3 Canucks Visit "The Other Side of Orlando": A Trip Report (Complete!)

Discussion in 'Canadian Trip Planning & Community Board' started by Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina, Jan 20, 2012.

  1. Shlooma

    Shlooma Earning My Ears

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    I am so loving your report. Your trip is making me so excited for our family trip which is in 3 weeks from today. We(myself, DH, DD10 and DS9) are heading out to Universal Resort for 3 days,(staying onsite for those days at HRH), Discovery cove (I am just praying that we are as lucky as you guys and get gorgeous weather- i am a bit stressed by the thought of having spent all that money and then getting hit with a a chilly day!!), Busch gardens in Tampa, 1 or 2 days at Seaworld, possibly a day at Aquatica if the weather cooperates and 2 days at Disney. Seeing your pictures has made me even more psyched- i have been counting down since August!! I cannot wait. Thank you so much for spending the time detailing your trip and posting the pictures. As i sit here staring out the window at another Canadian wintry day, i can almost feel Florida from your pictures. Keep it coming!
     
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  3. Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina

    Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina DIS Veteran

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    Thank you so much! :thumbsup2

    You must be getting so pumped about your upcoming getaway!!! 3 weeks will fly by so fast. I can totally relate about the Discovery Cove weather concerns....but it it helps at all, the pools are heated (I think they told us the lazy river is 89 degrees :love:) so you will be fine :) . Add in the warmth provided by the wetsuits and the heaters around the park and you're all set, chilly or not. And who knows, maybe you will get the fab temps that we did too! I have my fingers crossed for ya!
     
  4. disneydreamgirl

    disneydreamgirl DIS Veteran

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    Another fan of your trip report here! We are heading to Universal in May and are wondering about our first night as a stay at Royal Pacific in order to take advantage of the features a stay brings. You had a good rate with CAA - I'm going to inquire with them to see what the cost for a weeknight in May would be. Here's hoping! ;)

    Quick question for you (hopefully you know the answer!): When you stay onsite can you go to CityWalk even if you aren't using a day's ticket to the park? We are only planning on one day and would arrive late afternoon to the hotel and would likely only want to check out CityWalk for dinner and a bit of shopping.
     
  5. Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina

    Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina DIS Veteran

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    And our day at Islands of Adventure continues.........:thumbsup2 .

    So by 9:30 a.m., we had completed our must-do's at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and my boys agreed to indulge my inner child and head to Suess Landing. God love them, they are good sports!!

    This early in morning, most everything in Suess Landing was virtually a walk-on (even without the Express Passes) as the crowds were still flowing to Forbidden Journey. It almost felt like we had that section of the park just to ourselves.

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    I loved the fact that the park was STILL all decked out for the holidays. I have always wanted to see the Christmas decorations in the theme parks, and thought we'd be just a tad too late with our arrival on New Years Eve.

    First stop was the High In The Sky Trolley Train Ride for some great views of the entire area:

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    A great view of the Hulk coaster from the train ride......it wasn't running that early in the morning (again, due to "inclement weather"), however it would be fully operational by later in the day, my to my boys' delight! (more on that a little later on)

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    Of course, we had to take a turn on the Car-o-Suess-el!

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    Poor Jake......this is his "you're NOT posting this on Facebook when you go home!" expression! :lmao:

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    The whole fam spun round and round on The Cat In The Hat:

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    And who could pass by One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish?

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    We chose a blue fish. And it was fun :dance3: . Even for my too-cool teenager!

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    After leaving Suess Landing (just for a while....we'd be back there for lunch a little later on :banana:) we happened to stroll by the strong-man game. DS says "Bet you can't ring the bell, Dad!". Dad says "Bet I can ring it on the first try!". I tell Dad to settle down and keep walking. Dad whips out his $5 :rolleyes: . It's two against one, what can I say? (Okay, what I did say is SAVE YOUR FIVE DOLLARS! NO ONE EVER WINS THESE THINGS, THEY MAKE IT IMPOSSIBLE!!). He laughs at me. Sheesh.

