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Old 09-07-2012, 06:42 PM   #1
Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina
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Our First Summer Trip! 3 Canucks Tackle Orlando in August: A Trip Report (Complete!)

Hello again everyone . Welcome to my second trip report!

For those who read through my first attempt at trip reporting earlier this year (joining in on reminiscing about our adventures at Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, SeaWorld and Discovery Cove from during New Years week ... see link to that thread in my signature below), I am glad to have you along for the ride once again .

Those hopping aboard for the first time, its nice to have you! I always enjoy the opportunity to make more friends .

So.......let's get to it, shall we?

First off, a small introduction. Let me introduce you to my cast of "characters" (don't worry, this will be quick and painless ):



That's me in the middle. But I am certain you already guessed that. I am Gina, mom to the guy on the right and wife to the guy on the left. An admittedly Type A personality, I share alot of traits with Monica from Friends. I hope you won't hold that against me .

On the left is Steve, my husband of 19 years. He is the exact opposite of me: physically, emotionally, and mentally. He's technically oriented where I'm academically oriented. He's calm where I'm high-strung. He goes with the flow where I must have everything organized at every moment or I tend to come unglued. He's tall and I'm short. Yet somehow, our differences seem to draw us even closer together. Go figure. Sometimes good things just can't be completely explained. .

On the right is Jake. My boy. He's 16 years old, and just completed grade 10 in June. Not a day goes by I don't thank my lucky stars for this kid. You will see his sense of humour in many of the pics that I will be posting in this review. He is awesome at humouring his picture-crazy mother at all the cheesy photo ops we stumble across on our vacations. And he's becoming quite a good photographer himself....most of the pics of me you will see are taken by Jake, because God love Steve, he can't seem to take a good picture to save his life (and the ones that he eventually gets are the sixth, seventh, or eighth attempt ).

And so.....that's us. And we are about to embark on a week in the Florida sun. At least, we hope there will be some sun. Did someone say it rains alot in Florida in August?
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Gina and her two guys ...conquering awesome Orlando, one offsite attraction at a time!

Jan. 2009....onsite at POR: all 4 Disney Parks
Jan. 2012....offsite on I-Drive: Universal Studios, IOA, SeaWorld, & Discovery Cove
Aug. 2012...Westgate Lakes Resort & Spa: Aquatica, Discovery Cove, and more
Dec. 2012...onsite at SW! Christmas week at SeaWorld, Aquatica, Gatorland, airboats, & holiday fun
**Christmas 2012 Trip Report: http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=3041415
Aug. 2013....Sheraton Vistana Resort: Blizzard Beach, Typhoon Lagoon, Cocoa Beach & more! **August 2013 Trip Report: http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=3167818

Aug. 2014.....SVR, SW, DC, AQ, TL, Daytona & MORE! Visit my trip report in progress: http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?p=51863899



Last edited by Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina; 09-12-2012 at 12:14 PM.
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Old 09-07-2012, 07:08 PM   #2
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A brief description of how this trip came to be.....

Our other two Orlando vacations have both been in January. We love escaping the Ontario winters for a week in the balmy Florida temperatures. That said, during our getaways we never seemed to have the proper weather for enjoying days at the waterparks, so our attraction wish-list still had a few items that needed to be addressed. On our way home on January 7th, after enduring a few pretty cold days over the course of that week (think winter-coat-and-mittens-cold) Jake remarked....."Someday we have to go back when we can do a waterpark. Like when its guaranteed to be hot."

And that, my friends, was the point where the lightbulb went off . Within two weeks, we were booked to go back. Yes, its a sickness.

Fast forward seven months, and its Saturday, August 25th. After fretting about the potential disruption of the newly-upgraded Hurricane Isaac and becoming obsessed with weather watching, it was finally time to pack up the truck and head to Syracuse, NY.



It was the perfect day for a road trip, and hard to believe that as we were enjoying absolutely perfect, sunshiny weather the Florida Keys were getting whipped by winds and rain and Isaac's fury.

The drive from our home to Syracuse is really quite uneventful. Quiet and uninterrupted all the way to the border. No real traffic issues.....until we reach the actual border crossing. Ugh.



Yes, that was us, stopped in a sea of cars a full 1/2 km away from the actual customs agents. This is going to take a while.

One full HOUR later, we finally get moving. And before we know it, its over the bridge to the USA :



By Watertown, the boys were starving (but who I am kidding? they are ALWAYS starving ), so we stopped at Friendly's for lunch. Its one of our favourites when in the States.





