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Old 01-15-2013, 12:06 PM   #136
Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BearcatsFan View Post
I had completely lost track of this thread! I'm finally caught up again.

Wonderful pics. ICE! looks like it was well worth the cost, and just seeing the atrium/lobby would be worth a trip over there for me. Love the pic of your "cool dudes"!

I've put your airboat tour company on my list of possibilities.
Welcome back!!!

Gaylord Palms was spectacular. I have been trying to find rates for August but can't get their website to cough 'em up . I may have to call in order to satisfy my curiosity.

If you decide to do the airboat tour, have a great time!!! I think you will LOVE 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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Old 01-15-2013, 01:13 PM   #137
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We have considered ICE! several times and never made it over there. It looks spectacular! I would love to check it out next time we are in Orlando at Christmastime! Your guys are such good sports... big kids at heart!
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Old 01-15-2013, 01:55 PM   #138
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I wish we could visit Orlando at Christmas time!! Hmmm.....

ICE! looks just awesome! Love, love, love the Nativity at the end especially!

The cookie activity was very reasonably priced. And all that time with Gingy? How fun! I loved the photo of the 3 together with their arms crossed--too cute!!

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Old 01-15-2013, 02:41 PM   #139
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cheerky View Post
We have considered ICE! several times and never made it over there. It looks spectacular! I would love to check it out next time we are in Orlando at Christmastime! Your guys are such good sports... big kids at heart!
I would highly recommend it......a very nice way to spend an hour (or a half day or better, if you combine it with the other activities there). Tickets are reasonably pricey, but you can save a bit by purchasing online (or going on one of the non-peak days).

I am so very thankful for my boys' good humour. It makes travelling together a lot of fun! (quite honestly, as long as they are well fed and well rested, they will agree to accompany me on almost anything )

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I wish we could visit Orlando at Christmas time!! Hmmm.....

ICE! looks just awesome! Love, love, love the Nativity at the end especially!

The cookie activity was very reasonably priced. And all that time with Gingy? How fun! I loved the photo of the 3 together with their arms crossed--too cute!!

Christmas week was a wonderful experience, but it was very busy at times (I am glad Steve has nerves of steel.....I don't think I could have driven in some of that traffic). We deliberately picked many activities that would ensure us time away from the crowds, otherwise we knew we'd never enjoy ourselves like we did. It meant staying away from alot of the parks (I couldn't imagine braving the Disney masses.....people trying to experience the parks must have felt like this all week) but we ended up enjoying alot of other activities we wouldn't have otherwise tried. Orlando has SO much to offer outside of Disney, Seaworld and Universal.....so many treasures to explore!

Ideallly, I'd love to return some day the week or two BEFORE Christmas, and visit each of the Disney parks. Before all heck breaks loose . Some time when we don't have to worry about high school schedules or basketball tournaments.......when the kiddo is grown and Steve & I are doing an adults trip.

I love that picture of the guys, too. Good memories!
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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 01-15-2013, 05:24 PM   #140
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Gina, I love your trip reports. What I love even more is the way you speak of your family and your life together. I feel we are kindred spirits in that sense. I plan these trips for that special time away from the every day with the people I love the most. We are truly blessed aren't we? Life is good.

ETA) I hit send too soon. That picture of your guys with Gingy is PRICELESS!! And now I simply must go see Ice. My kids would have a blast!!
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Old 01-16-2013, 04:05 PM   #141
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Originally Posted by pigletto View Post
Gina, I love your trip reports. What I love even more is the way you speak of your family and your life together. I feel we are kindred spirits in that sense. I plan these trips for that special time away from the every day with the people I love the most. We are truly blessed aren't we? Life is good.

ETA) I hit send too soon. That picture of your guys with Gingy is PRICELESS!! And now I simply must go see Ice. My kids would have a blast!!
Thank you, pigletto! We *are* very blessed . No matter what happens, I never try to lose sight of what's really important.

More updates yet to come.......but again today, I have just been in a tailspin as far as productivity goes. Fingers crossed that TOMORROW I will have the next installment posted!
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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 01-16-2013, 04:26 PM   #142
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina View Post
Thank you, pigletto! We *are* very blessed . No matter what happens, I never try to lose sight of what's really important.

More updates yet to come.......but again today, I have just been in a tailspin as far as productivity goes. Fingers crossed that TOMORROW I will have the next installment posted!
I'll be waiting!
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Old 01-16-2013, 04:39 PM   #143
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I'll be waiting!
Oh, the pressure!!!!