    So the young fellow grins at him as he takes his money. Says "you get three tries" in that knowing tone ("this guy doesn't have a chance"). DH says "thanks, but I won't need them" :upsidedow . Grabs the mallet, takes a swing, and DING! :cool1:

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    Rings the dang bell the first try. What a show off.

    And he wins me my prize of choice. It seemed like a good idea at the time to get the big winged dragon with the long tail and bulgie eyes. He was kinda cute :love: . Of course, I obviously didn't think about how I was going to get the monstrosity home.

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    Let's just say packing the suitcases on our departure day required some creativity and a little patience. But our little friend eventually made the 1200 mile journey without incident and now resides in a special place in my rec room.
     
  6. Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina

    Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina DIS Veteran

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    Now.....back to the attractions......

    Chill in the air or not, the boys enjoyed a wet, wet ride on Popeye's Bilge Rat Barges:

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    Two young fellows from the UK had extremely good aim with the water cannons, and were very adept at nailing DH. :rotfl: Let's just say the poncho wasn't exactly effective!!!!

    We also took in the sights and attractions in the Lost Continent:

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    Jurassic Park was a huge hit with my dinosaur-lovin' boys. They have watched every movie 100 times (maybe more) so this one was a must do.

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    Jake's brand new hat (which was a Christmas gift just before we left home) went flying off as the boat made its huge splash and the poor child almost panicked. Lucky for him, it landed smack dab beside him right in the boat. Only one small moment of heart failure before the ol' ticker was beating again.

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    All in all, they gave this area a huge two thumbs up!

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    And we marvelled, for the millionth time, how much fun it was to have the Express Passes and be able to move from place to place, doing what we wanted to do with no schedule, no waits, and no pressure. Awesome. Just awesome.

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    Next up......lunch at Circus McGurkus Cafe Stoo-pendous, and an afternoon hob-nobbing with villains and superheroes!
     
  7. Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina

    Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina DIS Veteran

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    Thanks so much for your compliments!!! :goodvibes

    CityWalk is much like Downtown Disney. Its totally separate from the parks and you can go there without entering through either of the park gates. I think you may need a CityWalk "ticket" for some of the clubs, but you shouldn't need it for dinner or shopping (we were at NBA City for dinner one night and could just walk right in).

    Our rate via CAA was a great one. We booked it via phone directly with Loews resorts and they were great about ensuring we got the best price we qualified for. :thumbsup2
     
  8. disneydreamgirl

    disneydreamgirl DIS Veteran

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    Thanks for the info! I was hoping this was the case...good news for us. I was thinking it was a no brainer to stay overnight and after reading your report I am convinced. :thumbsup2
     
  9. bankr63

    bankr63 DIS Veteran

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    Hi Gina,

    Really lovin' this TR. Our family also tries to experience everything that Orlando offers. Love your pics; made me want to share one of ours with you. my DSIL spent an awfully long time trying to capture this photo, and I absolutely love the result:

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    Dragon Challenge is probably the most INTENSE coaster experience I have had! Sorry the boys missed Rip Ride Rockit - maybe not as intense as DC, but still an excellent ride!
     
  10. Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina

    Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina DIS Veteran

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    Oh, wow!!! What a fantastic photo!!

    I could only hope to take a photo that well timed :worship: . That pic is absolutely awesome (though it makes me want to barf :sick: !! lol, I got a little queasy on the High In The Sky Trolley Train Ride!!! :rotfl2: )

    Missing Rip Ride Rocket was definitely a disappointment. I just told the boys that we'd have to make plans for another visit to make up for it! ;)
     
  11. c&m

    c&m Love the Mouse but love my DH more for taking me t

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    Great pics - especially enjoyed the Harry Potter World pics. We're making our 1st visit to Universal's IOA in March and staying at the Portofino Bay Hotel. I'm so happy about the front of the line access. However, I'm a big chicken where rides are concerned. I don't like rollercoasters - ones that go so fast and turns you upside down. Which rides at the Harry Potter World should I skip? Thanks for any advice you can give!!!
     
