Hi everyone. I do alot of lurking but not a ton of posting but I thought i'd share with you my trip report to Orlando from this past april. The trip had been planned since last summer and it was the first vacation we took with our 7 month old Son Daniel. In this trip you will see myself (Jeff) and my wife Kiera as well as my parents and brothers during the Universal portion of the trip.
Anyways my trip reports are fairly long as they are VERY photo filled and I try to make them as informative as I can. The trip starts with the Universal Parks but I figured since we spent more time at Disney then we did at Universal then it was a better fit to put this in the Disney section as I don't want to seperate the posts.
If you have any questions or comments please feel free to ask them and I will answer as quickly as possible. With that said lets begin with the first day of our trip as we travel from Utah to Orlando.
Day 1: Travel to Florida
Our trip began the morning of April 19th, 2012. It had been nearly a year since our previous vacation and the first we've had since the birth of our Son Daniel. It was a rocky road to get to this point with date and even vacation changes at least 4 times but the day finally came when the vacation we had been hoping would happen for nearly a year would finally begin.
Typically I like to travel early in the morning. The sooner we can leave for vacation the better in my opinion as that gives you extra time at your actual destination. However traveling with an Infant that wouldn't be happening this year. The choice came between an 8am flight or a 2:20pm flight. We decided to choose the later since we would have that extra time in the morning to get the baby ready and we could take our time getting to the airport.
By 11am we were leaving our house. We would be meeting Kieras aunt at 11:30 at her parents house (where we would be leaving our car while we were gone) to take us to the airport. The car was packed and everything locked up and we were soon on our way to the start of our vacation.
We made one last stop by the mailbox in hopes that the extra camera battery would be there. I had ordered it 5 days earlier off ebay. The reason I bought the one I did was because it said it would arrive before we left on vacation. That day had come and gone and still not battery. We arrived at the mailbox as our delivery person was sorting the mail. Would there be a miracle and would the battery be there? Unfortunatly no it wasn't. Looks like I will be using the back up camera if the battery dies on our normal camera.
We soon meet up with Kieras aunt and after swapping all the luggage into her vehicle we were on our way to the Salt Lake Airport where our vacation would officially begin. Its amazing how much extra luggage we had to haul into the airport having a child. In addition to a bag for each of us we also had an extra bag for Danny in addition to a carry on duffle bag with his stuff, Kieras breast pump/diaper bag, his stroller, and finally his car seat. Luckly for us Kieras aunt was kind enough to help us haul all of our crap to the airport until they were checked in.
Traveling with an Infant requires additional check in at the airport counter as we would have to verify his age as he would just be sitting on our laps. I read many places online that if a child is clearly younger then 2 years old then they wouldn't ask for additional ID to verify the age. That wasn't the case in SLC though as they still asked for a birth certificate. They handled our boarding passes and checked in our bags and we were soon on our way to proceed thru security and on to our flight.
Going thru security with and Infant turned out to be easier then we thought. I read online as well that some airports require you to go thru a special line when traveling with a breast pump but that wasn't the case here. It just went thru the x-ray machine like everything else. Make sure you fold up any strollers and car seats beforehand as they have to go thru the x-ray machine as well. Kiera then held Danny with her as she stepped thru the metal detector. We did get flagged for a moment though as the diaper bag went thru the machine. We still had a half filled bottle of breast milk that Danny had been eating. They told us they had to do a taist test on it to verify if it was really milk. We told them that was fine and felt bad for whatever TSA agent had to do the taist test lol. Needless to say it passed.
Once thru security we finally felt like we could relax and vacation was really starting. We quickly found our gate and then decided we should find something to eat since we really wouldn't have a layover (we would stop in Denver but wouldn't change planes). We decided on a Sandwich place called the Boar's Head. We laughed as its name and logo and simularitys to the Hogs Head from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter which we would be visiting the next day. The sandwiches were good but kind of expensive but what can you expect from Airport food.
Not long after finishing our sandwiches they announced that we would soon be boarding. We would be flying on Southwest Airlines. We usually do and we really enjoy flying with them. Plus we have there Rapid Rewards credit cards so my ticket didn't cost us anything. Although we were now traveling with and Infant and that would entitle us to use Family boarding between the A and B boarding groups we still tried to check in as soon as possible. And it worked as the previous day I got our tickets in the A group. Southwest allows you to gate check a car seat and stroller for free. However when you get to your gate have the attendant check it prior to boarding. We didn't know this so we held up the line for a moment as they tagged them.
We were soon on the plane and our trip would begin. Honestly the flight was the thing we were most worried about with traveling with an Infant. Nobody likes a crying child on a flight and we were hoping that wouldn't be our child. Kiera made sure that Danny was sucking on a binky during take off to help so his ears wouldn't hurt as the altitude changed. We would be traveling to Denver where were would have as short stop before continuing on to Orlando. Danny did great with no issues at all during take off or even the landing. He just chilled and played with some toys or his Mickey Mouse Plush. About an hour and 15 minutes later we were landing in Denver.
As I said although we stopped in Denver we wouldn't be switching planes as ours continued on to Orlando. I don't know what it is about Denver but last time we passed thru Denver we did the exact same thing. Its kind of nice though as after the plane emptys and they take a count of the remaining passengers then we are free to move around the cabin and change to whatever seats we would like before the new passengers boarded. We took advantage of this by moving the very front row of the plane. We chose these seats because they have significantly more leg room. It would also make it much easier to get out and change diapers if needed to.
