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Old 07-29-2012, 03:20 PM   #1
shalom
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Talking The anti-commandos and the disney skeptics -- going in Janaury, 2013

I’ve been waiting a long time for this – a Disney Parks trip in 2013! I had hoped to have reservations by now, but there are Big Changes going on at hubby’s work so we’re waiting to find out a bit more first. *sigh* We’re pretty definitely going, but may have to pull it back to January instead of going in May. I’m getting used to the idea of January but I never feel committed until we have our unit reservation, and the wait is making me crazy! So I’m doing a pre-trip report.

Thing is, we've been to Orlando twice without really hitting the Disney parks, so I'm hoping it all works out this time. It's probably our only chance of going with all five kids – next time we get out, my older two will be in their twenties! The hard part is, middle daughter and I are the only ones going "Yay! Disney!" Eldest daughter is going "Yay. Disney." (She's merely pleased about it, not excited). Everyone else is looking forward to a vacation, but they're less enthused about the Disney part. It isn't that they don't expect to have fun -- we always have fun. They just think SeaWorld would be better. *sigh*

So it's the Anti-Commandos (eldest daughter, middle daughter, and myself), and the Disney Skeptics.



CAST OF CHARACTERS

Geek Dad, my beloved hubby, the only amusement park fan in the family. His "real job" is in computers, but he can't resist a bargain while I don't like being buried in junk, so his second job is finding bargains and then selling them at the usual price on the Internet. He's long been the family photographer but now has some competition on that front. He’s the “fun” parent. We were all at a wedding reception once and I was about to tell the kids to quit doing the "Walk Like An Egyptian" dance down the narrow space between the tables -- when I realized their dad was the one leading the parade.

He doesn't really see the difference between a theme park and an amusement park, except for the fact that the whole family enjoys SeaWorld but he's the only one who likes roller coasters and other common amusement park rides (with the exception of carousels, which the kids all like). He's going to want to be in the parks from opening to close, both to "get his money's worth," and because he always wants to see everything, which may be interesting because he does not pace himself, we're going to be there for 11 days, and he’s not getting any younger…. I asked him who his favorite Disney character is and, after requesting a reminder of Disney movies (and rejecting Toy Story as Pixar – “Disney movies have to be traditional 2D animation.” On being reminded of Tangled, he said, Tangled is “sort of 2D”), he decided his favorite characters are “the Car Talk guys in Cars.”




It's hard to find a pic of Geek Dad without kids in it, so I didn't try. Those are my older two with him – eldest son’s birthday request last year was a trip to Chicago with dad.


The Hermit, 19, my eldest daughter, who would kind of like to spend the entire trip hanging out in the condo by herself (because she doesn't often get that much space alone), but knows she'd regret it afterwards if she doesn't see the parks. The most disciplined member of the family, she has been scheduling her days, as well as setting personal goals and achieving them, since she was six. She also starts eating candy once a week every October to finish off her stash from last year before stocking up again. She has decided she's not growing up so doesn't have to choose a career. Her favorite Disney character is: “lots of them.”

She has issues with one leg that can make it hard for her to walk when it's flaring up, and tends to flag around noon when it's hot anyhow; I'm hoping if I get her out of the park and into a pool at noon that she'll be good to go back again in the evenings. Our tastes are pretty similar (except for her inexplicable appreciation of Yanni… ), but she is a tad less tolerant of heat, crowds, etc. than I am. She'll enjoy what she sees and not worry about what she misses.


Mr. Cool, age 18 (by the time we get there), my eldest son, once offered to go to Epcot "just for mom's sake," probably because showing interest in WDW for its own sake might ruin his image. It's hard to be the only guy who worries about "what people will think" and who wants to "accomplish things" in a family of non-conformists who make a game of everything. He works part time with computers but has only reluctantly given up his goal of being a soldier (he's diabetic; ain't gonna happen) and is currently planning to create video games for a living. His favorite character is: “I’m not going to tell you, you’ll just post it to one of those Disney boards.”

Not a coasters fan, although he rides them with his dad sometimes because it's the manly thing to do. Loves tall buildings and exploring downtown areas but never trusts anything new -- he was the only one who was none too sure whether he'd like SeaWorld before he went, but he's crazy about it now. With rare exceptions, only goes to shows or on rides the first time if ordered to or to "keep his dad company." Admitting that something he hasn't experienced yet sounds interesting is apparently uncool. Likes to go off either by himself or just with his parents and oldest sister -- the younger three get on his nerves.


