No Sleep Till Brooklyn! WDW Road Trip July 2012! UPDATE 8/31/12 (DHS!)

Discussion in 'Completed Trip Reports' started by bangzoom6877, Aug 5, 2012.

  1. bangzoom6877

    bangzoom6877 DIS Veteran

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    Hi everyone! :wave2: I'm Bonnie, or as my kids refer to me, "Tinkermom" or "Tinkerbell"! We just got back yesterday from a 16-night road trip from Brooklyn, NY to Disney World and back, with a few stops along the way. We spent a total of 10 nights at WDW, at Boardwalk Villas. After our 6th night at WDW, my parents, my sister, her boyfriend and my 2 nieces joined us for the last 4 nights of the trip. They stayed at the Dolphin. We left the house on Thursday, July 19th.

    Here's some info about us:

    DH and I are both high school teachers (different schools). Since we have our summers off with our kids, we always travel in the summer. We like doing long trips to WDW and take our time.

    We are DVC members (since 2008). This was my 7th time to WDW. I first went in 1985 at age 8, then in 1989 at age 12, then on two high school trips in 1992 and 1994. DH Eric went in 1999 when he drove from college in Buffalo, NY all the way down to Key West! In 2008, we decided it was time to take our boys on our first family trip to WDW. Jonathan (who is now 5) was 14 months old and not even walking yet) and Philip (who is now 7) was 3 years old. We stayed at Pop Century, and we decided that we needed more space when the kids get older, and also that we would like to go back every other year as the boys grow up. So we bought a DVC membership at Boardwalk Villas. Our first DVC trip home was in July 2010 to BWV, and yesterday we got back from our second trip home to BWV.

    I packed everything for the boys and myself 2 days before we left. Eric prefers to do his own packing, the day before we leave. The day before I started packing, Eric brought up the luggage from the basement to air it out:

    [​IMG]

    The day before we went, I went for a mani/pedi and made sure any last minute things were in order. My parents came by for a visit to see us and the boys since we wouldn't see each other again for about 10 days.

    Before every vacation, we have a tradition. We always order pizza the night before, since we miss Brooklyn pizza when we are away. So, of course we did this as usual! We put the kids to bed early, and we made sure everything in the house was in order. Eric and I set our alarm for 4am, so we could quickly get ready, put all the luggage in the car, wake the boys, give them a snack and go!

    More to come...stay tuned for our start on the road and our first day. Quite a few adventures on the road that day. Were they good adventures, bad adventures, or somewhere in the middle? Stay tuned... ;)
     
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  3. franandaj

    franandaj I'm so happy, I could BOUNCE!

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    Yay! I'm here and first!!!!
     
  4. bangzoom6877

    bangzoom6877 DIS Veteran

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    Yay!! Thanks for joining in!
     
  5. bangzoom6877

    bangzoom6877 DIS Veteran

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    So, as I said before, Eric and I woke up at 4am. We got ready very quickly, packed up all our last-minute toiletries, Eric packed the car except the toiletries bag, and then we woke the kids up. Philip (DS7) popped right out of bed, but Jonathan (DS5) always takes a few minutes waking up. They were both very happy that it was finally the morning of the trip, after our big countdown together. They got dressed, washed up and brushed up, I packed their last-minute items in the toiletries bag and Eric put it into the car, and I gave them each a small snack and a little water to hold them over for a couple of hours.

    We have another family tradition whenever we go to WDW...we get bagels in the morning just after leaving the house, and we stop 2 to 3 hours into the trip to eat our breakfast. The boys knew we were doing this too.

    So, everything was packed, I brought a couple of snack bars for Eric and I to have to hold us over, and we got into the car at 5am. Just before we left, I snapped this pic of the boys, since they were so excited to go:

    [​IMG]

    We pulled out of the driveway and drove about 5 minutes to the bagel store (open 24 hrs). I had bought a 4-pack of individual cream cheese packets and put them into the cooler. I got us each a bagel, and then down the block was Dunkin' Donuts so I got Eric and myself each a cup of coffee for the road. And off we went, through the rest of Brooklyn, into Staten Island and into New Jersey. Usually we stop around the Baltimore, MD area to eat our bagels, but around the last exit in Southern New Jersey, Jonathan needed the rest room. So we decided to just eat our breakfast there. It was probably around 7:30am. We had our breakfast, and we figured we might as well gas up the car while we were stopped, so we did that and hit the road once again.