  12. Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina

    Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina DIS Veteran

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    Dragon Challenge is definitely out for you.

    You should be fine on Flight of the Hippogriff....there's no loops or inversions (think Goofy's Barnstormer kind of coaster).

    As for Forbidden Journey.....that one is tough to say. I personally didn't ride it (not my cup of tea :sick:) but just asked DS to describe it a little more. He says its more of a motion simulator than a coaster, but there's a lot of movement (enough that you are strapped in with full shoulder harnesses). DH says there's no loops "but you sure get knocked around and turned upside down a lot". He also says that if you can do the Simpsons ride, you will be fine on FJ.

    Also remember that there is no Express Pass access to FJ, but you will get one hour early entry to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter with your stay at Portofino Bay :thumbsup2 .

    Sorry I can't be more help! Maybe someone else who's reading along will have ridden FJ before, and will chime in and give you a better idea of ifit might be for you (or not!).

    I must say, riding FJ or not, Hogsmeade is truly something to see. And don't forget to buy yourself a cup of butterbeer! (we tried both the frozen and non-frozen kinds, and give top marks to the non-frozen ;) ).
     
  13. papertraveller

    papertraveller DIS Veteran

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    Loving your trip report. We headed home on New Year's Day, and saw that the weather was turning downright chilly that coming week.

    Really enjoyed the inside look at Discovery Cove -- I think DD and DH would love it.

    Thanks for sharing those great photos and the wonderful time you shared with your boys!
     
  14. Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina

    Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina DIS Veteran

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    Thanks so much for following along!! :goodvibes
     
  15. Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina

    Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina DIS Veteran

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    All that theme-parking can work up quite an appetite. Our mid-day meal decision was a no-brainer. Lunch in a circus tent, complete with a trolley train running through it?

    I definitely think so!

    It was back to Suess Landing for dinner under the big top at Circus McGurkus Cafe Stoo-pendous!

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    We very much enjoyed the meal here....nothing fancy, but good portion sizes and pretty decent quality for theme park food. And just as we were finishing our meal, the characters arrived and the singing and dancing commenced:

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    I must admit, Jake enjoyed poking fun at the restaurant's name. To this day, he still calls it Circus McGurkus Bahurtus Pavurtus.

    In the afternoon, we spent most of our time in the Marvel section of the park. DH and DS are big Spiderman fans, so you can imagine how happy they were to meet up with this fellow:

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    Of course, they also took in the Spiderman ride. Despite standby wait times of 100 minutes, they were on in less than 10 with Express Pass :thumbsup2:

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    DH, in particular, found himself in heaven in this section of the park. As a big comic book/superhero fan, I am quite confident that my dear hubby would have been a happy boy if this was the ONLY part of IOA that we managed to visit on our trip. It was like he was a kid again. A big, 6' 4", 275 pound kid. But a kid nonetheless! ;)

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    We loved the fact that the characters were out and about, just having fun with the guests. They were so "in character"......it was awesome!

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    The boys were also delighted to find that the Hulk was finally operational (guess it must have warmed up enough for the ride to run :thumbsup2). Though not their favourite coaster of the week, they still gave it top marks (and declared it better than anything we have here in Canada.....right up there with Behemoth):

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    Starting to tire a bit after a long and enjoyable day, we began to head back toward the entrance. Got another chance to see Woody:

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    Then we watched the musicians for a short while....they were really quite good, and got different people from the crowd involved (shaking the tambourines, doing the dances.....fun to watch!).

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    We left IOA right around 4 p.m.......

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    .....but our day wasn't quite over yet. The sun was still shining, and we have a few more stops to make!
     
