Disney World Vacation Planning 101 - Part 1

Ok, so I am one of THE biggest Disney fans you will meet. And I love nothing more than planning a good Walt Disney World holiday. 

I can't tell you why I love it so much, I just do. its the experiences, the food, the music, the smells, the resorts. It's not for everyone, I get that (my husband is a 'non-believer') but I love it - luckily it seems Ada does too.

I plan to do a few blog posts on the planning, booking, go to sites and reviews for anyone booking Disney vacations. This first one is how we go about booking our vacations - the big stuff!

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Flights

First step is getting our flights booked. We always head to Sky Scanner to find the cheapest deal. We have flown into Sanford and Orlando International and each have their pros and cons. For us its getting the flights at the right price. We have flown with Virgin Atlantic on numerous occasions and its certainly an airline we prefer. However, again, if you are not a fussy flyer, there are numerous airline options. 

Before we had Ada, Steven and I would've connected if it meant a dramatic difference in flight prices. If you don't mind connecting this is a good option to explore to bring those prices down. 


Accommodation

We ALWAYS stay on site - by 'on site' I mean in a Disney resort. There are 25 to choose from and they are split into 4 categories: Value, Moderate, Deluxe and DVC. I have stayed in hotels at all levels and to be honest, I would stay anywhere if it meant I was there. All the hotels are well themed and clean (Disney standard is impeccable) and for the little time you spend in your hotel, again its down to the best price for the package you want. The main difference between resorts are the amenities and settings. For example, the Value resorts are room blocks with pools and landscaping around. Whereas, the moderate resorts have a larger setting, room blocks set around lakes and gardens, much more spread out and picturesque. Deluxe resorts tend to have many dining options. Thats a very basic overview of the differences. But if you are going with no intention of spending much time at your resort, don't overlook a value option. 

In most recent years we have booked through two options: direct and DVC rental. 

Direct

So, we phone Disney themselves - cut out the agent and the middle men and ask for their best deal - their deals usually offer tickets and dining plan, so they will explore all the best options for you and your travel party.

DVC Rental

Most recently we have rented DVC points. DVC is Disney's Vacation Club (a time-share style buy-in scheme). If members don't use their points for that year they can rent them - you can rent their points. That usually means you get to stay in deluxe accommodation for the price of a value resort. You do have to weigh up the costs - DVC rental requires you to buy tickets and dining plans separately whereas Disney packages may have free dining offers etc so its not necessarily cheaper but a way of getting Deluxe resorts cheaper.

Resorts I have stayed at:


Transport

We have never hired a car in all the years we have been going. If you stay on site you get free transport from Orlando International to your Disney Resort on the magical express - they also collect your luggage and deliver it directly to your room.

All Disney Resorts provide free transport to and from all the Disney parks. Buses, boats, monorails, Minnie vans and coming soon, sky gondolas. 

Ubers and Mears Taxis are readily available to take you off-site (if you really wanted to!).


Tickets

Tickets are usually included in your booking if you book through your hotel through Disney, they will offer you the tickets whilst booking (usually what we do). You can buy them from a ticket rep however there isn't much variation in prices. 


Dining Plan

The Disney dining plan is something I will cover in a separate blog post but if you get a free dining plan offer - take it! It is SOOOOO worth it! Basically, a dining plan gives you a number of credits based on the number of nights you are staying. You can spend those credits on your meals and your snacks throughout your vacation. For us, it has always been well worth paying for let alone if it is free. 


Any questions, pop them below in the comments.

See ya real soon lovelies...

Root of the Problem

So, when you are pregnant people tell you all the horrors of what that baby will do to your body. I am lucky enough not to have many to pass on, maybe a bit of heartburn, not keeping the ample pregnancy boobs and bum, and maybe the chocolate craving that stuck around after Ada arrived. My biggest challenge post-pregnancy, however, was my hair. 

Now, I’ll be honest, I was no rapunzel or even just blessed with long, thick locks. But my pregnancy hair was nearing the closest I’d ever be to the above description. 

I have also always been one for changing up my look now and then, Brown/blonde, short/long, fringe/no fringe. 

But when Ada turned 4 months my hair started coming out in handfuls. Whenever I washed my hair my hands would be filled with hair. I was luckier than some as I know some ladies who lose clumps and have bald spots, mine came out evenly but a lot. It looked limp, fine and thin. 

I, quite stupidly, continued to have it bleached and then had extensions fitted - TWICE.  Then a lack of care for my hair in the next few months partly due to the sparse amount of time Mama’s have to dedicate to themselves. Over the course of 6 months, my hair was ruined. 

On a visit to a hairdressers, I decided I could no longer bleach it and needed to look after it a little. Out came the extensions and on went the colour. It was too much too soon. I was darker than I ever had been and very short very quickly. The hairdresser was not at fault it was just my comfort zone that was stretched to its limit. 

I turned to Freddie’s of Rawtenstall, a hairdressers my mum had always been to and I had been to on and off for around 20 years. They are incredible. 

“I know you said you were dark but I thought you were being dramatic” were the words that Matt, my stylist, greeted me with. He knows me well and knew it wasn’t “me.”  

That visit and the next I was transformed with a copper, bob complete with fringe  - still not a look I was overly happily with but I needed to live with it, care for it and give it a bit of love. It was a means to an end and a self-inflicted punishment for not investing in my hair.  

I am sat in the hairdressers once again today, 4 months after that big week of change and have been so careful to stay away from straighteners, taken hair supplements, bought quality shampoos and conditioners and as a reward, I am being allowed to return to a little bit of normality.  (See below for today’s makeover - they are miracle workers) 

I will be working on a collaboration with Forest and Shore in the coming weeks to trial their Hallelujah Hair Oil. This is a natural, organic and cruelty free product that aims to deeply repair damaged hair. Worth a try!

