Day 1: Here We Go Again! (British Airways to Orlando) / H&H@TP 2017

Day 1 of Hibiscus & Holly At The Poly 2017, the latest of my Disney Trip Reports, is here! Today is travel day. We flew with British Airways to Orlando from Gatwick, and after smooth flight and picking up our rental car, we checked-in at Disney’s Polynesian.

The Trip Report Index tells you a bit about the planning of this trip, as well as some info about me and my family (the Cast Members!) In short you have me, Michelle; Steve, my husband, and Liam, my son. It also, of course, has the full list of days for Hibiscus & Holly At The Poly 2017.

British Airways Flight LGW-MCO

Day 1: Travel Day – British Airways to Orlando

Check-in: Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows / Dinner from Captain Cook’s
December 7, 2017
My trip reports are photo heavy! I include single images, or smaller galleries – either way, pages may take a little longer to load depending on your internet connection speed. You can click on gallery images to enlarge them. I don’t include all the photos I take, but you will be able to find all of the images from Hibiscus & Holly At The Poly 2017 in my Flickr Collection of albums from this trip. To see just today’s extra photos, you can view this Flickr Album.
Hibiscus & Holly At The Poly: Trip Report Index | Pre-Trip Report | About Us
Some days are split into several parts; please use the page numbers at the bottom of the post to continue reading.

After a good nights sleep at the Hilton London Gatwick Airport Hotel, we all got ourselves showered and dressed, and had breakfast in our room. Sadly for me, on this trip in particular I was very self conscious which is something I’ve not experience for years. Just a knock on effect of my anxiety and depression…

Breakfast was fine – standard hotel breakfast with the usual Full English staples, pastries, fruit etc. It was then one final check of the room to make sure we didn’t leave anything behind, and we made our way over to the airport.

Breakfast at Hilton London Gatwick Airport

Breakfast at Hilton London Gatwick Airport

Because we had already checked-in with our luggage the night before, we just had to go through security, which was very thorough. It doesn’t matter how many times you do this, or how well prepared you are by making sure you’ve got your liquids in a clear plastic bag and out of your hand luggage, as well as any electronics, belts, coins and shoes off… it’s still a nightmare. I know it has to be done, but it’s just so stressful!

Once through that we didn’t have to wait for too long to board the aircraft. As I had been given assistance we were able to board first. The distance from the waiting area to the actual gate was far! I am so glad I had that assistance as I really wouldn’t have made it.

We took our seats at the back of the plane – we always pick these seats as you are generally boarded first, meaning you can get your hand luggage up into the overhead bins without too much faff (or worrying if there is enough space!) as well as being near to the loos, and the galley to grab a drink during the flight. There is always plenty of space to stretch your legs back here too.

For some people this is the worse place to be, but for us and our needs, it is perfect. Of course it does mean being off the plane last, but everyone has to line up for ages at Orlando Airport’s Immigration & Customs, so it’s not a big deal.

British Airways to Orlando from London Gatwick

Us on British Airways Flight to Orlando

I belong to a Flying While Fat group on Facebook and took lots of pictures for the group so that those of us plus-size folk can get an idea what the flight would be like for them. Fitting into an aeroplane seat is the number one thing I’m contacted about, closely followed by fitting in rides, so I am always happy to help as much as I can.

Here is what I wrote in the group immediately after returning. I’ve not included all the pictures in this blog post.

Just a quick update from me, as home now after flying to/from Orlando and London Gatwick with British Airways(BA) on a Boeing 777 (3/3/3 seat configuration). We (myself, husband, and son) sat in row 39, in the middle bank of seats. I choose these on purpose as they are near the rest rooms, and there is more space to walk about. BA also fill from back to front, so you are generally first on the plane after the other higher classes, and those with assistance.

I did have assistance through both airports as I can’t walk long distances, and we boarded the craft first.

I’m currently at my biggest. I’m 5’4″ with 25″ inside leg (for ref on seat pitch) and am a UK size 32/34, so that’s about a 28/30 I think in US sizes. I carry my weight in my belly and boobs area, so I do pack out a seat!

In World Traveller (Economy/Cattle Class) the seat width I believe is just shy of 18″. The arm rests do go up – and on the aisle end too – under the arm rest, toward the back is what feels like a hook, you push that back and you can then raise the arm rest, which is really handy for getting in and out of the seat.

For take off and landing the arm rests have to be down – which I was fine with – but did put them up for the duration of the flight for more comfort.

For seat belt extenders, just ask the Cabin Crew as you get to your area of the plane and they will fetch one for you.

When sat in the seat with the extender belt around me there is plenty of room to spare – even on someone of my size. So honestly people, don’t panic! 