(just kidding! ..... that's just my silly sense of humour rearing its ugly head!)
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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 01-16-2013, 06:54 PM   #144
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Well Gina, you've done it yet again. You keep coming up with all these terrific places to put on the schedule for the next vacation.

ICE! looks fantastic. I love the shot of the ice waterfall -- it's so beautiful.

The Gaylord chain was recently purchased by Marriott, so I'm thinking I just might see whether we can use some of our points there next time.
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Old 01-17-2013, 05:25 AM   #145
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Originally Posted by papertraveller View Post
Well Gina, you've done it yet again. You keep coming up with all these terrific places to put on the schedule for the next vacation.

ICE! looks fantastic. I love the shot of the ice waterfall -- it's so beautiful.

The Gaylord chain was recently purchased by Marriott, so I'm thinking I just might see whether we can use some of our points there next time.
Well, thank you papertraveller! While I'm a boring old poop in "real life", when it comes to vacations, I love throwing caution to the wind and trying something new. I figure one of these days I'm going to hit a real dud of an attraction, but so far.....so good!

I had heard that Gaylord was purchased by Marriott, and got really excited (we get some good points for staying there under their rewards program ). So I called a couple of days ago to see what their room rates were for the end of August.....and they are fully booked . For the END of August! Hokey smokes, talk about being in demand!!!

Ah well.....something to keep in mind for the next trip. After all, sometimes I need a good excuse to start planning again!
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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 01-17-2013, 09:04 AM   #146
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After wrapping up our adventures at Gaylord Palms, the boys were hungry yet again (after that breakfast extravaganza?!?!? There is no end to their appetites!). So with our vacation time coming rapidly to an end and brisk plans for the evening, we opted to have our “big” meal of the day for lunch rather than dinner and headed to our family favourite, Olive Garden (the Kissimmee location).

Oh. So. Full. And I opted for no pasta……just soup and breadsticks. I will not want to get weighed when I go home, let me tell ya.

Following our Olive Garden gluttony, we decided to take full advantage of the splendour of the afternoon and head to Congo River (again, the Kissimmee venue) for a round of golf. It was hot, it was sunny, and we were shocked at how little time we had spent on the green over the course of the week. Normally we mini golf regularly while on vacation…..but we had just been so darn busy this Christmas getaway that we had only visited the Hawaiian Rumble course thus far. Oye!





Congo River is a beautiful course (pick your location……that statement applies to ALL of them) that we had admired many times as we passed by, but never seemed to make it to on previous trips. So Jake was happy to scratch another course off the Orlando to-do list. This will be the fifth different course we had experienced over our three 2012 holidays. We still have more to conquer, so I guess it’s time to start planning another getaway!





The quality of the mini golf experience here was as good as promised. Lovely grounds, excellent condition of the course, challenging holes, and they had the most awesome calypso Christmas music playing in the background. We danced, we golfed, and we had an absolute super time.







Until the 14th hole, that is. At which point my ball got eaten by a water trap . Not to be retrieved, never to be seen again. Gina’s golf game hereby ended abruptly, and the sad part was…………..I WAS AHEAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That’s right, I was poised to beat the boys for the second time in one trip!!! (for anyone who doubts that Christmas is the season for miracles, this proves it conclusively) . The boys were smugly relieved. I was heartbroken. Alas, life goes on, I took more pictures, and the guys pretended to be so sorry that I suffered such an unfortunate fate. Yeah, okay………..





After our game, we enjoyed feeding the multitude of koi that swam abundantly in the Congo River ponds. For 25 cents, we got a whole handful of food from a gumball machine dispenser that caused a mighty active feeding frenzy. Now there’s good value entertainment!





And of course, we also visited the resident gators. Because you know I can’t resist those faces!



After golf, we had our final stop at the Nike Clearance Outlet (we had been there so many times this trip, I am sure they were considering assigning us our own parking space ) and then we were back to the Residence Inn to do a little organizing and packing. While we normally spend our last evening of vacation doing all the dirty work of getting ready to go home, that wouldn’t be the case tonight. We had special plans, and the boys were might excited. As a special Christmas gift for my basketball-loving duo, I had purchased tickets to the Orlando Magic/Toronto Raptors game at the Amway Center! 14 rows from the court, we should be able to smell the sweat .

The next update is sure to be a “slam dunk”! Go Raptors!
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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 01-17-2013, 10:28 AM   #147
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Game time was set for 7 pm, so we left shortly after 5 to ensure we had ample time to make the commute and do a little exploring. Our journey to the Amway Center would take us into a part of Orlando which we had never explored before, and we anticipated that the holiday traffic could slow our progress considerably. Not to mention, the guys were super excited about watching their beloved Raptors play live and in person. So it didn’t take any prodding from Mom to get them out the door and into the truck.

