3rd Annual We are "NEVER" going to Disney in the summer again"

Discussion in 'Completed Trip Reports' started by natebenma, Aug 3, 2010.

  1. natebenma

    natebenma DIS Veteran

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    One of the reasons we visited this resort two years in a row is the excellent snorkeling right at the resort. Floating on the surface of the water, breathing through a tube, never knowing what will be swimming around the next sea fan or head of coral- this is a favorite activity for my husband and me. Unfortunately, the boys have not been very interested, but this year Ben did accompany me underwater, using goggles, instead of a mask and snorkel.

    Feel free to skip the camera background below and go right for the pictures later in the report if you don’t care what I used to take these photos and why.

    Since 2008, my camera style of choice has been a point and shoot that is rated for underwater use. I love being able to take it wherever I go and not having to worry about finding a locker or be concerned about theft since I don’t have to leave the camera behind with our stuff. Last February during our trip to Barcelo, in addition to Mark, Nate and Ben, my trusty Olympus Stylus 1030 SW was my constant companion.

    The last day of our trip in 2010 saw pretty rough weather. Overcast, some rain, rough surf. Well, Mark and I really didn’t get out snorkeling as much as we wanted to on this trip, so I decided to push it and go out one more time. I didn’t get very far. Conditions were horrible, waves were crashing and sand was blowing everywhere. Within 30 minutes of leaving the water, my camera died. Water must have gotten through the seal somehow. Fortunately, it was the last day of our trip, and I still had my sons’ cameras as backups for our last few hours.

    I think I got the Olympus right before an August 2008 trip to Disney. It had been through Tropical Storm Faye in Orlando. It performed admirably at Atlantis, Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon at Disney World and the beach. It had taken THOUSANDS of pictures. RIP.

    In March, I ordered a new camera. Satisfied with my Olympus, I decided to replace it with the same camera. The new model offered was the Olympus Stylus Tough 8000. I ordered it online and used it for the next few months, but I had not tested the waterproof feature yet. On the last day of school in mid-June, I hosted a pool party and finally tested the camera in the water. The first few pictures were great. Then the lens fogged over! Apparently, the camera did not like the change in temperature from the heat to the cool of the pool. After a couple of days, I called Olympus. And here is what they told me to do.

    “Put the camera in a Ziploc Bag. Get as much air out as you can, making a vacuum. Leave the camera overnight to see if the lens clears”.

    The lens did clear. So the next day I took it to an outing to a fun park with my boys- lazer tag, go carts, mini-golf. Again, when I took the camera from the airconditioning out into the heat of the day, the lens fogged up.

    At this point, I had lost confidence in my camera! It still continued to take pictures, and I even used it underwater, but some quirky things started to happen. We lost sound when recording videos. But found it when viewing snapshots on the computer! You can look at a picture and hear “Smile!” “Move to the left”. Freaky!

    I did some research and decided to try a different camera, the Canon Powershot D10. This camera was also rated for underwater use to 33 feet. It is a little bulkier than the Olympus cameras, so it doesn’t fit as conveniently in my pocket or in my hand. And the panoramic stitching in the camera is not as easy. But I have been thrilled with the photos from the Canon. I was excited to see how it would fare on our trip. I still had the Olympus, and I took that along as a backup, just in case…

    The conditions for snorkeling this year were improved, but still pretty rough. It was extremely windy, which resulted in pretty high surf for a lot of this trip. There were a couple of days that were calm and bright and Mark and I took turns going out into the water, mostly in front of the Palace, but Ben liked going near the pier.

    So without further chit-chat, here are the photos. I will try to identify the fish, but if anyone can add the names I would appreciate it!

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    Blue-striped grunt
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    Brittle Sea Star?
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    French Angelfish
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    Can you find the camouflaged fish in this photo?
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    Bottom-left corner

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    Tang?, Bluehead, Goby
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    Smooth Trunkfish
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    4-eyed Butterfly Fish
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    Fairy Basslet
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    Zebra Angels?
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    Sea Fan
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    The Barcelo has a reputation of being an excellent place to see Sea Turtles while snorkeling. I am sad to report that while I heard a lot of other people say that they saw turtles the week we were there, I didn’t see any. But it is sort of my fault because I stick mostly to the rocks and coral where the colorful, pretty fish are instead of the eel grass or sandy areas where the turtles tend to hang out. Mark saw a turtle when he was out kayaking with Ben. Mark didn’t see any turtles while snorkeling, but he saw a ray and a grouper-type fish.

    By the way- my Canon performed perfectly during this trip. The backup Olympus, however, died on the last day of our trip, just like its brother did last year.
     
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  3. mickeystoontown

    mickeystoontown DIS Veteran

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    I'm glad to hear that you are pleased with the backsack. I carry a purse but don't really like to. I'd much rather used the backsacks, especially while at Disney or when we go camping or hiking.

    Thank you so much for posting the camera info in your latest installment. I've been thinking about purchasing a new point and shoot and wanted it to be a waterproof one as well.