    Everything was going very smoothly until we were in the middle of Virginia, and we hit terrible traffic on I-95. It was practically at a stand-still, a sign indicated that there was a lot of traffic for about 40 miles, so we got off I-95 and decided to take Route 1 for a while. We figured that we would surely find a place to stop for lunch on Route 1. OK, so we were wrong, sort of...where we exited I-95 happened to be a more rural part of Route 1. No stores or restaurants in sight. The good thing about that was that there were no traffic lights for miles, so the trip along Route 1 wasn't taking as long as we had anticipated. The bad thing was that we had 2 kids in the car who were ready for lunch. We saw some traffic lights and got excited...nope, just a few car dealerships. Then nothing once again. We traveled several miles, and traffic lights again. Once again, car dealerships and a gas station. We traveled several miles again, and Eric says maybe we should just get back onto I-95, as this was the point the signs said the traffic would stop, and we could get off at the next exit that indicates there are food places.

    We see the sign to turn left to go onto I-95, and I spot a Sonic. Now, Eric has been eager to try Sonic for years now but we never had gone there. We don't have them here in Brooklyn, and he really wanted to try it on this trip. So, we stopped for lunch. It was such a novelty to be able to pull in, turn off the car, order from the car and have a car-hop come out on skates and deliver the food to us. The kids loved this. The food was very good too. But then the bees came...so many of them outside and one flew into the car and I screamed. I forgot that I still had my seatbelt on, so I tried to get out of the car with it still on, I'm sure it looked quite comical from the outside. :rotfl2: I managed to get out and the bee flew out of the car. I was very upset and asked Eric to please turn the car on and use the A/C. Instead of turning on the engine, he turned on the power so the vents would work, but not the A/C. We finished eating, Eric took the boys to the rest room, and I went to get him a frozen coffee drink for the road. I got back into the car, we were ready to go. Car wouldn't start! :confused3

    I called my father back in Brooklyn because he knows a lot about cars. He said give it a few minutes and try to start it again. Again, nothing. My dad said that it was the battery. I asked Eric if he had jumper cables in the back and of course he did. I had to sit in the driver's seat and keep the car in neutral while Eric pushed it back into a regular spot so that the hood of the car was positioned correctly in order for someone to give us a boost. Eric asked a very nice man if he would help us out, and he said yes. Thank goodness, the car started. My father said to give it another 5 minutes and then drive. The car was fine. Eric of course was upset that we lost a good amount of time because of that ordeal. I kept apologizing because I felt like it was my fault since I was scared of the bees. And no, we didn't return to Sonic again on the trip...would we go back? Yes, but probably not during bee season! ;)

    So, we continue on our way, figuring we will be in Florence, SC in a few hours. We had to make a couple of unexpected rest room stops for the kids along the way, but all seemed well. Eric was nervous each time that the car wouldn't start again, but thank goodness it did and all was well with the car.

    One place Eric loves to go to eat when we drive down south is Shoney's. We don't have any where we live, so this is also a novelty. We got off the exit for the Comfort Suites in Florence, SC, checked in and it was a beautiful hotel and a very nice, clean studio suite. Perfect for the night. Shoney's was across the street so we decided we would go there for dinner. Eric loves their lunch and dinner buffets. We get there, and their buffet only consisted of salad, fruit, and breakfast items! Eric was so disappointed, I felt so bad for him. After such a long day of driving (he still insists on doing all the driving even though I offer), he was looking forward to dinner at Shoney's and was not in the mood for breakfast. So the boys and I had the buffet but Eric had a philly cheesesteak. He said it was fine, just not what he was expecting to have for dinner that night. He said it was just a big disappointment after a long, hectic day. The breakfast buffet was good. The boys sure enjoyed their time there:

    [​IMG]

    Then, we went back to the hotel to go to sleep. We still had about a 7 hour drive ahead of us the following day, to Tampa, FL. I had trouble falling asleep but Eric didn't, which was important because he was driving the next day. The train came by at 2am and woke me up. I had trouble getting back to sleep. Apparently, it woke Eric too, but at a different time. So, not a good night's sleep. Not to mention, the night before we left Eric got a very bad night's sleep. When I got up in the morning, I couldn't resist taking this pic of the boys:

    [​IMG]

    They were happy to wake up since we were going to be in Florida later that day.

