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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    Apparently they had all 30 (?) teams. Jake tried to negotiate 29 more visits before we left on Sunday but alas, my willpower was greater than his persuasiveness :rotfl: .
     
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  3. Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina

    Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina DIS Veteran

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    One of Steve's "must do's" on this trip was the Outta Control Dinner Show, so we had had the tickets booked since February. We were initially kind of leery on the quality of the show and meal (since the price was crazy low....I think we paid $20.99 pp via Reserve Direct, and that included all you could drink alcohol which generally elevates the price). But it was getting consistently fantastic review on Tripadvisor so we thought, what the heck? And boy, were we ever glad we did.

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    Arriving at Wonderworks, we lined up with the other guests waiting for the doors to open. The first arriving got the best seats, so we intentionally came a little early. Not long afterward, we were seated and the food and drink began arriving.

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    First came beverages and popcorn (served in giant plastic top hats). Then the pizzas came out....half cheese, half pepperoni, and there was no end to them. Lots and lots and lots of food. The room was much smaller and intimate than I expected, and we were pleased to have seats right near the front (three and four seats in from the stage....awesome! :cheer2:).

    Tony Brent was the performer, and it wasn't long into the pizza that the show began. Let me tell you this was an AMAZING show, half comedy and half magic, all family friendly and sooooo well done. We laughed until we thought our sides would split.

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    Pardon my pics, they are not the greatest as the lighting in the seating area is quite dim, but hopefully you'll get the idea of the show.

    Tony select multiple people from the audience to participate in the show, and Steve was lucky enough to be picked (well, that's 'cause he was the only one in the crowd who was willing to give Tony a $50 bill for one of his tricks). Of course, I think he was rethinking that decision when Tony lit it on fire and tossed it into the rafters. Goodbye, $50! :rolleyes1

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    No worries, the $50 later turned up in the most unlikely of places....but I won't tell you where in case you decide to go see the show (and you should.....I mean really, YOU SHOULD!). But let me just say you will be amazed. I am still amazed.

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    The evening lasted about 90 minutes and it went by in a heartbeat. I can't help but wonder why this show isn't sold out every single night as its THAT GOOD (there were probably 50 people there, max, on August 31...possibly about half capacity). So funny, and so worth the price. We were SO glad we went!

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    After the show concluded with a round of white cake for all guests, we were TIRED. We headed back through the traffic snarl of International Drive and opted for a quick swim, then bed. Heavenly bed :cloud9: . Saturday would be our final full day in Orlando. Vacation was drawing to a close. :sad1:
     
  4. bankr63

    bankr63 DIS Veteran

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    We crossed at Ivy Lea about a week before for some back-to-school shopping - we were on our annual camping trip at Charleston Lake. We got to the bridge toll and waited, and waited, and waited, as traffic backed up behind us. Finally a convoy came through with pieces of a house (just wide enough for the bridge) on flatbeds!
    After that, it was a race to US Customs to be first in line. We were lucky enough to be near the front, and passed pretty quick.

    Seconded! (if it hasn't been already). Would be fun to meet some local Disers.
     
  5. EastYorkDisneyFan

    EastYorkDisneyFan DIS Veteran

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    Also don't forget one of the Jays minor league teams is the Dunedin Blue Jays.
     
  6. Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina

    Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina DIS Veteran

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    With the border crossing so congested in August, I honestly hate to think of how bad it will be at Christmas time.....:crazy2:. We are flying out of Buffalo for that trip so we will cross at Niagara Falls or Fort Erie, but I betcha it will be a delay again.

    :thumbsup2 How far is Dunedin from Orlando?
     
  7. sympatico

    sympatico DIS Veteran

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    Allow about 2 hours for traffic and such. By the way I love your trip reports.
     
  8. Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina

    Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina DIS Veteran

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    :thumbsup2 Will have to keep that in mind if we ever have the opportunity to do a spring trip!

    And thank you :goodvibes . Glad to have you reading along!
     
  9. Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina

    Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina DIS Veteran

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    Saturday, September 1st….our final full day in Orlando. Mother Nature had blessed us YET AGAIN with another gorgeous, sunny, HOT weather day, and we weren’t interested in wasting a second of it.

    We started the morning with a hearty breakfast at Golden Corral, as selected by the boys. By hearty, I mean stick-to-your-ribs (and probably clog-your-arteries) hearty! This was the most expansive and possibly most bizarre breakfast buffet I have ever seen, with things like mac and cheese, pork tenderloin, creamed chipped beef and boneless breaded chicken breast bites just a sample of the offerings (in addition to all your favourite breakfast standards). Heck, you could have even had an ice cream sundae if you so chose (and shockingly, we saw more than one person helping themselves to a piece of cake or bowl of soft serve :scratchin).

