TRIP REPORT - The OtHeR SiDe of OrlanDo -lodging at WINDSOR HILLS

Discussion in 'Orlando Hotels and Attractions' started by mikkiwikki, Dec 20, 2011.

  1. mikkiwikki

    mikkiwikki DIS Veteran

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    (Why isn't there a section for NON disney pretrip reports? Well - build it and they will come...right?)...HMMMMmmMM WELL
    - There has to be a first for everything, & I'm happy to blaze that path. In 4 days me & my little family will be traveling to MCO....
    SooOoOoExcited :goodvibes that I decided to start a PRETrip report.

    >>>Join me in the FIRST ever NON-disney Orlando Trip report! ...drum roll Puhleeezz........


    :santa: :santa: :santa: :santa: :santa: :santa: :santa: :santa: :santa: :santa:
    ***2012- The OtHeR Side of Orlando Christmas xtraVaGanZa -*****

    :santa: :santa: :santa: :santa: :santa: :santa: :santa: :santa: :santa: :santa:

    The NonSuspecting participants:
    DS is 11 - very in love with technology at this age.
    DD is 9 - very in love with all things dogs and horseys
    DH - Just along for the ride...and excited to have a nice getaway from local family drama

    The suspecting and directing participant
    ME - loving escaping the northern climes even for the briefest of reprives.

    QUICK PHOTO LINKS
    Windsor Hills Pool
    Windsor Hills Condo 304 vacation central florida


    The plan is to travel to MCO the day before Christmas..
    (will update these with hyperlinks when we go to events)

    December 23rd OPEN GIFTS at home in Vermont

    Dec 24, 2011 Christmas Eve
    NOON Arrive @ MCO -Get Rental Car
    Stop at Grocery store???
    3:00 checkin to WINDSOR HILLS
    Decorate Christmas Tree
    LUNCH AT PERKINS

    5:00 PM Have Dinner in Condo or out?

    Dec 25, 2011 ChristmasDay - HANG OUT AT WINDSOR HILLS
    8:00am Open a few presents..
    11:00 AM Watch the Parading of the Ducks
    12:00 PM BRUNCH Peabody hotel - SHHHH! its a Secret!!...Seeing the ducks...Brunch

    Dec 26, 2011 UNIVERSAL ORLANDO
    Bubba Gumps @City Walk {Need to scroll down a few for this one...}

    Dec 27, 2011

    Dec 28, 2011 UNIVERSAL ORLANDO
    MYTHOS
    Grinchmas


    Dec 29, 2011 GATORLAND
    6:00 PM ARABIAN NIGHTS

    Dec 30, 2011 KENNEDY SPACE CENTER

    Dec 31, 2011 SWIM DAY
    Ponderosa

    Jan 1, 2012 Orlando science Center

    Jan 2, 2012 Not sure

    Jan 3, 2012 Not sure

    Jan 4, 2012 Leave
     
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  3. 2Pirates2Princesses

    2Pirates2Princesses adventures with our now 2 pirates & 3 princesses!

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    Sounds fun! I've read trip reports on the Universal Studios/IOA and Sea World forums which is probably why a separate, dedicated forum hasn't been made for non-Disney parks trip reports. We are considering a non-Disney Orlando trip this summer to visit Legoland and Sea World, but at this point we're not 100% sure because we're planning to go to back to WDW in 2013 so we may need to focus on saving rather than spending in 2012 :laughing: Have a wonderful holiday trip :thumbsup2
     
  4. mikkiwikki

    mikkiwikki DIS Veteran

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    :cheer2::cheer2::cheer2::cheer2::cheer2::cheer2:

    Thanks so much! I cannot wait...and funny but DD is more excited for Gatorland on this next adventure than Harry Potter! Agast:scared1:

    So far the bags are packed, Condo/Airline/Tickets paid for and organized, artineraries printed.Need to finalize a grocery list for when we arrive...

    I do have to pick up some PS2 games for the condo...Im sure other todos will pop into my head... Thanks for reading! :yay:
     
  5. GypsyPearl

    GypsyPearl Earning My Ears

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    Looks like fun. We did the non-Disney Orlando this summer and had a blast. Don't underestimate Gatorland. We did a night-time, after hours tour where we got a chance to feed some alligators as well as see some of the exhibits at night with no crowds. We also got the opportunity to hold a boa constrictor, a tarantula, and a baby alligator. So much fun!
     
