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"Let's Look it Up, Mom": An Aspiring Scientist Visits the Fishies-a Sea World PTR

Discussion in 'Sea World / Discovery Cove' started by luvmy2babies, Oct 8, 2011.

  1. luvmy2babies

    luvmy2babies DIS Veteran

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    I haven't noticed many Sea World trip reports on this forum, so I thought I'd add one. I probably missed it but I'm figuring most people don't make a whole trip of Sea World. There are 3 of us, me (mom), dd (age 8), and ds (nearly 2). We travel as a family whenever a school break and our budget make it possible. I like to take day trips or incorporate learning experiences on vacations because my daughter responds really well to it, in some ways better than she responds in the classroom, but we are working on that. I also have the distinction of being the mom with the most field trip miles in her class. I've only missed one field trip since Kindergarten, so we’ve spent a lot of time together at educational places.

    DD always has questions about science and animals and if I don't know, her response is now, "Let’s Look it Up, Mom," which along with the fact that my son calls fish (and whales and dolphins); “fishies” inspired the title of this trip report. And since people are sometimes interested in how I plan trips and travel alone with my children so I thought I'd include some details on that along with some planning details. It won’t be a really long trip report because we leave in less than 3 weeks, but I thought I’d take a stab at it. Starting in the next post, we'll go with the usual: Who, Why, Where, When, and How.
     
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  3. luvmy2babies

    luvmy2babies DIS Veteran

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    Who:

    First, there's dd: She'll be referred to as the "Aspiring Scientist". She has her challenges at school, but she loves science. I think it is partly because she is more of a "hands on" learner and science is a great subject for that. She may mentally check out on a Language Arts lecture, but she'll stand at a Hermit Crab tank talking to their caretaker for 30 minutes. She asked question after question at the conservation area at Animal Kingdom. These people were amazed at her attention span. I often hear from a zoo or aquarium employee the phrase: "No child her age ever talks to us for that long."

    So, I find myself trying to make the most of my opportunities to feed this interest. Zoos, aquariums, science centers, museums…if we can get there, we get there. Now that she's 8, we go ready to “document her findings”. She now has her own camera, a set of binoculars I picked up in a science center in Virginia and now I go with a journal, so as she asks questions and reads the display, I can take notes. Or, I take pictures of the display if the writing is big enough. So that leads me to the next person.

    Me. For this trip, I'm "Research Assistant #1" or RA1, which means I'm the planner, note taker (a title dd gave me because I can write faster), and bank. I'm a mother of two amazing children, settling into single parenting after being widowed just over a year and a half ago. If I had to describe my husband I'd say he was brave…heart disease, lung disease, diabetes but yet he worked full time up until 3 days prior to his passing and lived 3 years longer than the doctors thought he would. I know he wanted to stay with us, especially after we were unexpectedly blessed with a son in January 2010, but he was so ill, it was just too much. I can't say I was expecting it when it happened, but I had almost lost him so many times, I had no idea when it would happen. I knew he was tired, but convinced myself having a new son would help him live longer. We miss him, but we're going forward. He did get to meet our son. He was with me at the birth, but passed away peacefully at home 2 months later.

    That brings me to the final piece to this trip: DS. He will be referred to as "Research Assistant #2" or RA2. He's the pace setter. He will be 22 months old on the trip. With a toddler in tow, my crew goes no where fast, but that also means we don't go anywhere too fast. We see things differently when we slow down and it makes these adventures even more fun. He is very curious and like most toddlers very active, but he's also very visual. He loves to experience new things and so far he'll try most anything. He loves looking at the animals. He stood at the lobster tank at Red Lobster for our entire 15 minute wait last week and cried when we got a table and had to leave. He's also a bit of a recorder. If an animal makes a sound he will do a pretty good imitation. I think this comes from watching Diego (Go Diego Go) every day. He loves Diego with a passion. He calls him "Go Go".

    Here's a picture of the 3 of us on a trip to Great Wolf Lodge this past summer.

    [​IMG]
     
  4. luvmy2babies

    luvmy2babies DIS Veteran

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    Why

    The why, I've pretty much covered. Dd loves science and animals. If it's a zoo or an aquarium, she's in heaven. When we went to Disney World were it not for that castle, her favorite park would actually have been Animal Kingdom and her favorite part of Epcot was Living Seas. She has been to Sea World once, but was way too young to remember it. We went on vacation to San Diego when she was about 18 months old and spent a day at Sea World there. We also did the San Diego Zoo. She was a riot on the trip. She was beginning to talk then and the whole day kept pointing and exclaiming "I SEE IT!" Before this trip, she'd seen pictures of Sea World online and begged to go there.

