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Family Vacation

Opinion of the Month: Family Vacation


This is a little different. I thought I would chronicle the 2000 family vacation for others to learn from.

Prologue: OK, here's my idea. I need to use some vacation and I hate cold weather. So, lets take the family; wife, 5 1/2 year old son and 3 1/2 year old                    daughter, to Orlando. Weather is warm, we can  hang out by the pool, visit my old college roommate, who                      has two kids about the same ages, and maybe spend a couple of half days at the Disney parks. Sounds     good, except that planning by a husband never ends up happening exactly as planned.

Day 1 - Travel: This should be interesting. 5 1/2 year old has been on a plane, but the little one hasn't.                    Obviously we have never all been on a plane together. My daughter asks about 20 times if we are on the plane the airport, in the gate area, in                    the jetway. Finally, we board. My son and I move to the front row (for leg room, only too find that the seat is  so  narrow that my ass barely fits). After                    takeoff, my daughter comes up to join  us. She is a bundle of energy. Its 9:00 pm and she is bouncing around the cabin. I tell her that she needs to stay                       in her seat to be safe and she decides to try out different positions and check on the safety factor. Arms up in the air..."Is this safe daddy?", arms                       out to the side..."is this safe?" Oh my God! Did I mention that I wasn't sure it was a good idea to go on vacation with 2 kids these ages? The whole                      time, the older one is busy with his Gameboy. Do I even exist when that thing is on?

Day 2 - Typhoon Lagoon: Our hotel is awesome. It is a 2 bedroom suite. Basically an apartment. We wake up, get some breakfast and go to the store to get some provisions for the rest of the week. Finally we decide to kick the vacation off with a  trip to a water park. Disney's Typhoon Lagoon. We arrive around 11:00 am and find the place not too crowded (whew!). We find a spot near some shallow water and settle in. This is a great place because they  have stuff for little kids, the big wave pool and big water slides for older kids (like myself) and food and beverages (i.e.alcohol). At one point we were at one of the little bars getting a                      margharita and a  guy about 30 years old walked up behind us, looked up at the menu board, and said to his significant other "I want a beer, but  what is a a draught (he pronounced it drawt) beer?"                      Hello! Well, the park closed at 5:00, we went back to                       the hotel, changed and went to dinner at DonPablo's on International Drive. Had to wait a while, the kids were really tired, they didn't really like the food.....needless to say, a great time was had by all.                      

Day 3 - The Magic Kingdom: Well, obviously, the plan to  relax a little and maybe do some activities, is out the window. We are doing Disney and doing  it hard. We got to the Magic Kingdom (with a little car sickness) around 10:00, parked the car, took the                     shuttle to the ferry and the ferry to the park. They make you work to meet Mickey. We even had a plan.  Head to the Dumbo ride first and make our way around to selected attractions from there. The Dumbo line took about 40 minutes for a 90 second ride, but it was a good start. Then we did "Its a Small World"  and the Pirate ride (Which used to be Mr. Toads                    Wild Ride. We did a few more rides,  had a peaceful lunch with 55,000 of our closest friends, more rides and a  couple of shows. The highlights of the day were the Buzz Lightyear ride, I scored 78,000 points, the Thunder Mountain Railroad, Shane's first time on a real roller coaster, and Pluto's Barnstormer, Andies first time on any kind of roller coaster. Shane                    reluctantly liked the big kid coaster and Andie was funny on hers. I told her that the cool way to ride a roller coaster was to go with your hands up in the air. She had hers straight up from the time we got  in till the time we got out. I had to hold on a coule of times, but not her. Finally, we found a spot to sit and watch the night parade. We had to wait for about 45 minutes, but it was fun. Grumpy came up and shook Andies hand, which at the time was appropriate to her mood. She was mad that Snow White didn't wave to her (that b*tch). I was hoping for another nice dinner, but the kids were too tired, so they got Wendy's drive thru and we got a Pizza. Since eating is one of my favorite pasttimes, obviously I like pizza, but on vacation I look forward to eating at nice restaurants all the time. Oh, well. Maybe  tomorrow.

