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Old 07-15-2014, 02:44 PM   #1
Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina
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Sun, Shopping, Sand, Surf, Sweat & Shamu: A Splashin’ Summertime Sabbatical at SVR!

Hello, DisFriends ,

This year, I am trying something new. Let’s see how it goes .

For the last couple of family getaways, I have enjoyed sharing our vacation adventures with you via two different trip reports: one from our Christmas trip in December 2012, the other from our hotter-than-the-face-of-the –sun August escape in 2013. If you haven’t already become acquainted with me and my two guys, feel free to check out those reports by clicking on the two links in my signature. Or, just stay tuned to this thread and re-introductions will be coming up fairly soon.

This particular upcoming vacation is a little different from our previous holidays in several ways. For one, it’s our very first two-week getaway (which both excites and frightens me simultaneously….more on that later on). Secondly, we’re travelling as a foursome vs. a trio....our odd has finally been evened! (in numbers only…we, as individuals, are still VERY odd ). Thirdly, I am going to have some female company for the first time ever on an Orlando trip….which means it will be an equal estrogen versus testosterone mix (oh, my guys have no idea what they are in for! The playing field has finally been levelled! ). Considering this vacation is a little “different” on a variety of platforms, so will my report be…in the beginning, anyway.

And with that, I begin my first ever PRE-trip report. With just over a month to go, it will give me something to amuse myself while I wait for time to pass….not that I need any help with that, quite honestly, as the summer seems to be speeding by. Autumn officially arrives in just 70 days, and Christmas in 163. We are soooo looking forward to two glorious weeks in the southern sun, humidity or not.

I decided to post this report on the Orlando Hotels & Attractions board because even though our focus will be mostly on the SeaWorld family of parks, we’ll be visiting lots of offsite locations for dining and we tend to take in a good number of little offsite gems too (sometimes even WE don’t know where we’ll end up). The vacation really will be a mish-mash of everything. A touch of Disney, a sprig of Universal, the best of the SeaWorld parks, a day (maybe two?) at the beach, and heaven knows what in between.

The initial details.....

Trip dates: Saturday, August 16th to Sunday, August 31st inclusive.

Getting there: Jetblue non-stop from Syracuse, New York (with a mid-size SUV rented with National for the entire two weeks )

Where we’re staying: the uber-gorgeous and awesome Sheraton Vistana Resort in Lake Buena Vista, our home-away-from-home

Parks to be visited: Discovery Cove, SeaWorld, Aquatica and Typhoon Lagoon, plus a selection of offsite attractions (some planned ahead, and some as we fly by the seat of our pants)

Official number of days to departure: 32!

I hope you’ll join in to help me pass the time until our travel date, then to share in our memories (including photos….ya’ll know how I love pictures!) once we’ve hauled our sorry selves home. You never know, you may even get a live report or two along the way, when one of the infamous Florida summer rainstorms drives us indoors.

Without further adieu, this report is officially underway! Intros will be up next, including the newest “member of the family”. I should hopefully get them posted later on this evening. Stay tuned!
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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 07-15-2014, 02:57 PM   #2
pigletto
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YAY!!!
You want coincidence? I read your 2013 summer trip report again THIS MORNING!
We are thinking of moving offsite for this December trip (actually going to do it this time) and I wanted to look at Vistana again. And where best to find the details? My buddy Gina's trip report.

So I will eagerly follow along. Your trip reports are the best!
So glad to hear you will have another female traveler in your group. She can keep you company while Jake shops.
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Old 07-15-2014, 03:09 PM   #3
ArwenMarie
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Fun! Love trip reports that talk about other parks!
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Old 07-15-2014, 04:10 PM   #4
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YAY!!! I love your trip reports and am looking forward to a little more estrogen to even things out a bit.
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Old 07-15-2014, 04:28 PM   #5
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Yay...I was just pming you about your home away from home. I might be staying there for the first time ever. I read through the thread with all the pictures. I think that was your August trip...Your pictures of the pool were awesome...However there didn't seem to be a lot of people in the pools? I was pretty surprised with it being August..unless that was your christmas trip photos.
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Old 07-15-2014, 05:39 PM   #6
Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pigletto View Post
YAY!!!
You want coincidence? I read your 2013 summer trip report again THIS MORNING!
We are thinking of moving offsite for this December trip (actually going to do it this time) and I wanted to look at Vistana again. And where best to find the details? My buddy Gina's trip report.