SeaWorld Son, age 16, who fears that if he goes to WDW, and likes it, he is in some way betraying his beloved orcas. Hopes to be a novelist and always has strange scenarios going on in his brain, which he sometimes shares, and which we sometimes understand. The smiling-ist infant I have ever known, he remains a generally cheerful and easy going guy. His favorite Disney character is Woody from Toy Story.

Does not like scary rides and feels no shame in saying so. His older brother won't ride carousels anymore -- "they're for babies" -- but SeaWorld Son couldn't care less what other people say; he still likes carousels and he'll ride them if there's an interesting critter to sit on. His touring style is pretty flexible -- he'll go by himself if he wants to see something (or stay with something) no one else is interested in, or he'll go along with his dad if he's not obsessing on anything.



SeaWorld son at SeaWorld Orlando

Ballet Girl, age 14, whose dream is to have the whole family go to the Disney parks and have a good time together. Ballet Girl has been taking ballet since she was five and doing Nutcracker every year (and other performances less regularly) since she was six. She used to want to be a school teacher, but has decided that's too hard, and now intends to be an Astrophysicist. That's assuming she doesn't make it professionally in ballet, of course. Her favorite Disney character is Rapunzel.

Ballet Girl and I are the only ones who've ever been to a Disney park. We've both done a half day at the Magic Kingdom and a day at Disneyland, however my Disneyland day was in the early 1970s while hers was in 2011. She will happily ride the same thing six times in a row if she likes it, without worrying about what she's missing, however she usually tours with her dad who wants to see everything and is fine with moving on as well, so long as she knows that's the plan going in.


Ballet Girl at Pop Century

Warrior Girl
, age 11, although somewhat bloodthirsty, and generally fearless (she's used to taking on siblings twice her size, y'see), used to dive under tables and other wise seek cover or flee on sighting a costumed character. She says she can handle them now. Let's hope so. She likes animals more than humans and hopes to one day work for the SPCA. Her favorite Disney character is Scar.

She usually tours with her dad, because he "does stuff", but then gets frustrated because he's doing things she doesn't want to do, and so switches over to hanging out with mom and the Hermit. Then she gets frustrated because we're walking and looking too much and not doing anything, so she switches back to dad. She'll finally be old enough to spend some time by herself by the time we get there, so that may make it easier on her.


Warrior Girl at Downtown Disney

The Hobbitess, your narrator. I grew up on Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color and have been dreaming of going to Disney World since the day it opened (once Epcot opened, even more so). I'm a homebody, but I like traveling a few weeks a year so long as I have regular access to a full kitchen. This will be our third trip to Orlando, but our first family trip to the WDW parks, for various reasons, so while most of those were "I'd sure like to see the WDW parks someday" kinda years, the last few years it's been "I can't believe we're going to be ThisClose and not go!" wishing.

I plan like a fiend, but when planning for myself there's a lot of "hanging around looking at stuff" sort of things in the plan. I deliberately put the important stuff early so I can abandon the plan after a certain point without getting bothered -- theoretically, at least. I always plan more stuff than we actually do, even when we're going to a resort in the middle of nowhere, so planning a Disney vacation I know I'm doomed from the git go.

We're going to be in Orlando for twelve days (eleven and a half, really, because I like to keep the last afternoon for packing), which sounds like a glorious long time but I know from our 2011 trip that isn't how it necessarily works out (can you say car trouble? ). Eldest and I have six day tickets; everyone else will only commit to two days. Mr. Cool wants to go to SeaWorld a couple of days, and SeaWorld Son vacillates about that (he'd have to pay his own way, which would cut into his souvenirs stash). The Hermit will probably have had enough at six days, and so will my feet, but we can always kick it up if I guess wrong. Knock wood

Dunno if we'll come out of this with some Disney converts or not, but I expect it'll be interesting. Well, to me at least. And Ballet Girl loves to read my trip reports -- because she is usually in them! -- so I'll have at least one reader.

Last edited by shalom; 12-03-2012 at 01:19 PM.
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Old 07-31-2012, 03:19 PM   #3
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So I dug up my "Vacation Memory Book" from our first Orlando trip (2010). The VM book is a printout from EnchantedLearning dot com, however we only do the "Trip Information" and daily pages; I put them in a three ring binder with pockets and it's kind of like a less detailed Passporter. Thought I'd do a write up of that with pictures so I've got it somewhere. I quit taking photos when the kids were little because they'd disappear on me while I was looking through the camera, and only got back in the habit of taking pictures the last few years.

