It's Life Its Travel

Vacationing in Orlando: Part 1

June 16, 2016

I am going to break this trip down into 3 parts because Orlando is huge and we covered a lot of ground. Vacationing in Orlando starts with Disney World………..

My kids and I have never ever been to Disney World so I wanted to at least try it out to see what all the hype was about. Normally when I go on vacation the hubs is with us so since he has gone up to heaven I knew that I needed someone physically with me because I can’t handle 2 small kids (not really small but small enough) by myself in a huge park. I asked my bestie to come along with me because she had never been to Disney World and in exchange for her coming I would get her tickets. She said yes so we planned a last minute trip to Disney really quick! I was able to hire Shieka from Doctors Travel to plan the entire trip for us. Normally I don’t use travel agents since a lot of my trips are easy to put together but since we were doing Disney World and Universal Studio I decided to get some professional help.

Driving from Atlanta to Orlando

The trip took us about 6 hours and that included two stops for bathroom breaks and gas breaks. We drove through that storm Colin….whew it was horrible but we made it. We had to pull over a few times because we couldn’t see in the rain but we made it tour hotel safe and sound on Monday evening!

tropical storm colin

After we got to Orlando we checked into the Loews Portofino Bay Hotel 

The hotel is gorgeous! Let me give you some tips

  • Sometimes you have to pay for the best and I was saving to do just that so while other hotels were probably nice….this one was nicer (and no, I didn’t receive anything for free I paid for this)
  • Pay for Valet parking. It was $129 for 4 nights. Trust me when I say…..if you have kids with you it’s easy for them to bring your car up to you instead of you walking to the car. They have tight security on the cars too. I was asked for my ticket every time I got the car.
  • The pool area…I put it up on my instagram. The view was amazing. The room we had was on the club level and it was very nice! They had someone come around morning and evening to bring you water and towels as needed.
  • Anytime we had a problem and called down it was fixed within 10 minutes

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loews portifino bay

After we checked in Monday and freshened up we decided to go find dinner and walk around city walk to get a feel for the place. I love Emeril so we decided to make that our first stop. The food was horrible! I paid over $100 for crap. I don’t know if they just had an off night but I was highly disappointed in their food. Service was great but the food was nasty. The best thing we had was the Skillet Cornbread…..my friend had shrimp and grits that looked like slop and I had pork chops that were so tough I could barely cut it. My daughter had the kids pizza and my son had the pasta with shrimp. My daughter’s pizza was the best thing at the table. My son who knows his food said mom don’t you ever bring us back. Trust me I won’t. I won’t visit again but if you loved it when you were there tell us in the comments what you loved so I can get a different view.

After the horrible food at Emerils we decided to go to get some snacks at the gas station to tie us over until Tuesday.

Tuesday Morning we hit up Disney’s Magic Kingdom

_MG_3740 copy _MG_3711 _MG_3730 copy Disney Animal Kingdom

Some pointers

  • The check ins …it was a lot but necessary. First you park then they carry you over to the main entrance. We went to the main entrance checked in, then had to be carried over by boat (or train) to another main entrance. We got to that main entrance and they had lines to check your bags, and then we finally got in. It was a lot of check points so be prepared.
  • We carried book bags to help us carry stuff. Carry your umbrella or poncho in them you never know when it will rain…its Florida. (in my bag I had zyrtec, lotion, an inhaler for my son who has allergies and asthma, and extra set of clothes for the kids just in case we had any accidents, my wallet, my camera (I took one prime lens), batteries for my camera, an umbrella, and snacks. I bought drinks at the park.
  • Buy the wrist band for the kids. It’s 12 bucks but worth it so you don’t have to pull out a ticket stub every time you do fast pass
  • Buy the water fan thingy…it’s not that expensive and since you have to wait in long lines…trust me get it. It will keep you cool.
  • Speaking of Fast Pass……..

So I am going to end this post with the fast pass horror

First I was thinking the fast pass was just a line to get in but noooooo you have to actually schedule your attractions on the app ahead of time or you will have to wait in long lines. We figured this out after we got into the park. The signal on my phone (TMOBILE) was horrible so I couldn’t get signal to schedule anything. The wifi was shotty so if I did schedule something it may or may not have went through because I would lose signal. Also…..my phone runs out of batteries fast so you can only schedule two things at a time. My phone ran out of batteries after we scheduled the first 4 things so for everything else we had to wait in long lines. We got into 4 attractions on the fast pass which was nice everything else…the lines were about 30 minutes to 2 hr wait times.

Since no one told us to schedule early like a few nights before here are my tips

  • Schedule Fast pass at least two days before your trip to the park. Do two at a time and try to stay within the same area. Once you get to the second one while in the line (yes there is still a small wait not long though) schedule your next two. By this time you may or may not have missed most of the park. I am going to be real….the 4 that we did schedule was in different areas of the park so we had to walk and hurry to catch them since we were all over the place. By the time you try to schedule, most things will be 2 to 3 hours away.

We didn’t get to go to everything because we spent most of the time waiting in lines. The best thing at Disney’s Magic Kingdom was the Laugh Factory which btw…I was on camera and I had everyone laughing. My daughter who is 7 was not impressed with anything. My 10 year old had break down after breakdown because I think he was bored. Disney’s Magic Kingdom was more for the smaller kids he found that all the rides were Kiddie and his frustration was real. I had to have a talk with him about being grateful because Disney World is expensive and the amount of money I kicked out you better suck it up.

