Friday, April 6th Good Friday – Travel from Duluth to Orlando The cast of characters – Me (Melissa), working wife and mother. I work for a big healthcare organization writing software for inpatient nurses and doctors (I was a nurse once upon a time). The husband (Tim) – engineering manager for a local aircraft manufacturer (aka rocket scientist), and pilot (hobby, not professionally). The daughter (Trinity) – age 5, kindergarten student. Recent Disney history – we did 3 days in Orlando (Sea World, AK, MK) and a 5-night cruise on the Disney Dream in June 2011, as a party of 11 (grandparents & friends with us). Prior to that we did a week-long stay in Orlando in 2007 (Trinity was 6 months old), with the in-laws (both times staying at the Marriott timeshare property). Tim and I did a week-long stay (All-Star Movies) as a kid-less couple in 2003. Now on with the trip report: I woke up at 5am from a dream – in the dream I had boarded our flight, and they closed the door behind me, but Tim and Trinity had not boarded the plane. Luckily I was able to fall back to sleep. I woke up at 6:15 and briefly contemplated getting up. Trinity’s “sun” (her timer nightlight) was still set to school time, meaning she would be up at 6:30. Amazingly I fell asleep again, until 7am. Trinity emerged a few minutes later. I got her dressed in one of her favorite Toy Story tee shirts, affectionately called “butts” in our house Wherein she asked me “do we have to wear Disney stuff every day?” Of course not (because momma isn’t made of money), and she seemed content knowing it wasn’t going to be EVERY day. We got the adults showered, the car loaded, and headed to McDonald’s for breakfast. While we were waiting for our food, I realized that I had never combed Trinity’s hair that morning! Luckily we had loads of time, and we were only 3 miles from home. Trinity ate a few bites of her hotcakes and sausage. Tim had his usual, bacon-egg-cheese bagel. I had an egg McMuffin and a caramel frappe. My timeline needed us on the road by 9:30am. Even with the detour back home for a hair do, we were on the road at 8:55am. The drive to Minneapolis was long, boring and uneventful. We gassed up my Civic near the airport (so as to be ready to go upon our return), and parked at the Park ‘N’ Fly lot. I had found a coupon code online (retailmenot.com) and made reservations MONTHS ago (like in December). Our parking was pre-paid at $8.25 per day (plus tax, the total was $88.50). Normal airport parking is $12-$15 day. The Park ‘N’ Fly shuttle is always right at your car as you unload your luggage, and we were whisked off to the Humphrey terminal. There wasn’t a soul inside at the Sun Country counter. We checked our 3 bags (pre-paid, $20 each), and were offered a First Class upgrade for the bargain price of $89 each (and $20 bag fee refunded). I had to decline. We walked straight through security, and arrived at our gate just before noon. Unfortunately our flight wasn’t scheduled to depart until 2:50pm. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m chronically early, and that gets to be a theme on this trip. Trinity and I took a walk in the terminal, and played for a bit in the kid’s area. I think one of the canned announcements (“passengers must control their carry-on baggage…”) made her kind of nervous, and she wanted to go right back to where daddy was sitting. Around 1pm we sat down at the only restaurant (we were in the smaller Humphrey terminal), called Fletcher’s Wharf, and had lunch. Tim and I split a walleye sandwich, and Trinity nibbled on a grilled cheese sandwich. She polished off a big glass of milk at least. It always irritates me that restaurants can charge $2.99 each for a fountain Diet Coke. Note to self – drink more water! After lunch and a trip to the restroom, it was finally time to board. Surprisingly, there were a ton of empty seats on the flight. We departed on time. During the flight, Trinity played with her Tinkerbell magnet dolls, then I had her do her homework (just 3 quick worksheets). Next she watched about 20 minutes of Finding Nemo on daddy’s iPad, then back to her magnets. Luckily, it was nearly time to land. We rode the tram to baggage claim, and our suitcases were some of the first ones to come out. We took the elevator to the rental car area, walked to the Thrifty blue chip area, loaded in the car and were on the highway by 7:05pm. Unfortunately traffic was bumper to bumper, and we didn’t arrive at the Westgate Town Center until almost 7:45pm. (side note – we own a timeshare in Las Vegas, so we were able to trade our week to get this place free). The Westgate Town Center is HUGE. Like needs it’s own zip code huge. We have stayed at the Marriott timeshare place the last two times we were in Orlando, and if I had a choice, I’d go back there. Nothing is WRONG with the Westgate, it’s just massive, crowded, traffic, noisy by the pools, etc. We got checked in, and got to our 1-bedroom (with full kitchen and laundry) suite at 8:30pm. Of course we still haven’t had any supper, so we dropped off our luggage and navigated our way back out to find some. We thought about going to Ponderosa, but there was a line out the door (at 8:30pm!) and the same at the nearby Sizzler. We ended up at IHOP, which was crowded, but we were able to be seated right away. Tim had a philly cheese steak and fries, Trinity had mac & cheese, and I had a BLT and fruit. The food came quickly – but I was really annoyed that mine and Tim’s came several minutes before Trinity’s. After supper we all made a quick stop at the local Publix for basics (milk, cereal, soda) and to the adjacent liquor store for mixin’s for Mango Mai Tai’s for on board the cruise (did you know that Disney is the only cruise line that allows you to carry on your own liquor?) – Mango rum (2 shots), Triple sec (1 shot), Grenadine (1/2 shot), pour over ice, top with Orange Pineapple juice, and enjoy. We made it back to the hotel at 10pm, did a very quick unpacking, and everyone went straight to bed.