Skip to Content

Day 1 – Up, Up & Away! / The First Time 2011

Day 1 of The First Time 2011, the first of my Disney Trip Reports, is here! Today we fly from London Gatwick Airport (LGW) to Orlando International Airport (MCO) with Virgin Atlantic and see the villa we booked for the first time!

The First Time 2011 Trip Report Index has the full list of days for the trip. You can also check out my 2011 Pre-Trip Planning Report to find out more about us!

A photo of a Virgin Atlantic airplane through a rainy glass window. Day 1 - Up, Up, & Away! (The First Time 2011 Disney Trip Report)

Affiliate Disclosure
I have included affiliate links to useful products and services related to the topic of this post.
This post contains affiliate links, and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.
As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Read Our Full Disclosure Policy

Day 1: Travel Day

Virgin Atlantic LGW-MCO, Closest To The Magic Villa at Tuscan Hills

4 August 2011

It was a rather stuffy night in the hotel, I heard Steve get up in the night to turn the air-con on, and it also felt like the longest sleep ever! I think I woke up every hour – must have been the excitement!

The alarm had been set for 6:30 am – we had V-Room passes and wanted to make the most use of them. Showered and dressed, we made our way to the airport.

I have to say, for an expensive hotel, in my opinion, it was no better than a Premier Inn and I probably wouldn’t choose to stay there again. It was only convenient because of the walk to the airport.

As we walked past the Virgin Atlantic check-in desk, it was packed and so we were very glad to have done the twilight check-in the night before.

We had a quick scan of our boarding passes, through to security, and x-raying of our hand luggage, but Steve bleeped as he went through. After a thorough pat-down, he realised he’d left coins in his pockets, oh well, security crisis averted!

Now in the departures area, we popped into Boots to get some meds for me as I could feel a cold coming on. We then made a quick pit stop in duty-free for a spray of perfume.

Gatwick South Terminal Shopping

We found the V-Room quite easily – just next to the duty-free shop…through the corridor, up the lift, and into the lounge.

V-Room at Gatwick Airport

It wasn’t very busy in there at all, and we had a great view of the planes landing and taking off. We sat right by the window at one of the lower tables to plane watch.

Planes Taking Off in the Rain at Gatwick Airport
Planes Taking Off in the Rain at Gatwick Airport
Planes Taking Off in the Rain at Gatwick Airport

Breakfast in the V-Room (which was included) was plentiful, with cereals, milk, yogurt, juices, pastries, eggs, bacon, sausage, etc.

Breakfast Options in the V-Room Gatwick Airport
Breakfast Options in the V-Room Gatwick Airport
Breakfast Options in the V-Room Gatwick Airport
Breakfast Options in the V-Room Gatwick Airport

Liam had a bacon sarnie and then disappeared to play on one of the computers, whilst Steve and I grabbed some brekkie and hooked up to the wireless.

I spent some time going on the Disney forum and editing my photos on my iPhone.

Before we knew it, our flight was being called and we made our way on the travelator to Gate 21.

I literally had enough time to put on my flight socks before our row was called and it was time to board our plane!

Virgin Atlantic Gate 21 Gatwick Airport

The aeroplane was lovely and clean which I would expect since it was one of the new A330-300 Airbus!

We sat in row 65, seats D, F & G…which we chose a while before our flight. This was the last row and right next to the loos. Handy, but may prove annoying as the flight goes on!

There was a pre-flight safety cartoon shown on the seat-back TVs which I found amusing (although, of course, it is a serious part of the flight) but I was still pretty nervous.

A smooth take-off gave me some confidence (I’m not the best of flyers!), however someone a few rows in front required oxygen – not sure why…he was okay though by the time we were in the air – perhaps a panic attack?

With us now safely at altitude, it was time to enjoy the long flight ahead of us! I hoped that it wouldn’t drag too much as I know that was a worrying factor of this journey for hubs!