The 2010 Orlando trip is the one where I figured out that, without me specifically asking, hubby takes pics of the kids, events like fireworks or lightning, and "trick" photos. And that's about it. Very rarely does he take pictures of places without the kids in them, or "establishing shots" of the place as a whole or anything like that. Me, I take the occasional picture of the kids, but mostly pictures of places and details, and that's what I want pictures of after, usually. Oh, and we both take pictures of critters -- his tend to turn out better because I usually notice the critter when it's moving, and it's moved right out range before I get my act together!

Although my preference for pictures of places and details bit contributed to my one regret on this trip, when Ballet Girl and I went to the Magic Kingdom without hubby and I missed a great photo opportunity. I figured I'd have plenty of pics of Ballet Girl that hubby took, and that there are lot of stunner pics of the MK right here at the Dis, so I didn't need my camera. So wrong! *sigh*

Anyhow... we drive to Orlando, which takes us two days because we only drive about nine hours a day. I like driving on vacations -- seems like something interesting always happens. Or maybe it's that driving is so monotonous that anything that happens seems interesting. One of the two. Our first day I note seeing the Photosaurus from Dinosaur World in Cave City, Kentucky, which we'd visited some years earlier:



When the kids were waaay younger:



The exciting thing on the drive down, however, was an idiot driver who was zipping through traffic at high speed. Which is common enough I probably wouldn't have even noted it -- except shortly after seeing him disappear over a hill in the distance, we crested that hill to see he'd crashed! There was a big curve lined with barriers along the outside; he'd apparently hit the barrier and spun, because his car was facing the barrier at a bizarre angle, clearly bashed, with the driver's door hanging open. When we got close enough we realized the car was empty; he'd crashed, and then bolted. We probably could have seen him running off if we'd looked around more when cresting the hill. Hubby thinks he probably stole the car, and that's why he fled the scene.

Anyhow, got to Chattanooga the first night, and St. Augustine the second. We wanted to be by the beach, so we drove out to Anastasia Island. Got a room at the Regency Inn & Suites by Anastasia State Recreation area, which is right across from (the parking lot for) the beach! I think it's a renovated old motel, so the "suite" was just a big room with three double beds, but it was clean and we were only going to be there for a night, so we dumped everything and raced off to the beach. And technically the beach is just a narrow strip of sand up against a breakwater right there; you have to take stairs down to it and at high tide it's all under water, but happily it was low tide that night and we spent an hour or so chasing crabs and the like as it got dark.

The manager let us have a late check out the next day, so we got up early and paid to get on the pier across the street since there was no beach, and hubby took pictures of what was supposed to be the sunrise -- too cloudy for good sunrise pics but nice to be out anyhow:





Geek dad took a few shots of the shore, but he was trying to get some effect of the waves so they're not terribly informative. Gives you an idea of why the beach there disappears, though:



It's just that tiny area with no beach, though -- a few blocks away in either direction, the beach is like this:



Nice wide stretch of sand. There's a fair bit of tiny sea life along the edges we watched for a while, then my four younger kids dug holes, hubby went swimming, and the Hermit and I stood in the surf, sinking, while we critiqued waves. It was great.

Toward noon we went back to the room and got cleaned up, packed the van, and headed for St. Augustine proper. The one "must do" I had was Castillo de San Marco, which will be 450 years old in 2015. Never been defeated and weathered cannon shot pretty well -- I think the most damage it's ever sustained was when some yahoo ran his truck into part of it this past spring. (link is to a news video)

http://www.firstcoastnews.com/video/...an-Marcos-Fort

He must have been going crazy fast, because even the retaining walls are well off the road, and it's uphill (although the Castillo is one of those with the arrow-shaped corners, and there is a tip that stretches down to the parking lot closer than this, which I'm guessing is where he hit).





Anyhow... we parked at the Visitor's Center downtown and looked over the displays there, then walked down to the Castillo. It doesn't cost much to tour, $7 for an adult (and an adult is 16 and above), but we didn't even have to pay that much because it was National Park week. Which must be the last full week in April? Downstairs there are some tiny rooms to tour and a big plaza where there was some presentation going on for younger ones, but what my kids liked best were the cannons upstairs...



And the little turret rooms:



Is that little groove where they rested their guns?



Walking back, we took St. George Street in the Spanish Quarter, which was nice, and I really like the city gate that's still there. But in an art store I also saw a print of Thomas Kinkade's "A New Day at Cinderella's Castle," which is the one Kinkade that really tempts me.

We were finally on the home stretch to Orlando!

