Overview- Got back saturday (15/08/09) from our two weeks in orlando. Had a brillant two weeks, just thought i would do mini report to inform you of mostly great experiences we had and a couple of things we would miss next time. This was a return to orlando after an absent of 8 years, before that we had been on around 7 trips to orlando Cast: me male 28/girlfriend 22 sister 36/ mum/ nephew 7 Hotels sofitel gatwick/maple parking: lovely hotel great airport view ( phoned two days before and got room reserved). Had a few problems with maple leaf on return had to phone 4 times to get car as it was signed that i was returning at 8pm when actualy it was 6am!! It was sorted in end and my car found as it wasnt blocked in. It may of been that I had signed the sheet for a 8pm return when i left car as i was excited about holiday and wasnt listening properly but it didnt help that he spoke barely any english!! Marriott world center orlando: Hotel is huge ,( if you dont know its the one known locally as one with the lifts!) grounds lovely, pool was great. Room had recently been refurbished so was smart and modern with a very comfy bed, but best bit about room was the view, a view of whole of disney and surrounding areas , on a rare night in to sit and watch fireworks was great! Only problem was marriott took $250 off our card on arrival without telling us for protection on bill, as we where using fairfx card the return of the money at end was no use, so we had to fight to get money back early , which we did in end. So i would advise if you can use another card on arrival do and just use fairfx for instant buys. Port orleans riverside: Sister, mum and nephew stayed here have stayed here few times before. Smart hotel with more character than our hotel usefull for busses to parks Airports Gatwick- sanford: First time into sanford, very impressed smart airport very efficent and even though there was a lot of charter flights arriving and departing it was very smooth. We arrived at gatwick early but where waiting an hour to get through passport control this is due building work and lack of immagration officers, four on duty with up to 10 transatlantic flights arriving!! Have others had similar problems? Thomas cook travel agents: Never informed my mum that parks tickets where included in holiday then sold her disney tickets through keith prowse. She is getting her money back, but we where annoyed as if we had known that tickets where included we would of probarly gone in a disney hotel as it would of worked out cheaper if we had known park tickets where included! thomas cook airline: very impressed, leg room was great best i have had on a translantic flight, food was nice, two hot meals , nice efficent crew and flights on time so on whole very impressed. restaurants visited: 1: cheesecake factory: good quality meals and lots of it, as you can imagine every cheesecake you can think of on offer... i choose a caramel one lush and enough to feed whole table. Only negative point no kids menu! 2: French restaurant epcot: expensive but lovely food and added bonus of ratatu coming round for a chat 3: Sharks grill seaworld: one not to miss lush food and surrounded by a tank full of sharks, check it out 4: chilis: 3 courses for two people $20.... cant go wrong good food, graet atmosphere and cheap 5: sweet tomatoes: Cheap and good veggie food 6: Boatwrights , port orleans: Nice food loved sweet bread and steak although maybe a little over priced 7.itialian restuarant downtown (sorry forgot name): lovely food, fish pasta and steak our recommendations and a nice break form usual orlando food. 8. Bahama breeze: great atmosphere, food was above average 9. orlando ale house: food was average, but it was cheap and good atmosphere 10. Dragon court chinese buffet: food was hot and a lot of choice if your looking for fine chinese dinning this may not be for you, but reasonable price and we enjoyed it! 11. hard rock: lush burger. Parks: Animal kingdom: One of our favourite parks realy apreciated details this time, loved everest and have never seen so many animals as we did this time on safari it seems longer as well. First time i have seen lion king , loved it. Its a lot of peoples fourth favourite disney park, certainly not mine. epcot: always love this place, first time i have done soarin and wow...fireworks etc and love just wandering around lands...just two things wasnt that impressed with mission space, hence i could walk on and get fast pass at 19.00 and i think its time honey i shrunk was replaced and wasnt impressed i was treated to a sickly ten minute kodak advert before i went in!! Hollywood studios: Had a great time here but i think few things have gone down hill since my last visit: Fantasmic farce: turned over half hour before 9.00 show told standing room only, when got to arena it was packed to rafters and if you wanted to stand you would be ten deep back, returned an hour and bit early for 10.30 show to find a q all way back to corner of the information kiosk, we waited patently for half an hour until we slowly