Saturday, May 27, 2017

Orlando Trip with Kids: Part I - Flight and Hotel Arrival

Since we'd just taken a big, expensive vacation last October, we figured we'd limit our 2017 vacations to short, nearby roadtrips and maybe one longer trip to visit family. We ended up picking the week of April 9th to go to Utah simply because it was a good time for Oscar to take off work. My brother later realized that week was his kids' spring break and made some last minute plans to take them to Universal Studios in Orlando. We decided to postpone the Utah trip and were wondering what to do with that time off when my brother texted that there were rooms available at the resort and invited us to join him there. We had only a few hours to decide if we wanted to go and book our flights, but in the end we decided to go for it. Our fancy Hilton Grand Vacation resort was very reasonably priced thanks to our family's timeshare points, and Oscar got 30% off on 6 Universal Studios passes since Comcast owns Universal. It was still plenty expensive, but it definitely could have been worse.

When we first planned the trip I was a little worried that my heart would be longing for Disney the whole week. I'd loved Disney World when I visited with my besties in 2009, and I hadn't been terribly impressed with Universal Studios Hollywood when I visited in 2008. However, I had been dying to see the The Wizarding World of Harry Potter for 7+ years, we'd have my family to help with the kids, and Universal's website showed plenty of fun play areas for little ones, so I figured it could still be really fun.

Our first order of business was flying to Florida with kids. We decided to pay about $200 more to fly non-stop, and we assumed the kids would sleep most of the way if we booked a red eye flight. Initially none of our three seats were together on either flight due to limited selection that close to departure, but Delta came through for us and gave us a row together for both flights. We dressed our kids in their footie pajamas that evening thinking they might even fall asleep in the van on the way down. Tyler did sleep a bit, but Allison spent most of the drive giggling at our friend Emma who'd agreed to bring our van back from the airport. Allison's not used to seeing anyone behind her during a drive, so Emma was a very entertaining novelty. Allison's giggles were adorable and hilarious!
In order to save money we opted not to check any baggage, but that meant we had to make our way through the airport with a TON of luggage. We loaded up a cart with 3 carry on suitcases, 2 carseats, a computer bag, and 2 backpacks. On our way to the gate we were pleasantly surprised to see a wonderful children's play area. That made our wait for departure so much better than it would have been with bored, tired kids.

There was just too much cuteness happening in that room. We took TONS of pictures. 
Ty was a bit grumpy from being up past bedtime, but he still had fun.
I got a kick out of seeing my little ladybug climbing a big ladybug. I tried encouraging her to get on it, but she wouldn't do it at my request. She was more interested in climbing through the tunnel and on the suitcases. Finally a few minutes before we left she climbed up on the ladybug on her own and I snapped a pic just before she got off.

You can see from Ty's picture with me that the kids weren't all that interested in the airplane at first. I tried encouraging them to play on it so I could get pictures, but they didn't come over to it until the end. I'm not sure why it was so much less appealing to them than everything else.
We'd brought Tyler's carseat on the plane, so he fell asleep pretty quickly while watching a movie and stayed that way until about the last 30 minutes of the flight. Allison was much more challenging. She was crazy sleepy but missing her darkness and her crib. At first they dimmed the lights and I was able to get her down to sleep on me (after a lot of effort), but the lights came back on when there was a medical emergency on board. This also added an extra 2 hours to our flight since we ended up having to stop in Spokane, and Allison was just screaming for most of it. My dad later asked me "how were the crying babies on your flight?" and I responded "Mine. Mine was the crying baby!" There was another baby nearby who fussed a little here and there, but nothing like Allison. Her cries were quite loud and piercing. Once we got back in the air in Spokane and they'd dimmed the lights she was able to get more sleep, but everytime we moved she'd wake up screaming. She's not used to sleeping on anyone for more than a short period of time, so it took a lot of effort to convince her it was still time to sleep. We had to put her back down about ten times that night. During her longest chunk of sleep (about 90 minutes), I managed to get half an hour of sleep myself. Otherwise I pulled an all nighter.

Mike and family had arrived around 5am Florida time and were able to check into their hotel early, shortly after they arrived. We got in around 9am but didn't get out of the airport until about 11am. This was because the line for our prepaid rental car was long and tremendously slow. We were really struggling to wrangle the kids while we waited. I let Allison wander around for a bit, but she kept wanting to go through the automatic doors to go outside, and she'd cry when I'd stop her. I'd have to take her far away to walk again or she'd just go right back to the doors. It was exhausting!

We finally got our car, which had a much roomier trunk than I was expecting for having reserved the cheapest economy car, so that was a nice surprise after our long travels. I'd been concerned about being able to fit all our luggage and stroller in the trunk, and the upgrades for a larger car were far too much, so discovering the car was large enough to accomodate us took a huge weight off my shoulders. We drove to Mike's hotel and hung out with the family for awhile. I tried to sleep but couldn't. I was too excited to be in Florida and worried about how the kids were doing. I started drifting off but then got a call that our hotel room was ready as well. We were at different resorts, so we all headed on over to our resort to get Oscar and I checked in and go for a swim in their awesome pool.
We ordered lunch from the poolside bar and took a load off. We definitely didn't want to go to any themeparks that day after being awake and wrangling kids most of the night. Mike had originally planned on going to Universal Studios that first day but decided not to after finding out his hotel room was available so quickly, so we just hung out together as a family. I later took Allison up for a nap while Tyler had a bit of quiet time too, and we joined Mike's family for dinner at their hotel around 7:30pm. Ty had lots of fun playing with his cousins and Allison enjoyed wandering around. She particularly liked playing on the balcony and getting some good cuddles in with grandma. We all went to bed around 10:30pm and slept well through the night. Allison had had a 3+ hour nap before waking up at 7:30, so she wasn't quite ready for sleep yet and screamed in her pack and play. Fortunately it was dark and she had her white noise, so she got her sleep signals and crashed after about 10 minutes. Both of the kids adjusted to Florida time perfectly, waking up at 8:30am the next day when my mom's phone call interrupted our white noise over the bluetooth speaker. From then on they'd sleep around 7pm or 8pm and wake up between 7 and 7:30 each morning.

1 comment:

  1. Stacy what a fun and adorable blog on our Florida Trip the week of Easter. It was such a wonderful time being together with you and oscar and all the grandchildren. Loved your description and adorable pictures of your sweet children. Love mom