After about 30 minutes the plane started loading again. And we started to find it very funny how many people avoid sitting by a baby like the plague. person after person after person would see the empty seat next to us, move to sit there, see the baby, and move further back in to the plane. The person who finally did sit next to us it was pretty much the only option left lol. On the flip side of that though 3 kids when seeing the baby jumped right in to the seat as they wanted to sit with the baby. Of course there parents would rather them sit with them though. It was pretty funny.
We were soon back in the air and on our way to Orlando. This leg of the flight would obviously be longer then the first leg and the flight took just over 3 hours. We passed the time playing with Danny, Reading our books or playig games on the Kindle Fire, or just trying to relax. Danny had his dinner and soon crashed out asleep for part of the trip. We really enjoyed having the front seats as it made if very easy to get access to the restroom. But it had its downfall too such as not having trays for your drinks and snacks. Oh well we made it work. Overall Danny did excellent on the plane never crying once.
As the daylight slowly turned to Dark we knew we would soon be landing in our destination of Orlando. And sure enough we soon did. We were here. We made it. Let the awesomeness of this vacation begin. After a bathroom stop we made our way to the baggage claim. I love the Orlando airport. I don't know what it is but since a kid i've always liked it. Something about the trams and the hotel in the airport itself just seems so cool to me.
We soon arrived at the baggage claim and quickly realized that it would be very difficult to haul all of our bags on our own. So I bit and rented one of those carts to load all of our luggage on to. It cost $5 to rent it but it made life so much easier then trying to haul all of our luggage around the airport and to the rental car on our own. I joked that it was like I was hauling all of our luggage to Hogwarts.
Before leaving the airport we needed to make one last stop and that was to get our rental car. I don't remember what discount code I used but I got a very good deal on a Compact car thru Budget. Last year when we came getting the rental car was rediculous as it took 45 minutes. Today I walked right up the counter. The agent was very helpful and nice and unlike the agent last year didn't make me get there insurance when I told him my personal coverage covered it. Although if you do this make sure you bring your own proof of insurance. I didn't have mine and could have got in trouble had I been pulled over. We soon had our vehicle assigned and made our way to it. Our 10 day rental only cost us $245.
Our rental was a little Suzuki SX4 Hatchback. It actually turned out to be a decent little car. I was also really suprised to find it was the All Wheel Drive model that was pretty loaded. The car worked out great for us although it felt smaller then a compact car. We had to put the stroller in the rear seat as it wouldn't fit in the trunk area.
With the car loaded up we did a quick walk around to make sure we noted all dents, dings, and scratches as we didn't want to be held liable for something that was already wrong. We made note to the attendant of what we found and we were on our way. Remember when in Orlando especially when leaving the airport that there are toll roads so bring some quarters with you. Luckly for us the airport tolls would be the only ones we would encounter on this trip. However if you head out to Port/Cape Canaveral there will be many more that you come across.
We had to make on stop before getting to our hotel and that was a Walmart. We decided to wait and buy some items until we got to Orlando so we wouldn't have to travel with them. We went to the Walmart located on Turkey Road by the Universal Orlando resort. I ran in quickly while Kiera stayed in the car to feed the hungry baby. What were we picking up? Not much. Just a box of Diapers, Wipes, Popcorn, and some toiletry type items. After grabbing some Wendy's for Dinner we were on our way to check in to our Hotel.
Just after 11pm we arrived at the Hotel we would be spending the next 9 nights in. The Baymont Inn and Suites Celebration. We stayed at this hotel last year and really enjoyed it. Yeah its not perfect but its also not a dump. We also got it for only $35 a night booked thru hotwire.com so you can't go wrong with the price ether. In all the room only cost us like $360. You can tell the hotel was built in the 70's but the rooms and common areas are all recently remodeled and pretty nice. Our room was on the 3rd floor and turned out to be great. We love that for the low cost we got nice beds, a large flat screen tv, a seperate vanity area from the toilet/shower, plus a fridge/freezer and a microwave. The hotel also offers a free complementry breakfast each morning until 9am. Its not the greatest thing but it taisted better then last year and it saved the cost of an extra meal most days. Our only complaint about the hotel was that it doesn't have a hot tube. What we thought was a hot tub was just a kiddie pool. Still we enjoyed it especially for how close it was to all the Disney parks (Animal Kingdom 5 minutes, Hollywood Studios 10 minutes, Epcot 13 minutes, Magic Kingdom 18 Minutes). You can even see Everest from the top floor of the hotel.
As we got settled in to the room I called my mom to find out the plans for the next day. They arrived a day earlier and today the went to Hollywood Studios, Epcot, and the Magic Kingdom hitting only the major attractions. Needless to say 3 parks in 1 day made them very tired and exhausted. Islands of Adventure would be opening at 8am the next day but they knew there was no way they could get up for that. Not wanting to go without them we decided to wait and would head around 9:30ish instead and hope for the best crowd wise.
We quickly got ready for bed as we knew the morning would come very quickly. We also didn't know yet how Danny would do adjusting to being 2 hours ahead of Utah time. Only time would tell. We were very excited to be returning to one of our favorite places tomorrow. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and the rest of Islands of Adventure.