  6. bankr63

    bankr63 DIS Veteran

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    If you are looking for something inexpensive to do on a "Not Sure" day, I think your DD (and the rest of the family) might enjoy Blue Spring State Park. The Manatee will be in the springs in mid-winter and they are really cool to see. It's a bit of a drive (~30-45 min if I recall) but admission is really reasonable.

    The guided boat trip on the St Johns river is a bit more expensive but really fascinating. Our guide was amazing; knew all the local flora and fauna! The tour is privately operated, but leaves from a dock inside the park.

    Just google Blue Spring State Park for more information on both the park and cruise.
     
  7. loveysbydesign

    loveysbydesign I can pinch a penny so hard you can hear it scream

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    woo-hoo...looking forward to this TR!
     
  8. 2Pirates2Princesses

    2Pirates2Princesses adventures with our now 2 pirates & 3 princesses!

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    This sounds nice and a chance to explore a part of central Florida that doesn't involve another theme park or tourist attraction.
     
  9. MissDaisyofTexas

    MissDaisyofTexas DIS Veteran

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    Sounds like a great trip!

    The last 2 trips with our kids (well, the only 2 trips with our kids) we've only done Disney. We are thinking the next time we go in a few years (when the kids are older) we'd like to do some non-Disney things, like Harry Potter and even some of the non-Disney dinner shows. I feel like there's a whole other world we're missing out on! LOL
     
  10. mikkiwikki

    mikkiwikki DIS Veteran

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    Thanks GypsyPearl! SO NICE to hear that you had a great experience.
    My daughter is a true animal lover. Animal Kingdom is her favorite park, and we have never been to Gatorland. Actually a few years ago (2007?) when Gatorland had the fire I was so sad, seeing it on the news...thinking oh MAN we never had a chance to see it! But it sounds like they really restored everything and we are really looking forward to seeing it. Seriously its going to be the highlight of the trip for DD. Id love to see a boa & a Albino gator!

    DS however wants nothing to do with the animals...:laughing: and primarily wants Universal & Kennedy Space center. Im kinda bummed we wont be at Kennedy Space center during a launch but I'm sure it will be fun nonetheless!

    Thanks for reading, and Im getting really psyched up for this trip. I'll try to journal our adventure. Stay tuned! :goodvibes:goodvibes
    :wizard:
     
  11. mikkiwikki

    mikkiwikki DIS Veteran

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    Wow - cool -:thumbsup2 After your post I looked this up... I actually got this cool book called "Around Orlando with KIDS - 60 Great Things to do Together by FODOR's" and Blue Springs is item 3! The book states" When the waterways get cold usually around November a favorite manatee haunt is sBlue Spring State Park. where the spring water bubbles up to an agreeable 72degrees. up to 150 mantees ...swim from St. Johns River to gather at the spring. Youll be able to watch these unusual mamals swimming in the spring often with babiesby their sides."

    My DD would LOVE this! Thanks for suggesting this! I'm totally adding this to my artinerary.:woohoo:
     
  12. mikkiwikki

    mikkiwikki DIS Veteran

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    Thanks MissDaisyofTexas -

    Yes after years on the Disney train, we decided, we needed to explore. After all it's what Walt would do - isn't it? Explore everything Florida has to offer? I'm very excited to see the other side of Orlando, and the family is too. :yay:
     
  13. mikkiwikki

    mikkiwikki DIS Veteran

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    Thanks Loveysbydesign - Glad you are following my first ever non-disney TR ;)
    I'm slowly weaning myself off the mouse...but the questions around the disney bubble....keep nagging at me...such as

    1) WILL we be able to transition to experiencing ...a completely FINGER SCAN FREE day?...
    (actually Im looking forward very much to **NOT*** finger scanning...:lmao:)
    2) Will we be able to deal with not having to wait in line? or carry little red placard necklaces to a ride attendant?
    (well ok there might be lines at Universal...who am I kidding)
    3) Will I be able to deal with not having to sit on the floor of a bus?
    4) Will I be able to deal with 3 bedrooms...me and my husband sleeping in a KING bed with ample space, as well as my children having their own beds? (as opposed to crammed into a single room)

    Pleeze...tell me it will be ok? :rotfl:

    A Little voice tells me..."yknow what it will be fine...I believe we can & we will" agree?
     
