With this being the first blog post it only seems right that we start with something related to our biggest adventure so far, our trip to Walt Disney World.
Back in March 2017, for the girls 3rd birthday, we took them to Disneyland Paris for 4 nights as they are both Disney and Disney Princess mad(we all are really!). We had the most amazing time and all absolutely loved it so when we got back we started talking about when we might be able to plan the trip we’d talked about many times before to Walt Disney World. We decided that we wanted our first family trip to be before the girls started school so we could be more flexible with when we went and we wanted them to be young enough to really believe in all of the magic and the characters etc.
When we started looking into it we realised there were so many options to consider, this was not going to be a simple trip to plan…did we want to stay in a hotel or a villa? On site or off site? We were tempted by the Disney dining offers with the on site stays but we also liked the idea of having more space and a private pool with more home-like facilities. We spoke to a few of our friends and family who had been before and everyone had their own opinions on what was best so we took all of the information on board and discussed at length what we felt would make most sense for us.
Within a couple of weeks we had come up with a plan; it was our first trip as a family and we wanted to experience as much as possible so we decided to have the best of both worlds and do a split stay, that way we could figure out what we preferred and make our own minds up; there really are so many benefits to each! So that was part one of the plan ticked off the list! Next we started to look at all of the Disney resort options, this really didn’t take long to decide, with 2 Princess mad little girls the Royal Guest Rooms at Port Orleans Riverside looked perfect along with the beautiful setting and facilities on offer. Whilst looking into the options of where to stay we’d also been talking dates; that also didn’t take too long to decide on, how do you top celebrating your 3rd birthday at Disneyland Paris? Celebrating your 4th birthday at Walt Disney World in Florida of course!
As we were hoping to get the free Disney dining plan offer we knew there may be some restrictions on dates; though it covers the majority of the year there are a few times when the offer is unavailable, Easter being one of them (3/4 weeks around Easter actually) and for 2018 Easter Sunday was 1st April. As we looked into it we had to arrive by 12th March 2018 in order to get the offer; it didn’t matter if our stay was during the unavailable dates it only mattered that we arrived by the 12th. With the time we could have off work and allowing a few days to get over the jet lag we could stretch to an 18 night trip and after pricing up various options through the Walt Disney Travel Company website we decided on doing 8 nights at a Disney resort followed by 10 nights at a villa.
After many internet searches, joining a number of Facebook groups and looking at at least 100 options we made contact with an owner directly through the “Orlando Villas, Your Home from Home” Facebook group and got a quote for the dates we were thinking; it was all coming together, the only thing left to do was book!
First we booked our Disney package directly through the Walt Disney Travel Company website, 8 nights at the Port Orleans Riverside, arriving on the 11th March, this came with the quick service dining plan for free and we upgraded to the regular dining plan so we could have 1 table service meal and 1 quick service meal per day rather than just 2 quick service meals. We also booked our Disney tickets as part of the package, we went with 21 day passes as it was only a little bit more than the 14 day passes and we figured it made sense that the whole trip be covered. The free dining offer also had an added bonus of a $200 gift card which was great news. Staying on site meant that on arrival we could utilise the Magical Express transfer for no extra charge rather than worrying about picking up a car with potentially 2 tired little girls; it made things so much easier!
Once the Disney package was confirmed we then booked the villa for the second part of our trip. We also booked a car separately through Alamo; there is an Alamo Car Centre in the Disney property with a free pick up service from your resort; we booked for the car to be collected a few days into our trip as we wanted to give the Disney transportation system a go and to settle in…plus neither of us had driven in another country before really and were a little nervous about being on the wrong side of the road! We booked a Hyundai Santa Fe style option to allow for all of the luggage, pushchair etc – as it turned out we got upgraded to a 7 seater Dodge which was so good for space, packing that thing up was so easy on departure day!
By August 2017 pretty much everything was in place aside from flights, we knew we wanted to fly from Manchester with Virgin as we had lots of flying club miles (thanks Tesco club card convertor!) and we wanted to use the Miles plus Money option to save a little on the tickets. (we ended up booking in January 2018 after keeping an eye on the prices for a while before)
That was the start of the planning; as we found out there was a lot more to do with regard to dining reservations and fast passes but we’ll cover that in our next post…if you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading, I hope you found something useful.