Last edited by shalom; 07-31-2012 at 03:39 PM. Reason: We Come In Peace
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Old 07-31-2012, 07:26 PM   #4
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January will be a great time for you guys to go. It is not hot, maybe a little chilly, and more important, other than the first week of the month; it is best time of the year to go, when the crowds are not there yet. The first week and December are the busiest time of the year. By Christmas, the parks are so full that they are constantly sold out!
Disney Parks are not the places to go to roller coasters, most parks have only one. Roller coasters are better (scarier) at Universal.
In Orlando, also there is a SeaWorld, not nearly as cool as San Diego, but it can get the family the fix that they need.
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Old 08-01-2012, 08:21 AM   #5
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socialgal!

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Roller coasters are better (scarier) at Universal.
Except for hubby (who hasn't been on one in years), nobody in our family is big on coasters. I started taking Universal a bit more seriously when they did the Harry Potter thing, but even Mr. Cool, who is gonzo Harry Potter, finally decided against Universal because nothing else appealed to him. I guess we're just more about theming than about rides.

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In Orlando, also there is a SeaWorld, not nearly as cool as San Diego, but it can get the family the fix that they need.
We really enjoy Orlando SeaWorld -- I've been to the San Diego one but it's been years and I barely remember it. Sounds like it's just as well, because that way the Orlando one doesn't suffer by comparison. Mr. Cool hopes to get out to the San Diego SeaWorld sometime while visiting his uncle, but hasn't happened yet.

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Old 08-01-2012, 11:12 AM   #6
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The Fountains Unit

To be honest, I felt a little trepidation about our resort in Orlando. Ballet Girl picked it out -- when we bought into Bluegreen, I said everyone could get a turn picking out a resort, and she liked the Fountains. I was less enthused -- we could only stay in the units in the old buildings (because the regular units officially sleep six), which were in the process of being refurbished, meaning we would either have construction noise, end up in a unit due for refurbishment, or both! Plus, the unit was all white with blonde woods; I like bright colors when I'm vacationing, and preferably nothing that reminds me of the 1970s.

On the upside, the units that sleep 8 are big -- over 1300 square feet -- and we love our space, so that part is good. When we check in, I can tell from the room number that we're in the building that isn't being refurbished yet. So no construction noise, at any rate. We drive over and ride the elevator up to the top floor, open the door to the unit, and this is what we see -- sort of:







For me, at any rate, the view just pulled me right through the unit and out onto that big screened porch. I forgot all about the fact that I didn't expect to like the decor and just rejoiced in that big unit with a view. I guess some people find screened porches confining, but I love them, and the view was nice -- the lake below, and then you can see SeaWorld beyond it. Hubby apparently did not feel the same, because we have no pictures of that view. And come to think of it, I sat out on the porch with Mr. Cool, not Geek dad. Geek dad liked the unit just fine, but I guess the view didn't grab him.

The master bedroom had a ridiculous large dressing area:



The bed looked better before Mr. Cool flung himself across it.





And there was a little unscreened balcony:





The second bedroom in the units that sleep eight has a queen bed and a fold out sofa. The smaller units in the older buildings, the second bedroom has two twin beds, but the regular units in most of the resort, which also officially sleep six, have two double beds in the second bedroom. Where's the logic in that?
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Old 08-01-2012, 11:19 AM   #7
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The Disney Skeptics Fly Their Colors

We decide to do a tour of the resort -- Ballet Girl wanted to see the big pool that I suspect is half the reason she picked the place. I didn't request any pics so Geek dad didn't take any, but I'll see if I can link to some one else's. This, from BG's flickr collection, shows most of the big pool there:



http://www.flickr.com/photos/bluegreenresorts/

That first lobe to the left is zero entry, and has various squirty things and stuff for kids to play with. The next lobe has this double slide (first pic from TripAdvisor, second from the BG flickr):





The kids liked the double slide because they could race each other. And even the loser wins, because it's a slide!

The big pool was practically empty, which surprised me. I knew it was unheated, but on checking it when we got there it was warm enough for my kids, so I figured other "northerners" would be happy with it, but apparently not. We wandered on to the indoor/outdoor pool, which is heated, and it was mobbed. I hadn't toured the Disney resorts at that point, but now that I have, that pool was right up there with them. There were people playing volleyball and everyone seemed to having a good ol' time, but I'd rather the cold and quiet one, myself.

Indoor/outdoor pool from inside:



The outside part of the indoor/outdoor pool is right off the lake, so you can lounge on the deck out there and look at either, which I thought was nice. Not that I ever got to do that -- we were only there five nights and there were a lot of things I didn't get to. There's also a kiddie pool and a big chess board and things, and of course you can get a canoe or a swan paddleboat to do Lake Eve. Lake Eve is really a pond, IMHO, but we enjoyed it for all that.

