Our First Summer Trip! 3 Canucks Tackle Orlando in August: A Trip Report (Complete!)

Discussion in 'Canadian Trip Planning & Community Board' started by Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina, Sep 7, 2012.

  1. Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina

    Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina DIS Veteran

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    Hello again everyone :wave2: . Welcome to my second trip report!

    For those who read through my first attempt at trip reporting earlier this year (joining in on reminiscing about our adventures at Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, SeaWorld and Discovery Cove from during New Years week ... see link to that thread in my signature below), I am glad to have you along for the ride once again :goodvibes .

    Those hopping aboard for the first time, its nice to have you! I always enjoy the opportunity to make more friends :) .

    So.......let's get to it, shall we?

    First off, a small introduction. Let me introduce you to my cast of "characters" (don't worry, this will be quick and painless ;) ):

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    That's me in the middle. But I am certain you already guessed that. I am Gina, mom to the guy on the right and wife to the guy on the left. An admittedly Type A personality, I share alot of traits with Monica from Friends. I hope you won't hold that against me :rotfl: .

    On the left is Steve, my husband of 19 years. He is the exact opposite of me: physically, emotionally, and mentally. He's technically oriented where I'm academically oriented. He's calm where I'm high-strung. He goes with the flow where I must have everything organized at every moment or I tend to come unglued. He's tall and I'm short. Yet somehow, our differences seem to draw us even closer together. Go figure. Sometimes good things just can't be completely explained. :love: .

    On the right is Jake. My boy. He's 16 years old, and just completed grade 10 in June. Not a day goes by I don't thank my lucky stars for this kid. You will see his sense of humour in many of the pics that I will be posting in this review. He is awesome at humouring his picture-crazy mother at all the cheesy photo ops we stumble across on our vacations. And he's becoming quite a good photographer himself....most of the pics of me you will see are taken by Jake, because God love Steve, he can't seem to take a good picture to save his life (and the ones that he eventually gets are the sixth, seventh, or eighth attempt :eek: ).

    And so.....that's us. And we are about to embark on a week in the Florida sun. At least, we hope there will be some sun. Did someone say it rains alot in Florida in August? :confused:
     
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  3. Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina

    Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina DIS Veteran

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    A brief description of how this trip came to be.....

    Our other two Orlando vacations have both been in January. We love escaping the Ontario winters for a week in the balmy Florida temperatures. That said, during our getaways we never seemed to have the proper weather for enjoying days at the waterparks, so our attraction wish-list still had a few items that needed to be addressed. On our way home on January 7th, after enduring a few pretty cold days over the course of that week (think winter-coat-and-mittens-cold) Jake remarked....."Someday we have to go back when we can do a waterpark. Like when its guaranteed to be hot."

    And that, my friends, was the point where the lightbulb went off :idea:. Within two weeks, we were booked to go back. Yes, its a sickness. :rolleyes2

    Fast forward seven months, and its Saturday, August 25th. After fretting about the potential disruption of the newly-upgraded Hurricane Isaac and becoming obsessed with weather watching, it was finally time to pack up the truck and head to Syracuse, NY.

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    It was the perfect day for a road trip, and hard to believe that as we were enjoying absolutely perfect, sunshiny weather the Florida Keys were getting whipped by winds and rain and Isaac's fury.

    The drive from our home to Syracuse is really quite uneventful. Quiet and uninterrupted all the way to the border. No real traffic issues.....until we reach the actual border crossing. Ugh.

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    Yes, that was us, stopped in a sea of cars a full 1/2 km away from the actual customs agents. This is going to take a while. :faint:

    One full HOUR later, we finally get moving. And before we know it, its over the bridge to the USA :cool1::

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    By Watertown, the boys were starving (but who I am kidding? they are ALWAYS starving :rotfl2:), so we stopped at Friendly's for lunch. Its one of our favourites when in the States.

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    Normally I can possess some decent willpower when it comes to desserts (despite my wicked sweet tooth), however on this trip I decided to throw caution to the wind and enjoy all the yummy delicacies that the restaurants decided to throw at me. If my boys were going to be indulging, they couldn't have all the fun. It just wouldn't be fair ;) . So we topped off our meal with these beauties and declared vacation officially underway:

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    One more hour and we'll be pulling into the park-and-fly hotel. Just about enough time for that ice cream to stop sitting like a lump in the pit of my stomach :rolleyes1 .

