Hurricane Earl is gone now, only a couple of branches down and about an hour of powerless-ness. Not much planned for this weekend , we had no idea what Earl would bring. So, having enjoyed others pre- and post-trip reports, I thought Id collaborate. Our crew: me (DH), DW, DD12, DD10, DS8. We live quite near the Halifax airport in Nova Scotia. Weve been going to Orlando every 2-3 years since our first visit in 1999. Lucky me, Ive been by myself on business a few times as well. Our last trip was in April 2008 for 10 days to WDW. We stayed at our usual place, The Fountains timeshare condo on I-drive that we purchased back in 1999. Our oldest DDs best friend, mother and sister accompanied us, and we just piled in to the 2-BR. But we were all fairly busy, so it didnt seem so crowded. Back then we had 7 day WDW passes with water parks - and boy, everybody loved the water parks. There arent any here in Nova Scotia. Spent 2 days in TL, 1 in BB. Lessons learned from 2008: next time, slow down and relax more. Dont share accomodations with others (although that wasnt a mistake, dont regret it), have even more space to ourselves. Dont go early and stay late to try to make the most of every day; instead, just chill more. Also, kids dont mind eating packaged snacks from the backpack while waiting in line - they realized that if they left the line to go purchase snacks, theyd ride less. So that was a win-win. Evening routine was: 1 parent takes kids to pool, other throws something in the oven, e.g. frozen pizza, chicken nuggets. Unwrap some packaged salad. Cooking like Peggy Bundy. Way cheaper, less wasted time, and actually more relaxing than waiting in line at a restaurant. Kids want chicken nuggets and pizza anyway, and they typically dont finish the large restaurant portions. Thats our opinion anyway. Certainly the kids didnt complain for the restaurant over the pool, and even the parent doing the cooking (defrosting) got a chance to flake out on the couch while the oven did all the work. We did go to Golden Corral once, and the kids loved the self-serve ice cream. This next trip will be Feb. 11th, 2010 - Feb. 26th. 15 days! Our longest ever. This is because the Canada games will be held in Halifax at that time, and their giving the kids a 2-week break then instead of the regular spring break. They say its to let the kids enjoy the games; they forget to mention they need the school facilities to run the games. ;-) Well stay at The Fountains condo again. Weve looked at other places, Ive tried a couple when I was in Orlando on business, but we never find any place we like as much. Back in March 2010 we booked the flight through Aeroplan, learned a lot here: http://www.flyertalk.com/. We looked until we found 3 seats together on aeroplan, and grabbed them. Next morning, we got lucky and found 2 more seats on the same flights down and back - almost. Down is the same, we leave early and arrive at noon on Friday. Back we take the same first leg to Toronto, then the boys head off for Montreal, while the girls go direct to Halifax. Just like the Amazing Race (one of the TV shows we follow). But this cost $1,400 in fees and tax, and its so convenient to leave from Halifax than try to drive to say, Portland ME (though I keep thinking of it). Next we booked a minivan for ~$270/week from Alamo. The plan is to keep looking for a better deal, and if we find one take it and cancel this one. Havent found a better deal yet, probably wont. Since we did WDW last time, we want to do USF/IoA this year. We prefer it to WDW, though theres nothing wrong with WDW. So my first thought was Orlando FlexPass x 5. But as I did some research on these boards, I changed to buy a Universal premier AP because of the $15/day parking cost. My reasoning is: it would be nice to be able to just drop in on the spur of the moment, and just do a ride or two before supper. But Id never pay $15 to park if that was the only time in the park that day... which made me realize Id tend to go earlier and stay longer to get my $15 worth... which reminded me of last time. If I bought the AP, then I wouldnt obsess over parking. I moved up to the premier AP because you get valet parking, which would save even more walking time for a short visit, because you arrive right at citywalk instead of across the street in the giant garage. I could probably use that exercise, but the kids dont need it and I dont want to wear them down late in the say. So, 4 x FlexPasses and 1 premier AP. I havent decided on SeaWorld/Aquatica/Wet-n-Wild yet, but may just get another AP for similar reasons. Other than that, Im not sure we need much planning. Itll be colder in February I expect, we tend to go in Sept, Oct or April. If the weather is warm enough for Aquatica, I think thatll be our priority. If its raining, the girls can go shopping and the guys might go on some inside rides or play video games. DW would like to go to the beach, probably Atlantic - any suggestions? We havent been to SeaWorld or Aquatica yet. Im pretty sure wed like Aquatica. DS8 loves all animals, SW will probably be his favourite. Well try to feed some dolphins, etc. while were there. Im looking forward to WWoHP, having read the books. DW is a coaster fan, looking forward to HRRR. DD12 wants to do everything. DD10 loves the water, as does DS8. DS8 and DD10 are looking forward to Seuss Landing. But the family does agree on our favourite ride of all - Popeye and Blutos barges. Kids want to go to Golden Corral for the ice cream, so Ill take them and DW can go elsewhere - she has a terrible reaction to MSG, and everything at GC (except the carving station) has it we were told. They even spray it over the salad bar they said, not sure if I believe that, but DW wasnt taking any chances, her reaction is quite severe and lasts over 24h . Other than that, no specific restaurants planned, but well probably decide to do one or two. I love Panera Bread, but I think the kids would prefer Ponderosa. Maybe Margaritaville nachos for lunch, or Pastamore - everyone but me loves italian food (I like it, just not my favourite). DW and I might leave DD12 in charge one night and sneak off to something like Cafe Tu Tu Tango or the Ale House (DW loves hockey!). Not sure about that one, but we dont have to decide until were there. Also, The Fountains has some pretty good on-site activities, at least according to my kids. And the pool is pretty big, has a couple of longer water slides, etc. The kids like making crafts, and last trip there was a bonfire and sing-a-long next to the lake. They wouldnt miss that if its there again.