The touch screen and in-flight entertainment system was great!

In Flight Entertainment - Virgin Atlantic

Movies included: Paul, Harry Potter 7: Part 1, Gnomeo & Juliet, and Tangled.

TV included: Family Guy, Glee, Doctor Who, and The Simpsons.

Music CDs, plus games like Bejewelled, Pac Man and Poker.

Sitting at the back meant we were served last for drinks and food. Our lunch was served at around 1:15 pm. There were three choices – mac & cheese, sausage & mash, and fish pie. I went for the mac & cheese, and the boys, sausage & mash.

Virgin Atlantic Drink & Pretzels
No nuts on the plane these days.
Virgin Atlantic Meal

The starter was a Greek salad and the pud was an ‘Uglies’ chocolate mousse. All well received and tasty enough for an aeroplane – even though it looked quite unappetizing!

Greek Salad on Virgin Atlantic
Pasta Meal on Virgin Atlantic
Sausage & Mash on Virgin Atlantic
Chocolate Pudding on Virgin Atlantic

I killed time on board watching Paul, Gnomeo & Juliet and Tangled (omg, I’m so in love with that film! Every time I watch it now, it reminds me of this holiday!), as well as Family Guy, The Simpsons, and The IT Crowd.

Being able to choose what to watch really helps speed up the time!

I did try to crochet, but it gave me a headache, so won’t be trying that again!

We all took wanders up and down the plane to stretch our legs.

We also tried to have a little kip, but I think excitement got the better of us on the way out!

Virgin Atlantic Wing
Me & My Son on Virgin Atlantic 2011
My Son & Husband on Virgin Atlantic 2011
My Son on Virgin Atlantic 2011

Around 7:00 pm we got afternoon tea – egg mayo or tuna mayo sarnies – possibly the two stinkiest sandwich fillings ever! Along with tea/coffee and a cookie.

Afternoon Tea on Virgin Atlantic

We then started to make our descent, turns out we had clearance to land early and we made it to Orlando in 9 hours!

View from the Air

The flight length, which we were all dreading, wasn’t bad at all and went a lot quicker than we thought.

The seat-back entertainment system was great – so great in fact, that my son didn’t play on his DSi once – and boy is addicted to it!!

The food was good for aeroplane food, but it is a shame that they didn’t have anything plain for the afternoon snack as my son didn’t like a thing.

Why caterers think kids like jam or cream cheese sandwiches is beyond me! I’ll remember to bring him something on board for the return flight.

Being at the back of the aircraft was convenient for the toilets, and thankfully, not too many crowded around which can sometimes happen on long-haul flights, and is a complaint I hear about those seats.

We could easily go to the galley to get drinks, and there was all that space to stretch our legs.

Of course, being in the last row on the aeroplane, meant we were the last people off…

We stepped off the plane and I could feel the heat through the tunnel! Amazing! We were finally in America!

We walked to immigration control, and there was a big snaking queue, but you have to get on with it don’t you, so we just joined the line.

Eventually, it was our turn and the officer who was cheery and friendly asked us what we did for a living, where we were staying, and how old Liam was.

We all had our fingerprints and photos taken and then moved on to get our cases.

We then had to put them on another carousel to be sent to the terminal which saved us from having to lug them onto the transport to the terminal.

After locating our bags again and went straight to collect our hire car.

The first thing to hit us was the heat! It was like an oven!

After the crappy UK summer, it was glorious to feel the warmth on our skin and see the sunshine.

We could pick any car we wanted from a row of cars, so I picked a white Chevrolet HHR.

We could only fit two of our cases into the boot, so the rest had to go onto the back seat.

Chevrolet HHR Rental Car
Rear of Chevrolet HHR Rental Car

I’ve only driven an automatic car once before, so took a moment to compose myself before driving out of the car park.

Adjusting my mirrors and remembering to have my foot on the brake pedal as I put the car into reverse, I tentatively reversed out of the car parking space and drove towards the exit.

