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Old 05-24-2005, 03:26 PM   #1
mainelyj
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Updated 6/2-May 18-May 22, 2005 - Mother and Son Trip

First of all - I have a hard time of finding other multiple trip reports
from the same person on these boards. So I am going to put all reports
in this thread. I hope it easy for people to read.

Pre-Trip Information: I was suppose to take this trip with my sister,
but her husband thought we would get into too much trouble, so he is
taking her next week. So, being from the New England - the weather has
been crappy for the past 2 months, I still wanted to get away to sunny
Florida for a while. My 12 y/a son said he would take a quick trip to
Florida with me.

We are a family of 4 - DS14 and DH 44, myself 39 and DS 12.
We are taking a big family trip the end of August, so I
wanted to save as much money for this little trip as I could. DS 14 was
ok with staying home, missed too much school in October because of
illness - however, we made it worth his while and he had quality time
with dad.

Purchased 2 RT tickets from Southwest out of Manchester, NH - they were
$115 each or $49 one way. This is a good deal. Manchester is only 90
minutes from our home in Maine.

We have annual premium passes to USF/IOA, so no need to purchase
tickets. Also, we have plenty of Disney passes left over from previous
trips, so no need to purchase these either.

I wanted to stay onsite at Universal, because we had little time to
spend in FL and wanted to take advantage of the front of the line
feature. Booked RPR for $139 for 1 night and $159 for 2 additional
weekend nights, this was the AP rate.

Obtaining a car rental for 4 days was hard. I decided on Alamo - they
were the cheapest for an intermediate car at $94 (all taxes and fees
included). Saved about $26 using an entertainment coupon. Most coupons
were for 5 or more days rental. We were arriving close to midnight, so
I wanted a rental place at MCO.


5/18/2005 - Day #1 This day was really short. I had to work all day.
Tried to get out of it, but I couldn't. It turned out to be a very busy
day at work, so the day went by fast.

My day started at 12:01am. Printed my boarding passes for Southwest -
of course got A seating. Then went to bed - and subsequently to work.
The car is all packed.

I did say the weather has been crappy. I have actually been 90% packed
for weeks. No need for shorts in this state. In fact I
think it has rained every weekend for the past month and 1/2 (this past
weekend was no exception).

Arrived at Manchester airport about 6pm. Turned out we could have
arrived at 7pm. Had our boarding passes and no luggage to check in, so
we went straight to our terminal. We were the first ones in line in the
A section. Plus the first ones at our terminal. Our plane out of
Manchester, NH departs around 8:30 pm - about 15 minutes late. But, we
arrive in MCO near on time at 11:10pm. Despite eating dinner on the way
- my DS 12 stated he loved the snacks and drinks on the plane. And, the
Southwest crew was fabulous and funny as ever. My DS also liked the seats, he thought they were comfy.

Went straight to the Alamo counter - next in line. Was offered "full
insurance coverage". I declined, but she said then just the "collision
coverage" ever so softly, I almost missed it. I said no
insurance.... She kept typing. Signed the paper work and off to our
car without any problems.

Drove to Fairfield Inn in at Marriott Village - no traffic. Got a rate
on AAA.com for $54 (all taxes, etc included-I thought this was a great
rate.) Check is was quick. We were in bed and asleep by midnight.

I have some comments about AAA.com and the Fairfield Inn. AAA.com uses
ATI travel company. They did not notify the Fairfield Inn of my
reservation information until 5 days before our arrival. I thought this
was odd - but they do have blocked rooms. I had prepaid for this about
2 months ago.

As far as this place - I found the rooms much too small and "sterile".
I felt like I was in a hospital - all white walls & tall ceilings- no
decoration at all. The room did have a fridge. Our air conditioner was
very noisy and I had to turn it off to sleep. We did have a free
continental breakfast (I did not expect this). The outside area looked
very nice and so did the pool area. You just do not want to spend any
time in your room.
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Old 05-24-2005, 03:58 PM   #2
mainelyj
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Day 2 - May 19, 2005 Mother/Son Trip

Characters: Me 39 and DS 12

Day 2 - May 19, 2005

We wake up much earlier than expected. I guess we were excited. Had breakfast at the Fairfield Inn. They provided a nice continental breakfast with many cold selections, variety of breads, yogurts, cereal and fruit.

Quickly checked out - we already prepaid. They took our Marriott Rewards number at check in - but we had no points credited - must be because we prepaid through a travel agent. That is ok.