I bought a few pins for trading before we came out, but Ballet Girl and I wanted to get lanyards, and of course you can never have too many Disney pins, so we decided to head over to Disney's Character Warehouse in the Orlando Premium Outlet, which is right close to the Fountains. SeaWorld Son and Warrior Girl decided to come along, which seemed innocuous enough. The parking lot at the Outlet mall was packed, but there was plenty of parking -- shaded parking -- in the parking garage, which was free.

I'd forgotten my mall map, but I remembered the Disney store was near the food court, so we found it easily enough. Ballet Girl and I headed over to the pins and promptly found a Pirates of the Caribbean pin we both liked for a buck a pop. Score! We both picked out the same lanyard -- it was pink enough for her and purple enough for me -- and, since none of the other pins there particularly excited us, we picked up a couple of mystery bags each. So we ended up with two of everything. The cashier said, "Would you like two bags?" and Ballet Girl said, "Sure!"

Alas, I was not paying attention. The cashier divided everything evenly and gave one bag to Ballet Girl and offered the other to Warrior Girl. Remember how I said Warrior Girl has decided she can handle costumed characters this time around? Well, in 2010 she had decided Disney equals costumed characters, and since she hates costumed characters, simple logic proves that she hated Disney. This despite her love of many a Disney flick. Plus she doesn't like Mickey Mouse, who was of course emblazoned across the bag. So she just crossed her arms and glared at the poor cashier.

Ballet Girl, who is the soul of tact, cheerfully said, "I'll carry it for her." I thought we'd gotten over that hurdle pretty neatly, but then the cashier offered the kids Mickey stickers, and this time Warrior Girl didn't just glare but loudly announced, "I hate that guy" (meaning Mickey -- fortunately, the clerk was female) and stalked away, which prompted SeaWorld Son into a declaration that "Sea World is way better than Disney" and would have sent him off into a rant on the subject if I hadn't given him the Glare of Death.

Ballet Girl, beaming over her loot and the unexpected gift of stickers, thanked the saleslady again and wished her good day, and I thanked her as well and muttered something apologetic. Then I slunk out of the store with Ballet Girl practically skipping at my side, telling me how great the Pirates pin was, SeaWorld Son muttering softly that "Sea World is still better, I dunno why Disney gets all the attention" and Warrior Girl whispering, "Disney is evil" kinda stuff to herself. I expect the saleslady predicted a wonderful time at Disney World for us.

When I opened the mystery packs, there were two five legged goat pins, which were at the top of my "to find" list, so despite the embarrassment, that trip was totally worth it.

By the time we got back to the Fountains, a good storm was cranking up, so Geek dad went and sat on the bedroom porch (no screen) to take pics of the lightning.



Then, when it settled down to mostly just pouring, we went out to the front and watched the rain sheeting off the roof while hubby tried to get a picture of it. With less success:



That's the clubhouse down on the left; there's a restaurant in there and the indoor/outdoor pool toward the back. The big pool's the other side of the building across the parking lots.

Ballet Girl and I had decided on the Magic Kingdom for our one park day, and I didn't want to hit the MK on a Monday, so we went to bed knowing that, the next day, it was SeaWorld. Or, if you're SeaWorld Son, The next day, it was SEAWORLD!!!

Last edited by shalom; 08-08-2012 at 12:27 PM.
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Old 08-03-2012, 09:46 AM   #8
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I snuck on over from my PTR. Wow! Five kids! and a roadtrip! Your roadtrip memory pics are fantastic. I wish we would have done more roadtrips with our boys when they were younger, but it's just so darn easy to fly when there's just four of us.

Your place at the Fountains was absolutely gorgeous! I love that bathroom.

I'm so jealous that you're going for 12 days! We went for 10nts once and it was amazing. A week is just never long enough.
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Old 08-03-2012, 10:06 AM   #9
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I snuck on over from my PTR.
I was just about to pop into your thread and warn you that hubby's review of this thread was, "tl;dr, did you forget this is the age of the Internet? I liked the pictures, though."

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Your place at the Fountains was absolutely gorgeous! I love that bathroom.
I liked it a lot more than I expected to, but they have since redone it, of course, meaning there's no longer a full dining room table (they consolidated the table into that low kitchen island thingie so it only seats five), and they moved the master bedroom door over into the dining area. But I just loved that view -- I do have some pics of the swan boats hubby took through the screen but what I wish I'd done is just stand there and turn slowly in a circle getting the whole panorama. It wouldn't excite anyone who is into the Rockies I suppose, but I really enjoyed it.


