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Old 8 Apr 22, 11:31 PM  
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cornishfrogboy
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Toronto- Niagara, Orlando, Crystal River, Tampa, Venice, Naples, Miami, single thread. April 2022.

Well finally and after 3 Covid cancellations, I can report on my vacation to North America. It has begun!

Firstly, this is my third attempt at a 'trip report' and It is prepared with the aim of assisting others in any decisions they make, rather than simply being a photo album of selfies and eats. Any comments, positive, negative or of indifference are much appreciated and will guide me in any subsequent USA trip reports! Any questions will be replied to.
A single thread with index approach (below) was adopted in order to free up space on this section of the forum and also because I much prefer it that way.. I warn you that I very rarely picture food.
I do like to try and find a song title, appropriate to each daily update, because I am a little odd like that (and nobody else seems to).
The trip report (and pre trip report) will later be printed off and placed in my keepsake box file, specific to this vacation.

We are a family of Husband, Wife and boys of 18 and 15 at travel. We love vacations, particularly multi centre, intensive vacations, either in the US or Europe. We are also theme parked out after 10 USA visits.


This is Mandie and I.. with typical, as opposed to much photographed Cornish weather behind us.. probably in August.


This is Dan, an ‘interesting’ character..


And this is Matt, looking like only a nearly 16 year old can. Surly.

THE PLANNING.
Flights in to Toronto and out of Miami were purchased separately within a few days of the cancellation of our California/Arizona/ Nevada vacation of August 2021 as a ‘pick me up’. We were thus tied from then on to arriving in Toronto on 08 April 2022 and departing from Miami on 23 April 2022, not withstanding any future Covid issues. Anything beyond that would be developed in the following months. This is the way that I always plan my multicentres, I.e buy the long hauls and then fill in the dots in between.

Unusually, there was actually good reasoning behind this flight purchase. Mandie and I have always wanted to see Niagara Falls and in addition, we feel that this is probably our last long haul vacation as a full family group, hence leaving at Miami, having all visited Orlando one last time. That was the full extent of the plan at time of booking flights. I had not even looked at Niagara in relation to Toronto, connections to Orlando etc. That would have spoilt the excitement.

Over the following months, the plan was assembled and various tickets/hotels purchased. We generally pay cash up front when we can in order to better manage expenditure and with free cancellation terms whenever possible, in order that we can cancel and rebook, should a better deal come along.
By October 2021, it looked like this…

Day 1 The torturous journey from Cornwall to London Heathrow and a stay at the Prem Inn the night before flight.. page 1 of report, post #1
Day 2 A Flight to Toronto and settling in near to the airport, as it would be evening upon escaping immigration, baggage reclaim etc.. page 1 of report, post #1
Day 3 A train to Toronto downtown and a day sightseeing.. page 4 of report. Post #40.
Day 4 Toronto again.. page 6 of report, post #59.
Day 5 A Megabus to Niagara and a good look before staying the night.. page 7 of report, post #70
Day 6 A Taxi over the river to Buffalo and then a flight via JFK to Orlando plus car pick up and settling in to LBV Village Resort and Spa.. page 12 of report, post #111
Day 7 Of Seaworld, Bahama Breeze and things.. page 13 of report, post #125
Day 8 Of Aquatica, Disney Springs and Gluttony.. page 14 of report, post #138
Day 9 Shopping, Resting, Wendy’s, Seaworld.. page 17 of report, post #161.
Day 10 Discovery Cove ! .. page 18 of report, post #178.
Day 11 Valiant Air Command Museum.. page 20 of report, post #198
Day 12 Seaworld and another Hooters.. page 22 of report, post #214
Day 13 A transit day, Crystal River and an awesome meal.. page 23 of report, post #231
Day 14 Kayaking and Swimming with Manatees, plus a late night hit on Busch Gardens and a really interesting Hotel.. page 25 of report, post 246.
Day 15 Busch Gardens and Venice .. page 27 of report, post 265
Day 16 Casperson and Delnor Wiggins Beaches plus a really good meal.. page 29 of report, post #284
Day 17 Alligators on the cheap, then lots of travel.. page 31 of report, post 306.

