Back Home: Our Highs, Not So Highs, And Lows…

Before starting on any of my Trip Reports (which take me months to write!), I always write a highs/lows post to capture those first thoughts, so here they are…

We landed at Gatwick, from Orlando, last Monday morning after 16 nights at Walt Disney World. The flight home (with British Airways) was very bumpy, having had to fly through a jet stream (or so the pilot informed us) for a lot of the journey. I’ve never been so pleased for a plane to land… although hubs thinks we had a worse flight in 2011, but I just can’t remember now!

It feels very weird to be coming home from Florida, where it was a hotter than average October/November (over 30 on some days), to a cold and grey Britain. We are used to coming home at the end of August, or start of September, where there is still a bit of summer to squeeze out, and we don’t have to worry about bringing jumpers to wear once we step off the plane! The upside is that we don’t have long until Disneyland Paris at Christmas!

If you’ve been reading my trip reports over the years (here they are in case you haven’t: Dine Around Disney – August 2014, Back To The Magic – August 2013, The First Time – August 2011 and Disneyland Paris – August 2010) you will know that I take a lot of photographs – there are even more to go through this year, at nearly 10K (I have a problem I know!) But fear not, since many will be deleted (I often take 3 of the same shot, just to be sure I have it right! So the blurry ones, the duplicates, and the ones where people walked in front of me, will be deleted). I also have lots of video, and I do plan on making videos for each day as well – but we’ll see how much time I actually get! I certainly do not plan on taking more than a year to write this one like I did last year, and I was good at making notes this year too.

However, before all of that, it’s time for me to do our highs and not so highs whilst they are still super fresh in my memory!

HIGHS…

The Weather

They lied about the weather in October! It was hot, hot, HOT! Of course, the year we decided to go in a bit of a cooler month, it decides to have a heatwave, and be (according to many we spoke to) around 10 degrees higher than usual. So this was a high – I love the heat and the sun, and was actually worried I’d feel COLD in October. Fortunately, the humidity wasn’t as bad as I know August can be, and we had one half a day of rain, and then a full day of rain, but after that it was sun all the way.

Art of Animation

I added an extra two days to the start of our holiday well after booking the initial reservation. I wanted cheap and cheerful after forking out for Wilderness Lodge, and Art of Animation looked pretty cool. I can say that it was a fab resort, and definitely great for families with younger children. It was almost like a theme park in itself with all of the statues in the different room zones. We spent the day just hanging out here since we didn’t have theme park tickets.

Little Mermaid + Flounder Statue - Disney's Art of Animation Resort

Wilderness Lodge

I fell in love with Wilderness Lodge when I clapped eyes on it in 2014, while meeting our friends for dinner at Whispering Canyon Café. And I am so glad we stayed at this resort. It felt so homely and friendly, and I love the themeing and the décor. We didn’t explore it as much as we could have (more in the lows) but hey, we will always come back!

Disney's Wilderness Lodge

The Deluxe Disney Dining Plan

We upgraded our free plan again this year to deluxe, and whilst we didn’t “make/save” as much as last year, I can give you a spoiler alert and tell you that we spent $2086.38 to upgrade from the free Disney Dining Plan to Delxue Disney Dining Plan. Our total dining and snack bills came to $4390.97 (approx., I was a bit lax with some of the snack prices), which means we saved $2304.59. We didn’t do as many signatures this year, and we did actually end the holiday with 10 meal credits, which we converted into buying 3 snacks (character cookies) on our last day to use them up. It was handy being able to use snack and meal credits for Food & Wine though!

Doughnuts from Artist Point

Disney Transport

Now, this one is going to be a shocker as it was actually one of our lows for last year. I don’t know if Old Key West (where we stayed in 2014) just had an unlucky bus service that year, but this year we found them great. We never waited much more than 10 minutes for a bus, and actually chose to use the buses a few times instead of the car. This is a first! We also loved being able to take the boat to Magic Kingdom, and we also took the monorail to Epcot, which was another first.

Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

Steve and I really are a foodie couple, so were really looking forward to the Food & Wine Festival. We did 3 days at the festival, and wished we could have squeezed in a fourth to do even more of the booths! I think we managed about half of them in all. Liam did Food & Wine with us on the first day, but after that, he went off and did his own thing around Epcot.