DS12 loves to shop and a collector of Disney pins. We were 5 minutes away from Down Town Disney. So off we went. Got there at 9:30 am. Took our time through each shop, which was very nice. He traded his pins. He played play station at the toy store for about 20 minutes. There were no crowds this time of day. In my opinion the best time to shop. It has been a year since our last trip and we noticed some changes - which is good to keep up a good variety.

DS wanted to have lunch at the Rain Forest Cafe. We were ready about 11, but they did not open up until 11:30. They actually did not show up to the front podium until about 11:40. The line at this point was about 20 families deep and some people were upset they did not start at 11:30.... However, we were seated quickly in the Elephant Room. Had a great meal. We have the Rain Forest Club card. We split an appetizer and a main meal - plenty for the 2 of us. The appetizer was free with the card.

At this point, we were hot - remember the Maine weather is crappy and cold. Headed over the RPR. I knew the hotel was not full, so I thought maybe we could get into our room early.

Checked into the RPR. Got a free AP upgrade to pool view. However, we were on the second floor in tower 2. Could not really see the pool, because there were trees blocking our view. am glad I did not pay for this view, because I would have complained. At the time of our reservation, they made it very clear we were not eligible for any Loews First members check in gifts. However, the fella who check us in gave us several options - we chose the $10 mini bar credit. He said at check out just mention this to get our credit (remember this statement later.....) Brought our stuff up to our room - turned out the first room he gave us the keys did not work. We had to go back down and get our keys fixed. Turned out he told us to go the wrong room the first time......

Considering the last hotel we were in - this one was much better. The rooms were nicely decorated and I felt like I was home. I love their lobby and over all atmosphere of this hotel. I did not like the HRH and never visited the PBH. Usually we stay club level, but trying to save money. I do miss the free drinks and snacks, etc. I also felt the club room was like a "social" place.

Went to IOA. We decided to walk, because saw no boat at the dock. Used our room keys for express pass. Went on Hulk, Spiderman, Dudley Do Right, and Fire and Ice (Ice is better and faster) with out a wait. There were a lot of teenagers in the park. Many looked like they were with school groups. The average posted wait times were 10-30 minutes (for spiderman). Went to City Walk, but saw our boat and decided to head back to RPR.

Had enough of the crowds and heat. Decided to go swimming. It was great to see the RPR had balls for pool volleyball and basketball. My DS and I had fun. Spent about 2 hours in the pool. Had some tropical drinks (very pricey)- his without alcohol and appetizers - really good. 15% service-gratuity charge automatically added to your bill.

After a swim and shower, we felt very refreshed. Decided to head to USF. Again took the boat without waiting this time. Road Mummy twice - using express passes - I think the wait time was 30 minutes or so. Took our time walking around. DS12 decided he was hungry again. It was almost 7pm and the park was closing. Had hamburgers and fries at Mel's. Headed back to the RPR via boat. There always seemed to be a lot of people for the RPR boat. We all got on, but it was tight. Talking with the driver, he said that it is hard to get good help. There is not enough staff for 2 boats. However, the HRH and PBH had 2 boats going.

After another swim and hot tub - went to bed around 9pm because we were going to MGM in the morning and Magic Kingdom. However, I stayed up to watch the Apprentice show. Good job Kendra - I am glad she won.
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Old 05-24-2005, 10:54 PM   #3
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I'm really enjoying your trip reports so far! I think its terrific you had some one on one with your son. I would love to do that, great idea.

So you went from cold crappy weather to hot humid weather? Were about to do the same Sunday. I havent seen the sun in a while and there are no plans of it shining here before we leave on sunday! I cant wait to swim!

I really dont understand the "AP upgrade" from std to waterview at RPR. Just doesnt seem like its any big deal at all and i hear more good things about the std (park) views anyway. I guess it sounds good in theory. I love the decor of RPR also.

So...you and your sister were not allowed to go away together?
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Old 05-25-2005, 09:42 AM   #4
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Thanks for your trip report, I am going in June and trying to read all the TR's I can find. I am from the Boston area, so I feel your pain about the crappy weather. Driving into work this morning, heard it was 44 degrees.
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Old 05-25-2005, 10:00 AM   #5
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Good report!

I had a mother/son vacation at Universal with my son once and it was wonderful. We still laugh about the things that went on during our stay. It was my first encounter with the Hulk too!
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Old 05-25-2005, 06:15 PM   #6
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Great Report! I'm glad you had a good time!
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Old 05-25-2005, 08:59 PM   #7
mainelyj
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May 18-22, 2005 - Day 3 Mother/Son Trip

Thanks for the kind messages. Because the "crappy" weather - yes it is still raining and in the 40's today - I think we spent more time swimming and in the sun, than playing in the theme parks.