Much more detail is available in my Pretrip report, linked from my signature!

Without any further ado!

DAY 1 AND TRAVEL TO LHR ( with an expensive snag)… or ‘GET OUT OF MY DREAMS - GET INTO MY CAR’ (by Billy Ocean)

We were up early and after his last breakfast, it was time to take Toby the Cat to his own special vacation at the local Cats Spa. Toby is generally a laid back cat, but when he catches sight of his Cat Cage, he knows that he will either have needles stuck in him or be abandoned at the Spa for a few weeks.
Toby saw the Cat cage and a scrap ensued during which he bit Dan’s hand and peed on Mandie, Myself and the newly decorated hallway wall. Call me perceptive if you like (instead of David), but I sensed that Toby was somewhat unhappy as he then yeowlled all the way to the Spa before we abandoned him shamelessly… and in disgrace.

Toby the p≈ss≈d off Cat (in happier times).

And then it was time to drive.. and drive. Up the A30 to Exeter, then the A303 and M3 to just short of Heathrow, then M25, Bath Rd, then straight into Purple Parking after a 5.5 hour drive, achieving 69.6 MPG (and this is important in these modern, crazy times). No stops and no messing about! We then advised Purple of our intention to catch the courtesy bus next morning to T5 and were told that this was no problem once their Buses began moving at 0400. This clearly saved the cost of a nights parking in the Prem Inn, which is rather more than an extra night in Purple.

To the Prem Inn it was, Mealdeals involving Evening and Breakfast had been prebooked and it was just as well, since others who had not, had to sit down outside and wait.. and wait. The food was standard fare, typical Prem Inn and perfectly nice… like a biscuit! 😂

And then came the first snag. I had booked four tickets with AA to fly
LHR- Toronto on 08/04/22
MIA- LHR on 23/04/22
These flights were on a BA aircraft and on a codeshare. I had paid for them and all seemed fine.
Around 3 weeks ago, when doing final checks, I realised that my son Matthew, had been spelt Mathew. Verifly would therefore not recognise him as I began inputting his details. I contacted AA and was informed that the only way round this conundrum was to issue Matthew (15 years), with a new and separate ticket, which they then did whilst deleting him from our original, 4 person ticket. I was informed that this had been carried out at no cost. Marvellous!

I found myself at Heathrow, ensconced in Prem Inn, Bath Rd when I decided to do the online check in with BA. Myself, Wife and older son Daniel had no issues, but I could not check in Matthew, so I phoned BA… A simple matter to resolve?

No. As he is now on a freestanding ticket, he can only be an adult! .. even though he is 15. The taxation etc on his ticket as a single adult pax is totally different and therefore I had to fork out a further £187.. that is not simply an inflated APD charge either.
To add insult to injury, I still cannot check him in online as even though he is ticketed as an adult, he is non the less an unaccompanied youth and therefore I was told that I must check him in personally and with documentation in the morning.

Needless to say, I was rather unhappy and have every intention of sorting out this matter, but not before I return.
Who is to blame?
Me?
American Airlines?
Probably not BA.

I feel that AA could have resolved this far more simply, possibly by AA telling me to contact BA direct, whilst keeping Matthew on the original ticket and then paying a minor amendment fee if necessary. AA, however assured me that they could resolve things and without further charge. They could not. Not the start to the vacation that I anticipated.

I then went to bed and slept on it.. not much. I have documentary proof of what AA did, an invoice if you like.. and it would seem clear.

AA claimed to have sorted things out and with zero to pay. I will fight this battle upon my return!

DAY 2 AND TRAVEL TO TORONTO (with a snag)… OR ‘LEAVING ON A JET PLANE’ ( by Peter, Paul and Mary).

