The day that finally came
After what seemed like a lifetime in planning our trip to Walt Disney World the day was finally here where it was going to happen, if I could only manage to get through work first!
Yes while I was travelling to London Gatwick Airport today for our flight to Orlando unfortunately I had to go to work first, at least until 1pm.
With the early start that my job dictates everything needed for the trip was packed the night before, and for this holiday the luggage had been packed using packing cubes, a new thing for me to try out. I had brought one each of these sets http://tse-sl.com/Packing-Set-1 and http://tse-sl.com/Packing-Set-2 and there will be a full review of these two sets at a later date. Packing with packing cubes is both a blessing and a curse, while I can totally understand why people love them, I can also see why people can’t get on with them. Myself I’m leaning more towards being in favour of packing with them than without.
Because my work place is close to home and I was able to leave work early today there was no need to pack my luggage into my car at the start of the day, this turned out to be a good thing. With two suitcases, one camera hand luggage side bag and one rucksack it would have meant having them visible in my car in a public carpark, which is generally a bad thing to do.
Getting through work
While everyone at work knew that I was leaving at lunch time today, non of the directors could make up their mind what lunch time actually meant. The first suspicion that no one really knew what time I was leaving today came from the MD when he showed surprise that I was in work at all today.
Now at this point I should probably say that Friday’s are an early finish day for us, and with that we have a sandwich from a local supplier at 10:30-11am rather than wait for our official lunch break.
At 10am the contracts director paid me a visit and asked if there was anything outstanding before I finished for the day at sandwich time. After confirming that I was away at 1pm (lunch time true) I was able to carry on tying things up before leaving.
So far my line manger (the commercial director) had not seen me. When I did see him, just before Friday Sandwich’s he wanted to do the catch up as soon as he had eaten as I was going at 12noon. After I had set him straight about my finish time everything progressed quickly up to handover time.
Unfortunately for my aim of leaving at 1pm the handover ran long and it was closer to 10 past when I was finally able to say see you later to everyone in my office and mark the start of our holiday.
I think the moral of this story is, when the MD is surprised to see you go home and get your holiday started early. Otherwise take the earliest possible leave time of those options presented to you.
On my way to Walt Disney World!
With all of my see you laters said to my work colleagues I made my way home to pick up my luggage.
Unfortunately what should have been a quick 10 mile drive home was a 40 minute 10 mile drive home, it really was just as well that I had packed the night before.
Arriving home, I had found that my parents had left Donna and myself a few snacks for the Sofitel and some dollars to treat ourselves with while we were in the USA. The gift of holiday treat money is somewhat ingrained in my family whether it’s a big holiday or a weekend retreat and I blame my grandparents for the from my childhood family holidays.
Thankfully packing my car didn’t take very long, and I managed to get both of my suitcases and the rucksack in my boot, the camera bag I always have on the back seat.
I know it doesn’t look like it from the above photograph but the boot did shut without the need to remove the parcel shelf – Volvo’s are great! and you’ll notice I definitely have a thing for the colour blue.
All packed and ready to go I was finally on my way to Walt Disney World, taking a pit stop at the Sofitel London Gatwick!
However there was a snag. In the rush to get home and load the car I had forgotten to fill the car up with diesel and while I had enough fuel to get to Gatwick, there was definitely did not enough to get home again.
A quick “splash and dash” later I hit the motorways for what my satnav informed me would be a three hour trip, getting me to Gatwick South Valet Parking for 5pm as planned.
Never trust Satnav times
As soon as I got on to the M42 the estimated time for arrival changed to 6pm, caused by an accident on the M42/M40 junction. Apart from a little slow down at that junction I didn’t stop moving and the eta updated to 5:20pm, great I thought that would still be a good time of arrival.
Then all hell broke loose on the M25 and the rerouting by my satnav couldn’t make up its mind where to send me. Either sit on the M40 and spend longer on the M25, or send my via the M3. In the end I chose the M3 option knowing my luck on spending time on the M25 near Heathrow.
