(Sea)Lions & Gators & Dolphins….Oh, My! A Halloween PTR/TR with a “wild” theme - Oct/Nov '18

Discussion in 'Sea World / Discovery Cove' started by Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina, Sep 22, 2018.

  1. Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina

    Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina DIS Veteran

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    Hello everyone :).

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    Now that I’ve wrapped up the final entries on our spring trip report, it seemed like a good time to open a new thread to chat about our next adventure…..especially when we’re officially under 5 weeks to departure.

    This trip’s dates:

    Friday, October 26th to Saturday, November 3rd
    That puts the current countdown at a mere 34 days :eek:.

    Our fall trips always seem to race up on us SO fast. Summertime always flies by, so the time between our spring vacation and our autumn adventures seem like nothing at all. Our spring trips, on the other hand, seem to take FOREVER to roll around……northern winters are so painfully long :cold:.

    I’ve done many PTR’s and trip reports before, so many of you already “know” me and my trusty travelling companion: my husband, Steve.

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    This report will also feature a few other familiar names from my past threads, as we are excited to have a number of Dismeets in the works for this vacation. So far, we have plans to spend time with @DontRushMe (and her DH Rich), @chiamarie , @verleniahall (and her DH Sam), @pattyw (and her DH Joe), @afan , and possibly @Joanna71985 . And heck, we still have time to schedule in a few more if the opportunity arises :blush:. We are super excited to make some memories with some of these wonderful folks who we’ve become Dis-friends with over the course of the last several years here on the boards.

    While I generally have separate threads for my PTR’s and TR’s, I think I’ll keep them both combined into one this time, just transitioning over once our vacation has concluded. That way, y’all will get the “perfect plan” that we’re hoping for followed by what ACTUALLY happens……because really, we never know if we’ll get to stick with the ideal itinerary or have to swap things out due to unforeseen circumstances. Weather is ALWAYS a worry, as it (along with unplanned sickness) are probably the two biggest things a person really can’t control. We’ve had simply spectacular weather for virtually all of our trip days (every single one of them since our first Orlando adventure in 2009) so we keep thinking that one of these days, we’re gonna have a wash-out….the “law of averages” is bound to catch up with us at some point. Those concerns are always heightened for our autumn vacations, as its still hurricane season in the south. So, we pack the ponchos and umbrellas :umbrella: (along with a small arsenal of over-the-counter remedies for any kind of sickness that we could potentially encounter…..anything from upset stomach :sick: to head colds) and hope for the best. In the meantime, I’m whispering sweet compliments to Mother Nature in the hopes that she’ll smile on us once again for our week in the Sunshine State :sunny:.

    While the plans for this trip call for a variety of Orlando attractions and activities, I’ve decided to keep this report in the SeaWorld forum as it definitely leans more heavily in that direction: we will be visiting all three of the Orlando SW parks on this vacation (SeaWorld, Aquatica, and Discovery Cove) plus enjoying several of their awesome upgrades and add-ons, from all-day dining to a waterpark cabana and at least three different animal encounters and tours :fish:. That said, this isn’t an all-SeaWorld trip by any stretch: there will be a little bit of Disney (more than a “little bit”, actually), a few non-theme-park attractions, an offsite resort, and a few new dining experiences thrown in for good measure. And……it’s also Halloween!

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    I was never a real Halloween fan until we started spending a week each October in Orlando. With all the fun fall events that are hosted at venues throughout the city, I’ve become converted ::yes::. Celebrating the spookiest holiday of the year in the south definitely brings out the inner child in both of us. This year, for the first time, we are actually going to be in Orlando on Halloween itself. We’re definitely excited to see how our resort marks the occasion, and see if any other fun activities pop up in unexpected places.

    So……let’s officially kick off this PTR :hyper:. I am looking forward to spending the next 34 days counting down with y’all!

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  2. pattyw

    pattyw DIS Veteran

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    YAY!! I'm here!! Always enjoy reading about your trips! So enjoyable and informative!! And excited for our DISmeet!:cheer2:
     
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  4. Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina

    Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina DIS Veteran

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    So glad to have you along!! :goodvibes Your contributions to my threads are always so fun.
    You're poised to leave again soon, if my memory serves me correctly.....I know you have a DC day planned for October 3rd :banana:. What's your countdown currently sitting at?
     
