Wednesday 8th June – Day One:
We have waited for so long for this day to come – almost a year in fact! After a car journey to Manchester via Liverpool yesterday, we were both happy to wake up this morning knowing that later on we would be in one of our favourite places – Disney World in Florida. We stayed overnight in the Radisson Blu Hotel in Manchester airport, so we could get to check in at 7am in the morning. The Radisson Blu often has good room rates available so check out their website: https://www.radissonblu.com/en/hotel-manchesterairport
Despite my excitement, it was still difficult to get myself out of the extremely comfortable bed the Radisson Blu had to offer. I really love this hotel – the customer service is amazing and the rooms are phenomenal (under-floor heating in the bathroom? Goals). I got up at around 6.30am after ignoring the alarm for as long as I possibly could, and quickly got ready after my final stint of watching planes taking off from the window – and then we were ready to leave!
We checked out of the hotel at around 7am which took all of…1 minute, and then we had a quick 5 minute walk to Terminal 2. We found Virgin bag drop and got served right away – a nice change! The lady printed out our boarding passes for us as we couldn’t do it at home (cheers uni for the 8 page assignment paper hand-ins), the only ink we had left was coloured ink and we didn’t want to risk printing out the boarding passes in a dodgy colour. We had no problems checking in – I knew the cases were OK weight-wise but as usual my mam was worried sick – Mine was only 11.1kg while my mam’s was 17.1kg – both of our hand luggage bags were 5kg each so well within the 10kg limit!
Next was security – we had bought security fast passes for £4 each – to bypass the regular security line. We weren’t sure if we needed them, but thought it would be worth it just in case. We followed the ‘Fast-Track’ signs and bypassed all of the line – we had no problems through the security scanner and our bags were alright too. All in all, we were through check in and through security in less than 15 minutes – pretty good I would say, more time to look and drool over the discounted MAC makeup products and fancy perfume in duty free!
The first stop after security was W H Smith for magazines and a red bull, I figured it wouldn’t be toooo bad to break my ‘one a week’ rule as I was celebrating going on holiday. We spent about £15 in there – on what I don’t know – and then another few quid on drinks and water in BOOTS. Next, we went through duty free for the obligatory spray of perfume and I found my favourite, Coco Mademoiselle Chanel Paris for £76 (100ml Eau De Parfum). I couldn’t resist making my first purchase of the holiday, typically of me, before we’d even left the UK. We were given a £5 off £75 spend voucher so I only paid £71 in total – a major bargain, how could I resist?! The woman at the till also gave us a voucher (as special customers, yeah, right) for 22% off a further purchase which is a big con to get you to spend even more money! I had to be dragged away from MAC and instead we made our way up to the Virgin Lounge.
We had a lovely greeting by the woman on the check in desk – she was really nice and funny, I love how customer service at airports makes you feel more excited! The lounge wasn’t really as big as expected, but it was quite empty – so we easily found a seat – and a funky seat at a low table it was too. Kinda going to look for the chair in IKEA for my room, it was way too cool.
However (even before I fussed over the pretty chair), our first priority was food. There were pastries, yogurt, fruit, cereals, juices, smoothies, hot drinks and cooked breakfasts. I had beans on toast and my mam had eggs Benedict without the bacon – the food was delicious! I later had fruit and a brownie (I couldn’t resist) while my mam stuck to the slightly healthier option and swapped the brownie for some fruit granola.
There were some free newspapers and magazines available, as well as a games area, table hockey, PC’s and a kids’ play area. The Virgin Lounge was definitely worth paying the extra money for, the atmosphere was just so chilled and it was a lovely place to relax before your flight.
We then wanted to go and explore the rest of the departures, I was beginning to get really nervous and didn’t want to sit still thinking about the worst possible scenario. We found our gate – 210 – and decided just to hang around there as my boarding pass said boarding was starting at 9:15am. We didn’t start to board until about 9:30am though, and it was straight onto the plane – unlike at Newcastle Airport where you have to wait at the Gate area.