    We went to breakfast at the hotel, which was included, and very nice. Then I turned my attention to the TV (CNN was on) and they had the breaking story about the shooting in the movie theatre in Colorado. It was of course heart breaking and a huge tragedy for so many people, and I just couldn't believe what I was seeing. Total and complete devastation. Unreal. :sad2:

    We packed the car, checked out, and hit the road to Tampa. I will report more later, but this was definitely a better day than the first day on the road!
     
  6. PrincePluto

    PrincePluto Disneyholic

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    Subbing! Love your driving report. It reminds me of my family's first trip from New Jersey to Florida in 1978 - my parents, 3 kids and Grandma, all in a station wagon, pulling a trailer. You don't see as many trip reports of people driving that many miles to Walt Disney World these days.
     
  7. RHMH

    RHMH When I retire, I want to get a real job and work f

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    Love the start of the trip report. I would be the same way about the bee's. My DD is very allergic to any kind of protein sting (Scorpion, Bees, Wasp, Fire Ants etc..) so I have to keep a epi pin with all the time.

    Keep the report coming, can't wait until the next verse....:cool1:
     
  8. bangzoom6877

    bangzoom6877 DIS Veteran

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    Hi and thanks! Oh how road trips have changed over the years! So many people I know think I'm crazy for driving down with 2 kids but these days with DVD players for the car, DS game systems, etc., it makes the trip down more fun for them and easier for the parents. Besides, we show the kids lots of things along the way, like the first palm trees, the different areas we stop along the way, and they get excited each time we enter a new state. At the end of a long day of driving, they are amazed at how many states we can travel through in a single day. I don't particularly like to fly, so the drive works for me! ;)

    I have to keep an epi pen too for Philip's shellfish allergy just in case of anything. I just freak out at bugs and bees. So it was a pretty crazy moment. :eek:
     
  9. anjalee6

    anjalee6 DIS Veteran

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    Popping in! Living close to all that VA, MD, DC traffic, I know what a nightmare that can be. We use to drive all the time, but only during the night. We are crazy and drive right through. Now that we have flown the last few times, I don't know if I could drive again. It's a long drive and even longer from your neck of the woods.

    Can't wait to read more!
     
  10. triplejen

    triplejen DIS Veteran

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    Subscribing - can't wait to read more!

    What part of Brooklyn are you in?
     
  11. bangzoom6877

    bangzoom6877 DIS Veteran

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    I went to college right near you! I went to University of Maryland at College Park. I used to work at a restaurant on Rockville Pike, and that traffic on the beltway could be a real nightmare, I remember very vividly! I always loved the area though. Beautiful, but definitely was enough "civilization" for this Brooklyn girl for 4 years of college! I used to love going into Georgetown (M Street!!)! :goodvibes

    Yes, it is a loooooong drive, but despite that, we love it. Eric and I try to look at it in a positive way...it does extend our trip, and we get to look forward to Disney on the way down. And the boys love staying at different hotels along the way too.

    I'm in Marine Park, right off the Belt Parkway. Are you in NY too?
     
  12. bangzoom6877

    bangzoom6877 DIS Veteran

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    OK, I'm back for the next installment! :thumbsup2

    After we had our breakfast at the Comfort Suites and checked out, we hit the road. We were headed to Tampa, FL where we would spend 3 nights. Eric and I were excited that after this day, we didn't have a whole day of driving again until we would leave WDW. We were just hoping that this day would be less ahem...adventurous than the first day on the road. Eric was praying the car would start in the morning, and surely it did! ;)

    This was definitely a much more laid back day on the road. Even though Eric was still going on a night of horrible sleep plus the night before when he was woken up by the train, he said he felt surprisingly well and he was excited to get to Florida that day. Before we knew it, we had gone all the way through South Carolina and arrived in Georgia, where I told the boys we had only one more state to pass through until we enter Florida. Of course, I had to explain to them that we would still have to drive a while once in Florida, but they were so excited that didn't phase them.

