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by Ken Pellman (archives)
November 29, 2001
Ken writes about Discovery Cove, IAAPA, and some place known as the Walt Disney World Resort

Trip Report to Walt Disney World and Discovery Cove

"Do you have any idea how ungodly hot and crowded it will be???"

Prologue
Ever since I’d returned from a trip to Florida before Summer, my sister had been tossing out ideas for a return trip. She, her husband, and their two boys hadn’t been in about seven years. I had no intention of returning for a couple years or so. In May, my highest priority was seeing Islands of Adventure, and I’d done that. Sure, I hadn’t been able to hit Men In Black, because I wasn’t about to fork over even more money primarily for one attraction in the separate park, but it wasn’t going anywhere. Disney wasn’t really doing anything new. I didn’t want to go back unless it was with someone who hadn’t been before. There’s nothing like experiencing a Disney park with someone who has never been to it before.

The comments I started out with was in response to her suggestion of doing the Disney Cruise, which we hadn’t done before, and visiting the Resort for only a few days, in August.

Nothin’ doin’. Like I said: too hot and crowded.

When August did finally roll around, unable to resist the low airfares, we booked flights that would have us in Orlando for about a week in November. I was going back to Florida… again.

There were three basic reasons why I’d lost a desire to go back.

  • I’ve already been a bunch of times. I’ve never grown tired of visiting Disneyland Park, but the problem with Walt Disney World Resort is that I can’t go enough to become a "regular" and to regularly bump into friends and acquaintances.
  • Some of the fun stuff I could only find there in the past I can now find here, at the Disneyland Resort - the 3-D shows are cloned at The Disneyland Resort, and the Animation attractions have a lot in common.
  • Some of the stuff I really liked in the past isn’t there anymore - The Walt Disney Story, the Carousel of Progress, Horizons, the original World of Motion and Journey Into Imagination attractions.
  • The cutbacks in offerings, and the fact that I knew they things would be operated at reduced capacity and limited hours.

Still, it is a pleasant place and I knew I’d need another vacation, and it would be nice to spend time with family.

The magical day of travel arrived, and the rascals still didn’t know about it. My sister invited me over to help wake them up in the morning and break the news to them. This fun event would also serve as a pre-trip test for their new video camera, which the little hooligans didn’t know about, either. We quietly snuck into their room, where they were fast asleep in their bunk bed set.

I told them to wake up. They’d be confused as to what in the world I’d be doing in their room in the morning, so I explained that I didn’t feel like going to work and I asked them if they felt like going to school.

They groggily indicated that they’d prefer not to go to school.

I asked if they wanted to stay home.

They said yes.

I replied. "Too bad. You’re not staying home today. We’re all going to Walt Disney World."

Now how is that for a surprise for a couple California kids who know the difference between Disneyland and Walt Disney World?

My sister was disappointed that they didn’t leap up and jump up and down on their beds. Instead, their reaction was to laugh out loud at the thought of their principals, teachers, and classmates all sitting at school while they were off to visit the World’s Greatest Resort. They did get excited, exclaiming "Is that a new video camera?!?" Modern kids do have their priorities.

For once, I was the last one to finish packing. Everyone had to wait on me as I made last-second arrangements and got everything together. This gave the little rugrats a chance to say goodbye to their grandmother, who had dropped by to see everyone off.

Finally, I rushed out the door and we squeezed all of the luggage into the car, and managed to get all five of us (husband, wife, two kids, uncle) plus our driver into the car, and we were off.

Getting There is Half of the Fun, Right? …Right?
None of us had flown since well before the recent terrorist attacks. In September, the nine-year-old had declared he never wanted to fly again. He must have dealt those feelings, because there was no problem getting him on the plane at the Burbank airport.

The Southwest flights were packed. We flew to Phoenix and went on to Albuquerque ALBEQUERQUE!!! (Sorry, WAY reference… either you picked up on it or you didn’t. I’m not going to explain it.) We transferred planes there, and we were on our way to Orlando.

I like Orlando International. It’s a very pleasant airport.

It was later at night when we got in. Alamo doesn’t operate at the actual airport, so we hopped on their shuttle. It took a while for my sister to pull away from the counter. Turns our Alamo was trying to place all kinds of extra charges onto the rates they’d previously given my sister, including a fee for shuttling us from the airport. Be forewarned about that. There was an expensively dressed gentleman with an accent who was being taken away from a woman and a little girl by police officers… we could only speculate that he’d threatened the folks at Alamo after encountering similar treatment. He talked with someone on his phone and said something to prompt one of the officers to say, "I don’t care if you are the President…"

But I digress.

It just isn’t a trip to Orlando for us unless we get lost on our way somewhere. At least this time we avoided making several pointless trips through those tollbooths. Earlier trips we’d taken a shuttle or cab and stayed on Walt Disney World Resort property, thus avoiding all of that. Ever since my kin got in cheap in a timeshare system, we’ve found it to our advantage to stay off property and rent a car.

Unable to check in to the timeshare property until the following day, we had reservations at a motel closer to the airport than Alamo, so we had to double back a little. However, the combination of the location of the motel and my investment in a map book allowed us to head to the Resort area the next morning without going through a single tollbooth, and without getting lost.

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