Stay tuned for the rest of our adventure in part 2.

Vacationing in Orlando: Part 1

  • Reply
    June 16, 2016 at 9:58 am

    Glad you stayed at portofino!! We are staying there again later this summer. Never ate at emerald though 🙁 Magic bands are so worth it especially when you have kids. Much less hassle.

    People actually can schedule fast passes up to six months in advance. I usually book them as SOON as tickets are loaded into my Disney online account. Makes things much easier. Can’t wait for part 2!!

  • Reply
    June 16, 2016 at 10:08 am

    Fast pass is bae…if used right. LOL. I thought about staying at Portofino! Maybe next time, even though I really do love staying close to the parks. The magic bands are worth every penny. If you stay on property, they even let you into your room! I love them!! Can’t wait to read part 2!!

  • Reply
    June 16, 2016 at 3:14 pm

    Gosh, it’s been several years since we last been to Disney World. Hopefully, we go back soon because my oldest daughter has been talking about going back.

    I like going to Disney at the end of February, less crowds and lines. I never done the Fast Pass, but I heard it’s good to have when done right. Thanks for your honest reviews and tips!

  • Reply
    Paula Schuck
    June 16, 2016 at 3:49 pm

    Orlando is the best place in the world for a family vacation. We’ve been down to that area several times, and it’s always a fantastic time. There are so many great theme parks, but there’s also a ton of fine dining and other more grown up endeavors, too.

  • Reply
    Tammilee Tips
    June 16, 2016 at 9:42 pm

    I love visiting Disney World! This looks like such a fun trip your family had! There is something so magical about Disney at any age, I love the smiles on their faces! Can’t wait for part two!

  • Reply
    Bites for Foodies
    June 16, 2016 at 10:00 pm

    Driving from Atlanta to Orlando sounds heavenly…considering it takes 24 hours from where I live (if you drive straight through!). My kids are still young but I can’t wait to take them to Orlando!

  • Reply
    Gwendolyn Mulholland
    June 16, 2016 at 11:41 pm

    It sounds like you had a real adventure. It has been several years since we went to Disney and it seems like the checkpoints/entrances have increased. It is disappointing to hear such bad thing about Emeril’s restaurant. I hope that the rest of your trip got a little better and can’t wait to read about it.

  • Reply
    Kristy @ Mommy Hates Cooking
    June 17, 2016 at 3:04 am

    Driving in the rain is one of my least favorite things to do ever! So glad that you made it safely and had a nice hotel to chill out in. Hopefully we’ll make it to Disney for a family vacation some day. Can’t wait to read more about your trip!

  • Reply
    June 17, 2016 at 1:28 pm

    Never ever get the fast pass is so not worth the money! I heard the Emeril’s restaurant had crappy food that’s why we never went. I love Animal Kingdom. We’ve been about 4 times and the last visit was the first time we hit Animal Kingdom. Sophia really loved it too!!!

    • Reply
      June 17, 2016 at 9:44 pm

      It’s not! I paid for that fast pass too and couldn’t utilize it. Yes Animal Kingdom is the best one!

  • Reply
    Inspiring Kitchen
    June 17, 2016 at 2:15 pm

    My daughter had a lovie. My daughter called it “bear,” but it’s actually a small pillow that she brought with her everywhere. I had to wash it gently because I was afraid I’d ruin it.

  • Reply
    Inspiring Kitchen
    June 17, 2016 at 2:15 pm

    Disney World is definitely the best place to go with the whole family. The hotel sounds wonderful. I’ve heard a lot of bad reviews about Emeril, so I have no plans of trying out their food.

  • Reply
    Melissa Dixon
    June 17, 2016 at 6:40 pm

    I love the Portofino hotel, my brother got us a comp’d room there for his friends birthday and it was a blast. Such a beautiful hotel and view I loved it. We also went to Disney when my daughter was little and we had a few bad experiences, for all the money it cost I was hoping for more much like your son. I hope in part 2 he enjoyed himself and your younger one found some fun too. No matter what those kids are lucky to have you spending time and money to make memories. That’s awesome, go mom!

    • Reply
      June 17, 2016 at 9:43 pm

      Yes I would go back just for the hotel. It was beautiful!

  • Reply
    June 18, 2016 at 7:31 pm

    Thanks so much for this post. You know I’ve already mentioned to you that I plan on giving the gift of Disney to my babies this Christmas and I’m still trying to decide between Universal and Disney. Or perhaps doing both if I can win the lottery between now and December. LOL! Just kidding, not really.. maybe.

    Anyway, I look forward to this series and the tips you have.

    • Reply
      June 19, 2016 at 1:16 am

      Do universal…it’s much more to do and worth the money. Disney is more for little kids. My 7 year old was like…..mom I am ready to go.

  • Reply
    June 21, 2016 at 12:07 pm

    We stayed on a resort when we had our first Family Trip to Disney. It was the best decision we ever made. That and the fast pass bands…we can’t wait to go back but I agree it definitely takes a lot of planning!

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