Hi everyone! Well I have started this Pre-trip blog on another forum and after following Jodie over thought I may as well copy this over here as well! Bare with me while I get it all over as there are lot of replies that I will edit out and just leave the updates - hopefully! Our First Holiday to Walt Disney World Florida Part 1 - 9th June 2008 Cast Me – Carreen (28) DH – Paddy (31) DS1 – Kieran (9) DS2 – Aidan (7) DS3 – Aaron (2 – will celebrate his 3rd Birthday while in WDW) Oh and not forgetting Granny! Mum – Nora (Will not disclose age as its not polite 015: ) Well where to start really? The beginning would probably be a good place wouldn’t it? In March we had a little extra money in which we could have either re-decorated the whole house or book a once in a lifetime trip to Walt Disney World in Florida. It was always a dream to be able to take the kids here and we had always said we would wait until a time when at least the older two boys would appreciate it. Never being able to afford much more than a week in Majorca or the Costa del sun this was a huge deal for us. So the research began....... After a lot of googling I came across ******* and have to say without this website I would not have the knowledge that I do now. You guys really have been a wealth of knowledge. I was getting so many tips that I bought a Pukka project book in order to write down tips/hints from the Dibb and to write down any questions that I thought about to ask. As well as that this book contains all my many “lists” of things to do/buy etc and to be honest I would have a meltdown if it were to go missing – its my little bible! I also bought the Brits Guide and read it cover to cover and then cover to cover again! I also bought the recommended Mapman Map which is just fantastic by the way – lets just hope my navigational skills work on the day! So when to go? We couldn’t afford to go high season during the summer holidays as that was just way out of our price range and to be honest I don’t think either me or the kids could cope with that kind of heat. So we looked into a few different times but with Paddy’s holiday’s being a difficult thing to arrange it could only be certain weeks, after a certain shift blah blah blah. So it was decided that November/December would be the best time for the kids heat and crowd wise. I should also say that my two eldest boys Kieran (9) and Aidan (7) have ADHD(Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and ASD(Autistic Spectrum Disorder) respectively so a quieter time at the parks is also best for them. The way Paddy’s shifts worked he could only go from the 23rd November so fly drive was booked through Virgin for 24th Nov flying from Manchester. We did look at other carriers and options but Virgin came out the cheapest. When we booked the cost of the extra week car hire (why do they do that – free car hire with flydrive but it only the first week?) and the platinum insurance coming in at £490 extra for an intermediate car. We took the advice of fellow dibbers and decided to book separate car hire and not pick up the Virgin one. So we booked at 7 seater SUV with USRentacar for £297 with the Gold Insurance package (nearly £200 cheaper than Virgin- and a better car!). Ok so thats the Flights and Car booked what next- oh yeah better find somewhere to stay! I must have looked at hundreds of villas online and my head was beginning to spin at them all and my favourites list was becoming bigger and bigger and getting no-where in deciding. Again back to the Dibb and did a search through them. Found a wonderful 3 bedroom townhouse in Regal Palms through Simon Offord well under the budget I was expecting and decided to go ahead. This guy is wonderful to deal with via email and would highly recommend him. I must admit we were hoping to have a private villa with pool but with the time of year we were going the prices of pool heating was just taking it well over our budget and the resort at Regal Palms looks like it has a fantastic pool area with slides and lazy river so I’m sure the kids will be happy with that. Ok so now onto book the tickets. Although we would love to do everything possible, finances and time will not allow this so have decided that Disney is a complete priority. We want to have as much freedom with the itinerary as possible so decided to get the Disney 14day Ultimate ticket. Cheapest was through Floridatix.co.uk and the service was fantastic. The tickets were purchased on the Friday and we received them the Tuesday so thumbs up for Floridatix. We are also there for the Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and have decided we would love to do this also. We are planning on doing this for our last evening- a way of going home with a bang! I would have loved to do Discovery Cove but just can’t justify the price it would cost so thats been put on a backburner and hopefully wil bel a definite for a future trip! See that - already planning the next trip before I have even had the first!! So with that in mind we may well do Seaworld instead but we are leaving that until closer to the time to see how finances are. I would also love to see Cirque de Soliel La Nouba but not sure if the kids would appreciate it so