Traveling to the Walt Disney World Resort from the United Kingdom Part 1

By Janine P

We have fairly recently returned from our first trip to the Walt Disney World Resort with our 2 year old daughter, Tink.  My husband and I have both been several times before but this was to be the first taste of America for the smallest Pipe.  She had been to Disneyland Paris with us this June for a very quick 2 night visit and had both thoroughly enjoyed it (we rode It’s a Small World about 1,000 times) and was over-awed (she literally screamed when she saw King Louis and Baloo).  
We booked this trip back in March 2012 for September 22 through October 6, 2012.  This was a short time period of planning for us, but the holiday was very much a last minute decision.  We last visited in 2009 when I was pregnant with Tink and didn’t think that we would be able to afford to return until a planned family visit in 2014.  But sometimes life deals you a card which makes you think just go for it, and so we did.
Being old hands at Florida holidays made the planning and booking process a lot easier.  I still laugh when to think of when the Travel Agent phoned me trying to sell me some tickets to Universal.  No thanks I said, we won’t be going this year.  But do you know about such and such they asked?  This is my 5th and my husbands 7th visit I replied.  Oh was the answer, well you probably know more about it than me then.  Teehee.
We booked the flight, hotel and car hire through said Travel Agent but online rather than in the store which allegedly saved us some time and money.  We booked the tickets to Disney through Disney directly but bought the 14 day Hoppers which are only available for UK customers.  We opted to upgrade our flight to Premium seats which meant we had a dedicated check-in, extra baggage allowance, complimentary food and drinks etc.  Well worth it with a pre-schooler as it was her first flight and 9.5 hours of sitting down with nothing to do was not going to happen!  She actually did pretty well on the flights, refused to sleep the whole way there but made good use of watching Mickey Mouse on the iPad and playing with the huge bag of surprises I’d brought for her.  Luckily she did sleep most of the way home, thank goodness as it was an over-night flight!  There was one small child who was really wailing for part of the flight and I just felt so sorry for them and their parents, it can’t be any fun with a grouchy child and disapproving looks from fellow passengers.  We put her in her PJs and made sure she had her favorite pillow and blanket and that really helped too.  We also brought her bed time sippy cup so she could have her usual milk and hot chocolate, so she had all her bedtime signals.  I really think this worked more than anything to get her to sleep.  A big tip was to buy toddler sized head phones.  The ones provided on the plane would have been way too big and hers were pink, just what every 2 year old princess-in-training wants.
We booked a Dodge Caravan as we wanted plenty of space even though it was just the 3 of us.  We really liked this car and would happily have one again.  It just about fit all the stuff we carted around with us each day!  We chose to take our car seat and stroller rather than hire them Stateside as Tink likes what she knows and knows what she likes.  As the stroller is a MaClaren Volo it is really lightweight and folds up super quick anyway.  Having a stroller was a Godsend, even when Tink didn’t want to use it we laden it up with the bags in the Parks so we could carry extra stuff without worrying about the weight.
As this was a quickie/cheapie holiday we did not stay on-site at WDW but just outside in Lake Buena Vista.  We stayed in the Clarion Inn on Palm Parkway and were about a 2 minute drive from the first WDW sign and just over 5 from DTD.  The hotel was perfect for us as we had requested a ground floor room, lots to do and places to eat with in walking distance and a very short drive to the Parks.  It might not have been as fancy as some of the WDW hotels (Oh Grand Flo I dream of staying in you one day) but it did us fine for what is was needed for and we would happily return.
Please stay tuned for Part 2
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Janine Pipe, married mom of 2 year old Tink, living in Swindon in the UK.  DLP shareholder and lifelong WDW fan.  Always planning the next trip and making the most of all things Disney in England.  Has been told her house resembles a Disney Store.
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