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A week is just never long enough.
I really wish we'd gone longer the first time. Aside from Mr. Cool, who likes to go everyday, we prefer a "park day, resort day, park day" kind of schedule, so even 12 days isn't really enough to see everything. But our first trip felt really time cramped in a way the second one didn't. I was not ready to go at the end of the 2010 trip, where as usually I wouldn't mind staying a bit longer, but I'm still fine with heading home.

If hubby goes back to getting only two weeks of vacation a year, which looks pretty likely right now, I'm a worried he's not going to be up for going to Disney every other year, because that would mean it's his only vacation that year. I'm hoping he'll love the parks enough that won't be an issue.
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Old 08-03-2012, 11:55 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shalom View Post
If I write up our other trips here, I might want this later...

Actually, anyone want to direct me to a tutorial on how to link to a particular post in a thread? I usually just tell people to go to "post number whatever," but maybe it's time to learn how to do it right.
Joining in! I'm loving all your photos!

To link to a particular post ...

See the number in the right corner of the post in white? Click on that and it will pull up a page with that single post. Copy the URL. Come back to your post where you want to put the link, edit it, then click on the Insert Link button above. Post the URL of the specific post. When you click "OK", the URL will post with the hyperlink portion in blue. Start typing whatever you want the single post link to be called, IE: Our EPCOT Day or whatever. It will look something like this (but won't say "newreply"):

[*URL="http://www.disboards.com/newreply.php?do=newreply&p=group of numbers here"]Our EPCOT Day[/URL**]

Reading that, it sounds kind of convoluted, but I hope it helps some.

Look forward to reading more!
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Old 08-03-2012, 04:36 PM   #11
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Joining in! I'm loving all your photos!
Hi! right back, and Thanks! Most of the photos are ones my hubby took, which is partly why his comment about not reading the thread but liking the photos cracked me up. I pointed out that the photos were nearly all his, and he said, "But you picked them! And cropped them! And stuff!"



Quote:
Originally Posted by BearcatsFan View Post
To link to a particular post ...

See the number in the right corner of the post in white? Click on that and it will pull up a page with that single post.
Oh, boy, do I feel dumb for missing that. I think I actually knew that once, but when I tried it recently, apparently my aim is poor and the clickie hand did not come up. Hope you know what I mean despite my technical terminology, there.

And... it worked! And that part worked, too!

Last edited by shalom; 09-11-2012 at 08:53 AM.
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Old 08-03-2012, 05:54 PM   #12
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A Morning at SeaWorld

While planning this trip, I rapidly discovered that, if you’re into the “little things,” SeaWorld is a lot tougher to research than Disney. I asked a number of places (including the Dis, memory serves) whether there were live performers wandering around or anything like that, got responses ranging from, “Of course not! It’s SeaWorld, not Disney World” to “Maybe? I think? No idea when or where, though.” *sigh* For the record, yes, there are live performers, although I personally haven’t seen them all.

I did find out enough to rough out schedules for everyone. I told hubby he needed to do any rides that interested him first thing, which is all the schedule he’ll tolerate. SeaWorld Son planned to spend his morning staring at the orcas – turns out you can’t get over to that side of the park that early, so first he shopped and *then* he spent the rest of the morning staring at the orcas, until he joined Geek dad and the rest to get in line for the orca show. Mr. Cool’s plan was to ditch everyone as soon as possible, which he did. My plan was to take Warrior Girl to feed the dolphins – “they’re carnivores, you know. Predators. Meaning they’re cool!” That’s the one thing that really gets a line where you have to wait, so I planned to get there at opening and do it first thing.

But, like a fool, instead I let hubby talk me into sleeping in a bit next morning. So instead of getting there at opening, we got there about a half hour later. And then Geek dad wanted to take everyone else’s picture.



Doesn't that look like a happy family?

Really, half the problem is that Geek dad posed us facing into the sun, and only Seaworld Son and I regularly wear sunglasses. The reason I didn’t post a picture of myself up at the top is when I went looking for one, I realized all of the pictures of me from the last few years I’ve got on a hat and sunglasses, and Picasa doesn’t even realize I have a face. Notice the long sleeves and long pants on Warrior Girl? I tried to talk her out of them (it was in the low eighties, I think), but she hates sunscreen even more than sunglasses, so that was her solution. I'd have been dying, but the heat didn't seem to bother her at all.