will wait and see. Ok so we have flights, carhire, accommodation, main tickets all paid for whats left to do???? Oh thats right.........invite Mum to come! I must be a bit mad and so must Paddy as we had been talking about how this holiday is costing a small fortune but I can’t help feeling a bit guilty talking about it in front of my Mum. You see, she has never been abroad or had a proper holiday and she is having a tough time of it, as my 17yr old sister had a baby at New year and mum has been left to do everything(as my sister is a selfish little- well I won’t say what really) and she is absolutely shattered. So we got talking about it and Pad said well there is room in the Villa so all we would have to do is pay for her flight and she just needs to get her spends and park ticket money really. So with that I decided to find out what Mum’s thoughts were on it. Could she afford to get the spending money together etc. Well when I asked her I couldn’t believe the smile on her face – she was grinning from ear to ear and her whole face lit up I‘ve never seen my mum smile so much in a long time! She said she was worried about leaving the baby but I said that my sister had to learn to do things for herself so this was a great opportunity for her. Plus her Dad (my StepDad) would be there to watch over them (he was invited also but as I knew he didn’t like flying I knew he would say no) so he told my Mum to go and enjoy herself. So one more seat booked on the flight. We have a 7 seater SUV booked at MCO but being stupid as we are we never thought about how we would get Mum to Manchester Airport when we only have a Ford Focus C-Max! So we looked into hiring a 7 seater MPV from up here on a boomerang service to Manchester Airport but the cost was just far too much on top of an overnight stay. We looked at taking the two cars down but with two lots of airport parking and two tanks of fuel (especially with the cost of fuel rising soo much) this was equally expensive. So we have looked into getting the train down. For all six of us it was working in at around £120 cheaper than driving – so more money for Disney! The only worry is how difficult it will be on the way down with three children and luggage in tow with two changes as its a Sunday. The journey back is easier as its a Tuesday so its a direct train from Man Airport to Edinburgh and then connecting train to Falkirk. So at the minute we have two rooms booked at the Manchester Airport Travelodge for the Sunday Night but we still haven’t decided on how we are getting there?! Now on with the Planning! I was anxiously waiting for the November and December park hours to be published in order to plan properly – especially as the 180 day ADR mark was fast approaching but 1st May came and went and still no Nov hours, a week later – nothing –a whole month later and still nothing! Finally on the 3rd June the park hours for both November and December were posted! Typically after checking every hour on the hour (well it seemed like that anyway!) for the past month they decide to post the hours while I was out at the cinema watching the highly anticipated “Sex and the City” movie but of course I just couldn’t come in and go to bed – I had to check and see if there was any change! Well at 11.20pm I couldn’t contain my excitement and proceeded to print out the hours in order to get started on my planning! Paddy thought I was mad but after recent months of talking and researching anything Disney related, he has learned to humour me – Good man!!! My preliminary plan wasn’t far off the mark to be honest and I only really had to re-gig a few things. I have to admit I was rather disappointed that it was Blizzard Beach that was open, I was hoping it to be Typhoon Lagoon but we only have one water park day scheduled anyway so it won’t make that much of a difference and I’m sure the kids won’t mind where they are as long as they can have a splash around! So I never seem to have been away from the PC for the last few weeks. I’m forever updating lists of things I still have to do, buy and plan. I have to say a special thank-you to BATS as she sent me an email with her park hours spreadsheet. I updated this with the hours for the two weeks of our holiday and then planned an itinerary around these details. Another thank-you to Claire (claireemmalouis)) for sending me the Epcot Passports she made. These are going to be fab for the kids to use ( although I have yet to actually do anything with them!). I booked all of our ADR’s (except Chef Mickey’s for our last night) last week and so pleased as I got everything I wanted. I had called twice before the park hours were released to book Planet Hollywood for dinner on Thanksgiving and was told they weren’t accepting any bookings, it was walk ups only for that day. But on Friday when I called to book other ADR’s I thought I would see what they say, and what do you know they were able to book a table for us no problems? Very very strange! So here it is my itinerary for our First Trip to Walt Disney World! Day 1- Sunday 23rd November Travel to Manchester Airport Travelodge (mode still undecided) Find somewhere to eat Early night for early check-in in morning Day 2 – Monday 24th November