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Old 06-15-2012, 09:45 AM   #1
kittylady1972
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A NON-DISNEY trip report with some Disney flair...June 2012 Trip Report (7/9 update)

Hello and WELCOME to my non-Disney Trip Report with some Disney Flair! You can find most of my PTR information in my link in my signature to read about how this trip developed as part of my 2 trips in 2012 that soon became THREE trips in 2012!

Here is the short version for now though.

PLAN: We knew we wanted to celebrate the end of the school year for the kids by doing some kind of trip. Since I am in the middle of a job change that will most likely be sometime this summer, we knew we'd have to do any long trips early because I may not have any leave to do a trip later in the year. We already have a Disney Cruise and Park Trip scheduled for November 2012 and so I'd need to start storing up leave at my new job as soon as possible to save it for that trip. We decided to do a long weekend in Florida to hit a few non-Disney parks.

One night at dinner we had the kids do an anonymous vote, write down their top three vacation destinations for us on a piece of paper. The only rule was that it had to be in the US and within driving distance, and yes Florida, despite being a 14+ hour drive, was allowed. Two out of three kids chose Disney as one of their 3 choice, but we ruled that out due to our impending trip. My oldest chose SeaWorld, since he had not been there since we was about four years old! One other kid chose Busch Gardens, but she was referring to the Williamsburg location which we have visited a few times over the years. So that helped solidify our decision for Florida and we'd visit SeaWorld (last visit was in Feb 2004), Busch Gardens Tampa Bay (never been), and Legoland (never been). My 7yo DS is a Lego FANATIC but only knew about the California park, so didn't even know the Florida park was an option. So for 12yo DS we picked SeaWorld, for 9yo DD we picked Busch Gardens and for 7yo DS we picked Legoland. There would be something for everybody, but all would be a surprise to be revealed only when we pulled up to the gates of these parks!

The original plan was to drive, but eventually we decided to take the Autotrain down instead. We had taken it last June and enjoyed it and got a good rate on the trip. My in-laws would be joining us on this trip as well, but it would be their first Autotrain trip and they were looking forward to that as well.

So our kids last day of school was Friday June 8th, but we would pull them out of school in the morning on Wed. June 6th. We'd hit the road for the hour drive south to the Amtrak Autotrain station. Train would depart at about 4pm, an overnight trip to Florida. We would arrive on Thursday June 7th and the plan was as follows:

Thursday June 7th: Morning/afternoon at Seaworld, check into our room at Mystic Dunes Resort that afternoon

Friday June 8th: Day at Legoland
Saturday June 9th: Day at Busch Gardens Tampa
Sunday June 10th: Another 1/2 day at SeaWorld
Monday June 11th: Drive back to Maryland

I was hoping to add some Disney flair to our trip by planning a few Disney Restaurant meals (only in resorts, not in the parks) and maybe doing some Disney Minigolf or perhaps even doing the Hoop-de-Doo Musical Revue one night as a surprise. Would we manage to fit any of these things into our non-Disney trip? Stay tuned...it's gonna get good I PROMISE!!
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Last edited by kittylady1972; 07-09-2012 at 02:18 PM.
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Old 06-15-2012, 09:28 PM   #2
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June 6th: Failing math? Well ok, gotta go!
Woke up and got everybody on the bus for school...and then it was time to get packed! I put together most of our last minute stuff and then headed to the kennel to drop off our doggie! After that, I came back home and helped DH get the car packed. We had a system worked out for the Autotrain because I was sure that they did not allow external luggage carriers, which we had attached to the back of our SUV. So we had half of the luggage packed in the back and I made sure that when we got to the Autotrain station, we could removed the bag with the remaining luggage, throw it into the back of the SUV, and then also put the luggage rack in there. We did a trial run at my request and it worked, although it was a bit tight.

At just before 11am I headed out to get the kids from school. First stop was middle school for my oldest. I arrived and asked the front desk to get him checked out. It took a while but then he was in his math class. The teacher apparently responded that he would be missing his math final exam. Now of course my son knew for a while that he would be missing Wed thru the end of the week (last day of school was Friday) and I had told the kids over and over to make sure they let the teachers know and got all of their stuff. Well of course this was not communicated to DS 12's math teacher, but what could I do now? Eventually two other admin people came out from the back office to once again inform me that he'd be missing his math final. My response...well he missed it unless she wants to send it home to me at this point. I let them know this would be his last day for the week, then they also had me write a note to excuse those last two days. There was nothing to be done...we weren't postponing the trip, so he'd just have to fail math. Yes this was a real possibility for quarter, as he had a low C in the class already.

I tried to forget about all of this as we headed next to the elementary school so I could get the 2nd and 3rd grader. Of course the front desk people AND the principal were excited for us and did not give me a hard time about it at all. it took longer than usual again to get the 2nd grader, who as it turns out was across the hall in lunch! Soon we were home and on the road to the Autotrain station.

We stopped on our way down to get some fast food and then we were off, making it to the train station in about an hour with no traffic...rare in Northern Virginia! There were some people there but not too many, and then we learned that we COULD keep our rear luggage rack on the car WITH our luggage on it. GREAT! Good thing to know for next time!

Kids were anxious to get on the train of course, so the 1 hour wait or so until we could board was FOREVER for them! The only excitement was regarding "Tito". Since the Autotrain is a non-stop 18+ hour journey, no pets are allowed since they are no pet stops! Well at one point we see a woman with a small doggie in her purse, and she is trying to quiet him so she heads for the bathroom. My MIL goes in and says the woman was on the floor in the stall saying 'Shhh...Tito...SHHH' so we could not wait to see how this played out!

