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View Full Version : Orlando July 2009 Day 3-9


mfoz1
08-03-2009, 09:36 AM
I wasn't going to bother writing about the rest of our vacation because there wasn't really much to tell as one day pretty much merged with the next and although it was very relaxing it was far from exciting especially as Disney would only feature twice (once at Typhoon Lagoon and once at Epcot). My pre-trip comments on Typhoon Lagoon summed things up, a nice day but kind of spoiled by the Life Guards jumping in the pool all at once and dragging out a pervert / paedophile which makes you think. The weather generally was about 10 degrees hotter than the weather forecasters predicted every morning so a 93 degree prediction usually had the temperature gauge at 102 to 103 mid afternoon. I didn't mind this at all when we were around the hotel swimming pool but I think it would have been impossible in a park. This proved true on the Thursday when we went into Epcot for the afternoon / evening when Deb came over all peculiar around 8pm and so we had to leave before the fireworks which upset Alexandra (DD2) a great deal. Learned that DD2 gets very cross when she doesn't get her own way which was disappointing. This disappointment was far outweighed by the behaviour of DD1 though who treated her siblings like inmates at a high security prison and did her very best to avoid us for the entire holiday. Little snippets would turn up on Facebook about how she could only have so much fun with the family and it finally came to a head on our last full day which made for an atmosphere you could cut with a knife in Epcot. Bottom line it is / was the last holiday we will be taking as a complete family which makes me sad on the one hand and fills me with relief on the other.

The Saturday trip to Gainesville for me turned out to be the best day of the holiday. The drive took us about an hour and three quarters and I was really surprised at how green the landscape was heading up from Orlando and the number of rolling hills we saw and drove over. Gainesville itself is basically a University town, home of the Florida Gators football team. We didn't have a map or sat nav but managed to find the stadium easily enough. We parked up and headed towards it... bearing in mind this was summer and outside football season so I was expecting it to be locked up but it was completely open and so we walked straight in. The hairs on the back of my neck are standing up now just thinking about it... it was amazing just imagining what the sound would be like in September when 90,000 fans cheer the team on to the field. I have to come back and witness it myself at some point.

There were several students jogging up and down the stairs around the stadium which was a sun trap and must have been over 100 degrees at this point. God knows how they managed it. We made our way to the team store which was over the opposite side of the stadium (typical) and picked up a few bits and pieces. I know this day probably didn't help Charlotte as she was desperate to attend an American University to get her degree and the Campus was picture perfect and so unlike the place where she is studying back home. Unfortunately we didn't have the money to pay for her to go but I still feel her pain and wish that it could have been different.

From Gainesville we headed to Daytona Beach. This was going to be a first for us and I was very excited with the idea of driving on the beach. The drive from Gainesville to Daytona was interesting in so much as we were in the middle of nowhere for most of it. Towns would come up on the map and turn out to be no more than a cross roads with a couple of tin huts and a gas station if you were lucky. Someone made a comment about it being like the scene from Monsters Inc when Randall turns up in the trailer and gets attacked by the women with a shovel and parts of the journey were really like that. The only town where we saw people had the world's smallest McDonalds. Well it probably wasn't but it only had two cash registers so it was pretty small.

We drove the length of Daytona seemingly before finally turning on to the beach. What an experience. It was very busy but we managed to find a parking space and in no time at all we were splashing about in the Atlantic. Well five us were as DD1 doesn't do sand and is beyond stubborn. We all tried to persuade her that the surf was fun and the water was lovely and warm but she resisted us all. I wondered how someone could be so miserable here and then decided to give up. Unwittingly we had created a monster and there was nothing we could do about it now... I just hope she gets better with age.

Truth be told the Atlantic had some great waves but was a lot smellier and less clear than the Pacific which we had experienced last year in California. We had fun nonetheless and spent a good couple of hours splashing around while our eldest cooked herself on the beach.

When we had left the hotel that morning the cable TV had gone out and so we hadn't been able to see any local news regarding the shuttle launch. The night before they said there was a 70% chance of lift off and so we made our way from Daytona down to Titusville in time to grab some food and watch the launch at 7:45pm. Titusville was empty so it wasn't hard to figure that the launch had been cancelled. We stopped and used the binoculars to see the launch pad 12 miles away and it was quite windy. We'd had a great day and I wasn't that disappointed to be honest and there was always tomorrow.

