So if you follow me on any form of social media, you can’t have failed to notice that I’ve had a bit of an exciting – and emotional – week. It started off with a magical invitation to a British TV first that saw Mr E and I checking in for a rather special Virgin Atlantic charter flight to Orlando with the very excited winners of the ‘place on the plane’ tickets from ITV’s popular Saturday evening show. Follow me, then, for a little photo diary of our adventure to watch the live final of Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway at Walt Disney World!
After checking in, we were lucky enough to head to a special reception at Virgin Atlantic’s plush new Clubhouse at Gatwick’s North Terminal – I even caught Mr E chatting away with lovely Scarlett Moffatt at the buffet. Then after a couple of Virgin Redheads (my favourite cocktail), it was time to head onto the specially chartered Virgin Atlantic Airbus, for the most wonderful, exciting flight – we were spoilt silly the whole way and spent our time sipping champers and chatting with some of the hard working Disney team who had made it all possible, as well as crew and producers from the show. The atmosphere on the flight was absolutely electric, with the delighted winners taking selfies with Scarlett, and everyone – even the crew – wearing Minnie Mouse ears.
One of the many aspects of this whole project that really impressed me was the kindness and generosity shown by Disney and Virgin Holidays to the winners. The 50 ‘place on the plane’ prize winning families got to enjoy the week at Walt Disney World during the build up to the live finale of Saturday Night Takeaway. Some of the winners had never been abroad and had spent the run up to the trip hurriedly arranging passports. The lovely Disney/Virgin crew had a base at their hotel to help with anything they needed: information on the parks, dining recommendations, etc.
Our first stop was to our hotel, one definitely on my Walt Disney World resort bucket list: Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. Themed (the clue’s in the title) around the Polynesian islands of the South Pacific, this classic Disney resort has a laid-back, tropical vibe. We were greeted with smiles and cries of ‘aloha!’ and lei garlands – I have a whole article coming about this beautiful resort very soon – oh it’s fabulous.
Our first day dawned beautifully bright and sunny (in fact, temperatures in the afternoon hit 40 degrees – phew!). We started with a lovely Polynesian character breakfast at the hotel, where we met Lilo and Stitch (my Stitch selfie came out blurry though – sad times), before heading straight to the Magic Kingdom.
The sweetest lady called Erin (look her up on Etsy – she’s called ‘Ears by Erin’) sent me the most beautiful ‘Ohana’ floral Minnie Mouse ears and I wore them with pride all over the parks. I got so many compliments about them. Mr E and I actually don’t travel that much together so it was really lovely to spend a bit of time with him (he’s a huge Disney fan as well):
We spent the day on all our favourite attractions: the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Big Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, and one of my all time faves – Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid… I love this picture of our gorgeous friends Lucy and Lydia on the Mine Train:
And of course we couldn’t miss the Festival of Fantasy parade – yet another thing that makes me cry (I know, I can’t help it):
Dinner was at one of the best restaurants at Walt Disney World, the stunning Citricos at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. Everything about the restaurant: the food, the amazing wine list, the service, the ambiance, is absolutely stunning, and the desserts are just heavenly.
Afterwards, we waddled back onto the monorail and back to the Polynesian Village Resort (one of the nicest things about staying in one of the central hotels):
The next morning we headed straight to Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon water park, where I was desperate to check out the new water ride, Miss Adventure Falls, which I first mentioned in my Walt Disney World update back in February. The fabulous, family friendly raft ride was great fun: we hopped on our rafts at the bottom, and then a conveyor system took us to the very top, where we plummeted down the flume, whooshing and splashing through rapids, and finally landing in a pool at the bottom. It’s such a good ride – the rafts seat four, but you can travel as a two, and it’s kid-friendly while still providing a good amount of thrills and spills!
We spent a gorgeous day at the park, bobbing in the lazy river, riding the surf in the wave pool, snoozing on the sandy beach, whizzing down flumes and raft rides, and eating some delicious food in our cabana too. It’s just the most beautiful water park.
After all this lazing, it was time for some adventure! Disney’s Hollywood Studios is probably my favourite Walt Disney World park – I love the retro theming, and all the new Star Wars stuff too. We hit the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (eek!), the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith, and even bumped into a few Stormtroopers.
We ended the evening with a delicious dinner and cocktails at the Hollywood Brown Derby (the Cobb salad is absolutely amazing), and fireworks under the stars watching the breathtaking show, Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular, complete with lasers, movie clips and incredible pyrotechnics. I was so busy putting the display on my Instagram stories that I completely forgot to take any pictures. Luckily my friend Flora took this cracker – we were completely mesmerised by this lady’s amazing flashing Star Wars ears:
Next up: part two, in which we go on safari at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and come face to face with a giraffe, there’s Soarin’, fun and fireworks at Epcot, shopping, cocktails and dining at Disney Springs, and then Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway show, live from Disney’s Magic Kingdom!
Find more information about Walt Disney World holidays on my Walt Disney World Tips page, and there’s loads of information about Disney Springs just here, which I’ll be updating with new dining and shopping options.
Don’t forget to book your airport parking: I always use APH Meet & Greet parking – I’ve got to know a lot of the staff now (I often get the lovely Pete and we have a chat about my adventures) and they’re always just so friendly and helpful. Turn up, meet your driver outside the terminal and he whisks your car away while you head to your flight, then meets you at the terminal with your car after you collect your baggage on your return. So handy.
Book a 14-night family escape to Walt Disney World for £1299pp: spend fourteen nights in Orlando with Virgin Holidays including scheduled Virgin Atlantic flights from London Gatwick to Orlando and accommodation at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort.
Disney’s Free Dining Offer is Back!
Book now and you can save an additional £1,483 per family thanks to the Disney Dine offer that allows you to eat at nearly 300 locations around the park for free when staying at a Walt Disney World Resort.
Price is based on two adults and two children (under nine) travelling and sharing a room, including all applicable taxes and fuel surcharges which are subject to change. Price is based on a departure of April 14 2018. Visit www.virginholidays.co.uk