We just needed to get out of the snow and cold for awhile and what better place than Universal Studios in Oralndo, FL. We left in a blizzard and came back the day after a blizzard and in between had wonderful days in the low 80s. How much better could that be! Our last trip to Universal in 2003 was almost to the day we left this year. This trip was all for Colin and Marissa as they are getting older and Colin will graduate from High School this year so we are not sure how many more of these types of family trips will be possible.
The trip was such a great success that we all want to turn around and go back next week. There is, however, that minor detail of work...
Monday: We left on President's Day, Monday Feb. 21 and came back that Friday the 25th. It wasn't supposed to start snowing until later that day, but instead started around 3am. By the time I got up at 4:30am, there was over an inch down and the storm was really blowing. We had a 6am shuttle bus to catch over at the Pease International Tradeport as our flight on AirTran was going out of Boston at 9am. I didn't want any screw ups, so that's why we took the early bus instead of the 7am. Good thing too because the weather slowed the bus down such that we would have missed our flight on the later bus.
When we got to Logan, the snow was still going strong and some flights were being canceled because incoming flights weren't making it. For example, many flights out of Atlanta were being canceled and there was talk that airport may have to shut down. It was a mess and I was wondering if we were going to get out. But we got off without a hitch.
We had a 3 hour layover in Washington at BWI. Fortunately, no storm going on there at the time, but it was a long wait. I called my brother Alan up and we chatted for a few minutes. Cell phones are great!
Got into Orlando International around 5pm, picked up a great rental car from Budget, and headed out 528 toward Orlando. We were supposed to then head West on Rt. 4, but listening to the radio told a tale of accidents all over the place with Rt. 4 blocked going West out of Orlando. At the last minute, we veered off 528 onto Rt. 4 East and then jumped off of that at exit 74a. I recalled that International Drive headed South and would tie into 192 which is where our timeshare condo was - very close to Rt. 4 West exit 64a. Though backed up as well, it flowed along much faster than Rt. 4 would have so we stayed with it.
We checked in around 7:30p and headed up to the room only to find someone else there! Great. Didn't get into another room until around 8:15pm - one of the last rooms open but fortunately a large one bedroom suite exactly like the oen we were originally to be in.
Kids were in no mood for going out but Pachinos Italian restaurant where we had got take-out last time called out to me. Had a marvolous meal, relaxed, and enjoyed the night.
Tuesday: Up at 7:30am and off for coffee and donut run to a nearby Dunkin Donuts. No rush to get out the door as Universal doesn't open until 9am and we knew pretty much what we wanted to see vs. last time when we wanted to do everything.
It was a great day in the park. We did Terminator 3D, Horror Make Up show, Animal Planet show, ET, Jaws, Blues Brothers show, Earthquake, and Twister. The kids must have done the new Mummy ride 3 times but I was having none of it: I don't do things that spin me around or get me wet. The kids equated The Mummy to DisneyWorld's Space Mountain except "way better". No thanks. I got conned several years ago into doing Space Mountain and I thought my intestines were going to come out of my ears, so I just sat The Mummy out on the bench across the street. No problem.
We then headed over to Islands of Adventure for lunch. Colin and Marissa were all geared up for their favorite rides: The Hulk and Dueling Dragons. Both of these rides will not only scare the shit out of you but they will also clean out your sinuses and give your sphincter muscles more exercise than you can imagine. I did my bench thing. And while they continued on with more rides, I sat in one of the outside painted Adirondack chairs in front of the "Poarch of Indecision" at Jimmy Buffett's Margraritaville and had a beer.
When we got back to the timeshare condo, I poured a glass of wine and jumped into the Jacuzzi while the kids went down to the pool to swim for awhile. When they got back, we sat around and watched The Fugitive on one of the movie channels. We had a late dinner at Logan's Steak House just down the road from us. We had been there last time we were in Orlando in 2003 and said then that we'd like to come back. A great place!
Wednesday: Back for a couple runs at The Mummy, then MIB (Men In Black), and Back To The Future - a great, great ride.
Then over to Islands of Adventure for lunch, more Hulk and Dueling Dragons mixed in with Spiderman (probably one of the best rides I have ever been on), 8th Voyage of Sinbad, and a few others.
We headed over for an early dinner at The Hard Rock Cafe. Though the waiter was miserable, you just can't beat the Hard Rock. It is something else! And just as we were pulling out of the park, it started to rain softly. Just missed it! Got back in time to see American Idol, messed around some and then early to bed!
Thursday: Of course the kids did multiple trips on Dueling Dragons and the Hulk again as well as Marissa's facination with the Dr. Doom ride. We repeated Back To The Future and Spiderman. But we also saw the new Shrek and did Posidon's Fury.
We came back to the unit and had snacks and watched some tv and just relaxed until heading out for dinner to the Rainforest Cafe at Downtown Disney. We had called for reservations around lunch time from Islands of Adventure and the earliest we could get was 8:30pm! That's how good this place is! It's like walking into a jungle and every half hour there is a thunder storm that shakes the whole place, lightening stikes, and the roaring of animals. It really is something to see and experience.
We had a terrific meal but knowing that we had to get up at 4:30am to catch an 8am flight out, we headed back to the condo.
Friday: Man, this getting up at 4:30am has got to stop. This is just not my style at all... And of course, we ran into another traffic accident on Rt. 4 East that slowed us up some. And it was raining lightly to boot! But I had allocated plenty of time for just such an event so no stress. We had the rental car dropped off and were in the airport by 7:05am. Time for coffee and a donut - though my first experience with Crispy Cream and never again. The donut might as well have been just a bag of glazed sugar and the coffee was so undrinkable that I ended up tossing over half of it out.
Getting through security did take longer than I thought it would, so by the time we got to the gate it was almost time to board - though the plane did run about 20 minutes late. But it made up for it getting to Logan just about 10 minutes off schedual. And was it cold in Boston, or what! They had just had several inches of snow the day before and the air was crisp and fresh.
When the bus got into Portsmouth, Colin ran and got my car while I unloaded the bags from the bus. It was a quick ride home and I was in the door around 5pm. After grabbing a bite to eat around 7pm, I watched a movie, and then turned in around 9:30pm. Didn't crawl out of bed unitll 11:00am Saturday! Guess I was a little tired...
It was a great trip and as I sit here recounting it: I want to go back. If it wasn't for the horrible Summer weather I think I could live down there. And I really do like the change of the seasons. Living in a condo, I don't have all the snow shoveling details that I did when in a house so maybe my view of winter inconvenience will change. But Orlando sure is nice...