Sunday morning with the cable back on in the hotel and another 70% chance of lift off we decided to try again. DD1 had already seen a launch while she was working over here and decided not to come with us again. Didn't fight it this time as it wasn't worth the hassle. I don't know what we did before late afternoon so we probably swam, ate and possibly shopped. The journey back to Titusville takes around 40 minutes I guess... there was a lot of traffic this time and so I was pretty hopeful. We parked up on a grass verge somewhere and gave $20 to one of the locals and then cooked for a couple of hours. When we left Orlando it was actually starting to rain and I did wonder what direction it was heading in. Sure enough about an hour away from launch the skies started to darken but the line of rain was moving so slowly people were saying that we might be lucky Apparently there is a 20 mile launch radius that has to be clear and typically with 10 minutes to go it was breached and the launch was 'scrubbed' for another day. It took a lot longer to get back to Orlando even with some nifty on the fly navigation around the back streets of Titusville by my darling wife. We went through a pretty nasty storm on the way back, you know the kind where you can't see what's going on in front of you even with the wipers going at full speed? We had one of those most days. One day in particular we were at the pool and the sky started to darken and then all hell broke loose, literally. We made it back in and up to our rooms to watch the show. The TV channels all went to tornado watch and told us to move away from the windows. Lucy got very scared and ended up cuddling between us until it had passed. I have never seen her like that before but then that was probably one of the worst lighting storms I had ever witnessed. I think that day Orlando had recorded something like 7,500 bolts of lightning which sounds unbelievable but the day before we had arrived they had something like 9,500 and someone was struck at the beach and died.

The next possible launch date and the chances had dropped to 60% and so we decided it wasn't worth going. Of course that was the day it went and we missed it. Bloody typical. We watched it on the TV in our rooms though and then saw it go up through the clouds from the window. That in itself was something to see but nothing compared to what it could have been.

We shopped a fair bit and it was good. This time I think the LBV outlets were a hit with everyone. I won't go into the vulgar details but suffice it to say a fair bit of money was spent, wardrobes are now full and kids are happy and so am I.

Sadly I learned that I am completely done with Disney. I just don't feel the magic any more. I know that we have been over exposed to it but I don't think it is just that. Something has definitely changed and I wish I could put my finger on what it is but I can't. DD1 chatted to various members of staff in Epcot and found that they were short staffed pretty much everywhere with contracts being extended beyond the year and additional hours being the norm. They were also cutting back on new replacements coming from the UK and the management staff was down by half. We weren't staying at Disney so I don't know if their customer service has been affected but Charlotte said that all the people she spoke to in the UK pavilion were pretty despondent about what was going on.

I enjoyed watching Off Kilter but even they must be bored with it by now although you wouldn't know it from their expressions on stage. They even had a couple of groupies at the front of the stage of a, let's just say, older persuasion who told us that guitarist Randy was also working at Seaworld on the weekends as they incorporate a live guitarist into the Shamu Rocks show. Watching him incorporate a few jazz scales amongst the riffing and knowing a little bit about guitarists I expect he is quite talented but you have to go where the money is... something I know all too well.

Our last night we also had a fire alarm at the hotel around 00:05am which had us all evacuating the building. It was organised chaos and the staff weren't very organised or visible during the entire process. It turned out to be a false alarm thankfully but then as everyone piled back into the lifts to get back to their rooms they overloaded them and one broke down. I decided we should walk back up to the seventh floor at that point. God knows how long it took to get them out but the temperature was still in the high 80's and very humid at that time of the morning so it was probably a very uncomfortable and disturbing experience for them. Hotel comped us the night which we expected them to do and they also extended our check out time to 1pm which was useful as it wasn't the best nights sleep we'd ever had.

Got a text message from Virgin to say our flight had been delayed by 4 hours but the car had to be back at Dollar by 3pm otherwise they would charge us another day and so we had no choice but to spend a very long afternoon at Orlando International. Flight time home was seven and a half hours (I thought it might be even quicker than that to make up the time). Luckily there were no incidents this time and it was a very smooth flight. I need to get a job before we can plan our next adventure but it won't be Florida I can say that for certain. Sorry that this was not your typical trip report but I needed to get it off my chest and feel much better for it. If you have got this far I apologise but S*** happens as they say and it certainly did for us this time around.

Regards,
Mark

natalielongstaff
08-03-2009, 09:45 AM
Sorry you missed the launch after all that !

irongirlof12
08-03-2009, 11:57 AM
sounds like a fun trip, you could have done without the 'incident' at TL ( quite scary really) or the fire alarm.:rolleyes:

sandshal
08-03-2009, 05:14 PM
Really enjoyed your trip report .... bet you go back!!!! :rotfl2:

Sharon

SusanEllen
08-04-2009, 12:32 AM
I'm glad you decided to finish your report after all. Although some days didn't turn out the way you planned, it sounds like you made the most of things anyway. It's too bad that Disney has lost its sparkle for you, but you did mention (promise?) that you'd go back one day to give a grown ups vacation a go--stay on property, try some of the adult things like eating in fine dining restaurants and going to the Boardwalk clubs. (I vote for Jellyrolls.)

The backwater Florida you discovered on your Gainsvilles to Daytona Beach trip sounds like a pretty good description of the way the Orlando area looked pre-Disney--and not that long ago. Hard to believe, isn't it?