  16. Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina

    Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina DIS Veteran

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    There were a few Universal souvenirs that I had wanted to pick up, so we decided to visit the Universal Orlando store at CityWalk:

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    Unfortunately, it was not as expansive as I'd hoped (I was thinking "World of Disney" kind of selection, but alas.....t'was not the case). DH suggested we drop over to Universal Studios to hit their shops near the entrance to the park. Sounded like a great idea to me! I mean, when the husband actually suggests we do more shopping, I would have been crazy to argue!!

    At that time of the day, there was no one entering the park.....

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    So we poked aroud the stores, bought all my very important souvenirs (I'm a photo frame person......brought home 8 different ones on this trip alone!!! :scared1:), then happened upon a group that we were so disappointed to have missed during our visit to the Studios the day prior:

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    These guys were a hoot! Bart was trying to make off with my flying dragon, Marge was feeling up Jake's muscles and hanging herself around his neck......the character interaction here was AWESOME!!!

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    I was so happy that our side trip to shop had such a nice little ending, and the boys were thrilled to have met three of their favourite cartoon characters (the only disappointment was that there was no sign of Homer.....we can only assume he must have been at Moe's.....d'oh! :laughing:).

    After departing from Universal Studios, we took the water taxi back to the Royal Pacific, gathered the car, and headed to Golden Corral for dinner. Spent the night playing a little bball under the stars at the hotel, and soaking those achy leg muscles in the hot tub. The next morning, the plans were to visit SeaWorld for "round two". Another sunny day was in the forecast, and temps were actually going to be much more pleasant.

    Next up......Shamu, pirates, and M&M's!
     
  17. Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina

    Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina DIS Veteran

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    Thursday, January 5th:

    Today we were delighted to find that Mother Nature had decided to bless us yet again with those gorgeously sunny skies, and also that the temperatures were warming considerably as compared to the last two chilly days. Enough that we left the hotel in the morning, bound for SeaWorld, in shorts and sweaters.

    We arrived at the front gates to find some big changes from our last vist......no Christmas decorations!

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    It was so nice to be able to experience the park all dressed up for the holidays, and as it appears in its "normal" state (with a few exceptions......they were still in the process of removing the Christmas trees from the lagoon).

    There was a definite difference in the crowd levels as well. Not nearly as busy as it was on January 2nd:

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    The boys, of course, rode Manta first thing (they were still feelin' the love from our first visit) and the lines were short, so it was easy to fit in. Then we were off to the Pets Ahoy show. We were greeted by a fun and colourful stage:

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    My pics of the actual show didn't turn out so hot, because darn if those cats, dogs, pigs, and birds don't move FAST! :lmao: But it was a great show in that awesome SeaWorld quality, and it sure didn't let us down. I can barely get my fat cat to move over on the couch when I decide to watch TV, let alone do some of the great tricks that these little fellows were doing. We had great seats too....mid-auditorium and about 10 rows up. It definitely pays to get there early.

    Following Pets Ahoy, we meanadered over the bridge and across the lagoon. Our next priority of the day was to catch the first showing of One Ocean.

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    And voila! Shamu Stadium. The star of SeaWorld.

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    Again, we got there early so we had fabulous seats (right in the middle, and the very first row of the non-splash zone). Good thing, too, 'cause that place was jam packed by the time the show was set to begin. This is just a teeny tiny section of the crowd.....equally as many people behind us and to our right, and then some.

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    While we waited for the show, we enjoyed some snacks. Popcorn for DH, a churro for me (my first one ever!! oh, it was divine! :cloud9:) and for Jake, his beloved Dippin Dots:

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    Before we knew it, the show was about to begin!

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    What can I say about this show? It was amazing. Incredible. Beautiful. Better than I ever could have hoped. Pics don't do it justice, but hopefully they will help you get a feel for this fantastic performance:

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    I hated for it to be over. I really did. Yet, alas, all good things really do come to an end.

    Following the show, we spent a little time having some good, ol'fashioned fun at the midway. They were handing out free play cards (smart marketing ploy!) which got us started.

