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Old 17 Jun 21, 05:55 PM  
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cornishfrogboy
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Join Date: Nov 10
Location: Falmouth
Orlando …. Sort of… and sort of not.

We are a family of Husband, Wife and boys of 19 and 15 at departure, We love travel and particularly like multi centre, intensive vacations, either in the US or Europe. We are also totally theme parked out after 10 USA visits… almost..

We live in Penryn Cornwall and thus, our nearest realistic point of departure is LHR, fortunately the UK Airport with most destinations, most competition and therefore generally the best prices. I am tighter than a very tight thing when it comes to spending money.. as you will find when reading this. Money saved now equals money available for 2023 and in the coming months, I will be frequently checking, cancelling and rebooking, should any prices change for the good!
.
Us in 2019.


We are used to these things.. Cancelled by the Volcano, Cancelled on an Egypt vacation due to the bomb over the Sinai desert, 2 x cancellations to California in 2020, August 18 California in the balance as I write.. We truly are the Uncle Alberts’ of vacationing. ‘Onwards and upwards’. ‘Life goes on’, ‘Time waits for no man’ and every other cliche that I can think of. I have had everything refunded thus far so have lost nothing but time.

I believe that April 8 2022 is realistic, otherwise there will be no economy, no jobs, no hope and the bitter realisation that the cure’ was in fact worse than ‘the virus’. That is the basis of this booking.

As a precaution, our flights are amendable and all Hotels are booked with free cancellation up to 2 days before occupancy. Car and internal flight (to be booked later, will be likewise).The only item still outstanding is the purchase of Discovery Cove ultimate's, as I will be hoping for good things on Black Friday.
With no more ado and moan over... the plan.
__________________________________________


THE RUSH OF BLOOD TO THE HEAD.. AND PLANNING… PART 1.

We have an unusual, but successful method of planning a US vacation in that at commencement, we have no idea where we will be going. We obviously have places we like, places on our bucket lists (generally aviation related in my case), an idea when we want to travel (School Hols) and a budget in mind.. opinions differ between Mandie and I on that one.

This year and just last week, I was playing on the IPad, when Mandie mentioned a lifelong desire to see Niagara Falls. We have previously considered a New England- Niagara- Detroit- Chicago drive, but I decided to do a little research in any case. Easter 2022, Buffalo and somewhere else, maybe Chicago and/or Detroit. Dearborn is near Detroit and in Dearborn is the Wright Brothers Bicycle Shop! (Purchased and moved there by Henry Ford, who could afford to do such things).
Mandie then cunningly mentioned that maybe we should have a ‘last hurrah’ in Orlando as our boys are rapidly approaching independence and it may in fact be our last, true, family vacation.. I continued my now modified research.

Buffalo was pricey, Toronto is nearby and our eldest son Dan, had in any case visited Toronto/ Niagara with his College last February. I settled on Pearson Int, Toronto and soon found a direct flight into Toronto and very short layover flight home from Miami.
I very much wanted Hand Baggage only, but with two very disparate climates to consider, Mandie insisted on hold baggage… £1979.28, 8 April to 23 April… The credit card was out (S75 etc) and the deal was done. There is no point hanging around and dithering is there? ’Eye of the tiger', 'the early bird catches the worm' and all that inane tosh.

We now had flights and a huge gap between Toronto and Miami to fill.. No problem! Niagara was clearly a must, as was transport from Pearson into downtown Toronto, A Hotel with views and close to lakeside, a means to get to Niagara, a truly good Niagara Hotel etc etc etc.. etc.
Did we need a car? From where should we fly south to Orlando? How many days should we give the area? How much would the various options cost? Time to start posting threads on the DIBB and consider advice given. (You may even have seen some of those threads and the great replies).

Any way, all can now be be revealed.

We need to overnight before flying out of LHR at 1310 on 08 April 2002, So must drive up from Penryn after Matt (15) finishes School. There is only one Hotel that I will consider after their impeccable behaviour over refunds last year.. Premier Inn on Bath Road. I love this place, modern, clean, excellent family rooms, great beds, really good people watching atrium, very good meal deal for evening and breakfast… and cheap! £70 cheap for two rooms!
On top of this, we can dump our car in Purple Parking upon arrival (I have a voucher from last year) and use their shuttle into LHR next morning.. no transportation costs!


Day 2, 8 April 2022. ‘Flying high’ (As the Commodores once sang, badly). A lie in and a buffet breakfast before shuttling in to our very well timed (1330) flight to Toronto. No need for a lounge booking there then!
The flight although with AA is a BA Boeing 777, an aircraft that I have never flown in.