The drive to the Amway Center was SUPER EASY and really quite quick. While volumes on the road were probably quite elevated from the norm, there were no slowdowns or stoppages and we made excellent time. We had pre-purchased our parking pass for the Geico garage via Ticketmaster in advance of our trip, and again, getting to a space was EASY! The garage was well marked, traffic was flowing around the arena with no problems, there were a ton of attendants both inside and outside of the garage directing vehicles as they came and went, and it was just a very orderly and simple process. The garage was directly linked to the Center via a glassed-in walkway, so once we were parked it was up a set of stairs, down the skywalk, and voila! We had made it!!!



We had fantastic seats (center court, right on the aisle!) and a superb view. The boys were seriously impressed with Mom’s ticket-purchasing skills. I had actually got a super price by booking direct with the Orlando Magic via phone months prior, under a special offered to travelling Canadians. We got much better seats than we would have at the Rogers Centre back in Toronto, for a better price. Win-win! (and the game had not yet begun!!!)





Look at these two. They were like a pair of little kids, they were so darn excited.



We grabbed some snacks at the concession stand (so much more reasonably priced than back home……a substantially large popcorn, a hot dog, a cheese dog, and a HUGE Orlando Magic souvenir cup of soda with free unlimited refills totalled $20.) then settled in for the game. The security staff at the Center had great fun teasing us throughout the evening, and we enjoyed joking back with them at each opportunity. All decked out in our Raptors wear, we were hard to miss in the sea of Magic blue!

A little pre-game entertainment:





The game……….well, its was F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S . Our Raptors sparkled. They gave us travellers lots to applaud for, winning by a huge 35 points over the home team. There were a surprising number of Canadians in attendance at the game (more than we would have expected) so we had some company as we cheered our team to victory. Way to go, Raptors!!!!

The opening tip-off:



While many of the hometown fans departed early as the score spiralled out of control in the Rap’s favour, we stayed to the bitter end. Leaving the Center (and the subsequent drive back to the International Drive area) was just as easy as the commute earlier in the night, and we were “home” within about a half hour.



Tomorrow morning, we would leave Orlando but still not arrive home just yet. With our flight leaving mid-afternoon, we had opted to spend one final night of vacation in Niagara Falls, just a hop, skip and jump away from the Buffalo Airport. So stay tuned…..we are not quite done yet!
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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 01-17-2013, 10:44 AM   #148
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All good things come to an end, eventually. And so it was with heavy hearts that we packed our belongings in preparation for our journey home.

Don’t they look thrilled? Sigh.



Our flight was not scheduled to depart until mid-afternoon, so we had lots of time to make our check-out a leisurely process. After breakfast, we loaded the truck and took the now-familiar trek to the gas station en route to the airport. Our rental was scheduled to be returned to Budget at 11 am, and we dropped it off at 10:58. How’s THAT for timing!

We checked our bags with Jetblue, then did a little shopping at some of the airport shops. Its become a bit of a custom on our flying home days. Retail therapy is good for the soul.

A little shot of one of the Christmas trees at MCO:



Another custom that has somehow ensued is the obligatory hot dog at Nathan’s in the airport food court. I don’t know why, but we get one every time we fly home before we head to security. We couldn’t forego tradition on this trip, so we indulged.



And with the hot dog, we must have one of their funnel cakes. May God have mercy on my hips.



While we anticipated security to be a nightmare in the holiday masses, it went smoothly and we were at our gate with tons of time to spare.





In fact, the whole journey home was smooth as silk. Into the plane, we were up, up, and away. Buffalo (and all that snow) beckons. Kicking back to watch some TV while we snacked our way northward, we were reminded again (not that we needed a reminder ) why we LOVE Jetblue :



One more update to come…….our final night of vacation in Niagara Falls.
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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 01-17-2013, 12:19 PM   #149
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Yay Gina, I just noticed that you have a summer ticker
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Old 01-17-2013, 12:34 PM   #150
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Yay Gina, I just noticed that you have a summer ticker
Yes......we just booked our August getaway this morning!!!

The plan is to do both Disney waterparks (I think we will purchase waterpark AP's for each of us), to visit Cocoa Beach, and to do a whole lotta relaxing. We have never been to the Disney waterparks nor Cocoa Beach, so even after 4 trips, we are still finding new things to explore. We are staying at the Sheraton Vistana Resort (another first) and I am soooo excited to have a ticker again!
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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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