Florida 2018 - Part 3 - Port Orleans Riverside

When we first booked out trip way back in June 2017 we were originally just going to do two weeks in a villa offsite. However as we did our research and made our lists of what we wanted to do we decided that we should extend our trip by a few extra days. We debated adding these days to the villa rental but ended up choosing a Disney hotel so we could experience a little of that magic for ourselves, it would also give us the chance to compare onsite vs offsite. Ideally we would have liked to have stayed in a Deluxe resort however the costs were way out of our budget so we decided to make it a Moderate. Before we made our final choice we did a whole load of research and vlog watching and the first resort we decided we liked the look of was Old Key West. However when it came to booking we just couldn't get the room that we wanted and everything that was coming up was way too expensive so we opted for our second choice which was Port Orleans Riverside.
We only stayed at POR for 3 nights but that was long enough for us to realize that its a beautiful resort that has an air of peacefulness and tranquillity about it. The whole resort was beautiful and wasn't 'in your face' Disney which was something that we both actually liked. As much as we are both Disney fans it was nice to have a room that wasn't full of it if that makes sense. From the moment we checked in until the moment we checked out everything was perfect, all the staff we encountered were super friendly and helpful and the resort had everything that we needed. When we checked in we were assigned a room in Magnolia Terrace which was exactly where we had wanted to be. We had a ground floor room but at no time were we bothered by outside or upstairs noise. The room was a lot bigger than we expected, it probably could have done with a little more care in regards to housekeeping as it was ever so slightly dusty in parts but overall it was clean and very comfy. The added bonus for us was a coffee machine & a fridge which meant we could make ourselves a drink whenever we needed. Housekeeping also kept us topped up with plenty of pods & milk etc.
The room was perfect for us for a short stay but I think if we had been there any longer we would have started to feel a little cramped as there wasn't an awful lot of storage space or room to relax without lounging on the beds. We would definitely consider staying in a Disney hotel again, especially for the first couple of nights as once you are here you don't need to worry about driving to the parks etc. We were very lucky that our building was right by a bus stop so we could easily get to and from the parks. There is also a boat service that takes you down to Disney Springs.

The Sassagoula River runs through & around the resort which makes the resort very picturesque and gives you plenty of places to go for a stroll. There are three pools with the main one being on Ole Man Island (which links some of the accommodation buildings to the main lobby and check in area). This is the largest pool that offers a bar and snack service whereas the other two pools are a lot quieter. In the main building just off the hotel lobby there is a gift shop that has a ton of Disney merch as well as the usual snacks, drinks and other essentials that you might need during your trip. You will also find the River Roost Bar (make sure you check out Ye Haa Bob who plays in the bar on certain nights from around 8.30pm), Boatwrights Dining Hall table service restaurant and the Riverside Mill food court in this area. Unfortunately we didn't get time to eat at the restaurant but we did manage breakfast one morning in the food court. The breakfast was lovely and perfectly adequate for our needs, however we did find the food court area to be a little 'chaotic' for our liking. 


We both enjoyed our stay at Port Orleans Riverside and we would quite happily stay there again for a few nights however we much preferred the extra space and freedom that the villa offered us.

I hope that you have enjoyed this post, hopefully there will be another one along real soon.

Jane


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Florida 2018 - Part 2 - Flying BA Premium Economy

Hello and welcome back to the next instalment in the Florida 2018 series. If you missed the first post you can find it by clicking on this link here.

So now we move onto our flight to Orlando. We flew British Airways Premium Economy from London Gatwick which was a first for us (long haul wise) as we are usually always Virgin Atlantic flyers. However when we booked the flights the better deal was with BA, we did a little bit of research and as everything looked ok we went ahead and booked. Whenever we can when flying long haul we always try to get Premium Economy as we both prefer the seating arrangement of just 2 seats together (so no random 3rd person sitting with you!) we also like the extra luggage allowance that PE awards. Despite all our research we were still both a little apprehensive about the flights as we had heard a few 'horror' stories just prior to our going away of cramped & outdated cabins with poor food and IFE. As it was we needn't  have worried at all, everything was just fine. Both our flights were on newer or possibly refurbished planes and the PE cabin was perfect. There were plenty of overhead lockers, there was even enough storage under the seat in front of me where I could put all my stuff that I needed during the flight. The seats reclined enough so that you could lay back comfortably but no so much that you intruded on the person behind, there was even a foot rest as part of the seat so you could really relax.

Just after boarding the cabin crew came round with drinks, either juice or sparking wine and of course we both opted for the fizz - got to start a long haul flight off the right way!
We did have a slight delay to our departure time, which in the end I think was around 45 mins. Once we were airborn the crew came around again with a drinks service, Tom had a beer and I had a gin and tonic and we were both given a small bag of pretzels. The main food service was smooth and we both enjoyed our meals although there were only two main course choices to pick from whereas on Virgin there is always three. We both had the beef main and it was really good so no complaints from us, we also got a small pasta side salad, a bread roll, cheesecake pudding and a small pack of crackers with cheese. The meal service also came with a choice of red or white wine.
During the flight we were also served tea & coffee, mini magnums and shortly before landing we were given a small sandwich and cake slice.