    So, why make a trip to Orlando just to visit Sea World? I don't want to constantly be on the go on vacation. There is a possibility we will do Aquatica too if it is warm enough, but the addition of the Spooktacular event at Sea World they were having was another factor. I wanted to allow plenty of time for the children to enjoy everything and have time to rest. I'm planning a big trip to WDW for next June and initially considered spending a day at Sea World during that trip, but after a trip to our state's zoo where we toured for nearly 8 hours only stopping for lunch and 20 minutes on the playground and just barely saw it all, I decided against it. I pictured trying to tour Sea World in one day in June in Florida and planned this trip for dd's fall break. It was 10 degrees cooler than Orlando is likely to be and the children barely made it back to the van. That leads to the next thing.

    When

    Dd's fall break happens each year when the teachers at her school attend a 2-day conference. It's been on different dates each school year so far. With the exception of last year, it is generally on a Thursday and Friday giving the children a 4-day weekend. Last year it was the Monday and Tuesday before Thanksgiving and the children got the whole week off. We spent it at WDW. This year it was scheduled for Thursday, October 27th and Friday, October 28th. I figured the weather would be great for it and booked our flights and hotel at the end of September as soon as the budget allowed.

    Where

    Of course the "where" is Sea World, but this part is about where we are staying. I definitely wanted a Sea World hotel for several reasons. There’s a few perks to staying in one and I didn’t want to rent a car. I chose the Springhill Suites Orlando at Sea World. I chose it for the size of the rooms, bedding, room amenities (fridge mainly), free/included breakfast, and it being within walking distance to the park. That way we can use the bus or not use it. There is a link below, but there will be more on the hotel in the Trip Report portion.

    Fow now, here is the link.

    http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/mcoss-springhill-suites-orlando-at-seaworld/
     
  5. davids68girl

    davids68girl Mouseketeer

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    Love your TR so far. :) I'll be at SW the week before you so I will look forward to seeing how you enjoy it after I get back. I bet your kids will love it as they sound like the perfect kiddos for that environment. I'll be interested in seeing how the Halloween stuff turns out b/c we will miss it.
     
  6. bas71873

    bas71873 DIS Veteran

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    I'm in to follow. Your DD sounds like my DD, also 8, when it comes to mentally checking out at school if she's un-interested. It's a struggle for this anal-retentive mom :lmao:. We like more relaxed vacations too and are doing a week in Orlando next summer, no WDW at all, but we are doing Discovery Cove and I'm adding the SW and Aquatica package to those tickets. We are booked at the HGVC for 6 nights and our last 2 nights will be at the Nick Hotel (DD has been bugging me to stay there).

    Can't wait to hear about your trip and hope you guys have lots fun!
     
  7. luvmy2babies

    luvmy2babies DIS Veteran

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    party:

    :welcome:

    I'm glad to have readers. I'm really ready to get away for a few days.

    davids68girl, I hope you have a blast on your trip.
     
  8. luvmy2babies

    luvmy2babies DIS Veteran

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    How

    I booked a Sea World Hotel/Tickets/Food combination package. The package came with a one day ticket to Sea World for each dd and me (under 3 is free admission). I was going to purchase another one day ticket, the one with the 2nd day free, giving us a total of 3 days admission. But then I noticed if I just upgraded to a Sea World/Aquatica combo ticket it was unlimited admission to both parks. So instead of an additional $130, I upgraded for an additional $60. Then if it was warm enough for Aquatica we’d be able to go. The package also came with 1 free "All Day Dine" each for dd and me. There’d be an additional one if we went to Aquatica. I purchased one additional for $29.99 for me $14.99 for dd. That would give us plenty of time so see the exhibits, ride the rides, see the shows and do the Spooktacular event without having to stay out late. Remember my crew goes nowhere fast.

    As to getting to Orlando, so far we always fly on Southwest Airlines. I love Southwest for their daily direct flights to Orlando and the free luggage. So far my research has shown me that I’d pay more doing another airline once I paid for baggage. Add in the luxury of not having to change planes and Southwest has us at least for Orlando trips. We live about 9 hours away, but my crew isn't much on long drives. I also do not drive my personal vehicle over 6 hours from home (rule I adopted after my car died on me on a road trip during my college days). So between car rental and having to stop at a hotel overnight each way, missing more days from work to allow for the drive and with it being just me, flying works better for us right now.

    The unknown for this trip is our flight time as in; I’ve never flown at this time of day before. We’ve always had morning flights out of our home airport, but we’re flying at dinner time so that will be something new. I originally wanted a 9am flight on the 27th, but before I could buy the tickets, the price went from $99 to $126 for the outbound flight. I started to look at other options. The 1:30pm flight on the 27th was still $99. But the 5:05pm flight on October 26th was also still $99. I did not want the 1:30pm flight as it did not land until 3:15 and that would mean we would actually lose Thursday completely because Sea World closes at 6pm that day. So, I compared the price of paying the $126 for the 9am flight to the price of adding an additional hotel night to our Sea World package and getting the $99 flight on the 26th. It was going to be about the same, but by adding a night, we could be at Sea World close to or at opening on the 27th. I’ve occasionally wondered in different situations if flying at dinner time would make a difference. I’m about to find out. I just hope dd can calm down.