We had pre-booked our seats so we had 2 together at the back of the plane. The advantage of this was that all of our food and drinks came to us first – and we were close to the loos as well. But, the disadvantage of course was that we were last off the plane; our seats were 63J and K. The plane wasn’t completely full as the 4 seats in the middle next to my mam were only occupied by one woman – so my mam later moved into the end seat so we could both have 2 seats each and could stretch out a bit more. This worked wonders as I managed to have about a 2 hour nap on the plane, whereas I normally can’t sleep at all. I hope we have a similar situation on the way back, because that’s when I will really need the rest!
We were both getting nervous when we got on the plane, we just wanted to get away! We pulled back from the gate about 10-15 minutes early though and taxied out to the run-way so we took off right on time. I love Virgin! The take-off was really smooth and we soon calmed down and settled down for the 8 hour flight.
The time passed reasonably quickly, to my delight – I hate being bored, who doesn’t? I watched ‘Secret In Their Eyes’, which is a class film about an FBI agent whos daughter is brutally murdered and the whole film is a race to find her killer. I love this film, I went and saw it at the cinemas when it came out, so when it was stated in the ‘VERA’ magazine (entertainment information) as being a film available to watch, I jumped at the chance to see it again. It’s got Julia Roberts in as well, so what isn’t to love? All in all, the flight was really smooth with no turbulence, and with the extra space we had it was probably one of the best flights ever.
Landing however was a little bumpy with the plane rolling from side to side – I think the pilot maybe came in a little fast. It was scary, but we were OK and landed half an hour early at 2pm local time, 7pm (UK time).
It took a while to taxi to the terminal, then the usual long wait to get off the plane as we were right at the back. Consequently, this meant we were also at the back of a very long queue for immigration! Thankfully though, our plane loaded before the Gatwick one – so we didn’t get caught behind them!
As soon as we were through immigration, our next stop was collecting our luggage. We’d seen my case going around the carousel whilst we were waiting for immigration but couldn’t recognise my mam’s as it was a bit more difficult to distinguish – a plain black suitcase, REALLY mam?
With both cases in hand we headed to customs. Then, onto the monorail for the 75 second journey to the main terminal. We managed to sit at the front so we could see everything; the views were great, just seeing the sunshine out was incredible enough, we do live in England y’know.
The main terminal is an amazing building – it’s very beautiful inside with a lovely fountain in the centre. There are a few shops, including a Disney and Universal shop (which I personally don’t see the point in having, why not a Sephora or Ulta?) but we didn’t look in them as we were just too excited to get onto Disney property.
We had to wait a while for our pick-up – it was a 15 seater Mears mini bus and our driver was ‘Julian’. He was really nice and very chatty, if any of you ever go to Florida I highly recommend using Mears as a taxi or shuttle company, we have only ever have great experiences with them and every single one of the drivers are so kind and nice. We were picked up at Terminal A but we then went to Terminal B to pick up two more families. We had a chat with a family from New York all the way there and they were really lovely – they were taking their 2 year old son to Disney for the first time, so I hope they had a lovely holiday!! The first stop was the Swan hotel and then the corresponding Dolphin hotel. It only took around 30 minutes, and soon we began recognizing all of the signs and landmarks – it was lovely to be back ‘home’.
It only took a further 5 minutes and then we were arriving at our resort – Coronado Springs. It was so beautiful, we loved the entrance and the landscaping was amazing: palm trees, fountains and little lakes everywhere!
We pulled up to the main entrance which reminded me a lot of the entrance to Caribbean Beach (the resort we stayed in last time), and we tipped our driver before saying goodbye. It was only a short walk to check in just through the main entrance. We were seen straight away by Brad, an elderly gentleman who was lovely and funny. We asked if we could have a room in Casitas (our fave area of the hotel) and he checked and said we had been allocated a room there so we were over the moon.