    The pictures of the fish are beautiful. I've tried snorkeling a couple of times but I can't seem to get the hang of it. Maybe I need to just do like Ben and just use goggles.
     
  4. natebenma

    natebenma DIS Veteran

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    I'm so glad that you are thinking about a waterproof camera. I love the ones I've owned- I'll never go back! If you have any other questions, I would be glad to answer them.

    Snorkeling I can do. Scuba is another story. The one time I tried it, I almost died. Literally! I had a panic attack and decided to return to the boat. I handed up one fin to someone on the boat. Then my other fin. Then I accidentally let go of the ladder. And with my weight belt on, I sank! A guy on the boat had to jump in and rescue me! Is there an embarassed smilie???
     
  5. DalmationGal29

    DalmationGal29 Mouseketeer

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    Dee -

    Thank you so much for posting so many details of all your trips in 1 TR.

    I am new to the DISboards but not to Disney. Our last trip was off-site in 2007 when my DD was only 4 months old.

    We are currently planning our trip back this July 16 - 30 - 2 weeks off site. By we I mean 6 adults and 5 kids.

    I have learned so much from your great planned days and amazing pictures!

    I just hope we can accomplish close to what you guys did. You are truly an inspiration in planning and executing!

    Thanks again for all the tips and the great report!

    Kim
     
  6. pixarmom

    pixarmom DIS Veteran

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    Hi Dee!

    Just checking in on your trip report and enjoying all the photos and stories of adventure! As for the summer trip, hope you'll post a Harry Potter trip report or e-mail or PM some details! We'll be following along in a few years when our youngest meets those height requirements! Tough decision regarding the stay - I did some Harry Potter research a while ago and see why you're staying on-site there. Any chance you'll add a BC night at the end or beginning of your stay? Our boys initially said they couldn't stay at Disney without going to the parks, but when the choice is between Disney resort/no parks and heading straight home, the choice was easy. :)
     
  7. natebenma

    natebenma DIS Veteran

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    Hi Kim! Glad you stopped in! I appreciate your really kind words about my report. Sounds like you will have a nice long trip- are you traveling with extended family?

    We found Disney to be very manageable in July, and in fact, we will be in Orlando right before you get there this year. Do you have some of your plans set yet- park days or dining? Planning is a lot of the fun of the trip for me.

    Hope you have a great one!

    Dee
     
  8. natebenma

    natebenma DIS Veteran

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    If we had any more adventure in Mexico, I think I would have had heart trouble! I have not been that jittery in, well, forever!

    Sorry you didn't have a chance to play- when would you have guessed Universal?

    I don't think I will do a PTR, but I plan on posting a trip report after our visit with Harry. It is a very strange feeling being a newbie- I really know very little about Universal. And my husband keeps telling me I have to convince him and the kids that they will have a good time.

    We are not planning on Disney at all during this trip- we figure with 3 full days and 2 half days that we can find plenty to do at US/IOA/Sea World. I told Teena that we would take her and Bob out to the Cape May Cafe one night if they are around, but I'm pretty sure she will be in Vegas with the new baby around the time of our trip.

    When I told her we were visiting Harry, she was surprised to hear we would be staying offsite the whole time. I don't think she realizes we are not doing Disney at all, with all she is going through I didn't want to break it to her this week!
     
  9. HockeyMomR

    HockeyMomR DIS Veteran

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    Hi Dee,
    Your Mexico trip looks like great fun and the zip lining at xplor looks really fun (and safe). Had to laugh at the certificate with the incorrect grammar!

    So, enjoy Sea World and Universal. Sea World is fun, we went several years ago. We have not been to Universal, but can understand the draw of HP. Also, DH has stayed at Portifino Bay a couple of times on business and says it is really a beautiful resort. I think your 4 nights is about right, Disney I can spend at least a week, but Universal you should be able to totally complete in that
    amount of time.

    As for the cheating on Disney.....totally understand.

    Rebecca
     
  10. natebenma

    natebenma DIS Veteran

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    The inspection sign cracked me up. I have a friend who is my grammar-buddy: we notify each other when we spot egregious (look at that 50 cent word) grammatical errors. I win!

    A quick trip sounds good for us this summer. The boys spent one day at Sea World in 2004. I doubt that Ben even remembers it much, he was 3. But we all, especially Ben, love ocean creatures, and Nate will probably enjoy some of the thrill rides, too. Universal will be a nice change, too. Everything will be new to us.
     
  11. Dallas_Lady

    Dallas_Lady I only work for the vacation money

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    Just read your entire summer 2010 report. It really enjoyed it! It is nice to see that you can go in the summer and still do a lot and have a good time (I'm a teacher now and have to travel in the summers).
     
  12. natebenma

    natebenma DIS Veteran

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    I love the pictures in your signature! It is fun to see the additions to your family in subsequent trips!

    Thank you for reading my report and commenting! You really can have a great time in the summer- start early and have a positive attitude! There are a lot of places to take breaks and cool off if necessary.
     
  13. counselormom

    counselormom Mouseketeer

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    Oh Wow! I've missed alot in the past few days!

