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Old 08-11-2007, 12:28 PM   #1
Daysleeper40
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oo-de-lally oo-de-lally, golly what a year!... Pre-Trip Report

So this is the start of the story of our Florida Extravaganza 2007. It seems such a long time since our first decision to take this trip - it has been a year in the planning... and oh how we have planned!!

I believe the form is to introduce the Cast first so without further ado...

Me - female, aged 27 (will be 28 by the time we fly), USA virgin, lover of animals, waterbaby at heart, loves coasters, bit of a worrier - deal with worries by obsessively planning and reading certain message boards!

OH - male, aged 30, visited USA before but is Florida virgin, also an animal lover, complete movie nut, definately into coasters / thrill rides, and also a compulsive planner.

Pre-Trip Planning:

Decisions, Decisions!

So many things to decide on and so much choice to choose from! I honestly can't remember the first conversation we had about this trip - but I'm pretty certain it started with the words "I wonder how much it would cost..." and ended with the words "Who cares how much it costs... we MUST go!"

I do know that we started our research on 17/07/06 with the two biggies - When? & Where?

When? was suprisingly easy - we decided on 17/09/07 - 01/10/07. There are no UK school holidays and no American holidays between these dates, and all the guidebooks say it is one of the quietest times of year and that the weather is more bearable.

Where? posed more of a problem. It was obvious from the start that we were going to stay on International Drive but as for which hotel - what a minefield! Eventually after many hours of scouring the brochures and reading online reviews we finally agreed on the Sheraton Studio City. It seems to be in a good position on I-Drive (right opposite Wet n Wild) and has free shuttles to US & Disney if we need them. OH also has a bit of a movie obsession - once we had read about the STC's 50's movie theming it seemed a given that we would stay here

So with the two big decisions made and a general consensus that we would take the easy option and book a package deal through Virgin, we were left with planning the actual fun!!

OO-DE-LALLY indeedy!!

Last edited by Daysleeper40; 08-11-2007 at 01:01 PM.
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Old 08-11-2007, 12:55 PM   #2
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Sounds great. Those dates would be my first choice too.


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Old 08-11-2007, 12:59 PM   #3
Daysleeper40
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Attractions and Tickets

Another round of research ensued and we decided that the following attractions are essentials:

1. Discovery Cove
2. SeaWorld
3. Universal Studios
4. Islands of Adventure
5. Disneys MGM Studios
6. Disneys Animal Kingdom
7. Busch Gardens
8. Blizzard Beach
9. Typhoon Lagoon
10. Wet n Wild

Now thats a whole lotta fun!

Before I go any further I should say that I know a lot of you will think we are mad for not including the other Disney parks in the above list but it is designed around what OH and I believe that we will enjoy the most. If we have enough time and money we will go to Magic Kingdom / Epcot but they are not must do's on this trips itinerary.

ANYWAY... looking at all the brochures and websites it became obvious that choosing the tickets was not going to be a simple task... 4 & 5 park flex tickets, 2 day passes with extra days free, different prices from different agents, the option to book through Virgin or the parks direct, and about 200 types of Disney tickets... our mind were well and truly boggled!

Not to be deterred we worked out that the following three tickets would cover everything on the essentials list:

1. 4 Park Flex Ticket
2. Discovery Cove with Dolphin Swim (WOOOOHOOOO!!) + 7 days entry to Busch Gardens
3. 2 + 3 Disney Tickets (2x main parks plus 3 visits to waterparks / fun)

We opted for booking the Flex Tickets through Virgin as the price seemed pretty standard across the board. Discovery Cove was booked direct, and the Disney Tickets were purchased online from Ticket Mania.

Now that we knew which attractions we would definately be visiting we had the task of creating an itinerary to fit it all in. Our research had also revealed a number of little extra's that it seemed rude not to partake of...

Tours, Dinners, & Shows

It seemed a bit of a waste to go all the way to Florida and not treat ourselves to some of the extra FUN on offer so we also booked:

1. Dolphin Nursery Tour @ SeaWorld
2. Medieval Times Dinner Show
3. Dine With Shamu @ SeaWorld
4. Blue Man Group @ Universal

I love seeing the lists of things we are going to do!! The fact I am going to meet diddy dolphins at SeaWorld then swim with a grown up Dolphin at Discovery Cove actually makes me cry when I think about it (or watch the planning DVD, which I do regularly!) - in a good way!!