I still don’t know whether that was the right thing to do or not but I sat in traffic, a lot of traffic and by the time I pulled into the carpark at Gatwick it was pushing 7pm. Gatwick may be a lovely airport to fly from but the surrounding infrastructure from the midlands is nightmarish.
Arrival at Gatwick
I met Donna at the Valet Parking in Gatwick South, when I say met she was there waiting for me ready as I’d phoned ahead to say that I was only about 20 minutes away.
There was always a bit of a nag in my head after booking the carpark at the south terminal whether I should have paid the extra £20 to park at the North given that we were flying and staying in a hotel there. Those nags were banished when I got out of the car and I enjoyed the walk and monorail to the north terminal as a chance to stretch my legs.
On the way over to the hotel Donna told me about the saga of her check-in.
When we booked the hotel back in January 2018 we booked the cheapest room available on a pay later and following advice from The DIBB I had requested a runway view room. Given how far in advance that the room had been booked Donna had forgotten I’d done that and was surprised when the check-in clerk told her about the request, and that the rooms were usually classed as premiums. After checking the computers for a while the clerk informed her that she would be able to upgrade us to a runway view room, for no extra charge (free upgrade one of this holiday!).
In room celebrations
Once in our room Donna showed me why she’d wanted to check-in before I arrived as she’d done a little bit of an in room pre-Walt Disney World celebration:
Typically neither of us are large drinkers – though the rest of the holiday blog posts will make you question that statement – so her celebration consisted of a Mickey head outline made of rose petals, a bottle of Shloer Pink Bubbly and some Hotel Chocolat Pink Champagne truffles.
As I had arrived two hours later than expected we didn’t really spend anytime in the room for fear of not leaving again so we went straight back to Giraffe in the south terminal for dinner.
And first true holiday photography fail – I didn’t take any camera with me to record what we had to eat, so I apologise for the phone camera image:
My dinner consisted of a Chicken Katsu Noodle and a Wavebreaker non-alcohol drink. Donna had a Ruben sandwich with a side of coleslaw and a drink that looked identical to the Wavebreaker but wasn’t and is no longer on the menu.
While we waited for our meals to arrive, we did a pre holiday toast to all the work and sacrifices that we’d made to make this our dream no bars held trip to Walt Disney World happen.
I get what they were going for with the Katsu but it just didn’t work for me and while nice I wouldn’t have it again. The Wavebreaker was far too heavy on the coconut and again I won’t be having that again. Donna enjoyed her Ruben, but felt the same way about her drink.
Dinners delivery service was brilliant, from time taken to take our order to everything being delivered took less than 15 minutes, getting the bill paid took twice as long.
Before heading back to the hotel for the night we spent some time at the terminal people watching and guessing where they were arriving from, as well as our hopes for our upcoming trip. The main hope being that Walt Disney World really met all of our expectations given everything we’d read.
Once back at our hotel having being on our first three rides of the holiday – the Gatwick monorail does count – we started to relax in our hotel room, both of us had baths and did some note writing while using the Shluer to toast the holiday more and be thankful for Walt Disney in creating Walt Disney World as Disneyland CA didn’t appeal to us as a first trip destination, and without Walt Disney World there wouldn’t have been the expansion of parks in Paris, Hong Kong, Shanghai or Tokyo.
While Donna was taking her bath I filled the Mousekeeping envelopes that I’d designed and made with the tip money and watched the planes take off and land from our bedroom window. The view we had really was amazing as it gave us good views of the walkways and roads as well.
Once we had both bathed and done our notes we watched some TV while making sure everything that needed charging was doing so. We then tried to check-in online for our flights, using the website we weren’t able to even start the process, using the app we got 90% of the way there before it said that they were unable to check us in online.
Deciding at this point we’d need to be up early incase the check-in issues meant that one or both of us were selected for extra screening we headed to be at about 11pm.
Until next time; Just because you grow old doesn’t mean you have to grow up