    Next stop: the Candlewood Suites Syracuse Airport!
     
  4. pooksma

    pooksma <font color=red>Can't help it~there is something a

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    Yay!!!!! :cool1:

    Happy to be reading along again:thumbsup2:dance3:
     
  5. jennyjinx3

    jennyjinx3 DIS Veteran

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    Nice to put a face to your name! May I join in?:wave2:
     
  6. Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina

    Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina DIS Veteran

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    :wave2: Hey there, pooksma! Glad to have you back!!! :goodvibes
     
  7. Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina

    Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina DIS Veteran

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    But of course!!! :thumbsup2 Glad to have you along!
     
  8. Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina

    Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina DIS Veteran

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    We rolled into the Candlewood Suites parking lot before 3 pm, so we were very pleased with our timing.

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    It took us a while to get settled into our room, as the smell of cigarette smoke seemed to be everywhere :sad2: and it necessitated two room switches before we found one we could live with. The staff were very accommodating and super friendly, but reality is this isn’t a smoke free hotel and its very, very evident (note to future travellers: the front desk said that they had been approved to go smoke-free as of January 1st, 2013....so improvements are near.....but not near enough in my book!!).

    The room was large and we had lots of space to spread out. We had a fully separate bedroom with a queen sized bed, a living area with a pull-out couch, a full kitchen, and a big bathroom.

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    There is no pool at this property, but there is a fitness centre, a great barbecue area outside and free laundry facilities.

    Proximity to the airport is excellent (it took the shuttle maybe 5 minutes, tops, to transport us door-to-door) and the shuttle is free of charge. We paid $129.99 for the one-night’s stay and a week’s parking, and we earned ourselves some Priority Club points at the same time.
     
  9. jennyjinx3

    jennyjinx3 DIS Veteran

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    NOT non-smoking??? Does that still exist??:scared1:
     
  10. KaraLyn

    KaraLyn Earning My Ears

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    Joining in for the first time...can't wait to hear all about your August Trip :wave2: Beautiful picture of you all!
     
  11. pigletto

    pigletto DIS Veteran

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    Yay!! I can't wait to read about all of your adventures!!:good vibes

    I am off to bed but rest assured I will be catching up in the morning!
     
  12. Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina

    Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina DIS Veteran

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    Yes, sadly it does. And quite honestly, I didn't even think to check for that before booking, because we are so used to everything being smoke-free here in Canada. Lesson learned on that one.

    Thank you! :goodvibes Glad you to have you along! The family pic was actually taken on our vacation.....you will see more a few more of our portraits and here about all the details in an upcoming post!

    Well hello, fellow August traveller :wave2:. I thought of you many times on our trip. Would love to hear some of the details of your family getaway as well....(hint, hint, hint ;) )
     
  13. Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina

    Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina DIS Veteran

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    After moving our luggage from the truck into the room, we decided to head to the Carousel Mall to stretch our legs out after the long car ride.

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    Plus, Jake had been working full-time since the end of school as a camp counsellor at our local YMCA, and all his money that he’d been squirreling away was burning a hole in his pocket. He had a long shopping list to attend to, and there was no time like the present!

    The brand-new, two-level ****'s Clothing and Sporting Goods was a huge, huge, HUGE hit with my sports-loving boy:

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    And he spent tons of time admiring the selection of basketball shoes at Footlocker's House of Hoops. All those colours are enough to give me headache....its like shopping for Rainbow Bright :crazy2: . But for those of you that don't know Jake, he has a "shoe thing". It's weird, I know!!! He's the girl I'll never have :lmao: .

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    During all that retail therapy, we managed to squeeze in some time on the upper level, admiring the antique carousel, the namesake of the mall. It really is so pretty. And it makes me feel like I’m five years old again.

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    Following our successful shopping expedition, we moved onwards to my hubby’s most anticipated meal of the trip......the-long awaited and much-touted Dinosaur Barbecue! Will it live up to all of Adam Richman's hype?!? Check out the episode from Man v. Food: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Le7a5QwSMwo
     
  14. pooksma

    pooksma <font color=red>Can't help it~there is something a

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    I completely understand your need for a smoke-free room.

    Checked out the video of Dinosaur BBQ and showed it to my DH. He loved it! The last time he saw a BBQ show he liked, we bought a meat injector and a roast...
     
  15. Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina

    Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina DIS Veteran

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    I think your DH and mine would be very good friends :rotfl: .
     