As much as I enjoy WDW I'm glad to hear you're thinking of a non-Florida vacation on your next trip. It's a big country with a wide variety of terrain and cultures. You mentioned having already been to California. How about something in between the Atlantic and Pacific coasts?--Great natural wonders like the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Yellowstone Park, the Rocky mountains. Or perhaps some of the cities with major sports teams. Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City, Dallas, and dozens of others. In any case, do come back some day soon and then give us another trip report. Thanks for this one.

mfoz1
08-04-2009, 04:59 AM
I'm glad you decided to finish your report after all. Although some days didn't turn out the way you planned, it sounds like you made the most of things anyway. It's too bad that Disney has lost its sparkle for you, but you did mention (promise?) that you'd go back one day to give a grown ups vacation a go--stay on property, try some of the adult things like eating in fine dining restaurants and going to the Boardwalk clubs. (I vote for Jellyrolls.)

The backwater Florida you discovered on your Gainsvilles to Daytona Beach trip sounds like a pretty good description of the way the Orlando area looked pre-Disney--and not that long ago. Hard to believe, isn't it?

As much as I enjoy WDW I'm glad to hear you're thinking of a non-Florida vacation on your next trip. It's a big country with a wide variety of terrain and cultures. You mentioned having already been to California. How about something in between the Atlantic and Pacific coasts?--Great natural wonders like the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Yellowstone Park, the Rocky mountains. Or perhaps some of the cities with major sports teams. Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City, Dallas, and dozens of others. In any case, do come back some day soon and then give us another trip report. Thanks for this one.

Well typically the planning has already begun for 2010 and I think we are heading back to the West Coast as there is so much that we didn't see or do last time. We are thinking of flying into LA and then heading up the coast and then inland to experience some of the wonderful scenery and wine before heading into Nevada and the Grand Canyon and maybe Monument Valley which is somewhere I need to go so that I can see where the great John Ford (and one of my childhood idols John Wayne) made those fantastic westerns I grew up with. I am a keen but very amateur photographer so I cannot wait to shoot all of these amazing places. It's looking like we will be there for pretty much all of August 2010 so it's time to work and save like mad again.

We will return to Florida one day but before then we will be going to Dallas to see the Cowboys (the new stadium looks incredible) and I've always fancied a trip to Nashville for some reason. One day I will also achieve my ambition to drive from East to West during the school summer holidays... possibly 2012 (watch this space).

SusanEllen
08-04-2009, 09:50 AM
One day I will also achieve my ambition to drive from East to West during the school summer holidays... possibly 2012 (watch this space).

I hope you'll include Route 66 (of Cars fame) on that trip. Paul McCartney drove it last summer to celebrate his 66th birthday. If you know the song you know it's over 2,000 miles winding from Chicago to LA (to Santa Monica and the ocean, actually). Not all of Historic 66 is still driveable. Some stretches weren't maintained after the road was de-commissioned as a Federal highway years ago, but I'm proud to say my state, Oklahoma, has kept up the old road (we're thrifty pioneer types here) and has 400 miles, the longest section of any of the eight states 66 runs through.

Your 2010 West Coast plan sounds ambitious and like lots (and lots) of fun. You already have a month's worth of great ideas but for a few more may I suggest you read or re-read Kevin Stringer's Aug. 2005 TR http://kevinstringer.co.uk/index.htm and David Wickes "Way Out West" TR that begins here http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=1842092. Though I didn't spend any time in my beloved West Hollywood or LA on my 2008 CA trip, perhaps you might find something that would encourage you to add Disneyland to your itinerary in my TR is linked below. Day dreams and planning are part of the fun, aren't they?

mfoz1
08-04-2009, 11:00 AM
I hope you'll include Route 66 (of Cars fame) on that trip. Paul McCartney drove it last summer to celebrate his 66th birthday. If you know the song you know it's over 2,000 miles winding from Chicago to LA (to Santa Monica and the ocean, actually). Not all of Historic 66 is still driveable. Some stretches weren't maintained after the road was de-commissioned as a Federal highway years ago, but I'm proud to say my state, Oklahoma, has kept up the old road (we're thrifty pioneer types here) and has 400 miles, the longest section of any of the eight states 66 runs through.

Your 2010 West Coast plan sounds ambitious and like lots (and lots) of fun. You already have a month's worth of great ideas but for a few more may I suggest you read or re-read Kevin Stringer's Aug. 2005 TR http://kevinstringer.co.uk/index.htm and David Wickes "Way Out West" TR that begins here http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=1842092. Though I didn't spend any time in my beloved West Hollywood or LA on my 2008 CA trip, perhaps you might find something that would encourage you to add Disneyland to your itinerary in my TR is linked below. Day dreams and planning are part of the fun, aren't they?

Actually the Stringer's trip report is one of the things that inspired us to want to explore Yosemite for ourselves although we are not as 'outdoors-y' as they seem to be. We did Disneyland California last year and I'm not inspired to go back there again so soon but we will be staying in Santa Monica for a week to enjoy that part of LA. As for Route 66, we will definitely be travelling that road at some point, giant balls of string, ketchup bottles, etc. will all be on the itinerary. Over the years planning has become such an important part of our getaway and helps extend the vacation even more... we have maps and travel books galore and are already wondering how on earth we are going to get from Yosemite to Vegas non-stop as there doesn't seem like there is anywhere to stay.