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Old 10-29-2011, 09:06 PM   #1
Travel Mum
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Travelmum’s Orlando Holiday Trip Report

Who are we: Myself, DH, DD13, DD10 and DD6

Dates: 29 September – 26 October 2011

Includes: 9 nights WDW onsite at POR, 7 nights offsite at Staybridges Suites I’Drive, 1 night onsite at Loew’s Royal Pacific Resort, 1 night Country Inn & Suites Port Canaveral, 7 night cruise to the Western Caribbean on Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas and 1 night Travelodge LAX

Warning: This trip report may take a while to be completed

Thursday 29 September 2011

Well the long-awaited day was finally here and we were a very happy family when the Super Shuttle arrived to take us to the airport. We flew on Jetstar from Wellington up to Auckland and then had a 4 hour wait at Auckland Airport until our QF flight to LAX. Happily I had been given some QF Qantas Club passes to use so we were very comfortable for those hours in transit. We headed to the gate at boarding time but the flight was late to board and then late to take off. Normally that wouldn’t worry me but I realised I had deliberately booked us on the minimum legal connection time of 2 hours in LAX in order to get on AA’s only direct flight from LAX to MCO. So I really hoped the pilot could make up the time.



Anyway, the flight went well and I got the seats we had booked. As it departs in the afternoon, it’s a strange time because you’re not tired and therefore the girls ended up watching movie after movie. DD6 eventually fell asleep on my lap for a little while but, despite my encouragement for them to try to sleep, my other two didn’t really sleep at all on that flight. Hence, arriving into LAX at what was 3am to our body clocks was tough.

Towards the end of the flight, the pilot announced they had not made up time and we were about 45 minutes late – giving us just over an hour to connect in LAX!! I stressed and asked the crew if they could move us further forward (we were in the second economy cabin) so we could at least be one of the first economy passengers to get off the plane. Well they did and I was really grateful because they got people to move over in their rows so that each of us could have a forward aisle seat – very nice of them. As soon as we could, we dashed off the plane and luckily, at the gate, there were ground staff who gave us a “fast pass’ type thing that meant we had no wait at immigration. Of course we then still had to wait for our bags to come off but, once they did, we put them on the transfer bag carousel and dashed next door to the AA terminal. We were still able to use our “fast pass” at the security check point there so that was great and we got to our gate in time for our flight.

That flight was uneventful but felt very long as I guess we are now used to flights of that length having in-seat entertainment and, without it, time really drags. We were exhausted though and the children tried to sleep but of course now it’s not so easy without pillows etc.

Eventually we got to MCO and found out way to the baggage claim. Then, like Battymum mentioned, our baggage claim was on the wrong side for the Magical Express and I am really surprised it is not signposted better. After asking for help, we had to go back upstairs, over to the other side and down again. Checking in at the Magical Express was easy and our POR bus arrived soon. Although we had to wait on the bus for quite a while before it left, I was so relieved that we had taken this option as I cannot imagine what it must be like to get a rental car and have to drive yourself while feeling that exhausted.


Here we are, waiting for our bus to arrive, looking very exhausted but happy to be here except that DD13 was not keen for a photo



Was really excited driving through the WDW gates and then pulling into POR – I had been planning this trip for so long and we were FINALLY there!



I jumped off and rushed to get first in queue at the online check in desk (while DH sorted the bags) which I was. I had only paid for a standard room but had checkily asked for an upgrade to a preferred room and was stunned and thrilled that they had given us a room in building 18 which is a preferred location. After check in, I enquired about my packages (I’d had quite a lot of online shopping delivered to the resort). They said they would get them delivered but I said we could carry them so the lady went out the back to get them and then she and about two others came out carrying everything. I think they were shocked there was so much but when Amazon ships your order in about 12 separate lots, that is what happens! Between the five of us, we managed to get it all to the room and then it was like Christmas opening it all. I’d got my girls a stuffed toy from Disney each as well as my two youngest Disney autograph books and DD13 a pair of Mickey earring so they were all thrilled.