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  5. pattyw

    pattyw DIS Veteran

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    5 days!! Yay!:woohoo:

    So looking forward to DC! Can't thank you enough for passing along that great tip about that super cheap price! :thumbsup2 Couldn't have added that day on at the regular price!

    I just got an e-mail from Hash House A Go Go for a free birthday dinner! And I think I still have the free dinner when I joined the e-mail club! I couldn't use it when we went there for breakfast. I thought we could use both for us- just looked at the coupon and it says one per table. Hey we may have to sit separately! Just kidding- we can use the other coupon on a different visit!
     
  6. Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina

    Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina DIS Veteran

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    FLIGHTS

    Our flights this trip are once again with Frontier: we had a good first experience with them in May, so we're giving them a second shot for our fall trip.

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    Our options for nonstop flights from Detroit to Orlando are surprisingly limited. Our preferred airline is Jetblue, but unfortunately they only fly nonstop into Fort Lauderdale from DTW.....and while we gave that a good try (both of our 2017 trips), that 3 hour drive at the beginning and end of the trip just isn't ideal. All of Southwest flights from DTW to MCO are connecting, and we're not fans of Southwest's open seating policy anyway (especially when there's no option to upgrade to extra legroom to keep Steve's big body comfy). Spirit is a huge NO based just on some of their recent issues with pilots and staffing.....they're a little too "no frills" for our comfort [we can't help but wonder, aside from the obvious customer service.....what else are they sacrificing?]. So that pretty much leaves us with Delta and Frontier.

    Detroit is a Delta hub, so they offer a plethora of flight options: multiple non-stop flights a day from which to choose, and several different seating options from their basic fare to first class. Their pricing, however, normally leaves something to be desired......and at last comparison, their comfort class seating on our dates was more than double Frontier's fares (with Frontier's extra charges for Stretch Seating and baggage charges factored in for fairness). While we don't mind paying a fair price for good flights, we also can't justify paying double for Delta...especially when many of their planes don't offer anything special over Frontier.....some of them, not even TV's.

    So, we gave Frontier a first chance back in May, and despite our initial reservations we honestly had no complaints. The seats were a bit narrow for Steve's girth (more narrow than the seats on Jetblue), but our stretch seats offered us an INCREDIBLE amount of leg room. I couldn't even touch the seat in front of me with my feet when my legs were fully extended.

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    Frontier does charge for everything......from seat selection to luggage to snacks.....so we opted again this trip for their "Works" package which covers pretty much everything but food.



    The Stretch Seats are $45 per person, each way, on their own......so the $75-ish fee for the Works Upgrade turns out to be a decent value considering it gives us more baggage than we even need, the priority boarding, and refundability (the latter which usually costs a small fortune with other airlines). Even with the upgrades for both of us, both directions, our roundtrip flight price came in at a grand total of $630.12 including trip interruption & other insurances (it's still hurricane season, after all). We were quite okay with that total fare. The ONLY thing we will need to purchase (and we brought them with us last time), are beverages and snacks.

    No, they don't have TV's or onboard wifi, but surprisingly (even to us), we didn't really miss the TV's in May. We brought magazines with us from home (we have multiple subscriptions that we never seem to have time to read) and snoozed, which passed the time quite adequately. We will plan to do the same again in October.

    While we normally take a town car to DTW for our departure flights, our friends @DontRushMe and her husband Rich have kindly offered to pick us up on their way and save us the $85 fee......and we happily accepted! They are on the same flight we are, so it works out perfectly. We get extra time to spend with our friends, and save some $$$ at the same time. Win, win! :goodvibes

    Service on board was great on our two flights in May, with the in-flight crew being friendly and attentive. Flights were smooth and wonderfully uneventful, with little turbulence and smooth ascents and landings. I'm a nervous flier at the best of times, so safe flights are my first priority: and despite the discount price of Frontier, I didn't feel they scrimped on anything truly important.

    Fingers crossed for equally as pleasant travels once again this time! :thumbsup2
     
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  7. Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina

    Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina DIS Veteran

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    Yikes, duplicate post!!

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  8. afan

    afan DIS Veteran

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    Yay! I'm 39 days and 10 hours from being able to check into my flight, so 40 days until I leave and 41 until I'm in Florida and we're all meeting up at Disney Springs!

