Disney World 2016 Trip Report – Travel Day
When we booked our Disney holiday for 2016, we had booked ourselves onto the morning flight out of Gatwick at 11.15am. Knowing we would need to be at the airport by 7.15am and seeing how the M3 can be affected by an accident when we went to Legoland last Summer, we decided to book a stay in a hotel near Gatwick for the night before. I found a good deal for hotel and parking for the whole holiday, and we stayed in the Sandman Signature hotel near Gatwick with transfers to the terminal included. The hotel itself was fine, it looked out of place all on its own by a roundabout, but inside it was nice. We had a quad room as it was just for one night so we all shared to save a little bit of money. Everything was clean, we had everything we needed, and despite me not having a great night’s sleep, I don’t think that was down to the hotel, I just think that I was excited to be going on holiday, not looking forward to the flight and having to share a room with people.
The next morning we were up early to drop the car off at Purple Parking and get the transfer bus to the South Terminal at Gatwick. We arrived at the terminal by 8.30am and had checked in quite quickly. The Virgin bag escalator was out of action which I think is because Virgin are swapping over to the North terminal this Summer, so there was a manual bag transfer. This always makes me nervous as I am never sure if my bag will follow me on holiday.
From past experiences, I prefer the North terminal for food options, however we found a nice spot next to the runway to have our breakfast which meant we could watch some planes land and take off.
After breakfast there’s always the long wait until the gate opens. Thankfully there were no delays showing which meant we should take off on time, so we found some seats and waited for the gate to open. We were all a little tired after not a great night’s sleep, however the excitement took over and the time went quickly.
This was my first experience of a Virgin long haul flight and people I had spoken to said I would see a big difference in service compared to other airlines. They were right!
I had pre booked seats on the upper deck of the 747 which meant there were around six rows of Economy and then around six rows of Premium Economy before the cockpit. It felt like we were on a small bus, and we were looked after very well. The overhead lockers are smaller on the upper deck, however the window seats have extra storage and there is a large cupboard at the back to be able to leave your hand luggage if you need to. I had the window seat, and with the extra storage, I also got extra space that I used to spread out when the meals came around.
No sooner had we taken off, we were given pretzels and offered a drink. It would have been rude not to have wine as I’m sure it was just past midday by now and I was on holiday!
We were settling in for a nine hour flight which is longer than when we flew with BA two years ago, but I knew I needed to endure the flights to get to my happy place.
The film choice was good, and I was able to sit and watch a film without thinking of the fact I was stuck in a plane for hours on end. Sitting by the window however gave me such a treat, I was able to compare the map and look out below at some amazing scenery. Going over Canada was brilliant, in certain places I would make out the waterways from the difference in colour, such a great experience.
The food and drinks just didn’t seem to stop coming. Plane food is never rated very highly but the food that was served to me was perfectly edible and I enjoyed the little extras such as cheese and biscuits. Time seemed to pass quite quickly during the flight which was good, all apart from the last hour and a half when it seemed to take ages to go down past New York and into Orlando.
We landed in Orlando at 4pm their time which made it 9pm UK time. This was OK, and the bonus of sitting in the upper deck meant that we left the plane before the Economy section downstairs. This helps for Orlando Security where queues can be really long.
There were two planes that had landed together so the immigration hall was very busy. Thankfully it moved quickly and as we had visited the US two years ago, we were able to go and use the self service kiosks which sped things up a little bit. After printing out our tickets we saw the queue was quite long again to see the customs officers, however somehow we were directed to a queue that didn’t have anyone in it so we were straight through within two minutes to get our bags.
My bag is ALWAYS the last off the carousel. The last time we visited, it was waiting with a staff member as the luggage tag had come off during transit. This time my bag finally arrived with the Premium Economy luggage on a different belt to everyone else’s. Thankfully I always pack a spare set of clothes in my hand luggage and we all swap one outfit each in each others luggage just in case.
After a trek across the airport to collect our gift card that we received when booking our holiday, we made it back across to the other side again to pick up the Magical Express. We checked in at the Caribbean Beach Resort at 6pm US time which was exactly two hours after we landed. This was great timing and we were all very pleased. I had requested Martinique village area when I checked in online, but we were given Jamaica area. My heart sank to begin with but actually it was really nice and there were some great perks to staying in Jamaica which I’ll cover in a different blog post.
We were all hot and tired so the only thing to do was dump our luggage and change into our swim wear. We activated our drinking mug and headed for the pool for a little while. It was around 7pm at this time so we were thinking it was midnight UK time. Such a surreal feeling but we were all so excited to be there we kept on going. We even decided to stay up and watch the outdoor movie which was Monsters University, however we only lasted until 9pm and then gave in and went to bed ready for the first day the parks tomorrow.
Read on for our first day at Animal Kingdom, Day 2 we went to Magic Kingdom, Day 3 to Hollywood Studios, Day 4 to Epcot, Day 5 back to Epcot, Day 6 to Magic Kingdom, Day 7 to Typhoon Lagoon, Day 8 to visit resorts, and Day 9 Magic Kingdom before leaving for home.