Disney World - The Return!!!

Sunday, 31 January 2016

So you might have spotted that on my last day of my trip report I mentioned that we have booked a new trip! Yayyyy!! I promised myself I wouldn't start blogging about this year's trip until I had finished my last trip report but I got too excited so here goes!
When we came home from Florida in 2014 we had decided it would be a few years before we returned, due to needing things done in the house and other family plans such as starting a family, family weddings etc. But as time went on the trip kept creeping further and further forwards. Summer 2017, Easter 2017, Christmas 2016.
When the dining plan offers were released last April, I thought bugger it, I'm going to book a package, even though we weren't 100% sure at that point what our circumstances might be. We booked a week at Old Key West for school holidays in October, and secured all the early booking offers of free dining, free memory maker and the $200 gift card. At the time of booking we weren't sure if we would be able to go at that exact time, but the bonus was that even if further down the line we had to change our dates / resort etc, we would still hold on to the early booking offers.
Fast forward to around December time. Bear in mind that I am the instigator of all things Disney around here, and Robert usually just goes along with things. We had been considering a quick anniversary trip to Disneyland Paris in July while we waited for our big trip to Florida... But then Robert said one day, "you know what, I think we should just do Florida in July".
Well you didn't have to tell me twice haha!
So.... the plans so far!!
Robert had holidays already booked at work for July, so I started to look at packages / flights etc. What I soon discovered was that we couldn't fly direct from Glasgow on a Saturday except with virgin which was £££££. We looked at indirect, going via gatwick again. I realised again that Saturday flights were coming in more expensive, and we could get flights and car for 17 nights flying on a Friday for less than going for 14 nights flying on the Saturday. Even the difference in 3 extra hotel nights was still coming in cheaper than the Saturday 14nt price.
So flights were booked yipee! Doing the same journey with BA as last time - Glasgow - Gatwick - Tampa, and picking up a mustang at the airport.
Robert insisted on a mustang while we still can! (When we have kids that will be a no no!) and I couldn't really say no considering how much we spend visiting disney for my pleasure :)
When we arrive we will be checking into Old Key West for 5 nights with free dining plan and the $200 gift card, yay!
After Old Key West it's on to Hard Rock Hotel!!! We stayed here on honeymoon and absolutely LOVED IT! We had only booked 1 night on the honeymoon to get the front of the line passes but when we got back to our other hotel we immediately booked another night for the following week. It's pricey, but such a fun experience, and totally worth it to get the front of the line passes for the full stay. This year we've booked 2 nights in a row instead of doing 2 separate nights and I'm looking forward to spending some time at this pool!
After that, we'll be heading to Lake Buena Vista although we haven't booked that hotel yet. I'm thinking about the clarion inn - basic but cheap (since we've blown a fortune on OKW and Hard Rock lol).
Clarion Inn is on Palm Parkway so walking distance to loads of restaurants and bars and it also has a regular shuttle to all the parks.
We have got 21 day tickets for Disney World and we'll get our universal tickets sometime nearer the trip. As I mentioned above, we have 5 days on the Disney Dining Plan, and all good disney planners know that to get the restaurants you want, you have to book early. Reservations open up 180 days before, and for us, that was a couple of weeks ago.
So my choices so far are.....
'Ohana - Polynesian resort
'Ohana is an old favourite, but we didn't make it there on our honeymoon so I'm looking forward to taking Robert there. It's all you care to eat meat, with a starter of chicken wings so I'm sure he'll be happy. For me, it's all about the pot stickers, mmmm!
Chef Mickey's - Contemporary Resort
I'll be honest, I chose this one for the characters not the food. We don't always find ourselves willing to wait in huge lines for characters while in the parks so I thought a character dinner would be perfect to meet the Fab 5.
Mama Melrose Fantasmic Package - Disney Hollywood Studios
This is a restaurant that I have never really considered until I read about it on a trip report where the poster had an amazing steak with four cheese macaroni. Which absolutely had me sold. I booked the Fantasmic Package because not only does it give us preferred seating for Fantasmic but it's also a set meal package thing which allows you to have an appetiser included on the dining plan instead of the usual entree and dessert that comes as part of a table service credit. It looks really sweet inside and I'm looking forward to this one. The steak looks to die for...
Yachstman Steakhouse - Yacht Club Resort
We visited here on the last night of our honeymoon and we both really really enjoyed it. The steaks were amazing! It's a disney Signature restaurant which means this will use 2 credits of our dining plan but in my opinion it's worth it. And I'm not gonna lie, I'm partly going back here for the amazing bread service. The onion pull apart rolls served with roasted garlic and salted butter are just.... Unbelievable! I know it's just bread but it's amazing.
Our final dining reservation is for my birthday, yay! This one isn't on the dining plan because my birthday falls a few days after we check out. We're going to go for Lunch, then hop on the monorail to Epcot for some cocktails around the world and then Illuminations.
Kona Cafe - Polynesian resort.
I've never been here before, but yet again I've spotted something on a trip report that I really want to try! This time it's a Teriyaki steak with pineapple salsa and sticky rice. It looks so nice!
This photo came from Disneyfoodblog.com which is a great website for restaurant reviews and keeping up to date with new additions to menus, seasonal foods etc. I highly recommend it if you're new to disney and don't know where to start with dining options! Or, if you're like me and just like drooling over a computer screen ;)
Aside from trying new restaurants, there's a couple of new things we'd like to try this year, including -
Orlando Eye -
Madame Tussauds -
Dolphin Spotting trip -

Aside from that we haven't made many other solid plans - Fast Pass plus will be done at 60 days of course, and I've done a rough itinerary so far so I could book in our ADRs, but it's flexible and I'm sure will change at least 20 times between now and then.
Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed and maybe even got some ideas for planning your own Orlando trip!