    I saw the alert that you'd replied or something so I went to your old thread and didn't see anything knew. I got so confused until I went back to the alerts and saw you'd started a new thread. I had hopes you'd gotten your nexus letter in the mail.
     
  9. goofballs

    goofballs Mouseketeer

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    So happy to be following along and looking forward to all of the details.

    I hear ya on nonstop flights. Unfortunately it is just not usually a possibility where we live. But sometimes I will still add on a 150-250 mile drive to fly nonstop.
     
  10. Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina

    Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina DIS Veteran

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    And now, 4 days!! :jumping1: You lucky duck! How's the weather looking for your arrival so far?

    I couldn't have kept that DC deal to myself if i tried....it was too awesome NOT to share! I am so glad you guys could take advantage of one of the deeply discounted dates. I honestly think that price point will be something we all fondly reminisce about for a LONG time......."Remember when we went to Discovery Cove in 2018 and only paid $99 per person? And we swam with the dolphins, too! Ah, those were the days :cloud9:".

    In addition to our BOGO coupon, I still have a partial gift card from a couple of years ago that we haven't finished off. I emailed to make sure that it was still valid, and indeed it is.....so I think we have $26 off on top of any coupon that we are able to use. It's going to be a VERY affordable meal at this rate!! :thumbsup2

    Oh, how I wish it was Nexus news that I was wanting to share!! Alas, still nothing :guilty:. Hopefully soon, though. Good things come to those who wait, right? :flower3:

    I have a feeling October is going to be a whirlwind, and our trips will be here before either of us can believe it. Jake will be here from the 9th to the 15th. so those days will be full and pass super fast. We will celebrate the Canadian Thanksgiving on the weekend of the 6th/7th, then our final weekend home (the 20th/21st) we'll be busy raking leaves and getting the outdoor stuff done before we depart. I'm glad that pretty much all of the big stuff is already done/purchased/planned.

    I started assembling our travel folder this weekend.....printed copies of all the stuff we need to have on hand (flight confirmations, copies of our Vistana reservation, and confirmation of every tour, cabana rental, and special event we have scheduled). There is a comfort in being organized!

    How rotten that you don't have a nonstop option from your closest airport :(. Adding that long of a drive to the front and end of a trip isn't fun.......and I can say that from years of experience. While we gladly made the drive to Buffalo or Syracuse for the flight savings, the long drive was a real bummer (especially in the winter months).

    I keep holding out hope that someday, Jetblue will offer nonstop service from DTW to MCO. I would think it would be a logical flight to add if they ever choose to expand service from Detroit.

    We are fortunate that we really like Frontier's flight times, because they only offer the one nonstop per day (so its basically take it or leave it). Happily, though, the times really work for us. Our Friday flight out of Detroit is just after 2 pm, so that gives us the morning to wrap up any last minute to-do's, get the house nice and tidy, and spend some quality time with the cats before heading to the airport. We get to enjoy a nice, restful sleep the night before without having to be woken at the crack of dawn.....meaning we can arrive in Orlando well rested :thumbsup2. We touch down just before 5 pm, allowing us to pick up the rental car and enjoy a nice dinner before checking in at our resort and getting settled into our villa. We can have a pool night at the Vistana before hitting the ground running the following morning. On the way home, it's up, check out, and head to the airport. Our flight leaves Orlando around 10:30, putting us back on Michigan soil in the early afternoon. We can be home, unpacked, and ready for a restful evening with the two furballs, and Lord knows they're dying for our attention by that point. Coming back on the Saturday gives us both Sunday to grocery shop and rest up before starting back to work on Monday morning (boo).
     
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  11. Mrs Doubtfire

    Mrs Doubtfire DIS Veteran

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    Great to see a new thread started Gina. The leg room looks great, and just right for Steve. Is it a 3 hour flight then?

    We opted for direct flights in December as it is easier, if not a bit more expensive.
     
  12. verleniahall

    verleniahall DIS Veteran

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    YIPPIE!! SO EXCITED!

    AND - Infinity Falls is opening at the beginning of OCT, so we should be good to roll that day!!
     
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  13. bankr63

    bankr63 DIS Veteran

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    Subbing in. That is coming up soon! Let's hope these tropical storms settle down!