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    The waitress must have thought Jake looked particularly thirsty that morning, because when he ordered orange juice to drink, she brought him four glasses :confused3.

    Following breakfast, Jake chilled at the resort while Steve and I ran a couple of errands (we had to pick up our portrait order at Studio One to One at the Florida Mall, plus we had some prints to pick up at Walgreens). We opted to choose a more relaxing path for this last day of vacation, as the boys wanted the opportunity to enjoy some of the other wonderful amenities that Westgate Lakes had to offer (and that we hadn’t yet had a chance to utilize on our more busy Aquatica, Discovery Cove and Kissimmee activity days).

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    The Citrus Breeze pool and activity center (which you may remember was located almost right outside the front entrance to our villa) was the site for the Saturday pool party bash at the Lakes, and that was our first focus of the day. For four hours (11 am to 3 pm), the pool and activity center were rocking with music from a live DJ (who was EXCELLENT!!), dancing, food, drinks, and tons of games and activities from limbo to hoola hooping. The whole event was very, very well put together, a ton of fun, and well attended and well received by the guests (lots of participation all around, from every age group). We swam, we sunned, we sang along to the tunes, we even did the Macarena (funny how no one minds shaking their booty in front of a bunch of strangers!!) and just simply enjoyed ourselves immensely. It was both relaxing and entertaining all at the same time. So much fun!

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    The limbo contest for the Under-15 crowd:

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    Once the pool party ended, we dried off and changed out of our swimwear, then decided to head down to the marina (also very perfectly located at the rear of our building) and head out onto Turkey Lake for a cruise on the paddleboats.

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    Jake was a little leery to try this out after watching the gators swimming along near the shore each morning just as the sun came up (the marina attendant said there was one resident alligator who measured a full 4’ long) but the staffers at the dock assured us that they were more afraid of us than we were of them. Not sure I believe them but we appreciated the reassurance (we did watch a waterskier practice each morning on the marked course on Turkey Lake and the gators seemed to leave him alone….so maybe the gators really are big chickens? Hard to say.). At any rate, Steve and Jake piled into the front (they were our “drivers”) and I got the relaxing job of taking pictures from my prime seating on the rear of the boat. Ah, good times!

    The Skipper:

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    The First Mate:

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    What a view we had from the lake. Simply beautiful.

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    We must have spent about an hour or so “on tour”, breaking occasionally to admire the view, enjoy the breeze, and allow the boys to rest their pedalling legs.

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    By the time we headed back to the dock, our heads were baked so we opted for a short rehydration break back at the villa before heading out of the resort for one more attraction before dinner. Our trio of history buffs still had a stop on the to-do list, and this late steamy afternoon was the perfect time to enjoy it!
     
  10. Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina

    Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina DIS Veteran

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    Shortly after 5 pm, we were rolling down International Drive with our next destination in sight……

    The Titanic Experience.

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    Okay, I will admit…..perhaps in the spirit of a “family fun” and “relaxing” summer vacation, this might have been an odd choice. But that said, know that we are HUGE history buffs and that the plight of the Titanic has always been particularly fascinating to our family (in a horribly sad sort of way). And….it was air conditioned. Always a bonus when its 95 degrees and sunny outside.

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    Before our tour begins, we are each given “boarding passes” bearing the name and personal information of an actual passenger on board the Titanic’s doomed voyage. At the end of the guided tour, there is a huge wall bearing the names of the guests on board (broken down by first, second and third class) and you find out if you lived or died that fateful April night. It was both interesting and haunting at the same time.

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    Also before the tour begins, they take your photo in the lobby in front of a giant green screen, which superimposes your family image in front of the Titanic’s Grand Staircase (note there is an incredible replica of the Grand Staircase in the exhibit but there are no photographs or videography allowed….and its strictly enforced). You also have your family pic taken on the “deck” of the ship. In the gift shop at the end of the tour, you can view your pics and pick them up for a very reasonable price…..we purchased the Grand Staircase photo (complete with the ghost of the captain over our shoulder) for $7.50. Not a bad souvenir and great for the scrapbooking!

