Last week I mentioned that I was going to start a mini-series, documenting the before and after of our trip to Florida this year. Today is my first post of the series and I decided I’d start with “The Planning”.
I love to plan! All of my friends will tell you how much. Whether its planning the next holiday to look forward to, picking the next Murder Mystery we might get together for, or organising someone’s birthday plans – I’m the person for the job. Not only do I like to plan what and when, I also love to plan EVERYTHING to do with the event. I’m a bit of a perfectionist to be honest. And probably a control freak too. But no one in my social group seems to mind, so it’s all good. However, as much as I love to plan a good holiday – I’m not keen on OVER PLANNING. I don’t want to make itineraries or schedules, I don’t want to know what I’m doing every single day and I most certainly don’t like inflexibility in holiday plans. I’m a sort of “fly by the seat of your pants” kinda gal when it comes to the actual holiday itself. All of this has proved very interesting while trying to plan this Florida trip… but I’ll get to more of that later.
I’ve mentioned several times before, but I feel I should really mention it again, that this trip would not be possible without my mum. Back in January 2014, she announced that she would be taking us as a family (and my brother was offered too but he declined) to Florida in Easter 2015. The girls and I had been saving up pocket money for a short while, with the view to going in several years from then, but never in our wildest dreams did we expect to go so soon or to have someone else pay for the majority of the trip. My mum is the best mum in the world and I love her dearly.
As with most holidays abroad, one of the first things to plan is your flights. Not only that though, but also your accommodation. For us the two pretty much needed organising simultaneously because we wanted to book flights out (and back) while knowing we definitely had accommodation that could accommodate us for the full time. Luckily this wasn’t too difficult as there are LOADS of villa options in Orlando and while mum did all the research on that, I did the research for the flights. In the end we got it all booked back in June of last year.
Flights – Both our flights out and our flights back are in two parts, with short layovers between. Of course there were hundreds of flight options but these suited us best due to length of journeys, time of day etc. We leave the UK on a Thursday lunch time and arrive in Florida later on that evening. Returning home we leave Florida just after dinner and arrive back in the UK in the morning. Both flights are a really reasonable amount of time – the first only 12 and a half hours total, the second less than 10 and a half total. Outbound we’re flying Air Canada and return is United Airlines. I’ve never flown with either before, so I’m quite excited!
The Villa – Our villa is situated in a place called Davenport and it looks beautiful (though very like every other one I looked at from the outside!). It’s 3 bedroom and 2 bathroom. When we were originally looking for villas, my mum asked what my criteria for accommodation was and at first I said I didn’t really mind. However in the end I gave her only two. 1) The villas MUST have wifi and 2) the villa preferably had to have a pool. This place has both, as well as lots of other things so honestly I couldn’t be happier. It is apparently 15 minutes from Disney and 30 minutes from the airport. Sounds all good to me!
After booking both the flights and accommodation, two out of three big holiday costs were taken care of. The flights were a total of £3,239.05 for three adults and two children and the villa was £900 for two weeks. I only mention it really in case anyone has stumbled across this blog post and is looking for approximate costs. Anyway, that left Theme Park tickets as the main outlay that was left.
Park Tickets – After doing A LOT of research, I found that American Attractions was the cheapest option for both our Disney Park tickets and also our Universal tickets too. These we booked in September 2014. We opted for Disney & Universal Combo tickets that would last the full 14 days of our trip. They worked out at £392 per adult and £369 per child (these prices have actually gone up since). With regards to the Disney Parks, this gives us access to all 6 parks (Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach) as well as access to Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex, DisneyQuest, Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course and a round of mini golf each day at either Disney’s Fantasia Gardens Mini Golf Course or Disney’s Winter Summerland Mini Golf Course. With regards to Universal, we get access to Universal Studios, Universal’s Islands of Adventure and Universal CityWalk.
After booking all three of these things, the bulk payments for the holiday were made. Mum organised a rental car too, though I have no information about that, but I believe that was probably the next highest amount to pay. After all this was done, there were still other things to organise of course. Even today I’ve booked something else to add to our holiday package. There has been Lily’s passport to renew, holiday insurance to find, ESTA visas to organise, character meals to book, photo passes to decide on and all sorts of other incidentals. While I’m sure no one is interested in passport renewal, visas or holiday insurance, I will be talking a little about character meals and photo passes in my next post! I will also be discussing what we’re most looking forward to doing on holiday, the attractions that most appeal in the parks (and out of the parks) as well as Disney’s FastPass system – or at least what I understand of it. The next post will be next Wednesday (4th March) and will represent our 4 week countdown mark. Though to some extent the content will still fall under the heading of “planning”, I’ll be calling it something like “when we get there”. I hope you’ll all pop back then to see what I have to say!