Virgin Check-in 6am Flight VS075 10.25am to MCO due to land at 14.35pm Find Alamo desk collect hire car Find way to Regal Palms resort Grab a pizza for dinner Walmart for essentials Early night for our first day at Magic Kingdom Day 3 – Tuesday 25th November – MAGIC KINGDOM The Crystal Palace for Breakfast with Winnie the Pooh and Co at 8.15am Plan to stay in Magic Kingdom as long as possible preferably until the Dreams come true parade but if not will see it another day Grab dinner somewhere on 192 Have an early night Day 4 – Wednesday 26th NovemberDisney Hollywood Studios today again plan to stay here as long as possible and to see the new Block Party Bash but if not will see it next time Back to resort for a swim and dinner and then an early night Day 5 – Thursday 27th November - Thanksgiving Epcot Future World Plan to get all of Future World covered this morning Head to Downtown Disney and have a look around. Dinner booked at Planet Hollywood for 4.45pm Back to villa for an early night. Day 6 – Friday 28th November Blizzard Beach – Spend the day here then back to villa to get changed and then find somewhere for dinner in Old Town Kissimmee and stay to see the Car Cruise this evening Day 7 – Saturday 29th November Animal Kingdom – Spend the day here as we don’t have another day planned. See the parades etc. Day 8 – Sunday 30th November Shopping – Today is the day we plan to cover a couple of shopping malls. We will have to get some things for Aaron’s birthday on Wednesday but not buy too much. Plan to go to Bahama Breeze for dinner on way home tonight. Day 9 – Monday 1st December Rest Day – today is a day away from all the parks. Not sure what the plan is whether to laze by the pool – catch up on washing etc but will just take it as it comes Day 10 – Tuesday 2nd December Lazy morning by the pool or looking around the shops. Head over to Disney Hollywood Studios mid afternoon. See the Block Party Bash if we didn’t catch it the first visit. Dinner reservation for Hollywood and Vine Fantasmic Package at 4.05pm. Stay to see Fantasmic then over to catch Osbourne Lights before heading home. Day 11 – Wednesday 3rd December – Aaron’s 3rd Birthday My baby turns 3 today! This morning will be spent with Aaron opening a couple of presents then we will head out somewhere for breakfast. Spend the rest of the morning chilling out by the pool. Get organised to go to Magic Kingdom for around 2/3pm. Aaron’s choice of rides as its his birthday! We also plan to see the Disney Dreams Come True parade if we didn’t catch it on our first day. Dinner will be at The Crystal Palace at 4pm where I will order a cake (probably with Buzz lightyear on it as he is really into him at the minute!). The plan is to stay in the park to see SpectroMagic parade and the Wishes Fireworks show. Day 12 – Thursday 4th December Another lazy/chill out morning by the pool. Will probably have a late breakfast/early lunch out somewhere before heading over to Epcot World Showcasse. Will spend the rest of the day here and hope to see Illuminations : Reflections of Earth. Day 13 – Friday 5th December Possibly another day of shopping or maybe see if we can find Celebration. Hoping to go to Olive Garden for dinner and Mum and I will go to see Cirque de Soliel La Nouba tonight. Paddy will either take the boys to Disneyquest or back home. Day 14 – Saturday 6th December Today has been left open to either go back to a favourite park, go to Blizzard beach just have a chill out day or the possibility of maybe a day at Seaworld but need to wait and see how finances are. Paddy and I will be going out this evening as Mum has offered to babysit so that we can celebrate our 10th Wedding Anniversary on our own. We were going to make an ADR for somewhere special but have decided that we would rather just see where we end up for dinner and then go to Magic Kingdom to do some things on our own this evening as its open until Midnight. Day 15 – Sunday 7th December Last full day. So doing any last minute shopping/ pool time and packing before heading to Chef Mickeys for Dinner at around 4pm (still not booked yet). We are hoping to get tickets for MVMCP tonight so that we can finish our holiday on a high! Day 16 – Monday 8th DecemberHome time Up early tidy up villa before heading to Downtown Disney for Virgin Checkin. Possibly have breakfast at O’Hanas with Lilo and Stitch. If we have enough time we may go back to another park but will see how it goes. Have to be at airport by 3.30pm to drop car back at Alamo. Get some dinner before flight home. Flight VS076 at 18.30 from MCO to MAN Day 17 – Tuesday 9th December Flight due to land at approx 7.35am. Then begin the journey home from Manchester to Scotland. So thats the plan – hopefully it will go that way but as we all know anything can happen! So what do I still have to do? Order MVMCP tickets Order tickets for Cirque de Soliel La Nouba Possibly get tickets for Seaworld Book either the train to Manchester or Airport parking whatever we decide to do Get Doctors Letter for Kieran’s Medication Send for new passport for Aidan Pre-order Photopass CD Photocopy all documents tickets etc Finish holiday shopping So thats it - anyone think of anything I still have to sort out?