Epcot Food & Wine Festival

Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party

You guys know how much I love Halloween and Disney, so being at Walt Disney World for Halloween was like all my Christmases (bwahahahah) had come at once! We went to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party on 31st October – there was no way I could go all the way to the Magic Kingdom and not be there on the big day! The fireworks were fantastic (we had watched them the night before from California Grill too), and the Boo To You Parade was so good, I made sure I watched it twice. My photos from this night however are not on point, which really bugs me – my night time photography is not all that great… but hey, another excuse to go back (like I need one, amirite?!)

Boo To You Parade Ghosts

The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights

I was full of both joy and sadness seeing these – it would be the first and only time we would ever see these amazing lights. I actually cried when they were switched on because it was so overwhelming! Such a shame that they are taking them out of the park, I would dearly have loved to see them again in the future, the photos do not do them justice at all.

Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights

Disney Vacation Club Owners!

The biggest high though, has to be that we bought into the Disney Vacation Club! We did the tour in 2013, but wasn’t too sure, especially as we hadn’t ever stayed onsite before, but after two stays we realised just how much we do love it, and all the little perks it brings, so after several hours, we were signing and owning at Polynesian Villas & Bungalows! We are due to come into some money very soon, so it’ll be paid off and we won’t have to worry about where we are staying at Walt Disney World for the next few decades!

Tiki Statue at Disney's Polynesian Village Resort

NOT SO HIGHS

Poor Restaurant Service

Whilst we had some great meals this year, both Steve and I agreed that service in many of the restaurants was really quite lax. I’ll go into more detail when I write the full report.

Screen Addicted Teen

My son is not far from 17 now, and whilst he enjoyed the holiday, he did spend an awful lot of time looking down at his mobile which annoyed me! Especially when I’ve worked damn hard all year to pay for it! That said, because of his age, and because he knows the parks well, he was able to go off and do his own thing when he wanted to. This is why you’ll see several Counter Service mentions in the titles at the end of this post – that was the boy!

Reflection of Spaceship Earth in Sunglasses

Crowds

Going in October/November, we had expected the crowds to be smaller than they were – but there were times that we felt that it was even busier than August. Sure we can deal with crowds, and wait times and all that, but when you hear how it is supposed to be a quieter time, and then it isn’t; well, it was a bit of a buzz kill!

LOWS

Landing at MCO

Dear God, I do not know what the pilot was doing, but it’s like he forgot he was supposed to land a plane – we touched terra firma with an almighty thud! Not good! And then, we had to sit on the plane for an hour because the immigration hall was FULL! We just couldn’t believe it… and it made me, in that instant, wished we’d done indirect again. Fortunately we were able to go through the machines to do the fingerprints etc, which sped up the process a little bit. We proceeded to get our car details from the Avis desk, and it was the first time we have ever had the hard sell – I told him where to go, as I was in no mood! Then, and I will tell more in the full trippy, we managed to lock ourselves OUT of our hire car… with the keys still on the dashboard, and all our stuff inside. Not a good start!

British Airways Flight Home

I already mentioned the turbulence on the flight home – I don’t think I’ve ever prayed so much on a flight before. It was not a pleasant journey at all. The service on the plane was quite poor we felt, compared with the way out, and the IFE wasn’t all that either. We tried to sleep, but the very bumpy flight, and the noise (the plane seemed very noisy) meant we barely dozed.

British Airways Aeroplane Engine

Not Losing Weight

I debated about putting this in the lows section, because, despite this [not losing weight], I didn’t let it get to me the way it did last year.

I tried so hard to lose some weight this year for this trip, but we have had a beyond stressful year, with various things in our personal life, and work, and it just didn’t happen. And yes, I’ve been on diets all year, and going to a personal trainer, so knowing that I tried and failed makes me feel crappy. We took things very slowly, often not starting our day until very late morning. Both Steve and I were very drained going into this holiday as it was, and Liam is a teen, so sleeping in for him wasn’t a problem!