    I have not mentioned it yet, but this trip was a surprise for dd. This was the 2nd time I did a surprise trip. The trip to WDW was also a surprise. Had I kept the 9am flight I was going to tell her after school on the 26th. To save her teacher’s sanity I’m going to wait until I pick her up to tell her. The plans is to get off work at 1:00, drive home, change clothes, and get the suitcase and carry-on bags and then pick up the children around 2:15. The daycare and school are on the same property, so it's two stops, but in buildings less than the length of a football field away from each other. 2:15 is a little before the end of dd's day, but instruction is pretty much over. I just planned to let her change at least her shirt in the school restroom. She wears uniforms to school. I would spring the news in the van, then drive the 20 minutes to the airport. Not sure how I’m going to tell her yet, but it will be something simple since we’ll be in the van.

    So that's it for who, why, when, where and how. Next, some fun details.
     
  9. luvmy2babies

    luvmy2babies DIS Veteran

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    Some fun details

    Something I added and loved doing for our WDW trip was matching vacation t-shirts. They are fun for me to make and make a nice souvenir as well. You can get some really cute designs on the Creative DISign forum on disboards. Amy_Mickey made our designs for the Sea World vacation. I planned to make us each 3 t-shirts and one hooded sweatshirt in case it got cold. I ordered all the blank shirts from www.jiffyshirts.com. I have an easy time with the site. They have lots of colors and sizes available. I ordered XL for myself, youth large for dd (equates to a size 10/12) and 2T for ds. Shipping is also free if you spend $65. And they come quickly. I placed my order on Saturday, September 24th and the shirts were on my porch on Tuesday, September 27th.

    I love doing this. The only trick is finding the time to do it while planning a surprise trip. Last time part of the reason I ended up telling dd about the trip the day before instead of the morning of departure was because I couldn’t find a block of time to do them without her knowing. The shirts don’t take long at all to make, but I had printer issues every time she was out of the house. Printer issues solved in advance this time. I printed out all of the designs one night after she was asleep and planned on starting a day or two less than 3 weeks out, and ironing one or two shirts a night until they were all done. But I came home early from work feeling crappy. I felt better after eating so I decided to do a few of the shirts. I decided to forego the hoodie for now, but ended up getting all 9 t-shirts done.

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    I also made a journal/activity book for the Aspiring Scientist. I used one of the DISigns as the cover and printed several copies of a journal page from the DISign board. I added coloring pages from various websites I found online by googling the following: “fish coloring pages”, “Sea World coloring pages”, “Penguin coloring pages”, “Dolphin coloring pages”, and “Flamingo color pages”. Some of the pictures only took up half the page so I added lines underneath for dd to write down one or two things she learns about the animal.

    Front cover with a journal page

    [​IMG]

    coloring pages

    [​IMG]

    So ds didn't feel left out (i.e. try to grab dd's activity book), I got him a few Go Diego Go story books featuring Diego rescuing an animal we'd see at Sea World along with a TY Beanie Baby Diego. As mentioned in his intro, he is a huge Diego fan. I got good deals on them on Amazon. I have a secret hope that dd will read the books to ds, but that will be icing on top if she does. This order arrived on October 4, just as the confirmation email said it would. Even though the Beanie Baby was supposed to arrive a week after the books came (around October 12th), it was on the porch with the books when I got home, just in a different box.

    I didn't take pictures of the books, but here's the beanie baby.

    [​IMG]

    Ebay also comes in handy for trips like this. The Aspiring Scientist has certain things she needs for her adventures. She carries a small note pad (so her activity book can stay in the hotel room), her binoculars, sunglasses and her camera. A seller on Ebay has a collection of handmade autograph books that come with a matching pen and shoulder bag. She also personalizes them. She makes them mainly for people going to Disney World who collect autographs (and I planned on getting dd and ds each one for our trip next summer), but there were some that were just in pretty colors, so I ordered dd a purple one with peace signs she'd already said she liked. The bag set arrived in the mail on October 3rd. It is really cute and I put her camera, binoculars, sunglasses and the journal in with room to spare. There is a pocket on the outside for the pen, but I plan to carry it myself.

    Here is an image of the bag with items outside.

    [​IMG]

    The next 3 posts will be some things in my plan that I have found make it possible for me to travel alone with two small children. It will include stuff about helpful equipment and how I go about getting through the airport and on and off of an airplane as a single parent with two children (one in a car seat). Advance warning so anyone not interested can skip it.
     