A Boeing 777 that I have never flown in.

We arrive at Pearson, 1555. We then have Immigration and Customs (ETA needed), baggage reclaim (🙁 Mandie Insisted), then getting out. I would guess at 1900 even if there is no Covid stuff in place.
There is seemingly little point in rushing to the apparently rather pricey Toronto downtown as we will in any case be tired. A local Hotel was needed and we chose the Hampton Inn and Suites around 300 yds in front of the Terminal, well priced, excellent reviews and with complimentary Breakfast!
. There is also a Hooters, just down the road. Whilst I am ambivalent, my two sons love the place for some unknown reason and always insist on a visit. It must be the Burgers.. and Baps.



We are on a roll!

Day 3, 9 April 2022.. downtown (As Petula Clark famously sang about somewhere totally different)
There is a simple way into downtown Toronto from Pearson in the back of Terminal 1. It is called the UP Express, a Train that takes 25 minutes and costs $25 Canadian for all four.
.
We will catch an early one (there are many) and book in advance for good online savings. The UP Express delivers to Union Station, not too far from our chosen Hotel, The One King West, where we will drop our bags.

The One King West regrettably has no complimentary breakfast. I can live with that as what it does have is both location and height as well as a grandeur inside. It was originally 13 floors tall, but now has a further ultra modern 38 floors built on top. I have requested a room as high as possible and facing towards the Lake.

.
I am in the hands of our eldest, Dan on this day and he is insistent that we try ‘Frans’ for breakfast. I guess that the CNN Tower may figure also.

Dan assures me that this is a low fat option!

The evening? Who knows?

Day 3, 10 April 2022. A day in Toronto. I as yet have no plans, but will be guided by what we achieved (or otherwise), the previous day. A second night in the One King West .

Day 4, 11 April 2022. ‘Don’t go chasing waterfalls’ (by 2up2down).
This is a big, big day. We will catch the Megabus to Niagara Falls. This takes 1.5 hours if we were to hire a car.. or 2 hours by Megabus and $20 each, one way. Having heard about Toronto traffic (and car parking charges), I feel that we have been wise!

We should be there by 1100 and then we will bag drop at the Hilton Niagara Falls. We have splashed 🤪 out on this one! We have a two bedroom suite with a jetted tub and premium views of both the Canadian and Horseshoe Falls. This seemed a remarkable price at £181 (-8% through a company portal). No Complimentary Breakfast though.



A window view.
The day will be spent gawping. The Maid of the Mist is unlikely to be up and running. We will go to the tunnel behind the falls.
Food? I haven’t a clue.. yet.

PLANNING PART 2. .. ‘OOP NORTH’ HAS TAKEN 4 NIGHTS. I HAVE 11 MORE TO ALLOCATE.

Day 5 12 April 2022. Back to familiar ground.. but can’t think of a song
We will be getting up and walking across the Rainbow Bridge before catching a Taxi .. or Uber to Buffalo International. We have an American Eagle flight from BUF to MCO via Charlotte. The flight is at 1224 hrs and takes 4 hours and a tiny bit including the change at Charlotte. A direct with Frontier would have been 2 hrs 40 and cheaper than our £98pp plus £22 for hold luggage… but they do seem just a little ‘Ryanair’ with all their extra charges. That is why I stuck with American.

On arrival at MCO, It will be a hire car pick up, a Hertz RAV4 or similar, via Andy at DFCH (Who beat all opposition and by 8%) and then a drive to a favourite of ours, Lake Buena Vista Village Resort & Spa where I have booked a 3 Bedroom suite whilst asking for Block 5 and with a Fireworks view. We really like this place with its cool, below block parking, spacious rooms and convenience to restaurants, gas station, Publix and Walmart. Once we had decided on a suite instead of a Villa, there was only ever going to be one choice.


Note the huge, whirlpool bath.
Longhorn Steakhouse that night, I reckon!

Day 6, 13 April 2022. Seaworld.
Not much to say on this one. First day is always Seaworld and always will be. We are only buying D.C. ultimates on this visit as we are both Universal and Disneyed out from previous vacations.
It will be at ropedrop and we will be out by 1600 at Bahama Breeze LBV for happy hour and then… maybe a return to the resort via Walmart and some wine on the balcony.

Day 7 14 April 2022. Volcano Bay? We have only been there once and Mandie is itching for a return. It is of course, very expensive for a single day. Discussions continue, discussions where I will inevitably end up conceding.