All in all we were both really happy with our BA flights and we would definitely consider using them again. If I have to find one thing to complain about it would be that there were only 2 toilets for the cabin which didn't really cause too many problems until just before landing when everyone seemed to need to go!

Thanks for reading!

Jane
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Florida 2018 - Part 1 - Bloc Hotel & Gatwick South Number 1 Lounge

Although we have now been back for about 6 weeks the holiday is still so fresh in my mind although it does feel like it happened a lot longer ago than that. My original plan had been to actually do these blog posts while we were away but that just didn't happen at all so I thought why not start writing some stuff up now. The holiday was almost three weeks long and there is a lot to share so I will break it down into several posts and focus each one on a certain element of the trip (parks, accommodation, excursions etc). If you want to know about anything in particular please leave me a comment and I will do my best to cover your request.

We travelled down to Gatwick the night before our flight, we typically don't like to travel to the airport on departure day as we are always worried that something will happen to delay us and we will be late or even worse miss our flights. Our usual hotel of choice at Gatwick is the Premier Inn on Airport Way however this time we were keen to try somewhere different and after watching several YouTube videos we settled on the Bloc Hotel at Gatwick South Terminal. The hotel is right in the terminal building so you don't have to worry about bus transfers etc, you come right out of the hotel and security to the departure lounge is directly on your left. The hotel is also right next to Giraffe, the airport Wetherspoons and a coffee shop so there are plenty of places to get food & drink.Its not the cheapest airport hotel around but in the grand scheme of what the whole holiday had cost we were not worried too much about that. We booked an Aspire Double room as they are slightly larger than the standard rooms, they also have a window which not all of the rooms at this hotel have. Check in was super smooth and only took a couple of minutes. We were actually allocated a Aspire family room so as well as the double bed we also had two pull down bunk beds and as an added bonus we had a runway view which was something we had really hoped to get. The room was very compact, its certainly not the roomiest place we have ever stayed in but for us it was perfectly adequate and we would have no problems in staying here again. The bed was really comfy, there was enough space to put our stuff for the evening and despite our location we were not disturbed by any noise at all. All the blinds and lighting in the room are controlled by a little bedside tablet which is very handy but my one complaint is that there didn't seem to be any USB charging points in the room - we checked everywhere so I am pretty sure we didn't miss them but if you know differently then please let me know. Also by the bedside you will find a little booklet which is full of vouchers you can use around the hotel. We took ours to the Nicholas Culpepper in the North terminal and got 15% off our meal and drinks, a great start to the trip! We didn't have to worry about checking either, we literally got up, dressed and left.

Airport Security is one of those thing we both hate as we always seem to end up in the slowest queue or behind the person with the forgotten liquids in their hand luggage. We had booked Premium Security, and at £5.00 each it seemed a no-brainer especially when you have hand baggage full of cameras and all the assorted paraphernalia that may result in your bags getting an extra search.  As it was the regular queues actually were not too bad on our departure day but the premium desks were empty and we were literally through in about a minute. At such a minimal cost this is something we would book time and time again for the pure frustration free security checks.

We had a quick whizz around Duty Free and then made our way to the No.1 Lounge which I had booked as a treat for us. We had discussed booking this at great length in the run up to the holiday as we were not sure if we thought it would be worth the money as we don't tend to eat and drink much prior to boarding our flights. As it was I ended up finding a great deal on-line so went ahead and booked it as I thought it would be a nice way to start our travel day. We were both quite apprehensive that the lounge wouldn't be all that but we needn't have worried at all, it was absolutely perfect. For the costs you get one hot food item (choices are dependant on the time of day), Tom had a bacon roll and I just had some toast & jam. You also get unlimited tea, coffee & juices along with pastries, fruit and cereals that you help yourself to. There is a bar where you can get yourself an alcoholic drink, Tom had a couple of pints and I, of course had prosecco to start my day off! Despite being quite busy the bright and airy lounge still felt quite calm and relaxed and there were plenty of areas where you could sit and just chill out till your flight is called. We managed to bag a table by the window which overlooked the runway so we could see the planes coming in & taking off which was rather nice. In addition to all the other plus points the lounge was spotlessly clean, the staff were polite & friendly, there were charging points all around and complimentary newspapers too. We both really enjoyed it and will definitely be booking it again as it was far nicer than just sitting in the departures lounge which can sometimes be a little noisy and crazy. You book a time slot dependent on your flight departure time and you have around 3 hours to spend in the lounge however if your flight is delayed you are allowed to stay on which is good to know.

Next post coming soon will cover our flights with BA and our 3 night stay at Disney's Port Orleans Riverside.

I hope you have enjoyed this post, thanks for reading.

Jane
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