On Fall Break Fun with the Mouse! (Part 1!)

My kids go to a “year round” school, which means we get a lovely break in the fall.
So, the last week in September/first in Oct. we took a trip to Orlando.
Our first outing was to Legoland-so much fun!
  This new one in Florida
is located in the old Cypress Gardens park 
so it’s not only fun, but
There were NO lines at all so the kids rode everything they wanted over and over.  
Our next adventure was to Universal Studios
and then Universal Islands of Adventure
I wish we’d had more time to stop and pick oranges when we drove out to Legoland. There are beautiful U-Pick orchards and it looked like it would have been fun. 
We ate in Mythos in Islands of Adventure which I’d heard good things about on Universal fan websites.  It was better than anything else we ate in any of the parks, but the service was not the best.  (Pretty much everywhere in Orlando the service was slack though.)  The frozen butterbeer was a hit in Harry Potter World.  My eleven year old was chosen at Olivander’s for the wand selection, which he’d been hoping for before we left.  Made his vacation I think!  (Hint, if you’re in line try to not get next to other eleven/twelve year olds as they pick those kids for the “chosen.”)
I didn’t get to ride much of anything being pregnant, but the kids rode everything they wanted at all of the parks multiple times because the lines were non-existent.  The only time it took was the time it took them to walk to the front of the ride!  Perfect time to go to Orlando!

Next time I’ll tell you about 
the Magic Kingdom
Animal Kingdom!

Deals in Orlando:
*I found a smoking hot deal online on the Legoland website before we left- kids were free plus they got a free Chima Lego set which was over a $20 value.
*Plane fare from LR to Orlando?  Try Allegiant Airlines, direct flight.  Cheap- but we aware that they charge you to sit together and also for each carry on and checked bag.  They are 1/2 price if you check bags at home online.  Pack light! 
*Universal Studios tickets were cheaper when bought online ahead of time.  I printed them before we left and walked right in.
*Disney doesn’t give a discount for buying tickets ahead of time so we didn’t, and didn’t have any trouble buying them at the park.  Their sales people are very helpful in figuring out which pass is best for you.
*Coupon in tourist book for Wonderworks which equaled over $10 off I believe.  The kids loved that place.
*Be ready to spend lots of money for subpar food.  Nothing besides chains really and service is horrific in Orlando.  If we had driven I’d probably had taken a cooler and snacks/lunch to the parks.  It’s easy to shell out over $100 just for fast lunch there.  Next time…
*I found a great hotel deal on Groupon at the Embassy Suites Lake Buena Vista.  Fantastic
price, cheaper than anything else I’d found and free breakfast, happy
hour, snacks, and movies in the pool!  With a family of 5 the Embassy
Suites is a usually a nice choice.  The location was fantastic too-
right by Lake Buena Vista so we were close to the Disney and Universal


We’re back! Disney was fun. This fall break the kids have is going to be nice. Great deals on vacations, good weather, small crowds! Now for some shameless pics of my kids…
(All taken with my phone so forgive the bad quality.)

We happened to be there during the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, Oktoberfest, Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, and German Reunification Day which was fun too. (We didn’t make it to the Halloween Party for 2 reasons-

1) It would have been $420 more for us to go.
2) The kids can’t eat any food coloring so candy would have been a problem!

We had loads of fun anyway, and on the last day we went to the parks it was a special fireworks show which was the best I’ve EVER seen. Also Magic Kingdom was open until 1am that night and we actually stayed all day which ended up being really neat. The kids were great, except for maybe two small incidents- not the easiest thing for a severely hypoglycemic kid with sensory issues going into a crowded park- but he only had one melt down. The youngest had his on the plane which lasted a good ten minutes. The worst thing was that we were the ONLY family with kids on that flight! Talk about business people praying they weren’t sitting next to us! He crashed and slept the rest of the way which was good for all.
I am now trying to wade through the laundry. Tonight Emily and I go see “Mamma Mia!” which I’m really looking forward to also!

On Disney…

This September we are taking the trip that those of us with small children (and even those without) either LOVE or HATE, a.k.a.- Disneyworld. I am on the fence at the moment.

I was really excited about it at first. Who doesn’t want to see their little kids eyes light up at Mickey Mouse? But, after attempting to book on Disney’s wonderful website I was so frustrated. Those of you with larger families will sympathize. You can’t book two rooms on one reservation! We are traveling with the five of us, plus both grandmas. Two rooms is even pushing it, but hey.

So… after finding two rooms on line at the resort I wanted I book the first, put a note for connecting rooms, paid. Went to book the second room and it froze. I called the reservation # and they said (after taking 15 or so minutes reviewing the first one) that there weren’t any other rooms at that hotel! I was SO MAD. So, we adjust the dates, play with the first reservation and book the rooms.

I call back again after I realize that they have us in two different “types” of rooms so there is no way they can be adjoining. They tell me to pick a “type” waterview or not waterview. I tell them I don’t care as long as they are together. They say “pick a type.” I say “whatever” they get huffy with me. Great. So looking forward to Disney already.

Anyway, I get the rooms booked (waterview, still might change that one) and feel better but no airline tickets yet or dining reservations.

Find great prices on airfare and book it! (Still have to make 2 reservations because we have 7 people.)

Mom comes over and we plan the days we’ll go to which park, research the restaurants and I call to make reservations. Oh, none of the restaurants I want have availability (IN SEPTEMBER AND OCTOBER!) and our hotel doesn’t even have room for breakfast on ANY of the days we are there. GREAT- so looking forward to this trip. I did manage to make some of the reservations- but geesh, it’s free dining and they don’t have room?

Also, it’s DISNEY! Make sure you have decent, friendly people on the phone. Two I spoke with spoke such broken English that even my translator ears couldn’t decipher it. Two others were so rude I was in shock. The last two I spoke with were very sweet and I was so happy to speak to people who were helpful and nice. (What has happened to customer service or satisfaction in this country anyway?- Don’t get me started on that one.)

Does anyone have tips for where to go etc? (We are going to each park on the days they have extra hours.) Oh, we’re staying at Port Orleans, Riverside.

Have reservations for these restaurants:

Magic Kingdom: The Crystal Palace for dinner with Winnie the Pooh
The Contemporary Resort: dinner at The Wave
Animal Kingdom: lunch at Tusker House
Epcot: (It’s the Food and Wine fest while we are there so I’m excited about that!)
lunch at the Biergarten
dinner at Marrakesh in Morrocco

I feel better now that part is done. The little planning I’m doing will make it easier then, I hope.