So I will eagerly follow along. Your trip reports are the best!
So glad to hear you will have another female traveler in your group. She can keep you company while Jake shops.
Aw, pigletto, I am so happy to have you following along! I miss our chats over on the Team August thread. Its just not the same without you there.

So you're pondering a Vistana stay again, huh? That's awesome!!! (and I think you would totally love it) . Would you be renting directly from an owner, going through Sheraton, or snagging the Dreams Unlimited promo?

Your comment about having some company while Jake shops just made me totally laugh right out loud. Steve has actually suggested that perhaps we could drop the two teenagers at one of the outlet malls for an hour or two while we enjoy a little couple time at an attraction of OUR choice. It sounds very appealing, I must say. Yet I'm not at all sure that's within my comfort zone (yes, I know he's an adult an all that....sigh....).

Quote:
Originally Posted by ArwenMarie View Post
Fun! Love trip reports that talk about other parks!
Thank you, ArwenMarie! Yet unfortunately, sometimes I think I scare away readers when my reports don't include much Disney talk. I am always glad to hear from others who appreciate the other Orlando attractions too . The area has so much to offer!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gr8t Fan View Post
YAY!!! I love your trip reports and am looking forward to a little more estrogen to even things out a bit.
Awesome! Thanks for joining in!

Quote:
Originally Posted by sersee05 View Post
Yay...I was just pming you about your home away from home. I might be staying there for the first time ever. I read through the thread with all the pictures. I think that was your August trip...Your pictures of the pool were awesome...However there didn't seem to be a lot of people in the pools? I was pretty surprised with it being August..unless that was your christmas trip photos.
Nope, those pics were from August. We were surprised at how quiet the resort was during our visit. It was pretty much always tranquil and peaceful....even during the busiest parts of the day, it wasn't packed. And we met some of the nicest people....folks who had been vacationing at their timeshare there for years. It just felt very friendly and welcoming and .... like home. Sounds corny but yet its true!

I think you would LOVE it there. Its a beautiful resort.
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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 07-15-2014, 05:40 PM   #7
momto1
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Yea! I read your August trip report cause we were there at about the same time. I am leaving in just 10 days and staying offsite. We are doing Disney 4 days, a Tampa Bay Rays game, going to the beach, and shopping since tax free weekend is beginning as we are ending our trip.

Our trip last August was the first for us were the estrogen testosterone playing field was leveled and I loved having another female around. She is coming back this trip too!

Can't wait to meet your female!
Lori
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Old 07-15-2014, 06:37 PM   #8
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I'll keep you company. Love your trip reports! Too few people do offsite trip reports.
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Old 07-15-2014, 08:15 PM   #9
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I love your trip reports and all your knowledge at Sheraton Vistana. Thank you Gina! It has inspired me to buy there and stay there. I came back from there this past May and just enjoyed our stay there.
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Old 07-15-2014, 08:57 PM   #10
Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina
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Quote:
Originally Posted by momto1 View Post
Yea! I read your August trip report cause we were there at about the same time. I am leaving in just 10 days and staying offsite. We are doing Disney 4 days, a Tampa Bay Rays game, going to the beach, and shopping since tax free weekend is beginning as we are ending our trip.

Our trip last August was the first for us were the estrogen testosterone playing field was leveled and I loved having another female around. She is coming back this trip too!

Can't wait to meet your female!
Lori
It really is kind of a fun prospect to have some female company . Never having a daughter of my own, this is is close as I'm ever going to come I guess . I am rather excited. She travels well and is a very good sport, and her interests mirror ours....so it should be a good time!

Where are you staying for this trip? 10 days away.....you lucky duck! It will be here before you know it!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mysteria View Post
I'll keep you company. Love your trip reports! Too few people do offsite trip reports.
Thank you Mysteria! I must admit I wiffle-waffled on whether to start an offsite PTR. I wondered if I'd be spending the next 32 days talking to myself .

Quote:
Originally Posted by got4boys View Post
I love your trip reports and all your knowledge at Sheraton Vistana. Thank you Gina! It has inspired me to buy there and stay there. I came back from there this past May and just enjoyed our stay there.
How awesome! Which section were you in? I am hoping our next trip will be in May 2015....we've never traveled to Orlando in the spring before. How did you find the weather?
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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 07-15-2014, 09:10 PM   #11
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Introductions:

I guess it’s easiest to start with me.