So of course once we got there we had to buy tickets and debate about getting lockers and purchase the all day dining deal. My younger kids love, love, love the Seaworld All Day Dining Deal – that’s one of the things they have against Disney; they don’t like the Disney Dining Plan at all, because you have to eat two real meals and can’t snack all day. With the Seaworld deal, you get a wristband and then you can get as much food as you want. There are five or so assigned restaurants, all of them cafeteria-style, and although you can technically only get three things each run through (main dish, side dish, and drink), you can go through the line as many times as you want.

Which is just my kids’ style. Ballet Girl had multiple pieces of cake, multiple servings of chocolate milk and regular milk and soda and watermelon and chocolate pudding and strawberries and macaroni and cheese, and one serving of pizza (the mac and cheese was better, apparently). Seaworld Son liked the pizza and had a lot of that and of soda – he is a soda fiend, and we don’t have it at home, so anything that offers unlimited soda is great in his book. I am totally introducing him to Beverly when we do Epcot. He will probably like it – because it is soda and because he is Just That Annoying.


Ballet Girl's favorite! (pic from here: http://kirbiecravings.com/2009/12/di...san-diego.html )

Ton of SeaWorld food pics here – the kid’s meal thingie is different, but the rest looks like what we could have;

http://www.foodspotting.com/people/s...splace?page=15

At any rate, we missed the first dolphin feeding, so we spent a long time waiting in line for the second one, the only line any of us really dealt with the whole day (I'm not counting waiting time in the stadiums as a line, but as a matter of fact, the Hermit and I came in within the last five minutes of all the shows we saw that day and got okay seats). Warrior Girl was more patient about it than I was. Once we got in there, I tried to show her how you need to offer them food with one hand and pet them with the other, but that wasn’t part of her plan – I don’t know if I forgot to talk to her about it or if she just hadn’t been listening, but she was there to feed the dolphins and wasn’t at all sure about this petting thing, and it never really did work out.


(This is from 2011, but she’s in almost exactly the same spot!)

Not that it mattered – she thought feeding the dolphins was the coolest thing ever. So, after spending maybe an hour watching the dolphins from above, before getting in line, and then feeding them, we went and watched them from underwater. Where there was a penny squashing machine, and of course Warrior Girl wanted a squashed penny. And of course I’d forgotten the prettified pennies or given them to Geek dad or something, but fortunately a passing stranger took pity on us and traded some change so we got a shiny penny to dolphinize and life was good again. I was about dolphined out, but I did want to go see the Blue Horizons show, which I figured I’d like and I totally did.

It’s a story about this lady:



Who is pictured there with a parrot, but there’s also a condor, and she meets people dressed like birds:



And of course dolphins pushing people around (my favorite part – who wouldn’t want to go spinning through the water like that? – it'd be like flying! however this isn’t the best picture ):



And dolphins throwing people around:



And there are acrobats and stuff. Plus, the music is good enough that I still like it, despite Mr. Cool buying the sound track and playing it incessantly until some other obsession overcame him.

Then we went and met everyone at the restaurant by the Shamu stadium, I foisted Warrior Girl off on her dad, and the Hermit and I went for a quiet lunch before the crowds hit while the rest of the crew went to watch the orca show. I got this ridiculous huge chicken wrap (I should have had someone shift half over to an individual plate for me, since I knew I wasn’t going to finish it, but I was hungry so I didn’t), that had a lot of rice and fresh veggies and apparently so little chicken I forgot any was there, but despite not a lot of chicken was fine, if nothing to write home about. Tried to convince the Hermit to share that with me, but they had fried shrimp, so it was never going to happen. I can’t remember the last time she didn’t order a shrimp dish when she had the opportunity.

We shared our dining “room” (a partially screened porch kind of area by the lake) with some ducks:



I do not like ducks at my dinner and sternly told them to go away, which they eventually did. Much to the disappointment of Seaworld Son once he got there -- ducks, like orcas, are on his favorites list.

The Hermit and I were just finishing our main dish servings when the ambient music suddenly swelled and we were treated to a fountain show out on the lake. I love those! Half the reason I wanted to go to Epcot was to see the Fountain of Nations! Well, okay, not really half the reason, but fountain show! At SeaWorld! Who knew? We don’t have any pics of it, but here’s one from the internet:


http://photo.accuweather.com/photoga...n+at+Sea+World

SEAWORLD TIP – supposedly, they do the fountain show every hour on the hour from about 10:00 a.m. to close. I didn’t have a watch to check but that seems about right. The best viewing spot, IMHO, is down at the base of the Sky Tower, facing kinda south east, but we had a pretty good view from the part of Mango Joe’s that’s kind of raised up above the lake.