I feel compared to what some other warrior women are left to adapt to post pregnancy, hair worries are pretty superficial but I know for many women it’s something that is unexpected and very noticeable. Confidence takes a huge knocking when you’ve had your baby and you almost develop a new identity. I have had many identities since Ada arrived and it’s taken some real “suck-it-up” moments to face the world some days but hoping that taking those steps back and taking time to look after it again that that will be soon all behind me. No just grow hair...grow!

My top tips: 

1. Invest in quality shampoos and conditioners - not supermarket buys

2. Take biotin - a supplement my mum read up on and it seems to really have helped

3. Ditch the heat...I only used straighteners for curling (oh the irony) but it’s heat all the same. Apart from special occasions, they remained in the cupboard.  I also let my hair naturally dry when I knew I wasn’t going anywhere.

4. Apply a treatment!

5. Find a miracle working hairdresser that knows their stuff and you!  

 Today’s Transformation thanks to Matt & Ciara from Freddie’s, Rawtenstall. 

Today’s Transformation thanks to Matt & Ciara from Freddie’s, Rawtenstall. 

See ya real soon lovelies...

2018 Goals

I am determined to be more disciplined this year. I am determined to make these resolutions/goals and stick to them. I get that people say you shouldn't need a new year to start but it certainly does give you a kick up the backside. 

I have been asking family and friends what their resolutions are and I haven't been inspired by many (Mr S came up with "not eating crisp" - not the inspiring conversation I was hoping for but probably very true and highly unrealistic). 

So here are mine.

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Yes, it's true, I love to drop a 'bloody' or worse (sometimes bloody just doesn't quite cut it!) into a conversation and I hate that it has become a habit. I'm not sure whether it's because I can't swear in work so it seems to all come out at once or whether it's simply a very bad habit. I sound like Carrie Bradshaw on a good day and Samantha on a bad. I need to be much more Charlotte...channel Charlotte, Robyn. 

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Not ground breaking or revolutionary but keeping it simple and realistic. I used to drink gallons when I worked full time but since being off on maternity leave, drinking is such a luxury some days. I can see the difference in my skin when I do drink more so this is a no brainer. 

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Whilst on maternity leave, walking with Ada has to have been one of my favourite things to do. Whether in the pram or the baby carrier, a trip to the post office or farm shop - we loved that time together. Now being back at work and with the weather turning cold, I haven't done it as much as I had been doing. So I hope to continue to walk and spend those times exploring with Ada. 

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We have spent so long (the royal 'we' we all know really it was Mr S's blood, sweat and tears) renovating our house that now we are living in it we have just been enjoying it. We still have a lot of the furniture we stored from our last house so I want to start focusing on each room and making it the way we intended. We also need landscaping DESPERATELY so that will take priority. 

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When you become parents, as wonderful as it is, you each become second to each other. That little one is priority for both of you and you can quite easily become part of a routine where you co-habit and parent. We have not been out on our own as a two since Ada was born. We snap at each other when we are tired and talk mostly about work, house and baby. So this one is for both of us (take note Mr S, not solely about the crisps).  

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Despite being a teacher of reading, I find that I rarely read except in work these days. Instead, I spend my nights getting in bed and scrolling through my phone. So in 2018, the phone is being ditched at bedtime (she says, sat writing this at 10.20pm on her phone! Doh!) and instead find some great adventures between the pages of a book. Any recommendations?

 

So what are your new years resolutions? What are your tips for ensuring you stick at them?

It's my birthday next week, any suggestions on what to do? 

See ya real soon lovelies...

 

Looking Forward...

2017 was a pretty momentous and memorable year for us. We have had so much to be thankful for.

  1. First full year of being a Mummy and Daddy
  2. Moving into the house we have worked so hard for the last year.
  3. Taking Ada on her first holiday to Walt Disney World
  4. Being surprised by our wonderful 'ohana' the Salters whilst at Walt Disney World
  5. Celebrating Ada's christening
  6. Celebrating's Ada's 1st birthday
  7. Celebrating my 30th birthday
  8. Steven's new job
  9. Me going back to work three days a week (and not crying everyday)
  10. And celebrating our first christmas in our new home

Our Christmas has been lovely.

We kicked it off by watching Steven's friend marry his love in Scotland. It was nice to be completely off duty for the day and to be able to enjoy a wedding with some lovely friends. 

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We then headed home to our Ada Chops for a full couple of days of christmas treats. We spent Christmas morning with everyone at ours for breakfast before heading to my parents for a 'christmas morning.' This was the first christmas that I haven't woke up at my Mum and Dad's. It hit us Howard's harder than we wanted to admit so this was a little way of bridging my absence. We then walked to Steven's parents where we spent the afternoon before heading back to my parent's for Christmas dinner...a lot of to-ing and fro-ing but we live so close it's no problem. 

I have loved being a Mummy this Christmas. Starting lots of new traditions like Ada's Christmas Eve Box and finding her the perfect books for her in the lead up to Christmas Day. 

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Her Christmas Eve Box was one I ordered online after seeing it on Instagram but now for the life of me cannot remember (or find!) which company it was. Doh!

I filled it with a 'That's not my" book (a favourite range of hers...she's very tactile like her mama!), some PJ's that read 'Ada Believes,' some white chocolate snowmen from Barton Grange, HappyLand Christmas play set from the Early Learning Centre and a christmas ornament. 

My intention is to include a new ornament in her box each year and then when she leaves home and has her own tree, she will have a whole tree's worth of beautiful decorations. 

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I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and that you have been as blessed as we have. I will post about my new year's resolutions next and blogging more is up there on the list.

See you real soon lovelies...

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