We were up and early, Purple were great, shuttling us to T5 within 5 minutes and BA even better. We were at bag drop by 0845 for our 1315 flight, anticipating snags and delays as per various recent newspaper and media reports.
BA were first contact and informed that nothing had needed to be done at all by AA re the flight tickets. BA further advised that they had no problems with spelling errors as long as it was only a couple of letters and not a whole name. The check in lady asserted that she was more than able to sort things out there and then… More ammunition for my impending fall out with AA!
We were through bag drop and security, sitting in departures at 0930, wondering how to fill out a further 4 hours. ‘People watching’ commenced, with ever more ludicrous suggestions being made as to the purposes of their flights and to where.

The flight was great. Good service, decent fun for 7 and a bit hours and with by airline standards, very good food. I even photographed it!


A happy selfie of Mandie and I.


A serious selfie by Mandie.


A rather rare photo of Matt. (He doesn’t like being photographed, as you will find).


My Chicken, mushroom sauce and mashed potatoes.


Mandie’s veggy chilli.


And Dan’s…. Bottle of white wine. I could not get an image of Matt’s meal as he was 3 seats across.

We arrived at Toronto Pearson to a scene of utter chaos. Immigration and Customs was badly organised, machines were down and it was 2.5 hours before we escaped.. and after I had been randomly selected for a Rapid Antigen test (results in 3-5 days!). Then it was a Taxi to the Hampton Inn and Suites by Hilton, although only a mere 500 yards away, impossible for pedestrians to reach without risking their lives as there were no sidewalks. The Taxi was a compulsory fixed fee from the terminal, $22 Canadian!
Sadiq Kahn would have been proud of the Airport Authorities.

Check in to our rather average, typical Hampton Inns room followed, and then a decision was needed about an evening meal. Mandie was not hungry, Matt said that he was tired and Dan said that he was up for Hooters! After a quick LFT test (Negative), we were off!

A 20 minute walk and we were in the Hooters door. Dan is a bad man who had led me astray. Hooters was a typical ‘near the Airport type restaurant/ dive bar in a shabby, run down area near the perimeter fence, I.e not particularly salubrious and next to a Sex Shop (3 DVD’s for $10 Canadian plus tax, should any fellow Dibbers be passing by).



Dan auditioning for a job.


The food portions were generous and the quality.. ok.


Dan being…. Dan.

A return walk to the Hotel after parting with $55 Ca, a trip report to update.. and so to bed and a fight with jet lag!

Edited at 08:39 AM.
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Old 8 Apr 22, 11:57 PM  
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princess allie
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Exciting! First day of your holiday, enjoy.
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Old 8 Apr 22, 11:59 PM  
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Stardust5
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Fantastic! Look forward to reading along!
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Old 9 Apr 22, 12:15 AM  
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anji
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So very happy you're off on holiday after so long! Will be tuning in every day.
If you get the chance to go to Niagara on the Lake and go on the jet boats you will love it, but take a change of clothes!
Have fun!
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Old 9 Apr 22, 12:48 AM  
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cornishfrogboy
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Already there have been snags. The first post is currently incomplete.. but all will become clear!
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2005 onwards.. lots of times!
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
2022 Toronto to Miami .. eventually.https://www.thedibb.co.uk/forums/sho... php?t=1220132
California Nevada Arizona Oct 2022 pretrip
https://www.thedibb.co.uk/forums/sho... php?t=1209610
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Old 9 Apr 22, 03:57 AM  
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Bootrip2
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Following along. Not the best start but at least you made it! Pleased you and your family can now relax and enjoy the weeks ahead! Poor Toby though, he is going to make you pay when you get back!
Hoping to maybe visit Toronto and NF at some point so lots of pics and info please! X
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Old 9 Apr 22, 04:02 AM  
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richard29
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Excellent. Following along.
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Old 9 Apr 22, 07:42 AM  
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Edie ray
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Fabulous , I look forward to hearing more of your travels
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Old 9 Apr 22, 07:46 AM  
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Sandraoh40
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Have a great holiday … look forward to reading all about it
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Old 9 Apr 22, 07:53 AM  
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disney332
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Been waiting for this and as anticipated, bearing in mind your no nonsense articulation, which I might add is like a breath of fresh air, you do not disappoint.

Take care and enjoy yourselves. Life is for living.

I am following.

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