Day 4 - MGM Studios: We all got up a little bit tired and finally managed to get dressed and have breakfast in the room and headed off to MGM studios in the late morning. The original plan (I've heard those words before) was                                               to see some stuff at MGM, come back to the hotel for a rest and then return to MGM for the new "Phantasmic" show (kind of a live recreation of Fantasia) in  the evening. MGM is mostly shows and stores. This is OK,  because the kids love Disney (whoops, MGM) movies. In live                                                format, we saw "Little Mermaid", "Beauty and the Beast", "Lion King", "Doug" (a Nickelodeon  cartoon for you non-parents) and a cool 3-D                                                 Muppets movie. They have a sound stage where they take show you how they make sea battle scenes and take you on a ride thru an earthquake/flood disaster. Pretty  fun. In the midst of all this, we find out that if you eat dinner in one of the MGM restaurants, you get to go into the 'Phantasmic" show through a                                               special entrance and don't have to  wait in line for 90 minutes. This sounds like a good idea except that  the only time you can get a table is at 4:00 pm and the show starts at 7:30. We decide to give it a try anyway. There goes the midday nap! Another minor  bummer is that the Indiana Jones show is closed for renovation. I                                               have seen that before and it is pretty good. One of the few rides at MGM is a Star Wars virtual reality type ride. Last time I came, it made me sick, so I made the wife take Shane on it. I think                                                he was a little out of sorts for a while after that. Dinner was expensive (imagine that!) and a little too fancy for the kids, but it got us into the                                                 show. We still had to sit about 30 minutes before the show started, but  there were a couple of guys providing entertainment the entire time. Disney is great at keeping you interested.                                                The show itself was pretty incredible. It was another opportunity for them to parade every Disney character ever created in front of us, but the way they did it was pretty cool. At certain                                                  points, they had sprays of water that  they projected images on. Kind of like watching a movie with a waterfall as the screen. The only down side of the evening was that Shane had some allergies creep in. I guess it was pollen season in Florida  and the poor kids eyes were watering and he was sneezing. After the show, we hit the road and if I remember correctly, right
to sleep.

Day 5 -the Animal Kingdom (or so we thought): Well, we get up and  Shane is miserable. His eye is puffy and watering and he is sneezing. I went to the store to get some childrens antihistamine and we put a cool washcloth on his eye. He felt so bad, that he went back to bed on his own                                               and slept till about 2:00. Andie also took a nap and when they woke up we decided to just go to the pool at the hotel. Shane was feeling a little                                              better and the pool was a good, low stress way to  spend the afternoon. That evening we went to my old, college roomates house for dinner. He lived only about 15 minutes away and we had a good time discussing life and kids. Andie and their daughter managed to put on dress-up shoes and leave marks all over the kitchen floor, but that was eventually cleaned up. Shane played with their son who is a little older and needs to let littler kids know when he is going  to give them a chest bump. Shane wasn't quite ready and hit the deck. No injuries and only mild laughing from the adults.                                               

Day 6 - the Animal Kingdom: (NOPE) Oh for two on the Animal Kingdom. You need to get up early for the Animal Kingdom because the animals tend to be out when its still cool. We                                     slept in and decided to spend most of the day at the pool. Not including, of course, the time at the                                               doctors office, getting my stitches out (long story) and having the doctor look at Shane. After 1 emergency room and 2 clinics, we get                                               the stitches out and decide Shane will survive. We have a great lunch at Gloria  Estefan's cuban restaurant called Bongo's and head to the pool.                                                The pool had a poolside bar (this is a great country) and I got us a couple of Margaritas. $4.00 apiece. Stevie got the next round only she paid $4.50 apiece and didn't even get any limes. (I think the bartender was digging me, aging Hispanic men have always liked me) I picked up the third round, and believe it or not.....$4.25 apiece.  Interesting pricing model. That night                                                we had dinner at Jimmy Buffets Margaritaville (OK, a margarita themed day). It is on the outside of Universal Studios Islands of                                                Adventure theme park. The rides there  are generally for older kids, so we'll hit that next time.

Day 7 - Travel home: Amazingly, the kids get up with no problem for the 7:30 a.m. flight. Its sad to leave the warm weather and head back to work and school, but we gotta earn enough                                               money to do this again in 5 or 6 years. One final memory: The best T-shirt of the trip was an all black Harley Davidson shirt with big orange letters on the back that  said, "IF YOU CAN                                               READ THIS, THE B*TCH FELL OFF!"

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