  10. KBF

    KBF DIS Veteran

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    Awesome Report so far! Looking forward to more!
     
  11. luvmy2babies

    luvmy2babies DIS Veteran

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    :welcome:

    Thanks for reading. I plan to add more tonight.
     
  12. 2Pirates2Princesses

    2Pirates2Princesses DIS Veteran

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    Your PTR is awesome and you are an awesome mom :thumbsup2 Your children are truly blessed. Your PTR caught my attention because we are considering a Sea World only trip to Orlando as well; but the Disney lover in me is having a hard time with the thought of flying all the way to Orlando and not going to Disney. I know, it's silly ;). We were considering doing a September SW/MNSSHP trip so that way we can get our Disney fix, but I would love to go to SW in October for the Halloween Spooktacular event. So we are still on the fence about what to do. I also don't want to "squeeze" Sea World in during a full WDW trip because I know that if we did we would rush through SW when it should be a relaxing park experience, especially since you get the 2nd day free. So, a SW only trip is looking pretty nice and your PTR is giving me some incentive :)
     
  13. luvmy2babies

    luvmy2babies DIS Veteran

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    :welcome:

    Thank you for your kind words. The first time we flew to Orlando was for a cruise on Royal Caribbean that left out of Port Canaveral. Walking through MCO with a 4 year-old who had not gone to Disney was not the easiest thing I've ever done for sure. We do have our big trip next June to look forward to though.

    I'm really looking forward to this. We rush around so much, I need time when I can just be mom.
     
  14. luvmy2babies

    luvmy2babies DIS Veteran

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    Side Note: I always make sure to check the website of any airport I will encounter on a trip. Reading up on my home airport, I found out that along with all of the construction they have been doing, they have renamed the terminals. There were 3, named A, B and C the last time we flew. Now, there are 2 and they are simply named, 1 and 2. Not something I would have wanted to find out driving in to catch our flight. It's too easy to miss a turn if you miss a sign.

    Now, back to your regularly scheduled pre-trip report:

    My Travel Day Plan

    I guess the first thing I have to do is admit that I'm not exactly without help.

    Traveling with my children makes me glad for the differences in their ages. I originally planned for them to be 4 years apart but dh's health didn't allow us to have a 2nd child when that time came. I'd given up having another child actually. I consider ds a parting gift from dh. Dd is a wonderful big sister and at an age where she can carry her own carry-on bag and can help me. For travel day, her job will be to do one of her favorite things: to push ds in his stroller. I will be pulling the suitcase, wearing a backpack and carrying ds’ car seat. Her doing this is what allows me to bring ds in a stroller and lug his car seat through the airport. When we went to Disney World we had a 20in upright in addition to the large suitcase. She pulled the 20in bag, but there was no way I could carry the car seat, push a stroller and wear my backpack. I wore ds in a carrier, pulled the large suitcase in one hand and his car seat in the other. I rented a stroller from a company that delivered to our resort. I didn't want to rent a stroller this time. I’m also taking a different car seat which even though it is heavier than the other one, is much less awkward to carry.

    The equipment

    Stroller: I rented a Baby Jogger City Mini during our Disney World trip. I fell in love. I am known to post on here that it was just as hard to leave that stroller as it was to leave Disney World. I thought for sure I’d be purchasing one for our future adventures. However, I want to add cruising to the things I do with the children beginning in 2013. That combined with the fact I already have a Jeep Jogger, I decided it was best to go small, but not $20 umbrella stroller small. I wanted something easy to fold, but also easy to push and something I could steer with one hand. I needed something with a nice shade, the ability to recline and something I could carry with one hand. It's essential the stroller not require an act of congress to fold and that it not be too heavy to get up on the conveyer belt at security quickly. If you have a runner for a toddler like I do, you know the importance of a quick folding stroller. I know how much time I have between my son's feet hitting the floor, him realizing he's not strapped down, the appearance of his "I'm about to take off grin" and getting involved in a chase. I've never met anyone faster on two tiny legs.

    I considered the upper level ones like the MacLaren Triumph, but since it will only be used for travel I settled on the Jet by Safety 1st/First Years. It doesn't have a shoulder strap, but when ds sits in it, he doesn't look like he's about to grow out of it. For some reason every time I sat him one of the more expensive ones, his head was almost at the shade and his feet almost on the foot rest. The Jet has enough recline that if my son falls asleep I won't have to push the thing on the 2 back wheels to keep his head from falling over. It's only 11lbs and easy to fold and it has a little cloth piece on the back that will hold my things. The only con I see so far is that the shade bends a bit awkwardly when I fold the stroller. I've packed it in the suitcase and will just use it in the park. Here it is open and folded sans shade.