    We stopped off of Exit 3 in Georgia, in Kingsland, to go to lunch and gas up the car. We spotted a Cracker Barrel...perfect for a nice relaxing lunch! We all love Cracker Barrel, and I like to look around the store. We parked the car, and I was holding Philip's hand while walking through the parking lot. Jonathan and Eric were just behind us when Philip and I spotted a lizard running right across our path!

    [​IMG]

    I know it blends in, but can you see its tail sticking out to the right? Philip and Jonathan were fascinated by this, and I explained to them that we would probably see more lizards since they are all over Florida. They were happy when I told them that!

    We went into Cracker Barrel and had a nice relaxing lunch. I bought some praline pecans from the store, and we looked around for a little while. Then, we went to gas up the car. There was a store selling pecans, and I love all different kinds of pecans. What better place to get them than Georgia?! I went in, and ended up buying 3 types...roasted & salted, glazed, and plain. The lady at the counter said they freeze well for 2 years. The plan is to use the plain ones for this year's Thanksgiving pecan pie! And of course the other kinds have made great snacks! ;)

    After I bought the pecans and Eric gassed up the car, we were on our way. Since we were already at Exit 3, shortly after leaving we saw this sign:

    [​IMG]

    The boys were so happy! Of course, so were we! We told them that we would be in Florida for 13 nights and that made them very happy.

    We drove and drove and finally made it to Tampa. We hit some rush hour traffic when we got close to the hotel (it was a Friday). Finally, we arrived at the Embassy Suites Tampa/Brandon. This was a beautiful hotel. We love staying at the Embassy Suites. I checked us in while Eric loaded up a cart with our luggage. By the time I met him out front, he was just finishing up packing the cart and I handed the key to him, parked the car, and met up with him and the boys in the suite. Our suite was beautiful. 2 rooms, with a king bed in one, and a pullout sofa for the boys in the other. The perfect amount of space to relax and enjoy vacation! We had a fridge and microwave too. We loaded up the fridge with water bottles and we decided that even though it was 5:15 already, we wouldn't head to dinner until after 6pm due to the rush hour traffic.

    You see, there is this restaurant, called Po Folks, that used to be in southern FL when I was a little girl and would visit my grandparents there in the summer. They moved to FL in 1985. We visited them for 3 weeks that summer (went on our first Disney trip with them, for a few days of that time), and for 3 weeks the following summer. Then, tragedy struck. In October 1986, they were in a horrific car accident. They were on their way home from a friend's house one evening, and they were about to turn into the development where they lived. My grandfather lost control of the car and they went into a canal. There were no guardrails or lights on the road. To this day we still don't know the cause of the accident, but we lost both of them.

    Sorry to have saddened everyone, but I had to explain that. I hadn't been to Po Folks since August 1986. We have gone to southern Florida, on our 2008 and 2010 trips, to visit my uncle, but Po Folks is not in the Ft. Lauderdale area anymore. However, there is one in St. Petersburg, and it was only 30 minutes from our hotel. I had to go there again, and share it with Eric and the boys. So we left a little after 6pm, and headed to Po Folks.

    [​IMG]

    When I walked in, it was just as I remembered it. We sat down and I looked at the menu...same items as I remember too! Country fried steak, fried clams, catfish, fried chicken...yes, Southern comfort food! This was the first place I ever tried fried clams, when I was 8 years old and my grandmother encouraged me to try them...and I loved them! I knew I had to have them here again. I ordered a seafood combination with fried clams, fried shrimp and catfish, and it was delicious. It came with hushpuppies, and everything tasted just as I remembered it! I also got to choose 2 sides. I had fries and turnip greens. Eric has the combination with country fried steak (his first time eating it) and fried chicken. We shared with each other and everything was amazing. The only disappointment was that they used to serve their drinks in mason jars but now they use regular tumblers. I asked the server (he has worked for them for 30 years) and he said it was a Board of Health issue and they would break when they dropped them so it was too dangerous. It was a memorable experience, and literally brought tears to my eyes that I was eating in Po Folks again after 26 years. A lot of memories. Eric bought me a Po Folks t-shirt on the way out!