Day 3 - May 20, 2005

Characters: Me 39 and DS12

Today was our MGM and Magic Kingdom Day. My son has practically grown
up at Disney, so he knows what he wants to see and do. My original plan
was to do Animal Kingdom and then MK in the evening. MGM had the opening of Star WarsWeekend, so I really did not want to do this park, but DS insisted. We had 7pm reservatoins for dinner at Cindy's Royal Table.

Had breakfast at McDonald's right by Blizzard Beach. Got to there around
8am. Then we were at MGM's gates by 8:35am. The parked opened at 9am.

Let's say the line to get in was terrible and long. It was back up from the gates passed the ticket booths. They had a lot of storm troopers and other characters entertaining people at the gates. I overhead many people saying they had been in line 45 minutes to an hour. They let us in about 8:45, but coralled us at the entrance to the street that goes to TOT. We were in the the the outer most line. People were trying to cut in from the side vs waiting at the end. A small arguement ensued. Security escorted the man who was trying to cut, back to the end of the line. Many people were going into the store, however CMs said they will not open the store's doors that lead to the street towards TOT until everyone in the street had entered.


We headed right to RocknRoller Coaster - walked right on. Then walked on to TOT. Our ride was very cool - we must have dropped and rose about 5 times. We could not figure out where all the people went, because they really were not here. In between each ride, my DS did plenty of pin trading. We walked to Lights, Motor.... via the WWTBM side to pick up our fast passes for the 2pm show. Again, taking our time to pin trade and shop. There were many Star Wars characters and author signers on this side. The lines were about 15 people deep for each character. The line for Darth Vader was out the door - we heard there was a 45 minute wait for his autograph.

After we got our FPs, walked through the Star Wars attraction side to hit the 11:15 Indiana Jones show. Guess where all the people were - you got it at the Star Wars area. It was wall-to-wall people. Many in line for special merchandise - some lines appeared to be about 30 or so people deep.

The Indiana Jone show was great as usual. However, the women character got hurt - and she had to be replaced. This seemed to take a long time. They just said "sometimes technical problems occur while "shooting" a film but we will reshoot in a moment." At first we thought this was a new part of the act, but noooo.

We got lunch at the Backlot Express. My DS liked the hamburger and fries, I really enjoyed the turkey sandwhich.

We then headed back to Lights, Motor.... Our fast passes were for return btw12:20 and 12:30. We were told that they would accept late fast passes up until 10minutes before show time - I noticed this was also stated on the fast passes. Got to the gate about 12:45 - boy the fast pass line was long. As we headed in the stadium - yes the stadium - I am not sure how many people they fit in- but my guess is 2000. The seats were high and metal - and hot. They fella next to me said, everyone in the park was here and all the Star Wars people were in their section.

Remember, I am traveling with a 12.5 year old boy. He was really excited to see this show. However, he and I thought it dragged on and was not that exciting. The last bit was good, though. The first part had these little cars just going round and round, frontwards and backwards. A hint about this show - plan to walk out right after the main car makes it's jump and the fire goes off. The show was over, but it was not announced it was over. We got a great head start on the crowds leaving this stadium.

My DS was ready to just head to MK - as he did everything he wanted to at MGM. As we were walking out - again through the Star Wars crowd, I said lets go back to our hotel for a swim. He liked this idea and so did I. We were back at the RPR within 20 minutes. It was only about3:30pm. Our goal was to get back to MK by 5:30pm. MK was open until 10pm. Taking a break with the heat - it was about 85-88 degrees - was a great idea. We were refreshed after our swim and quick snack pool side. I do say the appetizers from the Bull's (I think that is the name) were great. The service was great as well. We made it to the TTC by 5ish. However, the monoril entrance to MK was being refurbished - the trains were running from the resorts and from MK back to TTC. So we took a huge ferry boat to MK. We have never taken the boats before, so I am not sure if they are usually this large.

As we walked down main street, we did some window shopping and more pin trading. Walked on to Buzz Light year, Stich and Space Mountain. They all were a ten minute wait. I do miss the Alien, however, felt Stich is more appropriate for young kids that go to the park. MY DS liked the show - as he is into Stich. I was hoping the show would be more active than it really was. We sat near the exit - and only saw stich's face twice. It is better to sit on the side by the entrance.