    [​IMG][​IMG]


    Car seat

    To keep my hands free during the flight, and preserve sanity, I purchase my son his own seat. I held my daughter on a flight when she was 18 months old and was able to watch an in flight movie while she was awake, but they are two entirely different personalities. In a few months (like for our next trip to Disney World) I'll have to, but for his two "under 2" flights, I purchased his seat and strapped him into a car seat on the plane. For this trip, I chose the Sunshine Kids Radian 65SL with a carrying bag. I needed something for my mom’s car anyway. It's a low profile seat and from the pictures I’ve seen, he should be almost flat to the airplane seat and his swinging feet will not make contact with the seat in front of him. It also folds and has a bar underneath where you hand goes to carry it. I chose to get the bag though because my fingers hurt after a few minutes and I could drape it over the suitcase for the walk from the van, and then put it on my shoulder from there, but the bag would fold up small enough to go under the seat in front of my son’s airplane seat.

    At 23lbs, it's not a lightweight seat like say the Cosco Senera (which I used for our WDW trip), but it was impossible to carry the Senera on my back or shoulder with my backpack. I ended up dragging it around and there were several holes in the bag when we got home. When I put the Radian in its bag and carried it, it was much less awkward. On his first flight, the car seat bag was too big for the x-ray machine at our home airport and required manual search, which held us up a bit. It fit through the machine fine in Orlando, but then, the people gave me some trouble about gate checking the bag after I took the seat out of it. I knew it was too big to fold down and store on the plane, so I gate checked it so I could carry it to the end of the walkway and have it when I got off the plane. Worked fine on our departure flight and I did not switch airlines, but coming back from Orlando they told me once I took the seat out it was just another bag and I could drop it at the end of the walkway, but I’d have to pick it up at baggage claim when I got home. I wasn’t happy at this point, mainly with the inconsistency. In the end I don’t know if they changed their minds or just didn’t communicate with whoever moved the bag, because it was there when I got off the plane. Not dealing with it this time. I ordered each item from where I could get the best deal. I ordered the car seat from Amazon (it was sold by Babies1st.com) for $172 with free standard shipping and the bag from Wal-Mart for $17 with standard shipping for $2.97. I have pictures of the car seat open, folded and inside the bag.

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
     
  15. luvmy2babies

    luvmy2babies DIS Veteran

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    Getting to and around the airport.

    Our airport is a decent size I think, but certainly not the biggest I’ve ever seen. It is an international airport with every major airline and some non-major ones, but it would easily fit inside MCO. As for parking, even though there are cheaper options, we have always chosen terminal parking. It’s just been easier for me to know my van is within walking distance. One ride on a rental car shuttle on a trip to Cleveland alone with my daughter, her stroller and our luggage, let me know it is worth it to park at the terminal. The deck is nice and easy to navigate. I try to park near the elevator or walkway into the building. I send myself an email on my phone with the van’s location (level number and row letter) so I can find the information when we get home.

    At our airport we have the option of carrying the parking ticket and paying inside the terminal instead of at the drive-thru booth at the exit. The motto is “Keep Your Parking Ticket with You and Take the Easy Way Out.” Whenever I go to the airport, I hear that in my head for a week. I think this is great if you’re only there to pick someone up or drop them off, but it didn’t go to well on our last trip. When he traveled with us, my husband always said, “No, leave it in the car so we won’t lose it.” For our trip last November I thought I’d try taking it with us. I thought “I’ll just put it in this pocket of my backpack by itself so I have no need to open it until we get back.” We were getting back the Saturday after Thanksgiving and I thought there’d be a lot of traffic and paying inside would be a good thing. Well, I can’t tell you when it happened but when we got back the ticket was no where to be found. Fortunately for me, instead of charging me the lost ticket fee, the lady looked up my bill by my license plate. I just know my husband was in heaven laughing. :rolleyes: So, this time, as soon as I get it, the ticket will go inside the CD holder in the dashboard.

    Getting around inside the airport.

    I’m going to print out our boarding passes the day before our trip because I have come to detest those kiosks at the airport. :mad: I think the feeling is mutual. I have never failed to have some type of problem whether it can’t find my confirmation number, doesn’t like my credit card, it is always something. All that should be left is to show my ID and pray my suitcase is not overweight.

    Security Checkpoint

    I wear Crocs in the airport. At security I just step out of them and toss them on the belt. Crocs don't fit my dd well, so she wears sneakers with Velcro closures so she can move quickly as well. Until he has to walk through the airport, I've decided to leave ds in just socks until we are at the gate. I pack his shoes in my carry-on. It works out great. First time we flew after the shoe rule was established we didn't know and it seemed to take us forever to get through the check point.