    The tour itself lasted about an hour, and we were guided by two “passengers” from the Titanic complete in period costume and, in the gentleman’s case, bearing a British accent (he departed from his homeland en route to America, and our female guide was an American who was on her way home to the States). There were a host of real items from the Titanic (including wine bottles which remained unbroken during the sinking and which still contained the wine from 1912 to this day….very eerie) and an assortment of replicas such as a stateroom, the Grand Staircase, and the onboard café. The guides were excellent, sharing their “personal story” as well as walking us through how their voyage began, what it was like to be a passenger, how the “unsinkable” ship succumbed to the iceberg (and the many, many ways that one small difference in the course of events would have altered the course of history forever), and what the last moments on board were like for the various classes of guests. A huge chunk of ice was next to the passenger listing room (which listed all passengers by class, and where you could cross reference your boarding pass with the list to see if you were among the survivors or the dead) and you were encouraged to place your hand on the iceberg to feel the temperature of the water that the passengers would have perished in while they waited for assistance in vain. A huge piece of metal from the ship which had been raised from the bottom of the ocean (I believe they said it was the second largest piece of the Titanic in existence), rusted and degraded, hung from the ceiling beside the chunk of ice. It was all very profound.

    All in all, it was a great tour and we all ourselves immensely. When the tour ended, we had the opportunity to go back and revisit any of the rooms and items on display if there was something we wanted to see in greater detail. While I thought the admission price was kind of steep ($60 taxes included for three of us, and that was with a discount coupon) I would highly recommend the attraction for those with kids at least 10 and up. Hubby would now like to visit the CSI Experience on our December trip……so its obvious that Titanic was a hit.

    Dinner was next, and Chili’s (a family favourite) was conveniently located across the street. Mmmmmmm!

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    Back at the resort, we enjoyed a final swim at the Citrus Breeze pool, did all of our major packing up (to limit the amount of organizing which would need to be done in the morning when we needed to check out) and it was off to bed. We could hardly believe we were soon heading home.
     
  11. retiredkid

    retiredkid <font color=blue>Your shots make me want to try ag

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    Nooooooooo!! I dont wanna go home!!!!!!!!!

    sounds like a great last day.

    more great updates
     
  12. shalom

    shalom DIS Veteran

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    I think it also varies in the U.S. by region -- when we got married, my parents gifted us with a honeymoon in Michigan, and we were shocked that it was hard to find non-smoking restaurants. In Colorado, even the total dives would have "smoking" or "non-smoking." And that was twenty-five years ago!

    We still get caught once in a while forgetting to ask for non-smoking, although in our experience it's the Southern states where it can be tough to get. Guess I need to remember your experience if we start going north east!


    :scared1:

    Never. Flying. Again. :p

    :love:

    I liked that carousel so much I had to go track down who made it -- the Philadelphia Toboggan Company. Around here the older carousels tend to be Dentzel or Herschell-Spillman or imported (there's one in Holland, MI that's Dutch); I've never seen a PTC in real life. I think the closest one is in Louisville -- we may have to check that out! :cool:

    Dunno about Man vs Food, but we've had good luck with one from Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. :)

    Oh, man, those otters are unbearably cute! Can you see them from the seating area or are they nearby or how is that set up, exactly?

    I love Disney, but I have to say that I think SeaWorld is the better value. Their prices are more reasonable, but in our experience their employees are just as willing to go out of their way to be helpful as well. The regular park seems to us more "human friendly" -- we were never in a line where it wasn't shaded; compared to the MK there's tons of shade around the parks in general; and the changes in pavement were such a relief to my feet that the first day we visited I thought that some of the pavements there must be some material softer that cement (it's not). The cafeteria-style restaurant lines move along pretty briskly, too. The employees may not be quite so bubbly-cheerful (although they're always helpful if you ask), but it just generally seems to be a really well-run, well thought-out system. :)

    This sounds like my kind of place! I regularly have meatloaf or mac and cheese and other leftovers for breakfast. One of the reasons we don't eat out much at home is I like my big meal in the morning, but I'm picky about regular breakfast food. I make so much of it at home so expect my fried eggs to be hot off the griddle and on equally hot buttered toast, the pecans to be toasted for my pecan pancakes, not too many valencia oranges in my orange juice, etc. etc. I'm much more open-minded about stuff I haven't made so often I have it reduced to a science (since I tend to use up whatever cheese we have lying around, our mac and cheese varies considerable!), so much more likely to be pleased getting it in a restaurant. :upsidedow


    Maybe it's just that alligators are nocturnal, so they're not that hungry in the mornings. ;)

    Looking forward to this, whatever it is (I have a couple of guesses! :teeth: ).
     