By this stage it was probably about 7pm so we quickly changed and headed to the food court for a quick dinner. We had free dining (fantastic and I’d never stay onsite without Disney dining) and really didn’t understand how to use it that first night so just stumbled through it. We ate and then went back to the room and, once our Garden Grocer order has been delivered (I’d chosen between 7-9 pm as our original flight arrival was going to be later and I could not change the delivery time) we all crashed.
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Old 10-29-2011, 09:12 PM   #2
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Another TR to sub into.

I'll be here for your holiday recap too.
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Old 10-29-2011, 09:13 PM   #3
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Day Two

Friday 30 September

I had deliberately not planned anything for this day as I didn’t know how we’d be feeling but I did expect we’d probably wake up mid morning and spend the afternoon either in a park or water park. However, I was shocked when we woke up to see that it was 2pm on the clock!!! I could not believe we had slept that long (and wasn’t it amazing housekeeping had not been in yet?) and the day was nearly over – not once did I imagine that would happen. So, we decided to catch the boat to Downtown Disney, look around there and do Disney Quest. We had "Water Parks and More" on our tickets so wanted to give Quest a try as, although pretty boring for me, I knew the girls would enjoy it and DH is a gamer so thought he would too. Sure enough they all enjoyed it and we spent a couple of hours there.







Whilst there we used some snack credits for some fries and drinks because I really wanted to use meal credits elsewhere in Downtown Disney. After we left there, we walked the length of Downtown Disney looking into a lot of the shops and then we went back and had dinner at Wolfgang Puck Express which was good.



Later we went back on the boat to POR and it was dark by then. The resort is beautiful in the day and just as gorgeous all lit up at night. Whilst walking back to our room, there was the most amazing lightening storm that we had ever seen – no rain or thunder to be heard but just continuous, spectacular lightening.

Anyway, we got back to the room (and found our first towel animal) and tried to sleep but, since we had just woken up a few hours before, it was hard!



However, we eventually did and it meant that, by the next day, we were over our jetlag and on Orlando time so that big sleep-in actually worked brilliantly.
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Disneyland and DCA - May 2006 - our children's first Disney trip
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Disneyland - March 1995 - for our 1st wedding anniversary celebration trip
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Old 10-29-2011, 09:53 PM   #4
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Fantastic, I am loving reading your trip report. Awesome photos too
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Old 10-29-2011, 10:03 PM   #5
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Day 3 - Animal Kingdom

Saturday 01 October – Animal Kingdom

So the first day of my serious planning arrived and it started with a lovely wakeup call from Mickey. We had to get up early and get a bus to Animal Kingdom because we had an 8am character breakfast booking at Tusker House. This was our first experience of the Disney bus system and we found the whole system very good and a relaxing way to get around.

We made it to Animal Kingdom in plenty of time and waited outside until they let those of us with pre-park breakfasts in. I wanted to be out and ready for the rides by 9am so we walked briskly to the back of the park where Tusker House is. Animal Kingdom was lovely and cool (well not really cool but just not hot) at that time of the day and I thought it is a beautiful park with all the lush greenery.



We made it to Tusker House and had our photo with Donald before going into the restaurant. We were directed to our table and then invited to go to the buffet. The food was nice and I liked the juice they serve. After a short while, the characters started coming out which was very exciting for our girls - especially the younger two (and it was lovely for me to see DD13 also happily posing and hugging the characters – don’t tell her I said that though! ). They had their autograph books ready and we took photos too. Mickey came first, then Daisy Duck and then Goofy.







It was all very efficient (I had asked for the bill when I arrived as I had read advice to do) and we are finished there by 8.45 am so were free to walk around the area outside Tusker House and up until the rope leading to the safari. We were heading to the Safari for fastpasses and then over to Expedition Everest for our first ride. We had to wait until just before the rope drop crowd reached us before they would lower our rope and it was certainly an amazing sight watching this crowd of people power-walking towards us!!

Look how quiet it is before the crowd got to us!