    No 3-1-1

    Something else that has slowed us down in the past is the 3-1-1 toiletry bag. 3 oz, in 1 quart sized bag and 1 per person. It has to be scanned separately from the carry-on bag. A gallon sized zip-lock bag or two holds our toiletries in our checked luggage. Pediatrician approved chewable fever/pain meds for ds as long as it melts, so I got ds the Tylenol meltaways for 2-6 year-olds and the junior for ages 6-11 for dd. Here's where having a direct flight helps as there's little to no chance of lost luggage and I don't worry about packing toiletries away. From the inception of 3-1-1, dh always packed his toiletries without incident. Not that traveling with him was without incident. That man never failed to set off the metal detector. It was a family joke to predict what he'd do to set it off. The only prescription meds we carry are my son's inhalers and I just put them in a see-through side pocket on my backpack. So I go through without stopping to unload and load the 3-1-1 bag. I don’t carry my laptop, so our bags go on the belt without having to be opened. This trip should be even easier because we will be free of formula and baby food. I am bringing empty cups and buying drinks after we go through security.

    On to the gate.
     
  16. luvmy2babies

    luvmy2babies DIS Veteran

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    Getting on the plane

    My daughter, my son and me, a car seat a stroller and a partridge in a pear tree. I’m going to gate check the stroller and let dd continue to be the driver. I've read that the car seat is hard to remove from the bag once you are confined to your row on the plane so I think I'm going to remove it once we line up and wear the bag on my back empty. Once we get to the end of the jet way, I’ll let ds out, fold the stroller and like last time let dd lead us onto the plane. I’m going to hold his hand until we are over that threshold between teh walkway and the plane, then let ds walk behind her and follow them, carrying the car seat in front of me so it doesn’t hit anything or anyone. He's very good at following her when he's told to and she likes picking our seats. Once she picks a row, she knows to stand in the aisle until I go in and this should keep ds from running by her. Then once ds and I are in the row, I put my backpack under the seat in front of me; the car seat bag under the seat in front of my son's seat and dd sits in the aisle seat and ds in the middle one while I install the seat.

    I’ve practiced running my hand through the back of the seat where the seat belt has to go so hopefully things will go smoothly. My son likes the seat so far and hopefully he won’t change his mind. I paid for early bird check-in over 3 weeks before the trip, so I’m hoping we get a good boarding position. For the flight I do the normal stuff with the children: drinking on take off and landing, toys and books for entertainment, it’s all been said before. But it is also dinner time for us, so i'm going to pick up food before we line up from the airport restaurant Green Leaf. It is very close to the Southwest gates. Eating should take up a nice chunk of time. If it goes as well as our first flight together, I’ll be thrilled.

    Here's ds on our flight to Disney. This was before take off. He fell asleep 20 minutes into the flight. I don't expect that this time though.

    [​IMG]

    I would imagine though that once we are done eating, dd will spend the flight doing the same thing she did the last time...coloring and reading.


    [​IMG]

    I plan to sit, take deep breaths and if I need to, entertain ds and say “Great job” every time dd finishes coloring a picture. I’ve learned to feel fine in the middle seat. When I flew with both dd and dh, I sat in the middle. Now, with dd and ds I’m in the middle. I’ll admit, I’m looking forward to when ds can fly without a car seat.

    Getting off the plane

    The two hours goes by quickly every time we fly to Orlando. It is actually more like one and three quarter hours. Our flight is scheduled to land at 6:45pm. After I wait for people to get off the plane (which also gives them time to get my stroller to the door), I send dd to the empty row across from us so I have more room to operate. I put ds in the middle seat, release the car seat, bag it if I can and get my backpack. If I can't bag the seat I'll wait until we're off the plane and I have ds in the stroller again. Since he’s bigger and more mobile, I’ll probably put him in the middle seat in the row I send dd to. Once I have everything dd will lead us out. Once ds is in the stroller, we’re off the baggage claim though we’ll likely stop for a potty break and diaper change. Now since we did Magical Express last time I haven’t been to baggage claim at MCO in 4 years. I have however always found the signs easy to follow there. There’s also a great sticky on the transportation forum about MCO.

    Welcome to Orlando

    My plan is to grab a taxi to the hotel. I read on the Springhill Suites site it is usually a 20 minute ride at $40 each way, so I’ve budgeted $100 for the two trips. Hopefully our arrival is past rush hour and we’ll be settled in at the hotel in plenty of time for me to do baths, give a snack and get the children down by 9:00. Thanks to anyone who stuck with me through those technical details. In the next post, our touring plan.
     
