Islands of Adventure...

Trip Start Oct 01, 2010
Trip End Oct 01, 2011

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Where I stayed
Big B

Flag of United States  , Florida
Thursday, May 19, 2011

Being so close to the Caribbean, we stopped off at a few travel agents to look into cruises. We've never been on a full fledged cruise and we've got a credit for one so it seems like a good time to cash in. It sounds fun, traveling in a moving city of entertainment and docking in a foreign land, with it being almost entirely all inclusive. The more we looked into it though, we are not sure if it's a good idea for us.
1. We'd have to find a sitter for Rusty.
2. We have to find a safe location to store Big B which is not only our land ride but has what little bit of valuables we brought with us. (It's our home!)
3. I'm not loving all the days at sea and the limited time to really see the destinations.
We are leaning more towards traveling to Alaska by ship to see the glaciers. We still want to go to the Caribbean but maybe it's best to fly and stay?

Instead we drove down to Orlando for our own Islands of Adventure. The crazy thing about Orlando is that you feel like you've got to do everything. You get bombarded with amusement parks, water parks, shopping, etc. However, after our initial thought of conquering Orlando passed, we came back to reality. We've both been to Disney enough times that we'll save that trip for when we have children. You know you'll be back again then!

I really love Universal's Islands of Adventure and Steve had never been. It's by far the best park for adults. So we decided to start there and only go to other parks we'd never been to in keeping sane as we are on a budget! I found tickets from somebody with buddy passes so we saved some money.

It had been over 10 years since the last time I was there so it was like experiencing it for the first time again. Dueling Dragons is now under the Harry Potter theme (new since last year) and has since changed their name. I swear one used to go backwards and the other forward but apparently they just go forward. Still fun coasters! The Hulk is our favorite. I forgot about it's take off and as Steve was pulling the GoPro out of his pocket, we launched. Thankfully we didn't lost the GoPro! We rode those coasters a few times so that we could video the rides!

This time around, I took some Dramamine in preparation for the jolting rides. I always thought that it was an excuse when people said, "I'm too old for those rides!" Man a few rides in and I'm about to throw up most of the time. Why is that? I've always loved the thrill and never had any issues until about the time I turned 30...

I had expected long lines, sweltering heat, and being exhausted by the end of the day. Except for a Harry Potter ride and waiting for shows, the lines were at most 5 mins long, if that! The weather was mild. However, we did leave utterly exhausted!

The next day we decided to skip the other theme parks and just stroll through Downtown Disney. We now had a stroller for Rusty to try out. We casually walked in the shops and no one ever said anything to us. When speaking to our dog, we'd call him Russell (it sounded more human and Dacia calls him that anyways). Commands like "sit" sounding better as "Sit down Russell" as I'm sure kids try to get up and move around too. So far so good.

The day before, we had arranged for a puppy sitter to watch Rusty in her home. We found the woman on Craigslist and decided we'd check her out/the place, before going to Islands of Adventure in the morning. If things seemed off, we had back up plans. Well, in the morning, as we were getting up from bed, we got a text from her husband. She went into labor! HOW FUNNY!!! She mentioned that she was pregnant but man was she ever! 

Universal has kennels for only $15 so that was where Rusty spent the day. Since the temperature outside was mild, we decided to keep him in the larger outdoor pen but they do have smaller, indoor pens with a/c for the same price. We visited Rusty and walked him during lunch (the staff are not permitted to engage with the dogs?!). He was still the only dog. By the time we picked him up in the evening, there was one other dog. That's how empty Universal was that day!

We thought about going to Epcot since Steve hadn't been in forever and it's only at Disney World. I looked into getting discount tickets but apparently they finger print these days, which is new since the last time I went. So we needed to find an up and up way to get into the park. I found out that the Florida Hospitals were doing a charity for their children's hospitals and by actually going to their gift shop, you could save more then donating online. With donations starting at $74, you get a day entrance ticket as a thank you gift, along with other things. Win-win!

In the end, we didn't go but the location of the closest hospital was in Celebration. Cool name for a town. Turns out that it was actually a town modeled from Walt Disney's vision of an all American town. We wanted to see it so we spent the afternoon there. It was very manicured and would make a nice retirement community. There's a lake, town center, and colorful homes but nothing too amazing.

From the greater Orlando area, we decided to drive towards Tampa and loop our way south. In between that is a town called Lakeland and I had a friend who lived there. We hadn't seen each other in ages! After her daughter's soccer practice, they came over and we chatted about the past and caught up to the present. She brought a photo album over to show Steve some flash back pictures. While we flipped through the pages, there was a picture of my dad. (They had worked at the same place in Japan.) I took a picture of the picture. What an unexpected, wonderful, surprise!

Over ten years had passed but we hadn't skipped a beat. Lynn is still as crazy as ever...hahaha! The next morning she took us out to breakfast and then we left for Tampa.
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