About the same time – SEAWORLD TIP – there was a little live show out by the front of the restaurant, a bunch of drummers and guys on those pogo-stick stilt sort of things. I think they do one after every orca show. One of those things that are about equally fun and beautiful and terrifying, like watching people on a high wire – these guys are doing flips WAAAAY up in the air, over cement, and I’m thinking, “Someone got creamed during the Pirate Tutorial, and you’re doing THAT?” Hubby totally missed it, but this guy has a terrific picture if you follow the link:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/dangler...n/photostream/


Some of the “soloists” get even higher.

So the rest of the crew joined us at Mango Joes, and we told them they had to go see Blue Horizons a.s.a.p. while they told us we had to do the second orca show with them.

I was just finishing my drink (which was bottled water from SeaWorld and flavoring packets I brought, I’m so boring), got to eyeing hubby’s carrot cake and eventually conned him out of it (he’s a soft touch). I think I got some milk to do with it – decadent desserts always go better with milk. Unless they’re the kind that are good with cream or ice cream, of course, which this was not, IMHO.


http://kirbiecravings.com/2009/12/di...san-diego.html

That’s someone else’s photo – mine did not have the orange frosting smeared at the tip like that. It was fine, for storebought. I am not a big frosting fan, so I always cut the powdered sugar in my own cream cheese frostings, then I complain when I get cake at a restaurant because the frosting’s too sweet. Someday I’ll learn. Or at this point, maybe the odds are pretty strongly against that.

All the milk we had at SeaWorld (we’re a big milk-drinking family) was really fresh, btw – I have gotten wary about ordering milk while eating out because I’ve gotten some pretty nasty offerings over the years.

Last edited by shalom; 08-08-2012 at 12:33 PM. Reason: Because I fiddle
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Old 08-03-2012, 06:53 PM   #13
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YW! Glad I could help.

OMG ... <drool> You didn't say you were going to be posting food porn! You need to warn a person! I'm diabetic and I swear my blood sugar went up 50 points scrolling over that chocolate cake!

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Old 08-03-2012, 06:59 PM   #14
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The Hermit and I wandering around looking at aquarium stuff, while the rest of the crew went and watched a Blue Horizons show. Except Mr. Cool, of course. They liked it.



Marine Biologists get to wear much fancier clothes on the job than other Biologists.



Most of us got together after the show willingly, then we tracked down Mr. Cool and dragged him into the one air-conditioned, inside show in the park. I liked the air conditioning, less enthused about the show. It's an acrobatic show, about a fisherman who falls in the ocean and meets a girl (the Princess) and her mom (the Queen, of course) doesn't like him and throws a fit. Being magical, this future MIL can throw a pretty big hissy fit! But the Magic Of True Love wins out. Oops! Probably should have spoilered that.

None of the pictures hubby took of the show really turned out, but afterwards he took pics of some of the the performers. The show didn't do much for me, but I really like Evil Future MIL's costume.



Just for something different, hubby posed them right in front of a spotlight, which I mostly clipped out...



which meant I also clipped Seaworld Son out of the last one. I used to think Mr. Cool didn't like standing near his siblings for photo ops, but looking at these pics, now I'm thinking he just likes a lot of personal space.

After the show we all split up again. Geek dad has taken some beautiful pics of aquarium pics before and since, but the fates were against him this time. I guess I'll share just one pic of a shark:



We all got together at the end of the day to see the orca show, but we didn't sit together because Ballet Girl was the only one who wanted to sit in the splash zone. We were there shortly after the trainer died, and the show was sort of a shorn-back version of one written for a lot more orca/trainer interaction, and it was kind of sad. Although that impression may be more because I like lots of pretty colors and the orca show is more impressive and weighty than pretty, I suppose.




The kids had a great time however, while Geek dad somehow managed to get orca pics and also pics of his daughter in the splash zone. The first big splash:







I love the guys jumping out of their seats. "What? You mean this is the splash zone?" Ballet Girl, OTOH, didn't think that was too exciting, and so she "generously" offered to trade with people who wanted to move back and moved down a couple of rows.



That worked!
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Old 08-03-2012, 08:58 PM   #15
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joining in!! I found this on the PTR main page!

My son also loves Sea World. We are trying to decide whether to do Universal or Sea World and he told me that there's more "stuff" to do at Sea World. LOL!!

Loving all of your pictures!! Especially the sea world pictures. I really want to go back there. If only to feed the stingrays, dolphins and seals!! My favorite part!!

Love the Saint Augustine pictures!! We went there one year when we lived in Florida. Actually we drove there because DS needed pictures for a report and wanted to learn more about it. what better way to learn than to go??

Can't wait to read more!
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