I managed the walking to a degree – like I said, we started the days slowly, and I took lots of breaks during the day. However, by the second week, my back was going, and I had this weird pain in my foot. In short I was in agony. My body just wasn’t prepared, and I started to get rather down about it all, as I felt like I had ruined yet another holiday. We considered a room switch, simply because we were in a room the furthest away from an elevator as you could get. But we didn’t in the end as by now we had bought a lot of things and it was just too much stress. For the final 3 days of the holiday I had to give in and rent a scooter. It is not something I am proud of, but it made such a difference to our last few days, as I was able to get about with ease, and we saw so much more than if I had been hobbling along. My happiness levels rose exponentially, and by our last day in Magic Kingdom, I was actually in tears because we had to go home – I don’t think I have ever cried about going home before! But it was simply because every day had been so hard and painful for me, and now it wasn’t. I felt like I had ruined everything. Steve told me to not be so daft, and I’ve come back (once again) full of promises to myself to lose weight. Think of me what you will. If you are a regular reader of my trippies you know that I am always honest with things, and this all had to be mentioned. Have I put weight on after this holiday? Yes, of course I have – I always do, but once I go back to “normal” the weight comes off again after a week or two, and I’m booked in with my trainer for next week, so I’m hoping this time I will do it… but if I don’t… I’m not letting it get in the way of me enjoying my life, my family, and the precious time we have on holiday.

Us at Epcot

And so, that is that! My highs, not so highs and lows for our trip report for 2015! While you wait for my trip report, you can check out my pre-trip planning report here.

Here is what you can expect from Halloween In the Wilderness 2015:

Day 0 – The Start Line: Premier Inn, Gatwick North

Day 1 – Animation Station: Travel Day – LGW-MCO | Check in at Art of Animation | Disney Pizza Delivery (Dinner)

Day 2 – Look At This Stuff: Resort Tour – Art of Animation | Bahama Breeze (Lunch)

Day 3 – In The Wilderness: Landscape of Flavors (CS Breakfast) | Check in at Wilderness Lodge | Whispering Canyon Cafe (TS Dinner)

Day 4 – Eat Around The World: Farm Fresh, Scotland, Hawaii, Desserts & Champagne, Brazil, Belgium at Epcot International Food & Wine Festival | La Cantina de San Angel (CS Lunch) | Le Cellier (Signature Dining) | IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth

Day 5 – Welcome Home: DVC Tour & Purchase | Whispering Canyon Cafe (TS Lunch) | Cape May Cafe (TSB Dinner)

Day 6 – Fine, Fancy, Fun: Kona Cafe (TS Breakfast) | Silver Creek Springs | Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue (Dinnershow)

Day 7 – Hey Mickey: 1900 Park Fare (Character Buffet Breakfast) | Magic Kingdom | Casey’s Corner (CS Lunch) | California Grill (Signature Dining) | HalloWishes

Day 8 – In The Slow Lane: Roaring Fork (CS Lunch) | Shopping | Artist Point (Signature Dining)

Day 9 – This Is Halloween: Boma – Flavors of Africa (TSB Breakfast) | Casey’s Corner (CS Lunch) | Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party

Day 10 – Water’s Edge: Trails End (TS Lunch) | Winter Summerland Minature Golf | The BOATHOUSE (Signature Dining)

Day 11 – Eat ALL The Food: Ireland, Canada, France, Belgium, Japan, Italy, Brazil at Epcot International Food & Wine Festival | Yorkshire County Fish Shop (CS Lunch) | Eat To The Beat: Boyz II Men | Roaring Fork (CS Dinner)

Day 12 – Thar She Blows: Typhoon Lagoon | Typhoon Tilly’s (CS Lunch) | Jiko – The Cooking Place (Signature Dining)

Day 13 – Not Downtown Disney: Whispering Canyon Cafe (TS Breakfast) | Shopping at Disney Springs | Wolfgang Puck Express (CS Lunch) | Boma – Flavors of Africa (TSB Dinner)

Day 14 – That’s A Wrap: Greece, Dominican Republic, Refreshment Port, New Zealand, Patagonia, Australia, Craft Beers at Epcot International Food & Wine Festival | Electric Umbrella (CS Lunch) Yachtsman Steakhouse (Signature Dining)

Day 15 – What’s This?: Roaring Fork (CS Breakfast) | Disney Hollywood Studios | The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights | Hollywood Brown Derby (Signature Dining)

Day 16 – On Safari: Tusker House (TSB Breakfast) | Animal Kingdom | Narcoossees (Signature Dining)

Day 17 – Dreams Come True: Magic Kingdom | Tony’s Town Square (TS Lunch) | Travel Home Day – MCO – LGW

Mickey + Minnie