  16. Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina

    Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina DIS Veteran

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    Dinosaur Barbecue was actually one of the places we attempted to visit on our January trip, but the plans were foiled when it was sooooo busy we couldn't even get remotely close to park the car. DH was crushed. So when we started making plans for this August trip, even though we didn't fly out until Sunday afternoon (meaning we could have left early Sunday morning and avoided the need for a park and fly hotel), we decided to still go up one day early just to be sure we could fit it in. Ah, what we don't do for our spouses ;) .

    From the outside, it really doesn't look like much. A little on the "rough and tumble" side, to be honest. But OMG, was it busy. Again. Luckily, we snagged a parking spot right outside the front door. Yay for us :) .

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    The inside was PACKED and we were told it was going to be upwards of an hour for a table. Since it was a perfect, gorgeous, beautiful summer evening, we opted to dine at their outside "Beer and Bone Yard".

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    The food was every bit as good as we had hoped. But lordy, lordy.....the portions were enormous :faint:. Crazy huge. The first pic is a platter that was like a foot and a half long.

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    Let me also say, this was some dang fine barbecue. Every bit as good as it was billed to be. A toast to a freakin' awesome good meal.

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    Next up.....Hurricane Isaac is rearing his ugly head. And did someone say we were trying to blow up the airport? Pass the barf bag......I'm gonna need it. :worried:
     
  17. Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina

    Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina DIS Veteran

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    Back at the hotel after dinner, I decide to check the status of our flights, just to be sure the nasty weather plaguing southern Florida wasn't affecting our plans to visit Orlando. And wouldn't you know it, there was a note on the Jetblue website saying they were waiving change fees for flights due to the storm. Posted just 20 minutes AFTER we left home that morning. So I get on the phone to Jetblue, but as I expected, there were no early options still available (the 7 am plane was full). The advise us to go to the airport as scheduled and "hope for the best" as they don't yet know how the storm was going to move.

    Let's just say, the boys were not impressed. Frankly, neither was I!! Damn you, Isaac!

    That night, we were all restless. We just wanted to get there. By 11 o'clock, we gave up trying to sleep and headed across the highway to Tim Hortons for coffee. And we got to meet this fine lady:

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    No, that's not her chocolate showing. Honest. :lmao:

    A midnight stroll was just what the doctor ordered. Eventually, it was off to dreamland and morning arrived. We grabbed a big buffet breakfast at Ponderosa and made emergency hotel plans with the Candlewood Suites in the event that we were "stranded" for another day or so. We then devised "Plan B" in the event our flight didn't take off (Plan B, in case you are wondering, was us taking in the New York State Fair which just happened to be in town....no, it wasn't an Orlando theme park, but hey....it was better than sitting around and fretting about Isaac). Then we packed, grabbed a snack at Wendy's, and took the shuttle to the airport.

    And that was when things got REALLY interesting.

    To make a long story short, apparently Jake and I had some sort of bomb-building chemical on our shoes, and the TSA were all over us like a wet blanket. We had every scan, body search, luggage search, and interrogation they offered (or so it seemed). Scared the bejeezus out of my poor boy. They literally stepped between us when he went to hand me his passport (as they led him away for the search, with Steve hot on his heels for support) and screamed that we were not to touch each other in the event that we cross contaminated.

    Eventually, we were freed. But not before they searched our checked luggage too. Holy moly. Jake's heart started beating again, and we decided it was something we would laugh about it later. TSA speculated that the chemical they found on our footwear may have been picked up on our late-night stroll to Timmies, as its often found in fertilizer (and we walked through the ditch of the Candlewood before crossing the highway.....DOH!).. But who knew. What a lesson in airport security for us all.

    We finally make it to our gate.

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    Steve disappears :confused3 and we wonder where the heck he went. He emerges a short time later with a round of drinks.....the only one of the three of us who wasn't searched, he felt kind of bad for the way we had been treated :rotfl2::

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    So yummy. And brewed in upstate NY.

    A toast for the TSA "survivors"!

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    Happily, we boarded without delay, Hurricane Isaac continued to move away from the central Florida area, and we were relieved to not be subject to the travel delay we feared. That said, in the hub-bub of the whole process, I totally didn't get a chance to take my gravol before boarding. So you can guess what happened. Somewhere over Pennsylvania, the air sickness kicked in, and I threw up all the way to Florida. To the poor woman stuck sitting next to me on the plane, I offer my humblest apologies :blush: .