We headed to Fantasy Land and DS was hungry. He wanted his usual hamburger and fries. He really likes Cosmic Rays. He was not too exicted about eating at Cindy's Royal Table. We went over to check out the menu and did find out he could order a hamburger. However, he did not feel it would be the same. So, we canceled our resies, so hopefully someone walked in and got in because of us.

Went back to Cosmic Rays and had great burgers. I really love the toppings bar, plus he saved me about $50 and I had a very happy kid on my hands.

We then went to Mickey's Philharmagic and Haunted Mansion - only about a 10 minute wait. Most of the rides in Fantasy Land were about a 20-30 minute wait. When we got off HM, my DS was tired and wanted to go back to the RPR to - yes you guessed it swim..... I have been trying to see the parade and fireworks for years, but my family is too pooped out to see them. I finally gave in and we left - It was about 8:30pm. Boy, there were a lot of people lined up for the parade already. I also gave in for 2 reasons - 1. we were coming back in August and staying onsite - so I figured, if I have to, I will go at the parade and wishes alone and 2. we were taking a wishes cruise with a fellow diser tomorrow night. At this point most of the major rides had a 30-40 minute wait. I guess people were back from dinner. Also, we were leaving the park, many people were still coming into the park.

When we got back to the RPR - my DS decided he wanted to watch a movie. They had Hitch as a choice and he really likes Will Smith. I told him to start the movie, while I went to Emacks for ice cream (used 1/2 off coupon from Entertainment). They actually took $5.00 (which the coupon states this is the max. amount of the discount) off vs 1/2 price - which paid for most of the ice cream. Yes Hitch was very funny - I would recommend this movie to anyone.

All in all we had a great Disney day. The minor exception was the "fight" at the entrance gate to MGM.

Next installment will include our day at IOA and our Spiderman Breakfast, as yes our Wishes Cruise.
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Old 05-28-2005, 09:30 PM   #8
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I am enjoying your trip reports! I have two boys, 14 and 12, and love traveling with them to Orlando. It is nice to spend time with each one.
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Old 06-02-2005, 08:18 PM   #9
mainelyj
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NEW - Day 4 - May 21, 2005

Sorry it has been a while - but have been very busy. It has finally stopped raining in Maine - after 7 weeks (I think). Today was 80 degrees

Some other housekeeping - I did find out that the Lights, Motor and Action Stunt Show arena holds 5000 seats. Something to keep in mind...

-Characters: ME - 39 and DS12

Day 4 - May 21, 2005 - Saturday

This was to be our full day at IOA and USF. Today was also breakfast at Confusco's with Spider Man - we were more interested in breakfast than characters. Tonight is also our Wishes Cruise - thanks to a fellow diser who shared their boat with us.


Our breakfast reservations were for 9am. We arrived at the turnstiles to IOA at 8:55 and they had been already letting people in. We were the first people to arrive at breakfast. Had wondersul attention from all staff - including Spidy and Cat in the Hat. DS12 was even into it. Had a buffet breakfast - all the food was good. Offerings were-pancakes, waffles, scrambled eggs with various toppings - onions, cheese, etc., bisquets and gravy, potatoes (they were very good) and lots of cold stuff - pastry, cereal and fruit. Oh yeah - sausage and bacon. We were even visited by Thing 1 and Thing 2. The only comment I have is they add gratuity automatically and beverages were extra (I think about $2.75). With my AP discount and DS12 is considered an adult our bill was a wopping $40 (ouch).

We were off to do the rides at IOA. We started this time by gong to the right. If you go to the left, you hit the Hulk first. We went on - Cat in the Hat, Posiden show, Dueling Dragons - both sides, Jurasic Park. We took our time while going through each area - checked out the shops, etc. Rode Spidy. Decided it was soooo hot - headed back to RPR for a swim.

Had lunch pool side - at least DS12 did - I was still full from breakfast. We stayed in the pool for 3 hours.....

Needed to get some dinner - so we showered and headed to Down Town Disney. Had another great dinner at the Rain Forest Cafe. Headed to the Contemporary for our Wishes Cruise. Did some shopping in the Contemparary, as we were a little early for our 9:30 Cruise.

The boat dock at the Contemporary was huge and very impressive - I guess they just redid much of it and added a large pool house. However, I was unimpressed with the pools - they were large, but "plain jane".

Any way, the cruise was fabulous. Our tour guide Emily was wonderful. We were on a birthday party boat - we had drinks and cake. Happy BD to Rebekah and Claire.

This was the first time I saw wishes - they were fabulous. I wish our boat had music on it. The new boats do not have an audio system. Emily said she had try playing her own disney music for guests to enjoy, but would you believe - she had a family complain because her music and the fireworks did not match go figure......