let in only to watch people pushing in at front no one form disney stopping it. Its a good show but is it realy worth bother of spending nearly all evening queing or trying to into show or waiting for it. Pay a lot of money for tickets i think disney shoukd stop penny pinching and in peak season put it on everynight! Stunt show: Amazing show but why are people let in up to fifteen minutes into the show, making commentary hard to hear and blocking views as there scrammble for seats. show time is clearly stated and it started at least ten minutes after this , so i think if turn up late its bad luck why should people that have turned up early have they viewing disturbed by late comers! great movie ride: Used to love this ride but this time the actors have gone and replaced by what seems like exchange students our host was british, and i am sad to say he mumbled his way around it couldnt understand him at all. I Heard it had been updated recently , but i couldnt spot where this was. Used to love this ride but i feel cast need to be trained better and it is in urgent need of an update. Majic kingdom: As always loved fireworks ( hope this is never a victim of budget cuts) and parade. Just found it to busy and some points you could hardly walk. Without space moutain it realy didnt keep us entained. It is not meant for my age anyway so not crictising,but my nephew found other parks more entertaing with new kids lands at ioa, universal, seaworld. UNiversal: One of our best parks this visit, although rubbish that we missed rip rocket by a day. loved simpsons and mummy ride... also did shows that i have never done before like make -up show , hilarous!! Great day for everyone! Ioa: love this place, always seems a little quieter and others which i dont understand as it has much for kids as adults, our nphew loved spiderman, cat in hat water rides and mummy etc Paid extra for express pass, wasnt needed and was a bit of a rip off.... dont get it until you have been in park for a least an hour and assessed the q's Blueman group: highlight of holiday..amazing show and one not to be missed...amazed how three men can keep you in stiches for 1hr 45 and not say a word...tip wait 5 mins in foyer to picture with them seaworld: New coaster manta was great and not to long wait. favourite show sea lions as always the evening piss take show is one not to be missed. Found some of shows a little sickly but all in all it was a fantastic day....dont miss sharks grill and manta aquirum! Waterparks.. forgot how good blizzard beach is and as always the detail can not be beaten... enjoyed typhoon lagoon as well as its quieter...did go to new waterpark aquactica...after paying $12 to park ( disneys free!!) was told couldnt take food in so we left, out of principle,. i have heard aquatica is good but we had a great day at blizzard beach instead so no loss!! boggy creek airboats: Was great fun and glad i did it as it was the real florida! Prices have gone up though to $38 and we didnt see much wildlife but as the guide said there not on payroll! Downtown disney: Love atmosphere of this place, just shame about pleasure island all signs still there and clubs still as there where but with door firmly closed. Shame as i have heard some great things about these clubs and wanted to try them out. As you enter pleasure island latest tunes are blasted out with people on mikes with outside bars open, so it seems they want to attract a young crowd but dont want clubs...confussing .... also do we realy need anymore shops there i noticed couple of units empty already.... i think like me disney dont know what to do with it!! Photopass: had some good photos but lack of photographers only realy infront of four main atractions in four parks and waterparks. If there more photgraphers and more opptunity to add ride pictures to the cd i might of been interested in purchasing the cd for $140!! Tipping: On whole had great service, but found tipping got worse since my last visit, always gave 15 per cent and sometimes more if i thought there derserved it, but on few occasions we had very false service and waitereses shaking there head and ignoring us completely after the cheque and tip had been paid. I feel its to much of a tipping is expected culture rather than our tips earnt and i feel its getting worse. think its time i stopped as my mini report is turning into a monologue. As i have said it was brillant holiday and one i will never forget. The negative comments didnt efeect our holiday one bit but just worth noting for future reference. Overall the thing that shines from this holiday is how impressed i was with universal and seaworld and next time i would consider a universal hotel for my visit. Saying that disney still does a lot right, animal kingdom, epcot water parks etc and no one can beat there detail, but the penny pinching is definately more obvous than other parks and with new rides like rip rocket and lands like harry potter opening disney needs i feel something new and big in next few years to stay at top! Any questions welcome.