It has been a while since I have been away for longer than two weeks, but this year we went to Florida for three weeks. It was working out pretty expensive when we first started looking, but flying from Manchester to Miami instead of London to Orlando helped, so that’s what we did!
We drove to Manchester and stayed in a hotel overnight. The next morning a bus took us to the airport and dropped us off – I left my phone on the hotel bus so we had to wait for it to come back before we could check in….Oops!
The flight I was dreading; my 15 month old is determined, head strong, loud and HATES to have a belt on so high chairs, push chair straps etc and we usually have a bit of a strop – so the seatbelt for take-off and landing I was dreading!!!! She was actually fine and we had a really good flight as the lady in our row of 4 got moved to an extra leg room seat, so Jess got a seat for herself for when she fell asleep! I even got to watch a film! Bethany was brilliant but even so I was so relieved when we got off the plane.
We stayed the night in Miami and the next day had a lovely day on Miami Beach before driving up to Orlando. We were staying in a resort called Bahama Bay which was blocks of apartments around 6 pools, a lake, a club house and restaurant – we were really impressed! It was a three bedroom apartment, so my Mum and Dad had the master on one side of the apartment with an en-suite. The kids had single beds – and a cot, we had a double room and there was a family bathroom, living room with dining table and open plan kitchen and two balcony’s – it was perfect for us!
We chilled for a couple of days, did a bit of swimming and shopping and prepared for our 14 days of Disney Passes. As we thought we had lots of time to spend in Disney, it actually made us a bit lazy. We would go in late morning, do 3 or 4 rides and see a show or parade and then go home. It was actually lovely to chill out and not rush from one thing to another. We have done Disney before and had five day passes where you need to do a park a day and you feel you have to run from one thing to another to squeeze it all in.
The weather was gloriously hot most days, but they have storms late afternoon. Now normally these last an hour at most and it comes down in droves and then stops, however they were having a pretty wet season so storms were lasting longer and were so heavy you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face, with thunder and lightning which put most firework shows to shame! But it was fine; you either found cover, went home by that time of day or ate even more!
So what were our highlights? Bethany turned five whilst we were out there, so we spent the day in the Magic Kingdom and at 6pm we went to Cinderella’s Royal Table for dinner, where we met six of the Disney Princesses and had a fabulous meal overlooking the Magic Kingdom. It was absolutely amazing; one of the best things I have ever done – to see my little girl in her birthday tiara holding a princesses hand, smiling up at her and looking like she might actually burst with excitement – that will stay with me forever! We then saw the Electric Light parade and stayed for Wishes fireworks; it was a perfect evening!
Some more highlights; we had breakfast at Chef Mickey and Goofy sat down on the floor with us at our table and Jess sat with him and Bethany – again just a lovely moment that we will cherish! Bethany on Splash Mountain – the first time she has been on what I consider a big ride and she absolutely loved it! We found a restaurant called Millers Ale House – a sports type of bar/restaurant that did amazing burgers and fajitas! The food was fantastic and they were amazing with the girls, who also loved the food. Even Jess behaved – despite still refusing the highchair!!!!
I really could go on all day about the best bits, but what words of wisdom can I impart on anyone thinking of going to Florida with small children?
Take treats and distractions for the flight – even the best behaved children need a bit of a break/distraction once in a while! Also for round the parks – treats can be quite expensive and hard to find, so packs of raisins, biscuits, fruit etc can be really handy! We also took a cool bag and put cans/cartons of drinks on the bottom of the buggy – this saved us a fortune and was needed throughout the day!
Don’t forget how BIG everything is out there; we always ordered two kids meals and we always wasted at least one! The parks are SO huge that going from one ride to another can mean a very long walk; we brought a double buggy and it was a godsend! Even ordering an ice-cream; remember you could feed both children with just one – although it does tend to cause arguments so sometimes it’s just worth a bit of waste!
Comfort over style! My shoes would NEVER be worn over here however I just didn’t care! I wore playsuits and didn’t care. I was even a bit annoyed I didn’t bring a bikini, although that regret, despite feeling comfy in my own skin over there, didn’t last long. There are people over there of every size, shape and description and not once did I think oh she’s a big girl or she shouldn’t be wearing that! Somehow it just doesn’t matter over there as grown-ups – men and women have character hats and t-shirts on at every turn!
It was a long trip home – we didn’t stay in Miami or Manchester on the way back so we did a 4 hour drive, an 8 hour flight and then a 3.5 hour drive home all in one go! It actually wasn’t too bad and the girls were great, but it is a very long day. You never think about the getting home when booking your holiday, so just bear it in mind!
Don’t try and cram too much in. We needed days in between the park days to recharge and chill out – honestly the girls were so tired from walking and heat and excitement! Historically we have been to Universal, Seaworld and Busch Gardens too, but I have to say plan it all really well if you are planning lots of days out and try to do a day or two and then a break. I know you think it is a holiday of a lifetime and you need to do everything in one go, but if you are anything like me once you have the bug, you’ll be back!
We had an amazing holiday and I can’t recommend it enough as an unforgettable experience – yes, it is expensive to get there and the parks are expensive, but food is cheap and shopping is even cheaper and the memories are priceless!
If you have any questions or if you are planning a trip yourself I’d love to hear from you!
It wasn’t all plain sailing for Amanda – click here to read her blog Emergency Abroad…