Between the sun, IOA, DTD and wishes, it was a very long day. When we got back to RPR DS12 had a hard time waking up, so I could get him out of the car into our hotel room. Great day though.

Tomorrow our last day.
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Old 06-02-2005, 08:39 PM   #10
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Day 5 - May 22, 2005

Today was our last day. My initial plan was to do USF, IOA and swim. OUr plane was leaving at 8pm.

I was not hungry for a big breakfast so we decided to get food from the RPR. I was not sure what they had to offer. They had an ala cart type food court. Got cereal, milk and toast for $4 for DS12. Whilte he was eating, I want to get our boarding passes for Southwest and confirm our late check out.

Got the boarding passes printed from the concierge desk without problems. I then went to see if we could checkout at 5pm or I would take 3pm - remember, I was told at check in if they were not busy, then I would be allowed to do this at no charge. Well after back and forth with the gal behind the desk, she called someone, and they said I could check out at 1pm at the latest. I guess they were busy

Got DS12. He said he wanted to do rides today. I really wanted USF, but he won me over. Off to IOA - rode all the larger rides in no time between 9am-11:00am. Got to love front of the line. DS wanted to do you know what - swim. I actually thought this was a good idea. Had lunch at the pool again - I love this... We showered and got all our stuff out to the car by 1pm.

I officially checked out, but I had my $10 Loews first honor bar credit I had to cash in. When I went to check out, the girl asked me for my voucher. I said I had no voucher. I told her the fella who checked me in said all I had to do, was come see the front desk at check out and it would be taken care of. She said she did not have my loews number either and she needed this to get me a voucher. I told her my card was in my car and I did not want to walk back out and get it. She made me call Loews Customer Service - which was closed on Sunday. Now I know I gave my number to the reservation people. I asked her to connect me to reservations, which she did and they did have my number on my reservation. But for some reason RPR did not. This was way tooo much work for $10. Got my credit and learned, that next time I should request the voucher upon check in. Oh by the way, some fella was checking in early at 1pm, he was told he could not get into his room until 4pm.....

Refereshed - we heading back to USF. Only had time for terminator and some shops. DS wanted to eat at Planet Hollywood before we got on the plane. Went to DTD (go candy at the candy shop - strawberries and marshmellows covered in chocolate). These were some good... Did some pin trading and shopping. Had a great dinner at Planet Hollywood and fast service.

Got to the airport with no problem and returned our car. Here is where our last adventure started. I decided to check in 2 bags. Got to the counter at 5:30pm. We were told our 8pm flight was delayed until 10:10pm. I could not believe this - I explained to her normally this would not be a problem, but the flight is 3 hours and I have a 2 hour drive home. She just said - well, you are lucky, it was scheduled to leave at 11:10pm

Well, we hung out in the lobby area - shopped and made some calls. I decided to check the arrival and departure boards and see there is a 6:30pm flight to manchester, nh. I rushed back to the ticket area - cut in front of everyone, and asked to be put on this flight. I was told it was just leaving. I was not happy that I was not offered an earlier flight. Plus, I should have checked our depature time, could have spent more time in DTD.

Anyway, headed to our gate. Got DS dinner and southwest had brought out cases of soda and nuts and pretzels. We had our DVD player, so we watched a movie. I was talking with a lady who was traveling with 2 kids. She told me she had printed her boarding passes and had no luggage to check in. She was traveling with a friend who had to get boarding passes. Her friend told her to meet her at the departure gate. However, he friend called her and told her of the delay, and that southwest had put her on the 6:30 flight. She also told me they were at the counter about 5:30 too. Maybe they were already full, that is why I was not offered the earlier time, I guess we will never know. Southwest did offer to change our flights to the next day, no charge, if we wanted. But we are heading back to the World in August for 2 weeks, so I said no.

Either way, we had a great quick trip. Spent a lot of time in the pool vs the theme parks, but that was fine (esp since we are returning soon).

I hope you enjoyed our trip report.
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Old 06-03-2005, 10:18 AM   #11
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Excellent Review! Make me be aware if the possible "problems" that I could encounter...and be prepared to handle them with patience. I'll be there on July.

Glad you had an excellent time.
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Old 06-03-2005, 11:49 AM   #12
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Thumbs up Very nice!

I guess the delays will really be a big problem this summer.
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Old 06-03-2005, 09:29 PM   #13
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I heard that airline delays are going to be a big problem this summer. Next time, I will check my flight status before we head home - that is for sure.
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