    After Po Folks we headed back to the hotel. The following day we were heading to Busch Gardens during the day, and meeting up with an old friend of mine from college and his wife for dinner (they live in Clearwater, not far from Tampa). Stay tuned for a wonderful day at Busch Gardens with an unexpected surprise...was it a good surprise, a shock, or just eh? You will find out soon enough... ;)
     
  13. scottny

    scottny <font color=blue>You better have crackers<br><font

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    Hi,
    I live in Riverdale in the Bronx. I would love to drive to Florida again someday. Good to hear Sonic is good, there is one on Route 46 so I might try it. I love Cracker Barrel.

    Glad the car was working after it wouldn't start.

    So sorry for what happened to your grandparents. I miss my Grandmother still and it has been 12 years.

    Great pics.

    I am looking forward to more.
     
  14. RHMH

    RHMH When I retire, I want to get a real job and work f

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    Sorry about the loss of your family members.........................................WOW !!! Talking about all the food made me hungry. Love Georgia pecans, have you ever had BBQ pecans? Love them also...We have never been to Busch Gardens, need to hear more..:yay:
     
  15. jc040404

    jc040404 DIS Veteran

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    Oh no! As soon as I saw Po Folks, I wanted a root beer in one of those, too! That stinks. My very first job was in a store at that plaza and I haven't been around there in years. Wild seeing it pop up in a Disney TR! :

    I cannot believe you drove all that way, and with children! Much braver than me! :rotfl: After doing St Pete to CT and back once, without staying anywhere, I never want to try that drive again. Sounds like it went mostly well for you anyway. Minus the bees and car troubles, that is. So glad it started back up & can't wait to read about Busch Gardens! :thumbsup2
     
  16. bangzoom6877

    bangzoom6877 DIS Veteran

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    Hello, fellow New Yorker! Yes, Sonic is great, only you can't eat inside. You have to either eat in your car or there are a couple of tables outside. We love driving to Florida. This was our third time doing it, and we will do it again in 2014.

    No, I never ad BBQ pecans but that sounds wonderful! I might just have to look online to see if I can buy them!

    Yes, the only disappointment about Po Folks was the lack of mason jars for the drinks. I had told Eric about that for years now, and I was hoping they still did that. I did not know what to expect going in though, as far as the food, since it had been 26 years since I ate in a Po Folks. But it was just as good as it was years ago, so it's nice to know that some things never change!

    As far as driving down with kids, this was our third time doing it! We started in 2008 when Jonathan was 14 months old and Philip was 3 and a half! Then we did it again in 2010 and just now. We love it. We stop overnight, so it makes it easier. I don't think I could ever do it straight through, even without kids. Thank goodness we got through the car troubles though, and no one got stung by the bees. However, the ride home had its own "character" to it, shall I say. But I will get to that much later! ;)
     
  17. bangzoom6877

    bangzoom6877 DIS Veteran

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    Hello everyone! I am breaking up the third day of our trip into 2 parts. This one will be the longer one, for Busch Gardens. The next will briefly describe our evening.

    So...Busch Gardens opens at 9am. We woke up at 7am to get ready and head downstairs for breakfast. The Embassy Suites has a complimentary breakfast buffet with hot and cold items, and an omelette station. They were also preparing fresh Belgian waffles at the omelette station. We had a wonderful breakfast. I got to have a nice healthy egg white omelette with veggies, a small amount of grits and some delicious sweet pineapple. After my fried dinner at Po Folks, I was craving a healthy breakfast (I'm a Lifetime Member of Weight Watchers so I am used to eating healthy). I also wanted to take it a little easy on the eating before Disney, where I planned to just indulge and not think about it! ;) We all enjoyed our breakfast, and soon it was time to head to Busch Gardens.

    I had researched and found that the most economical way for us to do Busch Gardens (and also Sea World) was to upgrade our usual Sesame Place season passes to the Super Grover Platinum pass, which includes all their parks. I also got a great deal because between Black Friday and early march, the passes were 25% off. So for 4 passes, it was like getting one for free. It also included free preferred parking and 10% off of food and shopping. We had our season passes and off we went.

