Now that the withdrawal is really kicking in from our trip, I'm hoping that writing up our experience and sharing it with you guys can make the wait until our next trip a little easier! I hope you enjoy.
We’re not your typical Disney family structure – which, for reasons mentioned later in our trip, made for some rather amusing moments – being 50 (Mum), 30 (myself – the only son), 15 (my little sister) and 7 (my youngest sister). The motivation for our trip was that my Mum and myself had discussed doing something big together during the year which she turned 50 and I turned 30 – big milestones! – and with the girls being (seemingly) perfect Disney age and my July birthday being a pretty nice sounding time to get out of the UK and over to sunny Florida, what better place to go than Disney World?! We last went for my 18th birthday and we’ve been desperate to go back ever since.
To say I enjoyed the planning stages of our holiday would be like saying the Flight of Passage queue times are ‘kind of long’. Google Sheets became my most frequented website. The Unofficial Guide was transformed into a rainbow of highlighters and Post-It notes. The ADRs were made minutes after the 180 day window began. FPs were secured with military precision. And then… silence. The last 45 days or so before our trip were an agonizing countdown for me whilst the rest of the family gradually became more excited and started asking “so how does the dining plan work exactly?” and “Harry Potter’s at Disney, right?”. I flew up from London to meet the family in Edinburgh on Friday June 30th. The kids finished school. We said goodbye to Granny and then – we were off.
Day 1 – July 3
We took the train (a tortuously bumpy near 4 hour ride across the Pennine hills) to Manchester Airport on July 2nd and stayed over for the night to catch our 10:30am flight with Virgin. I am a pretty rigid British Airways traveler but I think I’ll now be holidaying with Virgin. The flight was great with really attentive and friendly flight staff, surprisingly good food and range of snacks. Mum and I got a little bit merry whilst the girls watched Moana and so began our holiday-long love affair with “How Far I’ll Go” – our official holiday anthem.
Landing around 2:30pm at Orlando, we visited the Virgin desk to collect our $200 gift card (not for passing Go – it was included in our package), grabbed a caffeine fix and got on the Magical Express. Phoebe (7) really started to get excited here as the videos played on the bus showing off park highlights and when we drove past the “Welcome to Disney World” sign – there may have been a few tears of joy shed. I’ll blame it on the jetlag.
We were staying for 9 nights at Caribbean Beach Resort. We booked before the announcement of the renovation so were very happy to receive $675 on an additional card upon check in. Check was super smooth and after grabbing our refillable mugs we hopped on the resort transport to Trinidad South to our pirate room. We were a little nervous about this as we didn’t want a pirate room, as such, it’s just all that was available for our dates when we booked. We read reviews which filled us with dread but we are all agreed that we would happily stay in one of these rooms again… if we had to. The beds, although on the small side, we found to be very comfortable and the room totally worked for us. We’d have expected more if this was a Deluxe resort but for a Moderate – we seriously have 0 complaints. I’ll talk about the rest of the resort, the food etc. a little later in the report.
We were ready to head out from the room at around 6:30pm – 4 hours from landing, quite impressed with that. The tiredness was starting to set in (by now it was 11:30pm UK time and no-one slept on the flight) but we wanted to get to Disney Springs for a D-Luxe Burger and damned if we were changing my precious plans at this early stage.
We found the transport system from Trinidad South to be absolutely fine. Again, from reading some reviews of the resort and the multiple stops I had low expectations and was a little anxious about it being complicated but we had no problems. We were sometimes waiting around 20 minutes, mostly having just missed the bus we needed, but mostly the buses were quick to come, were never very full from our pick up and never stopped more than 3 stops (sometimes, when going to the Epcot side of the resort only stopping once) before leaving the resort and hitting the road.
Before talking about our first meal it’s worth mentioning we had the Disney Dining Plan included in our package also. Side note: we met a British family later on our trip who now live in New Jersey who told us that they still book their Disney holidays through UK travel agents as the packages on offer to us lucky Brits seem like a really good value deal indeed compared to what’s available domestically in the US.
D-Luxe Burger was so much better than even I was expecting it to be. For a quick service burger, I can’t recommend it enough. I went for the BBQ burger which was in all honesty one of the best I’ve had in my life (and there’s been a few) and we loved the fries and the adventurous dipping sauces (curried ketchup, buffalo blue cheese, chipotle mayo). We left very full and content to check out some of the shops before becoming quickly overwhelmed, on top of it now being about 1am on UK time, so we headed back to the room to get our heads down for our first ‘proper’ day at Animal Kingdom…