  17. luvmy2babies

    luvmy2babies DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2010
    Messages:
    2,400
    I know I said I was going to put our touring plan down next and I probably will tonight, but this is just a quick side note to document I did some shopping for our trip last night. This was big for me because the items I picked up are usually the ones I pick up last minute. I'm so proud of myself. But with us leaving in the middle of a week and me needing the next two Saturdays to do other things, I was glad to get it done. I got lots of things for our carry-on bags, our toiletries, and an outfit for Ariana's favorite doll.

    Yeah, yeah, I know, but while she doesn't take the doll on any outtings, I already know she wants to take the doll if she leaves home overnight but the doll is sitting around in just her underwear right now. I know my daughter well enough to know it would not be acceptable for the doll to travel this way. She'd say, "Mom, we have a big problem…" :rotfl: And it would be big to her, just as big as if I expected her to travel in just underwear. She keeps all her most important toys in a specific spot, so I know what to put in her carry-on bag.

    And SCORE! In the $1 section at Target, I found some "Ocean World" stickers. Not only stickers of various tropical fish, but whales, dolphins, sharks the whole nine. And I managed to get them without dd knowing I had them. Fortunately I haven't stapled it together yet, so I'm going to add them to her activity book. :woohoo:

    I'll probably try to do some more packing tonight, but not much more than getting those toiletries into the gallon-sized zip lock bags I mentioned earlier. I did pack our trip shirts, diapers for ds and our swimwear is in the bag just so I wouldn't put it away accidently when I packed summer clothes to give away. I'll probably pack a few more shirts, but won't pack any bottoms until I see a weather report. We have 70s here though and that generally means 80s in Florida. I have some shorts set aside already, just not in the suitcase.

    Unrelated to the trip: Elijah added a word to his vocabulary last night and a gift to his Christmas list. He wants the new Elmo toy that comes with the bongo and sings into a microphone. We're somewhat collectors so dd has quite a few already including the 10th anniversary Tickle Me Elmo which had the whole family in stitches from dd to dh and both my stepchildren. He knew who Elmo was, but had never called him by name. All evening he kept saying "Elmo" after we left there. He sounded just like dd did at his age. :lovestruc I also found him a Thomas the Tank Engine set. He loves trains, but every one I could find was for 3 and up because of the small parts. I finally found one that starts at 18 months. I want to be done Christmas shopping not long after we get back from this trip. I'd start this Saturday, but I have something else on the agenda. Vehicle maintenance: oil change, one new tire, transmission flush. Sometimes I love being a grown-up. :headache:
     
  18. chiamarie

    chiamarie Mouseketeer

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2010
    Messages:
    495
    Subbing, I love that someone is doing this! I can't wait to hear more!
     
  19. luvmy2babies

    luvmy2babies DIS Veteran

    Joined:
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    2,400
    :welcome:

    I have gotten a little behind. So much to do this weekend, but I'm going get going again. Sometimes it's trying being a grown up. :laundy:
     
  20. luvmy2babies

    luvmy2babies DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2010
    Messages:
    2,400
    :cool1: 10 days to go. I know my ticker says 1 week and 4 days, but I made it before I changed our departure date. I did get a few trip related things done this weekend.

    I finally found the right sized paper to print out my son's license plate shaped tag for his stroller. It needed legal sized paper (8.5x14) and neither Wal-Mart nor Target had it. :headache: Ended up going to Office Max for it. Let's just say I'm going to have to come up with some creative ways to get my money's worth out of that paper.

    I can't remember who the DISigner was that had the Sea World tag in their file now, but they also had Disney World and Disney Cruise line tags. I think it was DoNatalie, but have to go back and check. So I got it printed and now all I have to do is write his name on each side and get it laminated.

    I did get the front and back covers of dd's activity book laminated. I just have to find a flamingo coloring sheet to add and I'll be able to put together. I picked up some fuzzy sticks to bind it together after I punch holes in it. I will also use the fuzzy sticks to hang ds' stroller tag.

    So I promised I'd start our touring plan details. Since we'll have 3 days we're going to take our time based on the information on the Sea World site as long as the weather cooperates.

    For day 1, Thursday, October 27th, I want to focus on the exhibits and aquariums. My daughter takes a while to get through these. She asks the workers lots of questions and likes to read the information displays. When we went to the zoo, we watched the puffins for 15 minutes. I've read that Sea World also have these electronic interactive stations at certain places too. Dd will love it. Ds is getting more and more interested in watching animals too and I don't want to be worried about getting to a show while we are touring the exhibits.

    First thing I will attempt to get us to, depending on the schedule we get is the first dolphin feeding. So that's where we will head off to first. Most people advise lining up 30 minutes prior. I considered the upclose encounter, but it is too much of a possibility she'd back out of it. Once we hopefully feed the dolphins we'll proceed to the exhibits in order as they come on the map. We'll stop and have lunch, then do some shopping and people watch while ds naps.