Probably rather obvious, but I’m Gina. At my “day job”, I’m the Office Manager for an insurance and investments firm that houses two financial advisors. I am wife to Steve (we celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary on May 1st) and mom to Jake. I love cats, chocolate, the pursuit of a good bargain, and having a clean house (fully admitting to a little OCD here). I am a brain tumour survivor (15 years and counting). And I talk to my mom every day (in fact, yesterday….I think I talked to her 7 times in a 13 hour span).



Steve is my husband. He’s a production manager at an auto parts manufacturer in our city, and quite possibly the hardest working fellow I know. He’s also a parking bylaw officer for a local condominium corporation on the side. His second job and his hard-earned overtime keep us travelling on an annual basis without putting a strain on the family budget (thankfully, he loves our vacations as much as I do!).



Steve is my complete opposite: I talk too much, and he’s rather quiet. He’s tall and I’m short. He’s very meticulous and composed while I’m an emotional schmuck. We often joke that we’re like chocolate and peanut butter….totally different yet perfect together.



Then there’s Jake. He turned 18 this past January, and is our lonely-only. He works for our local YMCA in the youth department from September to June, and as a counselor for the Y’s CampAbility program (for 6-30 year olds with exceptionalities) during the summer months. He just graduated on June 25th from secondary school, and is one awesome young man.



This trip is to celebrate his incredible grade 12 year, where he graduated with a 90% overall average and received a number of accolades including Male Athlete of the Year, Senior Boys Volleyball MVP, Senior Boys Basketball MVP, the Grade 12 Religion award (he attended a Catholic school), the NCC Corporation Award in memory of Edward J. Buckley, the Loyalist College Board of Governors Entrance Scholarship, and was named an Ontario Scholar. He will be starting college in September, right after we come home, taking Community & Justice Services with a long-term goal to work in the prison system. He’s outgoing and social and the life of every party, yet he’s focused and hardworking and admirably level-headed. And yep….he’s my pride and joy (though he would probably want to gag if he knew I wrote that ).



And finally…..there’s “Sweetie”. She would be Jake’s GF. The apple of his eye.



Yes, she has a name but for her privacy I won’t use it. My mom started calling her Sweetie because she couldn’t seem to remember her name back when she and Jake started dating last July, and the nickname has somehow managed to stick. This is Sweetie’s first time to Florida, and will be her first time flying…..so to say she is super excited about this trip is an understatement to say the least. She is as petite and girly and feminine as they come (the exact opposite of my big, macho tough guys) yet she manages to fit into our crazy little family with a surprising ease. Her ticket to Discovery Cove (with the dolphin swim) was our big Christmas gift to her. She is unbelievably excited to visit the outlet malls…I can only hope she is bringing a big suitcase! And she says she will French braid my hair on hot days…a luxury I have never had in the August humidity before.



Being left at home is my wee girl, Patches. She’s 15 and in renal failure since January (admittedly long before then, no doubt, but that’s when her symptoms sent us to the vet for a formal diagnosis). I am terrified about how she’ll fare when we’re away, as she’s down to just over 6 pounds and a rather fragile little thing. Thankfully our awesome neighbour across the street comes twice a day to love her up and tend to her kitty needs, an arrangement for which I am truly grateful. She misses us (me, in particular….let’s face it, she’s MY cat) something awful when we’re away, and is generally beyond annoyed by the time the suitcases are schlepped back into the house upon our return home. After our vacation, I anticipate at least 3 days of those short and furry little legs being stomped around the living room, flattened ears and the stink eye.



A bizarre little group, aren’t we?
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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; 07-16-2014 at 07:26 AM.
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Old 07-16-2014, 06:57 AM   #12
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Love, love, love your reports, you should have been a writer! The are amusing and informative. We are not total Disney geeks, we like to do other things as well. I just bought tickets to the Tampa Bay Lightening's last game, again Boston. We have five nights booked on St Pete's beach, nothing in Orlando as yet and no flights. I always seem to do things backwards, but it has always worked out so far.
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Old 07-16-2014, 09:14 AM   #13
sersee05
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We thought about st Pete's beach too...then we were goi g to Anna Maria... now we are just going to Disney...haha.

Love the trip reports!
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Old 07-16-2014, 09:51 AM   #14
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Looking forward to your report. Love your other reports. We own at Orange Lake but decided to try SVR next year.
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Old 07-16-2014, 10:07 AM   #15
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I'm in too! I'm staying at SVR for the first time this October, but we're doing a WDW/US/IOA trip! Part of the reason I chose SVR is from your past TR, so I'm glad to be in on a PTR and hopefully the TR as well - planning on writing one for our offsite stay too!
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