At my size I did get cozy with hubby on part of his seat – mainly my belly and shoulders. The fold down table was a no-go – not a snow balls chance in hell!! Hubby and I just share his table to have drinks/food.

As for the toilets – any bigger than me and it’ll be a no-go. It was a tight squeeze, and no room for manoeuvre at all. On the way home I barely drunk a thing so that I wouldn’t have to go. Not a good idea I know.

As far as I am aware, BA do not have a Customer Of Size (COS) policy, but I do think you can buy an extra seat for “comfort” but nothing like the US airlines have COS policies.

Because I was travelling with my fam, it wasn’t too much of an issue for space because I could cozy up.

I have flown on this airplane several times now from a UK size 22, up to the size I am now, so trust me, you’ll be fine if you are size ME or below!

British Airways to Orlando from London Gatwick

We flew British Airways to Orlando again this year as we had Avios points that we used to bring the flight price down. Cuts do seem to have been made to the service though – no snack with your first drink like you used to (although I did see Cabin Crew with a clear bag filled with packets of pretzels – must have been for the higher flight classes, and not us in cattle class.

I’m also sure that there used to be more full drink services on the flight. We had just the one, plus with dinner, and after that it was either water or juice served from trays. You could of course go to the galley and ask for a drink.

British Airways Drinks Service

Other cost cutting measures are the lack of bottled water with your main meal – it’s just a tiny cup of the wet stuff.  The cheese and biscuits seems to have disappeared from the tray too. I know it sounds silly to moan, but it’s the little things sometimes on a flight!

For our in-flight meal we had a Wheatberry, Apple & Cranberry Salad. The main dish was pretty much the same as the last time we flew BA – Steve and Liam both had Sausage and Mash with vegetables; and I had the vegetarian option which was Pasta.

There was also a bread roll and butter, a pot of Lily O’Brien’s Salted Caramel Cheesecake for dessert, and the aforementioned tiny cup of water (sorry for it being out of focus)

About an hour or so before landing we were given an afternoon snack which was a Chicken Caesar Wrap and a small bar of Toblerone.

British Airways In-Flight Dinner

British Airways In-Flight Dinner

British Airways In-Flight Dinner

British Airways In-Flight Dinner

British Airways In-Flight Dinner

British Airways In-Flight Dinner

British Airways In-Flight Dinner

British Airways Afternoon Snack

Between having our food, watching the in-flight entertainment (which I can’t remember at all now, sorry!), looking out at the view, and stretching our legs around the cabin, it was soon time to begin our descent into Orlando!

British Airways to Orlando

British Airways to Orlando

Once landed it was a matter of disembarking, going through immigration, and collecting our suitcases. I love seeing the huge American flag hanging in Orlando Airport – it’s what gives me the happy feels to know we’re back Home!

Heading into the terminal this time was even more exciting as they had a huge Christmas tree lit up in the middle of the plaza – so pretty!

Orlando International Airport at Christmas

Orlando International AOrlando International Airport Christmas Treeirport at Christmas

Orlando International Airport Christmas Tree

We rented a disability van so that we could transport my ECV from place to place. We hired again from Florida Van Rentals, and you can read more information and the review of it on my other blog here: Renting a Disability Van from Florida Van Rentals.

We picked it up from the Hyatt Regency’s Valet Parking Lot, as we had done on our 2016 trip, and began the drive to Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort (and our DVC Home of Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows)! There was also a Christmas tree down here too – look how pretty it is!

Orlando International Airport Christmas Tree

Our car this year was a Toyota Sienna, which was really roomy and spacious, and a great drive. However a few days into our holiday we had an issue with a rattling sound from the exhaust, so Florida Van Rentals swiftly changed it for us – on a Sunday afternoon. That second car was a Dodge Grand Caravan, again, a great drive – but I did prefer the Toyota!

Both cars had sliding rear doors, and regular front doors. The ramp for the ECV is manual, so you have to unclamp it and fold it down. Navigating the ECV on board was easy as my son would drive it on, secure it in place, and hop onto his seat in the back of the car. If he wasn’t with us, my husband would manually wheel it on.

After familiarising myself with the car, and making sure our Sat-Nav was giving us a route to follow, we started the drive to Poly.

By the time we arrived it was really dark (and it was also a Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party night too, judging by the inflatable Mickey Snowman!)

We drove under the Magic Kingdom sign and stopped the toll booth as usual only to find that we had to take a different route to our Resort as (unbeknown to us,) new roads were being built.

I am so used to driving under that Magic Kingdom gateway sign to get to Disney’s Polynesian (and the other Magic Kingdom Resorts) that I didn’t even notice the road sign directing traffic for them.