    First of all I am so impressed by your Mexico trip and all your adventures. What an exciting trip, your boys will remember it forever! "Log Jam Gram"
    cracked me up, isn't there always somebody like that!!??

    So a Universal/Seaworld trip, huh?? I had to laugh when I read your comment about the Universal board needing a bit of "housekeeping". You are so right, I have been over there a few times to get some info. on the Universal hotels. I just kept thinking where is all the detailed information, where are the pictures and the maps and the schedules!! I was spoiled by your Beach & Yacht Club work! I'll be looking forward to your review of Universal and Portofino. It sounds like your family would love the rides and Harry Potter. Enjoy your planning!
     
  14. Queila

    Queila DIS Veteran

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    All caught up!
    What an exciting trip.... full of interesting places to see and fun activities to do. When I go to a resort I am more te type to park myself in front of the beach with a book and a drink all day long. :lmao: But I know things wouldn't be the same now that we have a child with us. That adventure park sounds amazing!!! I wouldn't mind get up from my beach chair for something like that. ;) Never even knew they had a place like that over there. Your kids must have had a blast!

    And the snorkeling pictures came out great. Good job! :thumbsup2

    Q
     
  15. natebenma

    natebenma DIS Veteran

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    My husband was reading my TR over the weekend and he asked me how I got a picture of Log Jam Gram. There are sensors in the helmets you wear, and the camera goes off. You order the pictures (in my case a CD) by your helmet numbers, and she must have been in one of Ben's pictures. I have some other random pictures of other families, too.

    Universal is going to be a whole new world for us! We were looking at rides on Youtube over the weekend. We were comparing all the rides to familiar Disney attractions: "That one is like Kali". "Look, it's Splash Mountain with a Dudley Do-Right theme". So it's gonna be like that!

    Xplor was a lot of fun, probably the favorite thing we did. The park is fairly new. It opened in 2009, I think.

    Thanks for the thumbs up on the snorkeling photos. Love the digital camera. I have many trips were we used the disposable underwater film cameras, and you are limited in the number and quality of the photos you can take.
     
  16. natebenma

    natebenma DIS Veteran

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    Breakfast-

    Here’s a picture of the morning juice selections, kid’s breakfast area and fruit cups:

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    The fresh fried churros were outstanding!

    I guess I didn’t get a picture of just the churros, but here is the woman who fried them off.

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    We also enjoyed the omelet station.

    The Mexican hot chocolate is also outstanding! You can taste the cinnamon.

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    Lunch- We ate at Captain Morgan’s on our first afternoon, then either Las Palmas or La Mariachi, whichever place we were closest to. The description of “beach grills” does not do them justice. They are more like poolside buffets, with grilled burgers and steak, a selection of quesadillas, several different offerings of salad, delicious entrees

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    Dinner- Here’s some pictures from the dinner buffets:

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    Made to order crepe:

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    There are several a la carte restaurants at the resort. We were allowed to make reservations for 4 of our 7 nights at either the Spanish, Mexican, Japanese, Steakhouse, Italian or Seafood restaurants. You can't make reservations beforehand, so as soon as we were checked in I went to the reservation desk. Our first choice was Kyoto- we were only able to get a reservation at 5:30 on our very last night. Unfortunately, our second choice, the steak house, was full every night except for our last. The only other availability at any of the other places was after 9 PM, way too late for our family.

    We did end up going to the steakhouse one evening as soon as they opened to see if they would take us- although all of the diners with early reservations did show up, they agreed to seat us. The meal was good, but I didn't want to draw any more attention, or embarass my family, so I didn't take any pictures at this meal.

    I’ll do a post soon on our final dinner at Kyoto, a Japanese hibachi place (like Teppan Edo) and a photo drink review revue!
     
  17. DawnMaree

    DawnMaree Mouseketeer

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    I'm here .. but there is SOOOOOO much to read!! :laughing: I guess I'll trudge along slowly and have late comments, I'm sure... :thumbsup2
     
  18. natebenma

    natebenma DIS Veteran

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    Hi DawnMaree! :welcome:

    I'm glad you're here! Take your time- I'm here all week! And the next!

    Dee
     
  19. Queila

    Queila DIS Veteran

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    The Brazilian steak house is awesome, isn't it? I have been craving it for a while now and Joey agreed to bring me to one here in Montreal tonight. ;)

    All that hotel food look delicious!! Those desserts and the sea food...Hmmmm. I love eating sea food in places like that! They look and taste so fresh...

    Oh well...can you tell I am hungry? Gonna go have some lunch now before I start drooling all over the computer. :lmao:

    Have a great weekend!
    Q
     
  20. DawnMaree

    DawnMaree Mouseketeer

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    Oh gross!! :sad1: First time we did it was back in 2003 and I believe it was all "orange". Last time we went "green" as the boys were young. But I really really want to do the "orange" this year. Wish us luck...
     
  21. natebenma

    natebenma DIS Veteran

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    I can't remember if I have this in the post or in subsequent comments- Ben did successfully utilize the barf bags that are in ride. If I don't have that in the actual post, I will go and edit it in.
     

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