With Magic Bands in hand – we headed to Bell Services to ask for a Bellman to take us to our room. We only had to wait about 5 minutes, and our luggage and Garden Grocer order was all loaded up onto the golf cart, and we were off to Casitas building no 4. The Bellman helped us get our cases to the room- 4312, and I’m pleased he did otherwise we would have gotten lost, some of these buildings are pretty damn confusing.
Our room overlooks the ‘quiet’ (which isn’t quiet in the slightest) pool in the Casitas section. It’s on the third floor and is a lovely room with all of the usual amenities of a moderate resort hotel – we were really happy with it – and the location. The décor inside was amazing, it’s incredible how well Disney themes things, everything from the bed throws to the bathroom lights were perfectly suited to the Mexican theme of the hotel.
We wanted to go to Disney Springs this evening, so as soon as we were ready to go – my mam made a quick call to ‘Mouse-Keeping’ to request some more hangers and we set off towards the main building ‘El Centro’ to catch the bus. There is a stop by us (stop number 2) but as the Disney Springs bus stopped at El Centro first, we wanted to make sure we definitely got on. We only waited a few minutes for the bus; there are now timetable TV screens in each stop telling you when the next bus for each park is due – this was really helpful!
The bus turned up within 5 minutes and only a few people got on. We were surprised at this as we thought it would have been packed at this time. It took maybe around 10 minutes to get around the resort (4 bus stops: El Centro, Casitas, Ranchos and Cabanas), and then we were on our way to Disney Springs! Instead of the usual 45 minutes journey we were expecting, it only took maybe around 15 minutes and the new road network around revamped Downtown Disney is a great improvement!
The new bus station is now at the new Town Centre area rather than at the marketplace – it is absolutely huge and really lovely. It really is a vast improvement, it is nowhere near as crowded and chaotic now. We were both so excited about visiting Disney Springs with all of the new additions (the town centre and the landing) and all of the new shops. The town centre only opened on May 15th so everything is still really new.
On arrival, which was about 7pm – we were both already flagging – but we were both determined to explore at least the town centre area and I desperately wanted to go into Sephora, I’d been looking forward to it since we booked the holiday!
The town centre is gorgeous – really pretty and architecturally interesting, it’s very Spanish influenced and looks like the typical American outdoor mall with the light, spaced out buildings shadowed by palm trees. The shops are all high-end, but there was only one stop on my radar tonight – Sephora! We were hungry, but I just had to have a quick look in Sephora before we made our way to the marketplace for some food.
After having our tea at Wolfgang Puck Express, we headed towards the Town Centre again. The food was absolutely delicious – we will definitely be back there! We spent about an hour in Sephora which I just couldn’t help, sorry Mam. I made my first few purchases and was extremely happy. I was in my absolute element – I had been looking forward to this day for a long time now. We also went to MAC to buy a makeup brush (217 shadow blending brush), and then decided to go ‘home’ as we were both ready to drop. On the way to the bus stop we looked in another couple of shops but nothing stood out to purchase and tbh we were too shattered to care.
Our stop at the bus station was 14 which was in the 2nd row – not too far I guess. We only waited around 5 minutes for the bus and once we were loaded up we were on our way back to Coronado Springs Resort! I forgot they turned the lights off while the bus was in motion – I was almost asleep, it was a rude awakening when we arrived and the lights flashed on without warning!
We got off at the first stop ‘El Centro’, and picked up our refillable mugs from the Pepper Market (food court). We then walked back to our room – we haven’t timed it, but it is a reasonably short walk and doesn’t take too long. The resort is so pretty all lit up – especially the fountain area in the middle of each Casitas building.
Back in the room and absolutely shattered, we got sorted and were off to bed at around 10.30pm (3.30am) which understandably, by this time, we were exhausted. Looking forward to our first ‘official’ day tomorrow!
Tomorrow: Magic Kingdom and Disney Springs.