make sure I book it next time I'm there.

Britchick
05-12-2013, 05:19 PM
that sounds amazing! I loved keys to the kingdom and i love Epcot as much as MK

keith
05-12-2013, 06:08 PM
It was really good and very much a companion to keys to the kingdom. My fave tour is till backstage magic though :)

Britchick
05-12-2013, 06:34 PM
is that the one that does all the parks?

Tink
05-12-2013, 06:41 PM
I've always felt that we should start doing the tours. We've done the two Segway ones (thank heaven, since those are no longer) and the Land one (something about seeds). Enjoyed both of them. We really should do EPCOT!

I wonder if I could withstand the pace? :unsure:

keith
05-12-2013, 07:04 PM
is that the one that does all the parks?

it is! and it's changed in the last few years to include the animal kingdom. It's a really good one, you're bused around on a coach so there's a lot less walking and you see a lot more as well. I loved seeing the central workshops and behind the scenes with the ride computers etc.

keith
05-12-2013, 07:05 PM
I wonder if I could withstand the pace? :unsure:

It's definitely a fast pace but tbh if I made it I doubt you'd have a problem.. the car park to the entrance is what I'd previously considered to be a long walk :lol:

Tink
05-12-2013, 08:11 PM
I dunno... :unsure: I'm old, ya' know. :D

Britchick
05-12-2013, 08:50 PM
is it about the same walking as keys to the kingdom?

keith
05-12-2013, 10:45 PM
I felt it was more walking Kttk was fast but more pausing and more rides were done. Epcot was longer walking around with less stops

Britchick
06-12-2013, 06:50 AM
I felt it was more walking Kttk was fast but more pausing and more rides were done. Epcot was longer walking around with less stops
I guess that would make sense baring in mind the size of the park

Wendy
06-12-2013, 08:01 PM
So it's no good for me then :lol:

uscwest
06-12-2013, 08:15 PM
Soundalike an amazing tour. I don't think I could handle 4 hours with few breaks and not being able to sit. We were at EPCOT all day the other day and did Behind the Seeds. By the end of the day both Donna were totally exhausted. Could it have been done by someone in an ECV or do you have to be totally mobile?

keith
07-12-2013, 03:46 PM
Soundalike an amazing tour. I don't think I could handle 4 hours with few breaks and not being able to sit. We were at EPCOT all day the other day and did Behind the Seeds. By the end of the day both Donna were totally exhausted. Could it have been done by someone in an ECV or do you have to be totally mobile?

There was a guy in an ECV and he was able to do it no problem

Beccaberry
06-01-2014, 09:52 PM
Loved this review...had just seen it suggested in our welcome book and couldn't recall what it was...this may be one for Jon and I...I think he would LOVE it.

Johnie
06-01-2014, 10:07 PM
I think you would be able to do it in an ECV. Mom used one when we went on the behind the scenes Christmas tour a few years ago