    We got to park so close to the entrance, it was so nice. The only spots that were closer were the disabled parking section. We got there about 5 minutes after opening and it was not crowded at all. We had planned to do a lot of the animal attractions, even though Eric likes big roller coasters, because the boys aren't big enough for the huge roller coasters anymore. So we started with a Jeep safari. The first one was at 9:30, so after walking around a little, a trip to the rest room for the kids, and arriving at the location, we were able to snap this pic of the boys in a jeep outside the entrance to the safari:

    [​IMG]

    In a few minutes, we were on the Safari ride. We got to see plenty of animals and it was humorous and a lot of fun.

    [​IMG]

    Afterwards, we decided it would be good to take the Serengeti Railway to the other side of the park where more of the kiddie rides were. On the Serengeti Railway, you get to see the rest of the animals in the park on a train ride. We had a few minutes until the train was going to depart and there was no line, so we snapped some photos. Here's one of the boys:

    [​IMG]

    And one of me and the boys:

    [​IMG]

    Pretty soon, we were on our way, on the Serengeti Railway. I snapped a pic of Eric and the boys before we started moving:

    [​IMG]

    The ride was very nice, and relaxing. We saw lots of animals and the boys enjoyed it. Here's a nice pic of a giraffe, Jonathan's favorite!

    [​IMG]

    Once off the train, we were in the section with the kiddie rides. Both boys wanted to go onto the carousel first, and then Eric took Philip on the Sand Serpent, an intermediate level roller coaster similar to the old Wild Mouse. Jonathan was not tall enough to go, so he was a little upset but we found a spot to sit down in the shade and watch Eric & Philip ride, while having some water. Here's a pic from the carousel, as well as the one taken by Busch Gardens of the Sand Serpent (Eric & Philip are in the back row):

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    After Eric & Philip got off the Sand Serpent and had some water (I get crazy and make everyone drink constantly!), the boys enjoyed some more of the kiddie rides together. Then, we stopped to snack a little, since we had such a big breakfast and weren't hungry enough for a full lunch. We each had a serving of Dippin' Dots, the ice cream and ices that are in little...well...dots, so your ice cream doesn't drip all over the place. Jonathan and Eric each had chocolate, and Philip and I both went with the rainbow ice flavor. It was very refreshing. Then, it was time for ICEploration, the ice skating show at Busch Gardens. This show was amazing, and a very nice indoor break from the early afternoon heat! What beautiful performances by everyone in it! They even had an "elephant" on ice skates...Jonathan thought it was a real elephant, shhhh! ;) Here's a photo I managed to get, though not the greatest pic...I had to delete a lot of them because they came out very blurry:

    [​IMG]

    After the show, we decided to just walk around a little and see some more animals. There were some crocodiles we got to see, and then we stumbled upon a veterinary care area, so we stepped inside. To our amazement, we were able to watch a veterinarian perform surgery (live through a glass wall) to repair the broken wing of a hawk. The boys were fascinated by this, and so were me and Eric. I got a shot of the x-ray of the hawk's broken wing:

    [​IMG]

    And another photo of the veterinarian and his assistant during the surgery. They were working to insert a metal rod into the hawk's wing.

    [​IMG]

    It was a very fun day at Busch Gardens. I definitely recommend it for people who enjoy large roller coasters, but also for animal enthusiasts. It is a wonderful place to bring young children, teenagers, and also great for just adults too. We would definitely go back, but probably when the boys are older so we can do it differently and they can do the bigger rides. They do have fireworks in the evening but we did not go to see it because we had plans to meet up with friends. I will talk about that in my next installment! Stay tuned... :goodvibes
     
  18. bangzoom6877

    bangzoom6877 DIS Veteran

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    Correction...it was a Land Rover, not a Jeep on the safari! I noticed it in the pic of the boys. :lmao:
     
  19. skywaywaver

    skywaywaver DIS Veteran

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    Not from Brooklyn, but from Rockland County but we stop at the Comfort Suites in Florence too! We'll be there next Friday night :)

    I can't wait to read more about your trip!
     