Our driving licenses were checked and our credit card was swiped as we exited the parking lot and we were on our way to the villa!

It was a bit disorientating to start with, but soon enough I was relaxed with the driving and there were barely any cars on the road which helped!

Went through a few toll roads and we all go very excited when we started seeing signs for Disney and International Drive.

And then seeing restaurant signs and lots of “oh look! It’s *insert restaurant name here!”

Magic Kingdom Road Sign
Road Sign - Osceola Pkwy
Tampa Road Sign
Disney Parks Road Sign
Gaylord Palms
Cici's Pizza
Denny's Sign
Golden Corral
Mc Donald's Sign
7-Eleven Sign
Sheriff's Car
Watermelon Vendor

It took about 3 hours for us from landing to getting off the plane, through immigration and picking up the car, then driving to the villa. A long time? Yes, but to be honest, we didn’t really notice!

We eventually found the villa and took a tour around it first.

We were impressed with everything and especially loved the homeliness of it.

It was fun opening doors and discovering what each room held!

Our bedroom had a huge bed – I think I had to roll over twice just to get to Steve on the other side!

Liam went and picked out one of the three twin bedrooms to call his own for the duration of our holiday.

Closest to the Magic Villa Orlando
Twin Bedroom - Closest To The Magic Villa
Sideboard - Closest To The Magic Villa
Living Room - Closest To The Magic Villa
Dining Room - Closest To The Magic Villa
Kitchen - Closest To The Magic Villa
Pool Table - Closest To The Magic Villa
Washer Dryer - Closest To The Magic Villa
Hot Tub - Closest To The Magic Villa
Swimming Pool - Closest To The Magic Villa

When we saw the swimming pool and jacuzzi we couldn’t wait to dip our toes into our very own pool!

After the tour, we left our cases unpacked and went straight to Walmart for some supplies.

We had written a list of essentials, and (quite sad of me!) was looking forward to going to an American supermarket!


We stocked up on lots of bottles of drinks and water, cereal, bread, and loo roll!

There was a hot deli there, so we picked up something for dinner.

We used our Citibank card, but were asked for ID, which, oh panic, Steve didn’t have on him…luckily, they were happy enough to accept another bank card, and another crisis was averted!

I take pictures of everything, so you will see lots of random photos in my trip report…like this one of the pots of Philadelphia that we don’t get in the UK!

Philadelphia Cream Cheese

And this is one of the snack packs!

Snack Packs

And this is one of the hugest bottles of milk I’ve ever seen in my life!

Gallon of Milk
Goldfish Crackers
State Fair Corn Dogs
White Castle Burgers

The drive home in the dark was a lot more tricky, and I nearly went onto the wrong side of the road…the horror!

We had some dinner and then just crashed into bed at around 10:00 pm. I woke up at 2:00 am, then 3:00 am…after a chat in the middle of the night with Steve, we fell back to sleep and got up at around 8:00 am.

We Skyped back home (oh the wonders of modern technology!) to let them know we had arrived safely, then we unpacked, and planned what to do for the day!

Unpacking Our Stuff

All photos from this day can be found on my Flickr!

Read about the day after:
Day 2 – Our 2nd Wedding Anniversary
Downtown Disney and Paradiso 37 Restaurant

Read about the day before:
Day 0 – To Gatwick & Beyond!
Hilton Hotel Gatwick South

» Read ALL the days!

More Disney Trip Reports

  • Disney Magic At Sea (Staycation Cruise UK) 2021
  • Ohana Means Family Trip 2022 < Coming Soon!
  • Four Resorts, Two Festivals 2019
  • Hibiscus & Holly at The Poly 2017
  • WDW-40:2016
  • Christmas at Disneyland Paris 2015
  • Halloween in The Wilderness 2015
  • Dine Around Disney 2014
  • Back To The Magic 2013
  • The First Time 2011
  • Disneyland Paris 2010