Sunday, October 14, 2012

Florida Vacation

I returned yesterday from a week long trip to Orlando Florida.
I was invited to go by my friend Joye, who had a free vacation rental to use before the end of the year. Joye, her boyfriend Karl, and another couple (Harold and Gloria) traveled together and I met them at the airport on October 6th.
We stayed at the Grand Beach Resort, near the Disney World properties. I couldn't have asked for a better place to stay. The condo and resort amenities were outstanding. The resort was also close to many good food places and easy access to universal studios and the airport.
The couples sat through the 90 min time share presentation getting us all a discount on our theme park tickets. I ended up with a 2 day DW pass, 7 day Universal Studio pass with early entry and a one day water park pass, all for $307. I supposedly save about $100.

Here's how the week played out for me:
Saturday: PDX to Orlando by way of Denver. Leave 1:15pm, after working the day before and being up all night. Don't do that again! Arrived at 11pm, after almost missing my connection in Denver. Met the rest of my group a short time later and was in bed by 2am.
Sunday: this was planned as our "down day". We went shopping for food, and arranged our park passes. Then had time to check out the pool. This was the only day we had a thunderstorm. The temp was warm and humid.
Monday: an 8am start at Universal Studios, which is about 15 mins north of our condo. We were told that the Harry Potter area, in the Islands of Adventure park, was the most popular area, so we headed there first to beat the crowds. Little did we know that we were going to do the best ride of any that we rode, first. The Harry Potter ride had a great story and the ride moved well. I actually felt like I was flying on a broomstick. Love, love, love this ride. The nearby kiddie roller coaster was ok, but very short. The adult roller coaster was also very short, but I didn't care for being upside down and turning at the same time. No more of those!
We moved next to the Marvel Comic area where the Spiderman 3-D ride received high marks, finishing as my third favorite ride. The Hulk roller coaster looked impressive and scary, we had no takers in our group. Just before lunch we hit the two "wet rides". I loved the Dudley Do-Right Ripsaw Falls ride and we got soaking wet, which helped cool us the rest of the day. The Jurassic Park ride was cool with dinosaurs and had a nice drop at the end.
We headed over to the other park where we waited in line way too long (60+ mins) for the disappointing MIB ride. Next to MIB was the Simpsons ride, which was my second favorite ride. Being late in the day, the line was long and wait time was probably close to 60 mins, +\- 10 mins. This doesn't allow you to ride the ride multiple times very easily.
We left the park around 4pm. Pool therapy refreshed us back at the condo, as the day was warm and humid.
Tuesday: The first Disney Park we went to was Epcot, where the Food & Wine Festival was in full swing. Since the World Market didn't open until 11am, we rode the hang glider simulator "Soaring" and toured the Disney research areas. After Universal Studios I found the Disney Parks to be less exciting. But one thing Disney does better is the art of people moving.
Disney does a good job keeping people entertained while in line, and moving more people through faster. I also liked that you could basically take a number and come back when you would have been at the front of the line, without waiting in line. There was no extra cost for this, like there is at Universal. In fact at Universal it's annoying to be slowed down in line by the people who have purchased the "ExpressPass".
At 11am we started our tour of the World by getting our "passport". Each country represented at World Market has a small kiosk that offer a taste of the country's food and drink. When you purchase an item, you get a stamp in your passport book from that country. I enjoyed tasting food and drinks from various regions vs having a full meal at one location. By the time we were done, I had probably spent $100, but it was so worth it. going into the day we thought we might spend half a day here then return to condo pool, then return for a concert and stay for the Illumination show at 9pm. We enjoyed ourselves so much that we just staying for the 5:30pm Boyz II Men concert and then went home. We crammed a lot into this day! This was also a warm and humid day.
Wednesday: I took the rental car and drove to Melbourne Beach to visit my Aunt Mary and Uncle Dan. I was able to see Uncle Dan for a bit before he had to head to work. aunt Mary and I had lunch then headed to sit on the beach and chat.
Uh-oh, it happened again. I started a blog post then never finished it. I'm so bad at that. I'm going to post his one because it has so much info on it.

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