  14. mikkiwikki

    mikkiwikki DIS Veteran

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    Thanks 2Pirates2Princesses
    (btw how do you manage that!? one of each is all I can handle ;))
    Your right I guess I couldve logged this in the Universal forum however, we really dont consider this a Universal trip...(even tho my ticker indicates otherwise...but there was no ticker with gators I could find) ...Most prominently because we are staying offsite , with a focus on seeing orlando and eating offsite as well. I can't wait to explore the surrounding non-theme park area :dance3:

    Yknow I bet the wifi is better at Windsor Hills than it was at the Polynesian. (see my last TR)
    I can't wait to test!
     
  15. shalom

    shalom DIS Veteran

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    You might look into "Showcase of Citrus," where you can pick your own fruit and they've got "eco tours" which my kids at those ages would get a kick out of. Lots of stuff you can pick now -- we've never gone because there's nothing to pick when we're out there!

    http://www.showcaseofcitrus.com/

    How about a day at the beach? Or one day on the Atlantic, one on the Gulf? ;) If you go to Cocoa Beach or thereabouts for the beach, you could fit in a trip to the Brevard zoo, which has an obstacle course and (memory serves) canoeing and stuff.

    There's also a state park that's practically a zoo, but all (or mostly all) local animals -- Manatee, Florida panther, bobcats, otters, bear, key deer, alligators, birds, etc. At least an hour away, though.

    http://www.floridastateparks.org/homosassasprings/default.cfm
     
  16. sara mom

    sara mom Mouseketeer

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    Gatorland! We loved it! We were there the day after Thanksgiving and there were hardly any people. The only thing I wish I had done there was the ziplining! Awesome experience...my son loved sitting with boa constrictor around his neck.

    Enjoy your trip!
     
  17. mikkiwikki

    mikkiwikki DIS Veteran

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    Thanks Shalom! great suggestions Id love to squeak in showcase of citrus. Sounds like it is the right time of year to go to! Where else can you get a mammouth grapefruit the size of your noggin? :) Seriously the monster truck tour looks really cool. I'm sure my kids would love it. Thanks for your thoughtful reply! :)
     
  18. mikkiwikki

    mikkiwikki DIS Veteran

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    Cool glad to hear saramom!
    WE leave in 7 hours! guess I should get to bed.

    All the presents are opened, all the chores done...all the bags packed.
    We have free wireless in the condo so look forward to more updtaes..
    We can't wait to get there. Stay tuned! :woohoo::woohoo::goodvibes
     
  19. mikkiwikki

    mikkiwikki DIS Veteran

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    We left vt with an inch of snow on the ground.

    After having a perfect flight on jetblue ( no delays) arrived at MCO and our bags were the first off the caroselle.

    Someone on mousesavers recommended using national emerald eisle for car rental. I have to say we really liked it. You basically pick up your luggage .. Walk down the escalator and STRAIGHt into the garage and pick out any car on the emerald eisle. With grumpy kids this is a godsend( not having to wait at a counter and fill out paperwork) u literally jump right into a car ., drive up to a gate hand over your drivers license and registration number, tell them if u want to prepay for gas, and you are off! This was an awesome experience. We used hot-wire last and ended up
    with Avis. This was better

    After picking out a fine mid sized spotless vehicle
    Next we realized that wecould not check in until 3 pm.

    Therefore we ended up on Idrive looking for a restaurant.
     
  20. loveysbydesign

    loveysbydesign I can pinch a penny so hard you can hear it scream

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    hooray for the update!
     
  21. ddluvsdisney

    ddluvsdisney DIS Veteran

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    Glad to hear you arrived safely.
    Where did you get a Christmas tree?? For your room
    Can't wait to hear about Gatorland. My mom wants to take my boys there so badly. Maybe in April. We'll see. I just feel we won't have enough time, we'll only be there a week.

    Deb :)
     

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