You can see the little rope that held us back to the left in this photo


And so the touring day began. I’ve since thrown out my touring plan but I know we did get the safari fastpasses and then head over to Everest. We easily walked on Everest and the family, including DD6 loved it. It was the first time I have felt uneasy pressure in my neck on a rollercoaster so I think age is setting in for me. However, we got off and they all wanted to go again (still no wait) so I did as well. Then I think it was Primeval Whirl for DH, DD13 and DD10 while I took DD6 on Triceratops Spin. After that we all went on Dinosaur and at some point I scooted back to Kali River Rapids to get fastpasses. Next we saw “It’s tough to be a Bug” and I think “Flights of Wonder” after that.

Obligatory photo of children with the drums at Animal Kingdom!


I’ve forgotten the order of things now but I know we went back and did the Safari later as well as saw The Lion King show. We finished with the Kali River Rapids and looked like dorks in our ponchos but I didn’t care after I saw how drenched people were getting off it. I did think it was quite a lame ride after all though. The family rode Everest again later. During the day we got our first photopass photos and, as a result, I really didn’t take that many of my own at the parks. We missed the parade, as we came out of The Lion King as the parade was finishing but, by then, we were exhausted and ready to go anyway. The day was very hot and it was a fun but tiring introduction to the theme park touring for my little family.

Got back to POR to find our new towel animal and then headed to the food court for early dinner before a quick swim and then bed.



P.S. I had printed out Mousekeeping tip envelopes off the internet and taken them with me. We left $5 tip in an envelope each day (just saying this in case it is helpful to others because I had no clue before I left) and received a towel animal which we enjoyed getting. One day I completely forgot to leave the tip out and no towel animal was left - whoops
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Old 10-29-2011, 10:13 PM   #6
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Woo hoo! Another TR

Loved reading about the Fast Pass at LAX. I must remember that in the future if we are running late! I wonder if they are there any time? Did the crew on your flight let them know there were people onboard with a short layover time? or are they just there always?

I don't remember seeing this before, mind you we are always off the plane pretty quickly and I am in my "come on, walk faster" mode as we race to get to customs, so probably have never noticed
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Old 10-29-2011, 10:21 PM   #7
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Woo hoo! Another TR

Loved reading about the Fast Pass at LAX. I must remember that in the future if we are running late! I wonder if they are there any time? Did the crew on your flight let them know there were people onboard with a short layover time? or are they just there always?

I don't remember seeing this before, mind you we are always off the plane pretty quickly and I am in my "come on, walk faster" mode as we race to get to customs, so probably have never noticed
When the crew re-seated us, they advised us to contact the QF ground staff who would be at the gate when we got off. When we got off, there were ground staff calling out for those on the flight to New York to contact them. We weren't going to New York but I still rushed up to one of the ladies and said we were late for our Orlando flight. She asked me my connecting flight number and then looked down a list that appeared to have some flight numbers on. She found our flight and preceded to give us the red "fast passes" (that's not what they are called but you all will know what I mean if I call them that!). So, what I think had happened is that, when the LAX ground staff knew our flight would be late, they must have printed out a list of the various connecting flights that the passengers were on and, those that were going to be pushing it time-wise, went on the list for these passes. I have never in my life (and I used to live in L.A.) got through U.S. immigration so quickly
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Old 10-29-2011, 10:22 PM   #8
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Oh, a new update whilst I posted my last reply

The towel animals and toys looked SO cute in the window. Did your DD's do that or did mousekeeping?

I don't think the tip has anything to do with the towel animals, you may have had your regular mousekeeper on her day off . We left $5 a day at AKL, BC and YC and it was very hit and miss with the towel animals. Actually at BC we didn't get one at all the whole stay At AKL one visit, my mum got heaps in her room up the hall and we didn't get any Did you bring any of them home?
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Old 10-29-2011, 10:25 PM   #9
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When the crew re-seated us, they advised us to contact the QF ground staff who would be at the gate when we got off. When we got off, there were ground staff calling out for those on the flight to New York to contact them. We weren't going to New York but I still rushed up to one of the ladies and said we were late for our Orlando flight. She asked me my connecting flight number and then looked down a list that appeared to have some flight numbers on. She found our flight and preceded to give us the red "fast passes" (that's not what they are called but you all will know what I mean if I call them that!). So, what I think had happened is that, when the LAX ground staff knew our flight would be late, they must have printed out a list of the various connecting flights that the passengers were on and, those that were going to be pushing it time-wise, went on the list for these passes. I have never in my life (and I used to live in L.A.) got through U.S. immigration so quickly
Thanks, That is great info to know
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Old 10-29-2011, 10:26 PM   #10
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Yeah a new trip report and you stayed at POR!