Normally I can possess some decent willpower when it comes to desserts (despite my wicked sweet tooth), however on this trip I decided to throw caution to the wind and enjoy all the yummy delicacies that the restaurants decided to throw at me. If my boys were going to be indulging, they couldn't have all the fun. It just wouldn't be fair . So we topped off our meal with these beauties and declared vacation officially underway:



One more hour and we'll be pulling into the park-and-fly hotel. Just about enough time for that ice cream to stop sitting like a lump in the pit of my stomach .

Next stop: the Candlewood Suites Syracuse Airport!
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Gina and her two guys ...conquering awesome Orlando, one offsite attraction at a time!

Jan. 2009....onsite at POR: all 4 Disney Parks
Jan. 2012....offsite on I-Drive: Universal Studios, IOA, SeaWorld, & Discovery Cove
Aug. 2012...Westgate Lakes Resort & Spa: Aquatica, Discovery Cove, and more
Dec. 2012...onsite at SW! Christmas week at SeaWorld, Aquatica, Gatorland, airboats, & holiday fun
**Christmas 2012 Trip Report: http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=3041415
Aug. 2013....Sheraton Vistana Resort: Blizzard Beach, Typhoon Lagoon, Cocoa Beach & more! **August 2013 Trip Report: http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=3167818

Aug. 2014.....SVR, SW, DC, AQ, TL, Daytona & MORE! Visit my trip report in progress: http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?p=51863899


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Old 09-07-2012, 07:22 PM   #3
pooksma
Can't help it~there is something about Ed...kinda like the Gary Sinise thing...
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Yay!!!!!

Happy to be reading along again
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Old 09-07-2012, 07:47 PM   #4
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Nice to put a face to your name! May I join in?
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Old 09-07-2012, 07:48 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pooksma View Post
Yay!!!!!

Happy to be reading along again
Hey there, pooksma! Glad to have you back!!!
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Gina and her two guys ...conquering awesome Orlando, one offsite attraction at a time!

Jan. 2009....onsite at POR: all 4 Disney Parks
Jan. 2012....offsite on I-Drive: Universal Studios, IOA, SeaWorld, & Discovery Cove
Aug. 2012...Westgate Lakes Resort & Spa: Aquatica, Discovery Cove, and more
Dec. 2012...onsite at SW! Christmas week at SeaWorld, Aquatica, Gatorland, airboats, & holiday fun
**Christmas 2012 Trip Report: http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=3041415
Aug. 2013....Sheraton Vistana Resort: Blizzard Beach, Typhoon Lagoon, Cocoa Beach & more! **August 2013 Trip Report: http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=3167818

Aug. 2014.....SVR, SW, DC, AQ, TL, Daytona & MORE! Visit my trip report in progress: http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?p=51863899


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Old 09-07-2012, 07:49 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by jennyjinx3 View Post
Nice to put a face to your name! May I join in?
But of course!!! Glad to have you along!
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Gina and her two guys ...conquering awesome Orlando, one offsite attraction at a time!

Jan. 2009....onsite at POR: all 4 Disney Parks
Jan. 2012....offsite on I-Drive: Universal Studios, IOA, SeaWorld, & Discovery Cove
Aug. 2012...Westgate Lakes Resort & Spa: Aquatica, Discovery Cove, and more
Dec. 2012...onsite at SW! Christmas week at SeaWorld, Aquatica, Gatorland, airboats, & holiday fun
**Christmas 2012 Trip Report: http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=3041415
Aug. 2013....Sheraton Vistana Resort: Blizzard Beach, Typhoon Lagoon, Cocoa Beach & more! **August 2013 Trip Report: http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=3167818

Aug. 2014.....SVR, SW, DC, AQ, TL, Daytona & MORE! Visit my trip report in progress: http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?p=51863899


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Old 09-07-2012, 08:05 PM   #7
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We rolled into the Candlewood Suites parking lot before 3 pm, so we were very pleased with our timing.





It took us a while to get settled into our room, as the smell of cigarette smoke seemed to be everywhere and it necessitated two room switches before we found one we could live with. The staff were very accommodating and super friendly, but reality is this isn’t a smoke free hotel and its very, very evident (note to future travellers: the front desk said that they had been approved to go smoke-free as of January 1st, 2013....so improvements are near.....but not near enough in my book!!).

The room was large and we had lots of space to spread out. We had a fully separate bedroom with a queen sized bed, a living area with a pull-out couch, a full kitchen, and a big bathroom.







There is no pool at this property, but there is a fitness centre, a great barbecue area outside and free laundry facilities.