As I said in the Cast list - I am and have always been a complete waterbaby - ask my mum, I used to throw myself into water at every oportunity and could swim properly at the age of three. I find myself obsessing about DC and SeaWorld but then it hits me that we are also going to all these other great places and I think my head may EXPLODE with excitment!!

Up next - Timeline and Itinerary... all together now:

OO-DE-LALLY!!
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Old 08-11-2007, 01:42 PM   #4
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Spend, Spend... no SAVE!!

With all the big decisions made and the itinerary decided on (coming up soon) we proceeded to book and purchase everything we could. OH was furtively changing £'s into $'s and we were topping up our savings account whenever possible. In between the big decisions and purchases we also made good headway with all the "Little Things"...

We bought extra luggage to carry our holiday shopping home in, both got some Crocs, OH got a new biometric passport, and I bought a cheap waterproof watch as am completely paranoid about missing our Dolphin Swim slot at DC!! We bought some new summer kit, shades, and tiny toiletries. Ordered some bags from Captain Bags (which still havn't arrived actually - I'd forgotten about those)

The list goes on and on and we are not finished yet!

A lot of time and effort has gone into planning this trip and happily OH keeps a journal so we do have a timeline of events:

Florida Planning Timeline

27/06/06 - Decided to go
17/07/06 - Began Research
01/01/07 - Booked Flights/Hotel/4 Park Flex Ticket online with Vigin
01/01/07 - Booked Discovery Cove (WOOOOHOOOO!!)
02/01/07 - Picked seats on plane
03/01/07 - Purchased Holiday Insurance
06/01/07 - Confirmation arrived from Virgin
09/01/07 - Confirmation Arrived from Discovery Cove
30/01/07 - Booked Dolphin Nursery Tour
08/02/07 - OH new passport arrived
26/02/07 - Booked Dine with Shamu
27/02/07 - Purchased Disney Tickets
27/02/07 - Purchased Medieval Times Dinner Show Tickets
27/02/07 - OH changed more $'s - hits his $1000 target
05/03/07 - SeaWorld made announcement re Aquatica which cements our plans for a 2010 return trip!!
08/03/07 - Disney and Medieval Times Tickets arrive
17/04/07 - Booked Blue Man Group Tickets
06/07/07 - Transferred savings to pay holiday balance
06/07/07 - Ordered AMEX TC Card (that was a mistake - but at least we are travelling before they withdraw it!)
12/07/07 - Amex TC Card arrived
13/07/07 - Holiday Balance Paid!!
25/07/07 - Purchased funky Mickey trip report book and started writing
31/07/07 - Booked Gatwick Hilton for our pre-flight stay

It has not escaped my notice that we began our planning on 17/07/06, and finally paid the Holiday Balance 13/07/07 - almost a year to the day!

Hence - oo-de-lally oo-de-lally, Golly what a Year

Coming up - The Itinerary
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Old 08-11-2007, 01:48 PM   #5
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You will love Discovery Cove and Dining with Shamu is great too
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Old 08-11-2007, 01:59 PM   #6
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You will love Discovery Cove and Dining with Shamu is great too
Thanks - I'm thinking that DC will be my idea of heaven and literally CANNOT wait

I have heard mixed reviews of Dine with Shamu but then when I read some reviews, I'm not really sure what people expect IYKWIM

It can't just be me that thinks being close to an Orca is an amazing experience?
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Old 08-11-2007, 02:19 PM   #7
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Sounds as though you have everything well planned.

You will love DC, we are going for a third time swimming with the dolphins in October and I'm as excited as I was the first time. It is such a magical place.
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Old 08-11-2007, 02:44 PM   #8
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Sounds as though you have everything well planned.

You will love DC, we are going for a third time swimming with the dolphins in October and I'm as excited as I was the first time. It is such a magical place.
Lucky you!

TBH I have not heard a bad thing about DC, I just hope it lives up to expectations now!