Did you have items shipped from the Disney store to the Resort? How far in advance did you do this?
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Old 10-29-2011, 10:39 PM   #11
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Loving your trip report so far! Great start! Thanks for the tip about the "fast passes at LAX" I'm just a little worried with 3 hours to get to the next flight.
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Old 10-29-2011, 10:54 PM   #12
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Loving your report Travel mum. Can't wait for more!
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Old 10-29-2011, 10:56 PM   #13
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Day 4 - Magic Kingdom

Sunday 02 October – Magic Kingdom

Today, we made our way to the park in time for our 8.05 am pre-park opening breakfast at Crystal Palace. It really was lovely to enter the park before the masses and quite a special experience.



Shame about the ugly crane in the background but luckily it was gone when we went back in later that week for MNSSHP.



This breakfast was also good and we got visited by Piglet, Tigger and Pooh. We missed out on Eeyore but he didn’t seem to come on our rotation although we could see him working tables in the other room. Never mind, I was keen to get out on time and get on with my touring plan!








When we left the restaurant, DH and the girls went to the Fantasyland rope and I went to the Tomorrowland rope. Again, we had to wait for the masses to arrive and then we were let it. I scooted with the crowd to Space Mountain and got fastpasses before heading over to Fantasyland.

In the meantime, DH took the girls on Dumbo and we met up at Peter Pan. From that point, we followed my touring plan together (thanks to the wonderful Christine on EasyWDW and Tourguide Mike forums who helped me develop my touring plans! ) which was basically to do Fantasyland (in a certain order) and, as each fastpass window opened, I’d dash off and get fastpasses for Big Thunder and Space Mountain etc.


We were pleased to see that the WDW Small World also has a little New Zealand section - it's in a different place in the ride though!


After Fantasyland, we did The Haunted Mansion and then I actually forget the order but I know we did The Jungle Book and Pirates of the Caribbean (very disappointing compared to the one at DL ). At some point we got Dole Whip floats which were indeed very yummy.

In the afternoon we headed to Tomorrowland and used our Space Mountain fastpasses. We all loved it (DD6 had never been on the DL one before) so got some more fastpasses straight away and rode The People Mover and Buzz while we waited to go on Space again. While waiting, I was thrilled that we saw the Talking Trashcan and DD10 had a conversation with him. DH spotted the guy who voices it lurking behind in the crowd and showed me which somewhat ruined it for me!

I just realised that, in this photo of my DD10 talking to the trashcan, you can see the guy who voices it in the background!!


Later we went and used our Big Thunder and Splash Mountain fastpasses and had a very late lunch at Peco Bills. This was another ¾ day that actually went a bit longer so it was back to POR for a swim, light dinner and bed.
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Old 10-29-2011, 11:01 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aussietravellers View Post
The towel animals and toys looked SO cute in the window. Did your DD's do that or did mousekeeping?
The mousekeeper did that which I thought was lovely!


Quote:
Originally Posted by aussietravellers View Post
I don't think the tip has anything to do with the towel animals, you may have had your regular mousekeeper on her day off . We left $5 a day at AKL, BC and YC and it was very hit and miss with the towel animals. Actually at BC we didn't get one at all the whole stay At AKL one visit, my mum got heaps in her room up the hall and we didn't get any Did you bring any of them home?
Gosh, makes me realise how lucky were were then. No we didn't bring any home and it didn't actually even occur to me. Wouldn't that be stealing hotel towels?
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Disneyland and DCA - May 2006 - our children's first Disney trip
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Disneyland - March 1995 - for our 1st wedding anniversary celebration trip
Disneyland lots of times 78-80, 82-86 and 92-93 when I lived in L.A.
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Old 10-29-2011, 11:04 PM   #15
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Woohoo, another update! One of my favourite things was getting to the parks with an early ADR before park opening. It was nice to check out the parks and get some photos without the huge crowds.
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