To get back on track we had to do a loop around to drive back down World Drive again – this time taking the exit to the right, and eventually reaching our destination.

All would become more clear during daylight, and we did have some traffic changes during this trip as they completed sections of the new road(s?) I guess we’ll find out what they are when we go on our next holiday in 2019!

Magic Kingdom Gateway

It was all very exciting when we finally got to Poly and unloaded our cases onto one of the luggage trolleys. While Steve parked the car in the smaller parking lot near the DVC Longhouses, I picked up my ECV from Bell Services. (I hired from Buena Vista Rentals again.) Then Liam and I waited in the Great Ceremonial House (the lobby) for Steve to find us and check-in.

Seeing the Christmas decorations was amazing, yet weird at the same time! As Brits, we’re used to cold, dreary weather for Christmas time, but it was lovely and warm in Orlando when we arrived. I have got a lot of festive photos throughout this whole trip report, and it really makes me want to be back there again this Christmas!

Disney's Polynesian Village Resort at Christmas

There was a tropical “tree” outside with lots of  orchids, bromeliads, foliage, and what looks like brightly coloured poinsettias. I think these were real flowers

Inside was the Resort’s Christmas Tree, which was surprisingly small considering the Poly is a Deluxe Resort – and compared with other resort trees too. But it was pretty all the same with twinkling lights, faux tropical flowers – hibiscus, orchids, anthurium –  and topped off with a bird of paradise.

Disney's Polynesian Village Resort at Christmas

We checked-in, got our Magic Bands, and headed to our room in Tokelau. It felt so good to be back Home at Poly – I’m so, so glad that we decided to buy into Disney Vacation Club back in 2015!

We were all feeling peckish, so Steve and Liam went over to Captain Cook’s (the Quick-Service/Counter-Service at Poly) to grab some food and bring it back to our room, while I unpacked as much as I could.

Capt. Cook’s

Main Course…

Me: Pan Asian Noodles and Vegetables with Chicken ($9.99)

Him: Aloha Pork Sandwich – Pulled Pork on a Brioche Bun with Cheddar, Asian Slaw, Cucumbers, and Tomatoes served with choice of French Fries, House-made Chips, Asian Slaw or Steamed Vegetables ($10.99)

The Boy: Pepperoni Flatbread – Marinara, Mozzarella, Parmesan, and Pepperoni ($9.99)

Pan Asian Noodles and Vegetables with Chicken - Disney Dining - Captain Cook's

Aloha Pork Sandwich - Disney Dining - Captain Cook's

Pepperoni Flatbread - Disney Dining - Captain Cook's

Capt. Cook’s was frequented a LOT during this trip! Mainly by Liam who would go off and do his own thing on this trip. I guess it was to be expected as he was nearly 19 on this holiday… it did make me sad though that my little boy who was so wide-eyed on our first visit in 2011 was now all grown up!

The food from here is just fine – it’s quite standard Disney Counter Service food – but has a Polynesian twist. And you can buy Tonga Toast here for breakfast without having to worry about having a reservation for Kona Cafe!

The noodles are actually one of my personal favourites, and my go-to when ordering food from Captain Cook’s.

The boys also picked up a Minnie Mouse Cupcake for me – they know I love a Disney cupcake! I always plan to buy and try as many as I can, but usually fail!! Liam also bought himself a Refillable Resort Mug as he is a Coca-Cola fiend.


Me: Seasonal Cupcake – Chocolate Minnie Mouse Cupcake ($5.99)

Minnie Mouse Cupcake - Disney Dining - Captain Cook's

Capt. Cook’s » Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

Bill: $36.96 + Tax: $2.41 + Tip: $0 = $39.37
TiW Discount: $n/a

Total Paid: $39.37

Disney's Polynesian Village Resort

Eventually the jet lag got to us, we climbed (literally for me, the beds at Disney are so high!) into our double bed and Liam decided he would sleep on the drop-down Murphy bed, rather than bothering to make up the sofa bed each day. This was really handy as it meant we had space for ECV, and to just have space to move around the room.

I won’t got into full detail about the Resort in this report as I did a huge tour of Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort in my WDW-40, 2016 Trip Report. You can read the Room Tour on Day 7 and the Resort Tour on Day 8.

Tomorrow we are off to Magic Kingdom for what has become somewhat of a trip tradition with breakfast at Crystal Palace. We can’t wait to see the park decorated for Christmas!

Read about the day after:
Day 2: Tonight We Feast!
Magic Kingdom / Character Breakfast at Crystal Palace / Polynesian Twilight Feast (In-Room Dining)

Read about the day before:
Day 0: Headed South
Hilton London Gatwick Airport (South Terminal) / In-Room Dining

» Read ALL the days!