One question - am I right in thinking if you get there early enough you get to pick your swim time? We were hoping to do the Dolphin swim mid morning and planned on getting there early doors so we can pick a good time and have a look round and orient ourselves before hand.
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Old 08-12-2007, 03:08 AM   #9
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what no Magic Kingdom thats a bold move !! it will be interesting to see if you end up there after all
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Old 08-12-2007, 03:41 AM   #10
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Great report, you will love DC it's fantastic. You should try to include Epcot and MK if you can though you do have a busy schedule!
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Old 08-12-2007, 05:12 AM   #11
Daysleeper40
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There is a good chance that we will go to Magic Kingdom if we have the time but TBH I'm not sure we will!

Ah well, we will just have to go back won't we

Current plan is to return 2010 when Aquatica and the new Harry Potter area at IOA will be up and running as well.
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Old 08-12-2007, 06:23 AM   #12
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BUT .. BUT.. BUT... you can't not go to MK pleaseeeeee fit it in the trip sounds fabulous and well planned. ( apart from missing MK)
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Old 08-12-2007, 09:30 AM   #13
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Itinerary

SO... we spent a LOT of time creating an itinerary to fit all the "must do's" into.

When I say "we", I should really say "my OH" as I am scatty and also a teensy bit guilty of getting sidetracked by 1. My Brits Guide, 2. The Planning DVD's, and 3. The Disboards

I think he did a great job on it tho :

We start on 16/09/07 - Day 0...

Day 0: Train or (hopefully) lift to Gatwick, Twilight Check In, Dinner, and overnight stay at the Gatwick Hilton

Week 1:

Day 1: Leaving in on a jet plane... take off at 10.45am.. Arrive, get through immigration and make our way to I-Drive
Day 2: SeaWorld & Dolphin Nursery Tour. Lunch or Dinner at Sharks UW grill and possible afternoon visit to Wet n Wild
Day 3: Typhoon Lagoon, Dinner at DTD
Day 4: Busch Gardens, quick and easy dinner on I-Drive after what I anticipate is going to be a tiring day!
Day 5: Universal Studios, Blue Man Group in the evening
Day 6: Discovery Cove, Dinner at CityWalk
Day 7: Islands of Adventure and/or Shopping

Week 2:

Day 8: Wet n Wild / SeaWorld / try to have a more relaxing day and just do what takes our fancy!
Day 9: Blizzard Beach, DTD in the evening
Day 10: SeaWorld & Dine With Shamu
Day 11: Animal Kingdom, Dinner at Rainforest Cafe
Day 12: Islands of Adventure, CityWalk in the evening
Day 13: MGM, Medieval Times Dinner Show
Day 14: Last Day... BOOOOO! No plan for this day - will re-visit our favourite park or maybe head for MK... we will see
Day 15: Flight Home. Don't want to think about this bit

So there it is - our basic itinerary. I don't know whether we will stick to it and am happy to go with the flow when necessary, but hopefully it will help us.

The plan is to rise early to go to the parks and then have more restfull afternoons. Wet n Wild is right opposite our hotel so I'm hoping we can dip in there as and when to cool off and have a bit of silly fun!

Coming up: Transport & Dining
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Old 08-12-2007, 11:12 AM   #14
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Truth be told MK isn't my favourite park either, I tend to have itchy feet after half a day there and want to park hop! It's worth a fleeting visit just to see the castle though
I stayed at the Sheraton in 2005 and it's a great hotel, i'm sure you'll love it
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Old 08-12-2007, 11:20 AM   #15
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Truth be told MK isn't my favourite park either, I tend to have itchy feet after half a day there and want to park hop! It's worth a fleeting visit just to see the castle though
I stayed at the Sheraton in 2005 and it's a great hotel, i'm sure you'll love it
Thanks Lizzybear - I think that is how I would feel about it too... sure it would be fun - but not as much fun as AK or IOA or SW!

We found it really tricky picking a hotel but fingers crossed that the Sheraton will tick all the boxes. Shouldn't be too hard as I hope not to spend too much time at the hotel!


Nice to hear good things from someone who has actually stayed there tho
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