Proximity to the airport is excellent (it took the shuttle maybe 5 minutes, tops, to transport us door-to-door) and the shuttle is free of charge. We paid $129.99 for the one-night’s stay and a week’s parking, and we earned ourselves some Priority Club points at the same time.
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Gina and her two guys ...conquering awesome Orlando, one offsite attraction at a time!

Jan. 2009....onsite at POR: all 4 Disney Parks
Jan. 2012....offsite on I-Drive: Universal Studios, IOA, SeaWorld, & Discovery Cove
Aug. 2012...Westgate Lakes Resort & Spa: Aquatica, Discovery Cove, and more
Dec. 2012...onsite at SW! Christmas week at SeaWorld, Aquatica, Gatorland, airboats, & holiday fun
**Christmas 2012 Trip Report: http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=3041415
Aug. 2013....Sheraton Vistana Resort: Blizzard Beach, Typhoon Lagoon, Cocoa Beach & more! **August 2013 Trip Report: http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=3167818

Aug. 2014.....SVR, SW, DC, AQ, TL, Daytona & MORE! Visit my trip report in progress: http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?p=51863899


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Old 09-07-2012, 08:17 PM   #8
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NOT non-smoking??? Does that still exist??
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Old 09-07-2012, 09:30 PM   #9
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Joining the Trip Report

Joining in for the first time...can't wait to hear all about your August Trip Beautiful picture of you all!
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Old 09-07-2012, 10:11 PM   #10
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Yay!! I can't wait to read about all of your adventures!!:good vibes

I am off to bed but rest assured I will be catching up in the morning!
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Old 09-08-2012, 06:06 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jennyjinx3 View Post
NOT non-smoking??? Does that still exist??
Yes, sadly it does. And quite honestly, I didn't even think to check for that before booking, because we are so used to everything being smoke-free here in Canada. Lesson learned on that one.

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Joining in for the first time...can't wait to hear all about your August Trip Beautiful picture of you all!
Thank you! Glad you to have you along! The family pic was actually taken on our vacation.....you will see more a few more of our portraits and here about all the details in an upcoming post!

Quote:
Originally Posted by pigletto View Post
Yay!! I can't wait to read about all of your adventures!!:good vibes

I am off to bed but rest assured I will be catching up in the morning!
Well hello, fellow August traveller . I thought of you many times on our trip. Would love to hear some of the details of your family getaway as well....(hint, hint, hint )
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Gina and her two guys ...conquering awesome Orlando, one offsite attraction at a time!

Jan. 2009....onsite at POR: all 4 Disney Parks
Jan. 2012....offsite on I-Drive: Universal Studios, IOA, SeaWorld, & Discovery Cove
Aug. 2012...Westgate Lakes Resort & Spa: Aquatica, Discovery Cove, and more
Dec. 2012...onsite at SW! Christmas week at SeaWorld, Aquatica, Gatorland, airboats, & holiday fun
**Christmas 2012 Trip Report: http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=3041415
Aug. 2013....Sheraton Vistana Resort: Blizzard Beach, Typhoon Lagoon, Cocoa Beach & more! **August 2013 Trip Report: http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=3167818

Aug. 2014.....SVR, SW, DC, AQ, TL, Daytona & MORE! Visit my trip report in progress: http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?p=51863899


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Old 09-08-2012, 06:42 AM   #12
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After moving our luggage from the truck into the room, we decided to head to the Carousel Mall to stretch our legs out after the long car ride.



Plus, Jake had been working full-time since the end of school as a camp counsellor at our local YMCA, and all his money that he’d been squirreling away was burning a hole in his pocket. He had a long shopping list to attend to, and there was no time like the present!

The brand-new, two-level Dick's Clothing and Sporting Goods was a huge, huge, HUGE hit with my sports-loving boy:



And he spent tons of time admiring the selection of basketball shoes at Footlocker's House of Hoops. All those colours are enough to give me headache....its like shopping for Rainbow Bright . But for those of you that don't know Jake, he has a "shoe thing". It's weird, I know!!! He's the girl I'll never have .



During all that retail therapy, we managed to squeeze in some time on the upper level, admiring the antique carousel, the namesake of the mall. It really is so pretty. And it makes me feel like I’m five years old again.







Following our successful shopping expedition, we moved onwards to my hubby’s most anticipated meal of the trip......the-long awaited and much-touted Dinosaur Barbecue! Will it live up to all of Adam Richman's hype?!? Check out the episode from Man v. Food: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Le7a5QwSMwo
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Gina and her two guys ...conquering awesome Orlando, one offsite attraction at a time!