Day 8 15 April 2022 This will undoubtably be Aquatica at Rope drop and then Shopping in the afternoon at Disney Sprigs for our annual purchases, A 2022 Pin to stick on the ‘Our Disney Vacation Collage frame that I have already purchased and also a 2022 Medium Disney Photo Album. I am a creature of habit.. as can be seen…


Of course, I may also pop in the Lego Shop!
Dinner will inevitably be in the Rainforest Cafe and the 2022 version of this image will be ceremonially taken.


Day 9, 16 April 2022. Best Orlando day.. Discovery Cove.
We love this place and will be there as the gates open. It is probable that Mandie and Matt will Dolphin swim, Dan and I will not. This is always a fantastic day, taken of a weekend to avoid crowds in other parks and also leaving sufficient time, should there be inclement weather on the day.
We will not need an evening meal on this night, so it will be resort pool time and poolside cocktails to round off a hopefully brilliant day.

Day 10, 17 April 2022. A Sunday and in probability, Aquatica at Rope Drop, Seaworld in the afternoon and outlet shopping in the evening… with possibly a bit of Golden Coral.

Day 11, 18 April . I haven’t a clue! It will be put to a vote and acted on accordingly. It is effectively a spare day in case we have had to cancel anything earlier. Last night will be either Bahama Breeze or Cheesecake Factory after PF Chang’s.

PLANNING PART 3. ORLANDO HAS TAKEN 7 NIGHTS AND I HAVE A FURTHER 4 NIGHTS TO ALLOCATE.

Day 12,19 April will be pack up and go day. In the morning, we may use Aquatica, but in the afternoon will be heading to Crystal River for pre positioning.
Last visit,we visited the Rainbow River at nearby Dunellon and it was fantastic, one of the best Florida things we have ever done (see Boston trip report for pictures and detail). This time, it will be its rival.

We will be staying at the Best Western Crystal River Resort, selected purely on location and proximity to a park that we may visit in the evening. Complimentary Breakfast? Of course!


It seems to have a nice pool with a themed mosaic… of Manatees!

Day 13, 20 April 2022. The Crystal River.
Now this one is on DIBBER recommendations. I have extensively praised up the Rainbow river and thought it only right that I should directly compare the two. It will be mid April and there may still be some migrating Manatees there. Others are in any case resident. We will be both Snorkelling and Kayaking during our stay, but I need to do further research in the coming months, best places, etiquette etc etc. We have a full day to enjoy it!



My Olympus TG-4 Underwater Camera may come in rather handy! (A bit of a saga, that you can read about in my Pensacola Purgatory trippie).
Late afternoon and it will be a propositioning move to our next location. Dead opposite Busch Gardens in the Hampton Inn (with…… complimentary breakfast).




Day 14, 21 April 2022.
This one is rather obvious… hammer the rides all day, particularly the hybrid one that has replaced Gwazi and maybe throw in a Giraffe Feed as well.

We will then preposition that evening to Venice, probably using the St Petes Skyway. Venice is somewhat pricey, so we took what we could get.. A Hampton (With Complimentary Breakfast)

Evening meal will be at Sharky’s by the Pier, a long time favourite of ours, right next to the Venice fishing pier. We may even hire some Rods and Bait.

Sharky’s

The Pier (from where you can see the first attraction of tomorrow).

Day 15, 22 April 2022 is.. Beach day!
First it will be Casperson, our 5th? visit. Not the best Sand compared with other beaches both North and South, but for a reason. Off shore is a reef and from it are washed fossilised sharks teeth that can be found either on the shore.. or more likely by using a Walmart Sieve a few yards into the Sea to pick up gravel, where they have not yet been found.
This beach has a track and a swamp behind it, as well as a very long boardwalk. It has abundant birds such as cranes and other wildlife. It is mainly the preserve of locals and is in my opinion, absolutely brilliant.

Shark tooth hunting.

What the fuss is about.

Next, it will be a drive to our next Hotel, a Springhill Suites in Naples. A three bed room with… complimentary breakfast.

A trip will follow to Delnor Wiggins State Park. We visited this in 2019, well Matt and I did. It is serene, unspoilt and beautiful, carefully protected as a State Park should be. Last visit, we swam with Pelicans, found wild Tortoises, saw a Baby Manatee and saw several protected Turtle Nests (some hatched). I cannot recommend this place enough!



Matt 2019.

A protected Turtle Nest. 2019

A hatched Turtle Egg.

A wild Tortoise 2019.

Matt stalks a disinterested Gray Pelican.

Matt borrows a nice guys spare rod.. and catches zip!