    We're dealing with quite the mess here in Ottawa after a band of Tornadoes came through Friday evening. Much of the city remains without power as one of the major substations was heavily damaged, and all schools are to remain closed tomorrow (first time they've closed schools since the great ice storm). Thankfully we missed most of the force in the East end of the city, so only dealing with a couple of small downed branches here, and no interruption in power.
     
  14. JenLanDisney

    JenLanDisney Mouseketeer

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    I'm here to enjoy your planning talk!
     
  15. I-4Bound

    I-4Bound Mouseketeer

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    I'm in! Looking forward to your reports, as always!!
     
  16. Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina

    Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina DIS Veteran

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    The airlines all generally state that the flight is around 2 hours and 40 minutes, but in actuality it never seems to take quite that long. In fact, when we got in the air a few minutes late on our way home in May, the Frontier pilot pledged to make up time where he could, and we actually made it back to Detroit in 2 hours and 6 minutes. Quite a short flight, no matter which way you slice it. Which is why we aren't hugely broken up over the fact that Frontier has no onboard entertainment options. As two adults, we can easily pass that short amount of time with very little difficulty.

    Coming from as long a distance as you have to travel, I think direct flights are absolutely worth whatever extra money it costs you (easy for me to say, of course, when I'm not paying ;) ..... but anything to make your travel days easier has to be well worth the extra $$).

    How long would your flight be? About....9 hours?

    I was thrilled to hear that Infinity Falls will be open for our trip! :cheer2: I absolutely cannot WAIT to see the new area....the photos look simply gorgeous! Now to work up the nerve to ride the darn thing......a 40 foot drop into the rapids is nothing to be afraid of, right? :rolleyes1 I promised Steve I'd wear my big girl panties and give it a try, so hopefully I can retain that bravery and make it happen. That's the goal, anyway!! ::yes::

    I am relieved to hear that you were spared the worst of the Ottawa storms......the photos we saw were absolutely heartbreaking :sad2:. With so many friends who have children at Ottawa U (and several of my own relatives living in the surrounding area), we were kept well abreast of the storm developments via Facebook and other social media. Thankfully, everyone we know seems to be fine.....but oh, how my heart breaks for the families who lost their homes. I can't even imagine. Tornadoes scare the bejeezus out of me.....their unpredictability and sheer power are a terrifying combination.

    Any idea when they are estimating the power will be restored? Do you think your wife will get more than one impromptu day off?

    :welcome: So glad to have you along!
     
  17. Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina

    Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina DIS Veteran

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    So glad you're here! :goodvibes

    I had expected to get a planning entry typed out this afternoon, but I ended up doing some fall decorating outside....which led to a quick trip to Menards and Home Depot for a few extra supplies......which was followed by a pizza run........which necessitated a long walk this evening (we had the most gorgeous weather this weekend) and poof! Away went my lazy Sunday :o.
     
  18. Mrs Doubtfire

    Mrs Doubtfire DIS Veteran

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    Yes officially 9hrs and 20 minutes going and 1 hour shorter coming back :confused: then there's always the queue at immigration to deal with, which can easily add on another Hour or 2 depending how busy it is, so it makes for a long travel day.
     
  19. AntimonyER

    AntimonyER Mouseketeer

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    Haha, now I see the benefits of these trip reports, just when you finish reliving your last one, you are almost ready for the next trip. 19 days till our trip!
     
  20. pattyw

    pattyw DIS Veteran

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    Typical Florida- hot and chance of rain each day. But so glad there are no hurricanes brewing right now!:thumbsup2

    Sounds great!! :)

    Glad to hear that!!:thumbsup2

    Yay!! :cheer2: Have fun! Can't wait to hear all about it! 3 days for me!!
     
  21. bobbie68

    bobbie68 DIS Veteran

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    Hi so glad to catch your PTR... We only use airlines that have a direct flight too. We can barely handle going up and down once let alone twice.

    I can't wait to follow along and learn some more stuff. I have been checking into Vistana. I contacted a couple of people renting out but the prices for the time we will go is about the same as booking on the website directly. I am more comfortable with that. I have read about a few horror stories with owners and problems renting. I started telling the family about it and will show them pics soon.

    Happy Planning!
     

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