Jan. 2009....onsite at POR: all 4 Disney Parks
Jan. 2012....offsite on I-Drive: Universal Studios, IOA, SeaWorld, & Discovery Cove
Aug. 2012...Westgate Lakes Resort & Spa: Aquatica, Discovery Cove, and more
Dec. 2012...onsite at SW! Christmas week at SeaWorld, Aquatica, Gatorland, airboats, & holiday fun
**Christmas 2012 Trip Report: http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=3041415
Aug. 2013....Sheraton Vistana Resort: Blizzard Beach, Typhoon Lagoon, Cocoa Beach & more! **August 2013 Trip Report: http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=3167818

Aug. 2014.....SVR, SW, DC, AQ, TL, Daytona & MORE! Visit my trip report in progress: http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?p=51863899


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Old 09-08-2012, 07:34 AM   #13
pooksma
Can't help it~there is something about Ed...kinda like the Gary Sinise thing...
Well I have laughed my posterior region until it almost removed itself from my body
 
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I completely understand your need for a smoke-free room.

Checked out the video of Dinosaur BBQ and showed it to my DH. He loved it! The last time he saw a BBQ show he liked, we bought a meat injector and a roast...
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Old 09-08-2012, 08:22 AM   #14
Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina
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Checked out the video of Dinosaur BBQ and showed it to my DH. He loved it! The last time he saw a BBQ show he liked, we bought a meat injector and a roast...
I think your DH and mine would be very good friends .
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Gina and her two guys ...conquering awesome Orlando, one offsite attraction at a time!

Jan. 2009....onsite at POR: all 4 Disney Parks
Jan. 2012....offsite on I-Drive: Universal Studios, IOA, SeaWorld, & Discovery Cove
Aug. 2012...Westgate Lakes Resort & Spa: Aquatica, Discovery Cove, and more
Dec. 2012...onsite at SW! Christmas week at SeaWorld, Aquatica, Gatorland, airboats, & holiday fun
**Christmas 2012 Trip Report: http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=3041415
Aug. 2013....Sheraton Vistana Resort: Blizzard Beach, Typhoon Lagoon, Cocoa Beach & more! **August 2013 Trip Report: http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=3167818

Aug. 2014.....SVR, SW, DC, AQ, TL, Daytona & MORE! Visit my trip report in progress: http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?p=51863899


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Old 09-08-2012, 08:33 AM   #15
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Dinosaur Barbecue was actually one of the places we attempted to visit on our January trip, but the plans were foiled when it was sooooo busy we couldn't even get remotely close to park the car. DH was crushed. So when we started making plans for this August trip, even though we didn't fly out until Sunday afternoon (meaning we could have left early Sunday morning and avoided the need for a park and fly hotel), we decided to still go up one day early just to be sure we could fit it in. Ah, what we don't do for our spouses .

From the outside, it really doesn't look like much. A little on the "rough and tumble" side, to be honest. But OMG, was it busy. Again. Luckily, we snagged a parking spot right outside the front door. Yay for us .





The inside was PACKED and we were told it was going to be upwards of an hour for a table. Since it was a perfect, gorgeous, beautiful summer evening, we opted to dine at their outside "Beer and Bone Yard".





The food was every bit as good as we had hoped. But lordy, lordy.....the portions were enormous . Crazy huge. The first pic is a platter that was like a foot and a half long.





Let me also say, this was some dang fine barbecue. Every bit as good as it was billed to be. A toast to a freakin' awesome good meal.



Next up.....Hurricane Isaac is rearing his ugly head. And did someone say we were trying to blow up the airport? Pass the barf bag......I'm gonna need it.
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Gina and her two guys ...conquering awesome Orlando, one offsite attraction at a time!

Jan. 2009....onsite at POR: all 4 Disney Parks
Jan. 2012....offsite on I-Drive: Universal Studios, IOA, SeaWorld, & Discovery Cove
Aug. 2012...Westgate Lakes Resort & Spa: Aquatica, Discovery Cove, and more
Dec. 2012...onsite at SW! Christmas week at SeaWorld, Aquatica, Gatorland, airboats, & holiday fun
**Christmas 2012 Trip Report: http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=3041415
Aug. 2013....Sheraton Vistana Resort: Blizzard Beach, Typhoon Lagoon, Cocoa Beach & more! **August 2013 Trip Report: http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=3167818

Aug. 2014.....SVR, SW, DC, AQ, TL, Daytona & MORE! Visit my trip report in progress: http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?p=51863899


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