Evening meal will be the Yardhouse as it sells an excellent, blood orange cider.

Day 16 23 April 2022. The last day.
Well, it will hopefully have been an absolute blast and our flight leaves at 1530. I will want to get to the airport early, so an obvious time wasting stop will be Buffalo Tiger’s Airboat Rides.
Now we have done around 6 airboat rides, spirit of the swamp, Boggy Creek etc, but those appear sterile, controlled ‘eco trips’ compared with Buffalo Tiger’s. These are real Native Americans who live along the Tamiami Causeway in Reed thatched huts and are quite frankly, rather basic. The boats looked nothing special and there were no intercoms.

What followed last time was absolutely fantastic, Alligators coming up to the boat where they were fed cheesits , a visit to the ancestral island home of Buffalo Tiger, R.I.P, honest authentic and a brilliant trip. I will never bother in Orlando again after this!
These are a few images from our last outing..





All that will remain is to get to Miami and then fly home via a 1 hour 30 layover in JFK, 10 hrs in total.
We arrive in LHR at 0820 and it will be a run for home with red eyes!

Edited at 02:54 PM.
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Old 17 Jun 21, 10:25 PM  
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cornishfrogboy
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My pre trip is now complete and available for perusal.
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2018 Californiahttps://www.thedibb.co.uk/forums/sho... php?t=1072473
2019 Boston, NY, Dayton OH, Orlando, Naples.
https://www.thedibb.co.uk/forums/sho... php?t=1137302
future...Arizona/Cali/Nevada 2021
https://www.thedibb.co.uk/forums/sho...4#post14647964
Toronto & Florida 2022. https://www.thedibb.co.uk/forums/sho... php?t=1197381

Edited at 09:56 AM.
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Old 18 Jun 21, 06:18 AM  
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Taffy1959
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This sounds amazing and the view you will have at the Hilton Niagra Falls will be stunning
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Old 18 Jun 21, 11:07 AM  
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lovemickey
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Wow! Sounds an amazing trip! Niagra is on our bucket list but our boys are still young, so definitely one for the future.
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Old 18 Jun 21, 11:54 AM  
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enjibenji
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Looks like a good trip. We were booked to stay at the BW Crystal river last October and we all know how that went. Something to look forward to. 😊
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Old 18 Jun 21, 11:57 AM  
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munmun
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Another good one CFB
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Old 18 Jun 21, 12:29 PM  
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cornishfrogboy
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Originally Posted by Taffy1959 View Post
This sounds amazing and the view you will have at the Hilton Niagra Falls will be stunning
Niagara was the basis around which the whole vacation was built and it therefore made sense to ‘go the whole hog with the Hotel, seeing as the views from our room are likely the very best that can be gotten.
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2005 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2015
2017 Panhandle purgatoryhttps://www.thedibb.co.uk/forums/sho... php?t=1193744
2018 Californiahttps://www.thedibb.co.uk/forums/sho... php?t=1072473
2019 Boston, NY, Dayton OH, Orlando, Naples.
https://www.thedibb.co.uk/forums/sho... php?t=1137302
future...Arizona/Cali/Nevada 2021
https://www.thedibb.co.uk/forums/sho...4#post14647964
Toronto & Florida 2022. https://www.thedibb.co.uk/forums/sho... php?t=1197381
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Old 18 Jun 21, 12:44 PM  
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Gev
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Looks amazing!
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Old 18 Jun 21, 12:49 PM  
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SleepingBeauty
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Your son looks very happy to be surrounded by the Hooters Girls.
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Old 18 Jun 21, 02:12 PM  
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cornishfrogboy
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Originally Posted by SleepingBeauty View Post
Your son looks very happy to be surrounded by the Hooters Girls.
That is the both of them in the images. There are certain things that this trashy pair deem essential on any USA vacation, namely a Baconator in Wendy's, Gorging in the Golden Coral, a rare 9oz Flo's Fillet in the Longhorn .. and Hooters.
__________________

2005 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2015
2017 Panhandle purgatoryhttps://www.thedibb.co.uk/forums/sho... php?t=1193744
2018 Californiahttps://www.thedibb.co.uk/forums/sho... php?t=1072473
2019 Boston, NY, Dayton OH, Orlando, Naples.
https://www.thedibb.co.uk/forums/sho... php?t=1137302
future...Arizona/Cali/Nevada 2021
https://www.thedibb.co.uk/forums/sho...4#post14647964
Toronto & Florida 2022. https://www.thedibb.co.uk/forums/sho... php?t=1197381
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