  13. Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina

    Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina DIS Veteran

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    I KNOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :sad1: :sad1: (pardon me while I go blow my nose)

    The otters are in a large glassed-in area in a section of the Freshwater Oasis. So you can't exactly swim "with" them, but they are RIGHT on the other side of the glass wall.....so you are up close. You have to actually go into the water to see them (their area isn't visible from the shore.....that's where the sunken lounge chairs are).

    I am happy to meet someone else who enjoys SeaWorld as much as we do :thumbsup2 . I know I am definitely an odd-man-out on that one here on the boards!!
     
  14. Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina

    Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina DIS Veteran

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    Sunday, September 2.

    Just like that, it was over.

    Sunday dawned hot, sunshiny and beautiful once again. We did our final packing (man, was the mood sombre), loaded the rental car, and headed to the main building to check out. Our final breakfast would be Jake’s pick, so it was no surprise that we ended up at Dunkin Donuts (he loves their chicken biscuits….I am more of a traditionalist. Just pass me a chocolate chip muffin and I’m a happy girl!).

    We arrived nice and early at the airport, so we were able to do a little shopping (I am always impressed at how good the shopping is at MCO) and Jake was elated to find an Otter Box for his Blackberry at Airport Wireless. We had searched all week long, high and low (and everywhere in between), for an Otter Box for the new Blackberry Bold with no success, and he had been totalled bummed out that he didn’t fulfill that item on his shopping list. Let’s just say our last-minute discovery meant that we had one happy boy on our hands, and it helped to alleviate the pervasive going-home blues that had plagued us all morning. We grabbed an early, light lunch at Nathan’s in the food court, then it was off to navigate the security check.

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    Happily, our airport drama from Syracuse was not repeated and we were through security with only a minor delay (note to self: a teeny-tiny jar of orange marmalade is apparently not considered a solid. Who knew?). The lines were super long at security so we were thankful we had given ourselves lots of time to get through. We were only at our gate for about 15 minutes before we were boarded.

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    After my disaster of a flight to Orlando, I had taken no chances, and two doses of Gravol were firmly in effect by the time we got into the air. No barf bag was needed for this trip! I even managed to find a few episodes of Love It Or List It on TV. Happy travels for me :cool1: ! Enjoying the view from 40,000 feet:

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    Back on the ground at Syracuse, it was a warm day but there was markedly less humidity than we had become accustomed to in the last week. The “coolness” was a nice change. We collected our luggage, hit the loo (I hate using the airplane washrooms), our shuttle arrived without delay, and we were in the truck and on our way home shortly after 4 pm.

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    Our last meal of the vacation was at Cracker Barrel in Watertown.

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    Root beers all around. A toast to another amazing, awesome family vacation!!!

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    Our wait at the border was only about 30 minutes this time (long enough, but manageable compared to our crossing one week earlier). We were home just shortly after 8 pm, Tim Horton coffees in hand.

    This sweetie was waiting for us by the door:

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    Man, had I missed my girl.
     
  15. Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina

    Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina DIS Veteran

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    And so, my friends, this is "the end".

    All that's left to do is scrapbook the photos, write the TripAdvisor reviews, and wait for our next getaway. The next time we arrive at Orlando airport, we will see one of these:

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    Our next holiday is just three and a half short months away :dance3: . Jake decided he would rather have another southern vacation than a traditional family Christmas (if you had met some of our relatives, you would totally understand his motivation :rotfl2:) and Steve and I were completely on board! (pardon the pun :rolleyes1). So, the countdown is on.....December 21st is the last day of school before the holiday break, December 22nd we leave for Buffalo (a new airport this time....wish us luck!), and December 23rd we should have our feet on Florida soil by 10:33 am barring any flight delays. I have a new supply of Gravol all set and ready to go :thumbsup2.

    This next trip, we are staying onsite at SeaWorld in a one-bedroom suite at the Residence Inn. We have unlimited admission to both Aquatica and SeaWorld, and those wonderful Quick Queue passes for SW as a complimentary onsite perk :yay: . Those old favourites aside, we also have a host of "new" experiences on the itinerary. We plan to visit Gatorland, have dinner at T-Rex in Downtown Disney, Dine with Shamu at SeaWorld, attend the Orlando Magic/Toronto Raptors game on December 29th, and visit Celebration for their holiday spectacular (Jake wants to see it "snow" in Florida). We hope to take a road trip to Cocoa Beach, and we have reservations for our favourite Disney character breakfast, O'hana, at the Polynesian (we plan to follow that meal with a tour of the deluxe resorts on the monorail, so we can see all the beautiful Christmas decorations). And Jake wants to mini golf at Congo River.