    We'll have a snack once he gets up and pick up the touring. Sea World closes at 6 that day, so around 5, we'll be heading out so we can get back to the hotel in time for dinner. That's it for day 1. Hopefull we get up and out early. I really want to be there when the place opens.

    Day 2 is Friday, October 28th. I plan for this to be our Spooktakular day. I read the Happy Harbor rides are the least busy early in the morning so we'll head there first. We'll have lunch after that and people watch while ds naps. Once he gets up, I'll get them into their costumes (if they want) and we'll head to the event. We'll try to have dinner around 6 because that is what time we eat at home. I'll be using our All Day Dine vouchers on this day since we'll be doing 2 meals there.

    I have to double check to see if Shamu Rocks is showing on Friday too or just Saturday, but if it is showing Friday night, I plan for us to see it on Friday. I don't like to leave something like that to the last day if it is available. We'll head back to the hotel after the show.

    Our last park day is Saturday, October 29th. I plan to see the shows and repeat anything within reason that we missed or want to repeat up to that point. When my son takes his nap, I'll let dd pick something to do she wants as long as he can stay in the stroller and sleep. We'll play this day by ear just by the show schedule.

    So, that is pretty much it. I don't make detailed to the minute plans. I've learned not to go any further than this is what we want to do today type of planning, so if anyone's been wondering how in the world does she need 3 days to do Sea World, there you have it. :rotfl2:

    I'm really looking forward to getting away. I find that I really need time to just be mom when I can get it, to be with the children without the hustle and bustle and occassional stress of our daily lives. No trip ever comes too soon.

    Okay, I've already done what most of us do when our trip to Florida approaches. I checked the weather. I know it is really far out for weather predictions, but I did check accuweather.com because they have a 15 day. I know I know, but curiosity got the best of me once I realized, I could see all 3 of our park days when I looked.

    Well, I guess I got what I deserved because when I pulled it up it showed rain ever day. :sad2: We all know places need rain, but we all want it to rain on a week other than the one we are going to be there. :rotfl2: I told myself, FL appears to need the rain. I reminded myself it was too early then said if it did happen at least the temps were mid 80s.

    Glutten for punisment, 2 days later I went back to look again and all the rain predictions were gone, but the temps were significantly lower, particularly the daily lows. It read daily highs in the low to mid 70s and lows in the 50s. If that holds true, I better do that sweatshirt I didn't make when I did the t-shirts. Of course when I checked again, it had changed again. Highs in the high 70s and low 80s with rain only on our departure day.

    Now, I could certainly roll any of those temps though, I'd prefer higher ones if it's raining. Only time will tell. I'm not packing the bulk of our clothes until probably next Saturday, but I think I'm going to take the swim stuff out of the suitcase. Even if it's warm enough, I don't think I want to bother with putting the children and myself through the logistics of visiting a water park and I don't think time will allow us to visit the hotel pool. I'm bound and determined to keep us to 1 suitcase and taking that stuff out will help too. Packing for Florida any time of year other than summer is tricky, but when it comes to Florida, we all know it's "Have ponchos and a stroller rain cover will travel." And then there's the ever popular and very accurate: "A rainy day in Orlando is better than a sunny day at work."

    Next post: what I have to do during out last full week at home before the trip.
     
  21. luvmy2babies

    luvmy2babies DIS Veteran

    Joined:
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    Messages:
    2,400
    Well, this has been an interesting day. Disney Cruise Lines unexpectedly revealed their dates and prices for the Bahamas and Caribbean (Dream and Fantasy ships) for 2013. I'd been waiting but expected it at least a week from now. I happened to be home today due to a teacher's workday or I would not have known. The only way I could afford one was to get opening day prices because they appear to go up a lot after that. I got us booked on the Dream for July 2013.

    With that out of the way, I can concentrate on the trip next week and our WDW trip next June. I'm happy to have it. I know the kids will love it. I'll get excited about it later.

    I've been working on a couple of things. I mentioned I printed out the tag for my son's stroller. I couldn't type big enough letters on it, so I'm going to write his name on it with a Sharpie and then have it laminated.

    [​IMG]

    I have also been working on how to reveal the trip. I didn't want to do another request or an invitation, but I do want something simple. I found a card in one of the DISigner's photobucket files made for a little boy named Preston. There was a border around the pictures that said Happy Birthday Prestion. Inside it said, "You are going to Sea World". I cropped off the border, printed it and laminated it.

    [​IMG]

    I haven't decided exactly what I'm going to do with it yet. She sits behind me in the minivan, so I thought about tying to the back of my seat face down and letting her turn it over or putting it on her window so it is revealed when she shuts the sliding door.

    I'm picking her up early from school (45 minutes) so she is going to be asking questions anyway. I'll tell her we're going on a trip for fall break. When she asks where I'll reveal the card.
     

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