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    Took a few more pics:

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    ....then headed out of the park to catch a late lunch on I-Drive.

    Coming up.........some serious shopping at the Florida Mall.
     
  18. Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina

    Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina DIS Veteran

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    Once we were refuelled with a pizza buffet from Cici's and ready to roll, we piled back in the car and headed for some serious shopping therapy at the massive Florida Mall. Where are we going to stop first? Silly question:

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    Chocolate is a food group in our house. So this place was a must. The boys carried me kicking and screaming from the M&M Store. I mean, what were they thinking? Did we really need to shop anywhere else??

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    They even had M&M basketballs. How cool is that?

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    I dare you to try and find a colour they don't have. You can't do it. I promise you.

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    Eventually, despite my protests :rotfl2:, we moved on. Jake's favourite store in the mall, not surprisingly, was House of Hoops. We totally need one of these places at home.

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    Did I mention that my boy has a thing with shoes? He really is the girl I'll never have :love: .

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    Good thing we brought two empty carry ons with us.....we would need both of them (and more) to get all of our purchases home. OMG, the prices were awesome. And the sizing was incredible.....found something to fit my big DH in virtually every store we visited :thumbsup2 . Can't say that about home!

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    By the time we left the mall, darkness had set in yet we weren't quite ready for dinner (having indulged in a late lunch after SeaWorld). What to do, what to do?

    Arrrggghhh, Mateys! pirate: I think it be perfect time for ye to do a little golfing. pirate: Grab ye club, or ye be walkin' the plank! pirate:

    (that's pirate-speak for a round of mini golf coming up.....at Pirate's Cove on I-Drive!)
     
  19. Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina

    Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina DIS Veteran

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    It was a simply beautiful night. Stars in the sky, very comfy temperatures, not a wisp of a breeze kind of night. So tranquil and beautiful. A gorgeous night for spending on the green.

    Let me say we love to mini golf. And we have been to a Pirate's Cove once before (in Wisconsin Dells), and it was one of the nicest courses we've ever played. So we were excited to visit another of their locations during our time in Orlando.

    Happily, we were not disappointed!

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    Lots of laughs. No one ever said we are GOOD at mini golf, but we sure can have a good time trying. Ask Happy Gilmour:

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    Or maybe Captain Morgan?

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    And to top it all off, Jaker got a hole in one on the 16th hole, winning himself a nice little pirate treasure: a free game.

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    By the time we had finished our golf game, we were feelin' kind of peckish. We enjoyed an awesome family dinner at Chili's, just up from the hotel...

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    ......which was ended off with this amazing creation:

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    Don't worry, we shared it. Otherwise, we surely would have exploded. What a meal!!! :thumbsup2

    As in previous nights, it was back to the hotel for more bball, more swimming, and more hot-tubbing, then dropping off to dreamland in our comfy suite.

    Tomorrow would be our final "full" day of fun in Orlando. Up next......golfing, gators, and gorging ourselves (again!).
     
  20. Pinkgirl

    Pinkgirl DIS Veteran

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    Fantastic updates.

    Cripes it looked cold at times. We went once in December and it was freezing brrrrrr.

    I have to admit that I have been off looking at prices for a night at a Universal hotel after reading about the express passes - brill idea if you can get a good price, and I WILL keep looking for a good price.

    lol at your cuddly toy and getting it home - we brought home so many last trip that I nearly had to resort to removing the stuffing to get them in the bags - thankfully they dont weigh much!

    Now, I'm off to find some M&Ms - if only we could get peanut butter ones here in the UK.
     
  21. myramsy

    myramsy Mouseketeer

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    I just read your trip report and loved it...we plan on travelling to orlando this year with our now teenager (13 years old) and your trip have us ideas on fun things to do with a teen. our teen son is also a jock...big into hockey, soccer,lacrosse and paddling. Now i really need to book that trip! i am excited to keep reading more!
     

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