    For Christmas Eve, we have reservations for dinner at Santa's Fireside Feast (a SeaWorld holiday event). I must remember to tell Santa how good of a girl I've been this year. Mostly, anyway :rotfl: .

    Oh yes....there will also be the shopping. The outlets, the malls, and heck, even at the airport. But I bet you all already knew that ;) .

    Thanks so much for reading along, and all the wonderful and kind comments. What a pleasure to share our vacation memories with such friendly people. :hug:
     
  16. bankr63

    bankr63 DIS Veteran

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    Does anyone else see a striking resemblance between Gina's Guy and Gina's Girl?? Same smile, and just a touch of grey? I'm just sayin....
     
  17. Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina

    Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina DIS Veteran

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    :rotfl2: :rotfl: :lmao:
     
  18. shalom

    shalom DIS Veteran

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    We must have cross posted, because my response to this was, "What mean you, 'over'? What happened to the history?" Then I read through the whole post thinking you'd be visiting something historic in New York or Canada before the light dawned. I'm slow. :sad2:

    Titanic Experience, hm? That wasn't either of the ones I was thinking. :upsidedow I kind of want to do that, but we've done two different touring Museum Exhibits on the Titanic and I just can't justify the cost when ninety-some percent of the thing is repeat for us. *sigh*

    A tortie, hmmm? Our one tortoiseshell would give us just that look when we got back -- not grumpy mad (my mom had a Tonkinese who alternately sulked and complained for days when they got back from a trip), but a definite air of "It's about time you got back." Torties are highly opinionated but generous sweethearts, in my experience.

    You could always start a pretrip report (hint hint!). We're going in January and I'm doing one, although so far it's as much trip reports on past trips as planning.

    I'm pretty much odd-man-out at home with my love of WDW. My middle daughter likes Disney, but when it comes to crunch time, she votes SeaWorld. :rolleyes: I like SeaWorld a lot, but I really want to do the Disney parks, and we haven't yet. I keep telling the kids that they ARE going to the parks next time, whether they want to or not. We've done two trips doing their stuff - this trip is mine. :p Hubby thinks the kids who think they won't like Disney will convert once we get there; have to see how that goes.

    :rotfl:

    It's that possessive air they have in common, I think. In some pictures I take, hubby has the same loving/possessive expression, which he never shows in pics taken by other people. :)
     
  19. Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina

    Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina DIS Veteran

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    Oh, she was grumpy mad alright. She gave us a piece of her mind for three days straight....nice and loud, I may add :headache:....between begging for lovin' and scratches under the chin. She had great care while we were away (our awesome next door neighbours come daily during our trips to clean out her litter box, refresh her food, give her a healthy dose of Temptations, and provide a little physical interaction) but apparently there's no substitute for Mom. She is a sweetheart, though.....my baby (can I still call her that when she's 14 years old?), and definitely the princess of the house!

    I had thought of doing a pre-trip report, just to pass the time, but I am not sure what to talk about for the next three and a half months. LOL, all the hard work is done...the plans are set, the trip is even paid for...which is why I am glad I will have some scrappin' to do once my Shutterfly order arrives. :thumbsup2
     
  20. mtmbyck

    mtmbyck I AM Canadian eh!

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    Well, I am so sad your trip report is over. The Titanic exhibit is cool, but I do question the big metal hull they have as the exhibit in Las Vegas has the exact same piece of metal. That made me suspicious. But I really liked Titanic also and it was a somber interesting tour.

    My DDs are grade 11 and grade 8 so they will love DC. Yes, we will do the swim with Dolphins. Guessing that with just one trip to DC and 2 to Aquatica isn't worth the annual pass?

    Marriott Grande Vista is not a Seaworld partner sadly. But you can get amazing deals on 2 bedroom units on timeshare rental sites! And the rooms are gorgeous - id furnish my home with their decor!

    You only have 3 months to wait! Must be nice. I still have 6 months!! Can't wait to hear about your next adventure. Thanks again for a speedy trip report with tons of pictures.
     
  21. KaraLyn

    KaraLyn Earning My Ears

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    I really enjoyed your trip report....and looking forward to the next one! :hourglass

    My family and I will also be in Orlando in December....sooooo excited to go back:banana:
     

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