  20. bangzoom6877

    bangzoom6877 DIS Veteran

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    After returning to the Embassy Suites from Busch Gardens, it was about 3:45pm. We were not happy that when we got into the room, it had not been cleaned. When giving the boys showers, I discovered that we only had 3 bath towels, even though 1...I booked the suite for 4 guests, and 2...I requested extra towels when I booked, and even received an email confirmation about my request. This prompted me to speak to the manager because in addition, when we first went to bed the night before, there was no blanket on the king size bed. We had called the desk and they sent one up. Had that been the only issue, I would not have spoken to management.

    So, after showering the boys, I told Eric I would go down to the front desk and let them know what was going on, and that we needed more towels. They told me that the room is supposed to be cleaned at 5pm. I have never heard of such a thing in a hotel, including the Embassy Suites. I asked to speak with a manager and they sent the assistant manager out to me. She proceeded to tell me that she had worked in various hotels for many years (but looked like she was in her 20s), and that most times rooms are cleaned very late in the day because they don't begin cleaning until 9am. This was a pretty small Embassy Suites so I would think they would have everything done by the time we were back at 3:45, especially since the hotel still had available rooms online so wasn't completely booked up (even though she said they were completely booked, without one empty room). She said we could request that the room be cleaned by a certain time the following day. So I told her that we were going to be back by 3pm and it needed to be clean by then. She also said she would give me 2,000 extra points on my Hilton Honors Membership for our troubles.

    The man at the desk went and got me 4 towels. I went back up to the room and the housekeeping staff was in there cleaning. It was kind of awkward since we needed to get ready to head out to dinner in St. Petersburg. She made the bed, emptied the trash and left.

    Eric and I each proceeded to get ready for the evening. We left the room at around 5:15 to drive to St. Petersburg, where we were meeting up with an old college friend of mine and his wife. When we got downstairs to the main lobby, we discovered that there was going to be a Quinceanera party going on that evening. So, we concluded that they were understaffed since the staff was probably focusing on getting the area ready for the party, rather than cleaning the rooms in a timely fashion. We both think that they needed a couple of more people working that day and that this was the real issue.

    We headed to St. Pete, and went to a Mexican restaurant called Red Mesa. If you are ever in the Tampa/St. Pete area and you like Mexican food, or even a good steak, I would highly recommend this restaurant! It was kid-friendly, yet also a wonderful place to go as a couple. Reasonable prices and outstanding food. We had a queso fundido appetizer (kind of like Mexican cheese fondue) that had chorizo in it, with fresh tortillas, and they bring chips and salsa to the table as well. I had a combination entree with sirloin steak and a cheese enchilada, that came with black beans and rice. It was so delicious, but I couldn't finish it. I also ordered a side of guacamole which was excellent. Eric had filet mignon tips with a spicy sauce, and black beans and rice. He loved it. We did end up getting dessert...we got a sweet plantains foster tortilla dessert with vanilla ice cream...delicious! The boys had quesadillas for dinner and shared fried ice cream...they loved the quesadillas but weren't that into the fried ice cream.

    We had a great time seeing my friend and his wife. I hadn't seen them in 13 years, since I graduated college (University of Maryland at College Park)! I moved back up to NY, and they moved to Florida and got married. We made a pact not to let too many years go by again without seeing each other (Facebook is just not the same as getting together!), and they are planning a trip to Brooklyn, hopefully for the holidays this year! :cool1:

    When we were leaving the restaurant, it started to thunder and drizzle a little. It ended up being a true Florida thunderstorm! When you are on the bridge driving from St. Pete to Tampa (which is VERY low to the water), you can see the bright lightning very clearly in the middle of a thunderstorm. Plus, it had ust gotten dark outside so it was even more vivid. I tried to get a pic of it, but I knew it was next to impossible. :rolleyes:

    We came back to the hotel and relaxed in the suite, put the kids to bed and decided we had to get up at the same time the following day, since we were going to Legoland!!!!! :) Legoland is a 55 minute drive from where we were staying in Tampa, but it didn't open until 10am so we were able to wake up at the same time we had to for Busch Gardens.

    Next installment: Legoland and a TON of fun! Stay tuned...:)
     
  21. bangzoom6877

    bangzoom6877 DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2007
    Messages:
    5,431
    Awesome! The Comfort Suites is a very nice hotel. What part of Rockland County? I have cousins in New City.
     

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