    Thank goodness for barf bags .
     
  18. mtmbyck

    mtmbyck I AM Canadian eh!

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    So happy to be following your report again. I've never seen lines like that at the border in 1000 Islands! That would have scared me to death being searched. I get my back up when they pat me down at the airport. I'll walk through those body scanners any day but keep your hands off " the girls" in public please. Ya ya I know it's for our safety but it just feels dirty.........

    Your hair is so long now - love it. So are you booked for Jan 2013? We are booked for march 2013. I think we may need an Ottawa Dismeet this winter. I love talking WDW with people.

    Thanks again for the trip report and can't wait to hear about it all!
     
  19. Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina

    Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina DIS Veteran

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    Hello, hello! Thanks for joining me on trip report #2! :goodvibes

    We, too, were shocked at the border line :scared1:. Quite obviously there were a whole pile of Canucks headed to Watertown to do their back to school shopping. Or that was our guess, anyway.

    Thanks for the kind comment on my hair. LOL, it was a bone of contention in all that humidity. I will admit to suffering from Monica hair (for those of you who saw the episode of Friends were her long locks succumbed to the humidity) for a good deal of our vacation. Hair bands were my best friend :thumbsup2. I am not a pony tail girl so my options were somewhat limited. Please no laughing and pointing when you see my tresses frizzing out despite my best efforts :lmao: .

    Our next trip is for late December, actually. Christmas week (December 23-30th, onsite at SeaWorld with Aquatica, Gatorland, an airboat tour, a little Disney, and the Orlando Magic/Toronto Raptors game thrown in for good measure...oh yeah, and shopping....can't forget that :thumbsup2). Where are you staying in March? I would love to go March Break some time, but I can't see it happening now that my son is working at the Y. Drat!

    An Ottawa Dismeet sound like fun! We often get up that way for basketball. I vote you to be the official organizer of the event! :mic:
     
  20. Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina

    Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina DIS Veteran

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    So....its now Sunday evening. We de-plane shortly before 7 pm. The boys grabbed the luggage (God love 'em) while I dragged my sorry butt (and my trusty barf bag) through the airport.

    The Alamo line up was mercifully empty. We had our rental car and were on our way in no time.

    It was hot and humid and rainy, which certainly didn't immediately help to alleviate my head and stomach issues. A brain tumor survivor, I tend to get headachy and nauseated whenever there's a change in air pressure (one of those pesky long-term effects......normally I can live with it but you add it to the airsickness and it just wasn't a good combination).

    The drive to our acccomodations was quiet and uneventful. No traffic or other issues to worry about. The boys were fretting over me which I thought was sweet. I knew they were starving but they just wanted to get me to our room so I could stretch out and lay down.

    Checking in was super fast thanks to a wonderfully sweet young man at the Registration desk at Westgate Lakes Resort and Spa. He was very compassionate when he heard I had been motion sick on the plane, and had us off to our room in now time (thank you, Matthew Singh :thumbsup2 ... you have no idea how much I appreciated it!!). Virtually all of our room requests were honoured. We were in a FABULOUS location and first impressions of the resort itself were excellent. It was big, beautiful and certainly seemed to offer every amenity we could have hoped for. We couldn't wait to do more exploring the next day when we were rested and feeling better.

    The boys unloaded the luggage, toured our villa, then headed to Cici's for pizza (bless 'em, they brought me back a pizza to snack on before I went to bed....and by then, I actually felt a bit like eating and had started to lose the headache, so it was perfect timing :) ). We had a two bedroom, two bathroom unit and we had soooo much space. I loved it. Some pics of the room:

    The kitchen:

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    Master bedroom (and yes, that's a 4-person spa tub .... plus we had a huge stand up shower, double vanity, and separate toilet area:

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    Second bedroom:

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    Second bath:

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    Dining area:

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    Living room:

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    And full laundry facilities:

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    The room itself slept 8.
     
  21. Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina

    Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina DIS Veteran

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    Though it took us until morning's light to really check it out, we had a beautiful screened-in balcony with access from both the living room and master bedroom:

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    We had a beautiful view from the balcony of Turkey Lake. We could watch the Disney fireworks in the evening, and the gators patrol the marina area in the morning.

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    Sorry about the grainy appearance of some of the photos. The screen makes a clear shot difficult!!!
     

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