Submitted on 05-11-2016
We booked this vacation with 16 months to wait and enjoyed planning and organising everything. Firstly we were picked up from Bournemouth in one of the Chauffeur Driven Tesla cars. A fantastic start to our holiday, lovely friendly driver who explained all about the car and got my two children interacting too. We flew with Virgin and had pre-booked our seats (upper deck). All went really smoothly, there was no queue for check in and we went straight through with no delay. The flight went smo...
We booked this vacation with 16 months to wait and enjoyed planning and organising everything. Firstly we were picked up from Bournemouth in one of the Chauffeur Driven Tesla cars. A fantastic start to our holiday, lovely friendly driver who explained all about the car and got my two children interacting too. We flew with Virgin and had pre-booked our seats (upper deck). All went really smoothly, there was no queue for check in and we went straight through with no delay. The flight went smoothly and the cabin crew were very attentive. On arrival in Orlando we met a bit of a long queue for the immigration/customs and then collected our cases. We then had to ask 3 people where to go for the Virgin desk as this was not very clear. When we eventually got there (on the short monorail), down two floors and right the way along the corridor we were given our gift card, check in details and told where to wait for our transfer. This went smoothly as did check in at Port Orleans where we were met by a lovely your lady called Faith, who gave us all "1st time" badges to wear and explained all about our magic bands, meal plans etc. We went to the room which was really nice, but ground floor. I popped back to see Faith and said I had requested a top floor room as I can't sleep with any noise above me. She quickly fixed this and said she could move us to the third floor the following day. The magic bands are amazing, for anyone who hasn't been before you scan these in the dining halls and your meal allowance (if you are on a dining plan) just come off your balance. On the receipt it then tells you the balance of snacks/meals left to use. Tip *3 snacks can count as 1 meal in most locations. We used up loads of these the day before we came home and brought the little boxes of shortbread/chocolate coins etc to give to people back home. The main dining hall t FQ was closed for refurbishment. This left a smaller dining hall with a limited menu. This was ok but we did walk down to Riverside sometimes to enjoy the fresh pasta and mini carvery type setting. Two things I really disliked - paper plates and plastic knives and forks!! I know they are catering for the masses, however, the paper plates are not even recycled, it all goes in one bin. I had my fresh pasta served in a plastic bowl on a paper plate, the meal just tasted of plastic then! We stayed at the Royal Pacific in Universal for one night and there we had proper china plates and silver cutlery, so if they can do it, surely Disney can. The food is average but with the dine in plan was acceptable, if you didn't have a plan, it was expensive, especially for what it was. My other dislike was the fact that trying to get a cup of tea was like a secret mission!! In the rooms there is a coffee machine with the little pods. In the dining room there is coffee for you to help yourself to with little pots of coffeemate. However I was told if I wanted a cup of tea, I would have to use a snack credit. I refused to do this and explained to the lady that if I drank coffee, I could have it on tap, however I don't and I just wanted a cup of tea. She reluctantly passed me a paper cup (of course) whilst rolling her eyes into the back of her head. However, the majority of the staff we met were exceptional and made you feel very welcome. I did like the fact that you could ask for your food as "take out" and have it back in your room. Very welcomed after a long day walking around the parks. We were disappointed that Blizzard Beach changed their closing date and closed a week early for their refurbishment but we visited all the other parks and had a fab time in all of them. Unfortunately we chose a weekend to go to Epcot where there was a food and wine festival going on. This made walking around "the countries" near on impossible, it was soooo busy. Loved Soaring and Test Track though so definitely worth a visit. Magic Kingdom was my favourite. We paid for the Not So Scary Mickeys Halloween Party, it was good, but not worth nearly $400 dollars in our opinion. Our tickets had not linked to our magic bands so we spent 40 minutes at guest services trying to sort it out. You then had to queue for the Candy, as if you were going on a ride, we assumed it would just be handed out as you walked around the park. The fireworks were really good, as was the lights show on Cinderellas Castle. My two got lots of sweets, and enjoyed it but we wouldn't do it again. The transfer buses from the hotel to the parks were really good and very frequent. SeaWorld and Aquatica were two of our favourite days only to be topped by our day at Discovery Cove. We booked our tickets through Floridatix before we left and got the Dolphin Swim at Discovery Cove tickets for ¬£140pp which also included SeaWorld and Aquatica - Bargain!! Your day at DC is all inclusive, starting with breakfast and is definitely worth a visit and the extra money, it was amazing and a lovely relaxing day for us the day before we flew home. We stayed one night at the Royal Pacific at Universal, arrived at 7am the first morning and was able to check into our room straight away. Staying at the hotel gives you the equivalent of Fast Passes, but unlimited and definitely worth it as to pay for this in the par was $89 per person. We paid ¬£160 for the room for the night with breakfast for 2 adults included. Breakfast was amazing too, we had the buffet, with all you could ask for available, fresh omelettes, fruit, porridge, toast etc. We loved Islands of Adventure and enjoyed Universal Studios however more of the rides here are simulators and after a couple my hubby and children got a bit fed up of them. The Harry Potter Train journey was good, as was the two sections of HP, however we are not great fans so most of that passed us by. The new Kong ride was really good, and the newly refurbed Hulk Ride was a hit with my husband and two boys. We used several taxi's while we were there, some of the cars we had were amazing, the best being a Lincoln to bring us back from Universal to FQ. Some of the drivers were real characters and gave us a good few laughs. The worst, and more miserable ones were the ones available outside French Quarter. One drove us to Aquatica, and his driving was so bad my 12 year old was sick when we got to the other end (20 minute drive). I have to say, out of all the parks we visited, I did not see one piece of litter anywhere, the "restrooms" were spotlessly clean and there were plenty of them. We visited Vineland Outlets which were good, but not much for children, and Florida Mall which we enjoyed very much. The housekeeping at the FQ was amazing and we returned after our second day to find the maid had put a hammock made from a towel between the beds for my sons teddies to sit in. She also made a dog for him out of towels too and again, our room was spotless. The boat ride to Disney Springs is a must, we did this several times and enjoyed every one. We paid for dinner one night in T-Rex just for something different, and although the atmosphere was nice in the restaurant the food was just about ok. My husbands chicken arrived cold so he sent that back, and my lasagne was just warm. For $100 including tip it was an expensive treat. For our journey home we received an answer phone message on the hotel phone to tell us to be outside at 3pm for pickup which we were. There was one of the hotel staff there (Doug), and a Disneys Magical Express arrived at 3pm. We said we hadn't booked this when we were asked by the driver for our confirmation email. There was then some confusion between the driver who wanted a letter we hadn't got and Doug. I asked him if there was a normal transfer bus due, he didn't know, and in the end the driver of the ME said he would take us. There is a very small safe in the room but you can have a safety deposit box at reception free of charge, we made use of this to store our tickets for Universal, Discovery Cove and our Passports. We have all thoroughly enjoyed our 1st time at Disney and are currently planning where to go next.