Soon we were lined up and heading to our vehicle, and behind us was Tito's mom...with Tito secure in his doggie purse she was carrying! Soon we saw her being confronted by an Amtrak employee...she was so close and we were sure she was then busted! Tito would not be making the train ride after all!

We got onto the train and found our three roomettes. We put the three kids in one, and DH and I took the one across the hall with his parents in the one next to the kids. Here the kids are in their room:



We got ourselves settled and as it approached 3pm we knew where to head next...the lounge car for the free wine and cheese cocktail hour before dinner!

It was here where the adults enjoyed some free wine and cheese and played some dice and card games and the kids had some soda and snacks as well.







About an hour or so later, it was time for dinner. We enjoyed another nice meal on the Autotrain that included dessert. I had a salmon that was prepared pretty well and the other adults had a beef dish.



We were pretty fully from dinner so we relaxed back in the rooms for a little while. The movie for the evening was not one we were familiar with but at one point we did return to the lounge for a little while. The kids had some hot chocolate and cookies and we played some more dice games. Soon the kids were begging to return to the rooms to get to sleep so that's what we did!

By the next morning we would be arriving at the Sanford, Florida station...and how would that go??

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Old 06-16-2012, 04:10 PM   #3
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I'm here!!

That stinks that your kiddo had to fail Math.

Can't believe a lady tried to smuggle a pooch onto the train!

Anxious to hear more!
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May 2011 3rd Visit Surprise! (PTR) ~*~*~ May 2011: Year of the Surprises! (TR)
March 2012: Spring Break, Here we come! (PTR) ~*~*~ March 2012: The Year I Survived Spring Break! (TR)


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Old 06-18-2012, 09:50 AM   #4
kittylady1972
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lidian View Post
I'm here!!

That stinks that your kiddo had to fail Math.

Can't believe a lady tried to smuggle a pooch onto the train!

Anxious to hear more!
Well as it turns out I'll save you the suspense on the Math issue. I checked his online grades and she marked him EXEMPT from the final. I guess if he was one on the cusp of a high grade, or cared, it would be a big deal. Also it's middle school...NOT high school or college...so I was just not worried about it. He ended up with a C in math from what I can gather, and honestly the exam actually could have DROPPED him to a D considering he hasn't done well in the class in the last few months. I don't totally blame my kid...he's had a long term sub in the class for a few months and nearly all of the class has been failing their exams and quizzes, and she's even had them retake them...only for the results to be the same. It seems to me like as a TEACHER that should tell her something...but of course, she's just a sub so I just haven't bothered to push the issue with school so close to ending!

I am going to try to get more of this done today since I am at home all day unexpectedly so should have some free time. I have to run DH to an appointment in about an hour where we will hopefully determine just how interesting our next few weeks will be since he is now in a temporary cast on his right leg from foot to lower thigh due to a Father's Day mishap! We spent from 9:30pm until about 1am in the E/R last night with a diagnosis of a torn achilles tendon...but we don't know how bad it is yet and if surgery will be required. Fun fun fun and of course it's his right leg, meaning he can barely get into a car right now...and forget driving it!

It's going to be interesting around here for sure.
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Old 06-18-2012, 11:57 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kittylady1972 View Post
Well as it turns out I'll save you the suspense on the Math issue. I checked his online grades and she marked him EXEMPT from the final. I guess if he was one on the cusp of a high grade, or cared, it would be a big deal. Also it's middle school...NOT high school or college...so I was just not worried about it. He ended up with a C in math from what I can gather, and honestly the exam actually could have DROPPED him to a D considering he hasn't done well in the class in the last few months. I don't totally blame my kid...he's had a long term sub in the class for a few months and nearly all of the class has been failing their exams and quizzes, and she's even had them retake them...only for the results to be the same. It seems to me like as a TEACHER that should tell her something...but of course, she's just a sub so I just haven't bothered to push the issue with school so close to ending!

I am going to try to get more of this done today since I am at home all day unexpectedly so should have some free time. I have to run DH to an appointment in about an hour where we will hopefully determine just how interesting our next few weeks will be since he is now in a temporary cast on his right leg from foot to lower thigh due to a Father's Day mishap! We spent from 9:30pm until about 1am in the E/R last night with a diagnosis of a torn achilles tendon...but we don't know how bad it is yet and if surgery will be required. Fun fun fun and of course it's his right leg, meaning he can barely get into a car right now...and forget driving it!

It's going to be interesting around here for sure.
So glad to hear that the Math class worked out so well! That's awesome that he got a reprieve from the exam! And yes, sometimes if the class as a whole is not understanding the material, it really is the faculty's issue for presenting the material -- it should be evaluated. Plus, if it's a sub ... then I'm curious as to the system's rules. In our county system, as long as you have a GED, you can sub. In the city system, you must have a BA of SOME sort to sub. I used to sub for the county a few years after HS. I couldn't commit to a daily job, so I was working for temp agencies and subbed to pay my bills. Thankfully I was only tasked with up to fourth grade, so the material wasn't complicated. I recall my Spanish teacher in HS getting called for duty. The sub they brought in was so daft. While he had a teaching degree, he knew NOTHING about Spanish. No one learned anything that year and we all got As. Maybe your DS's Math teacher isn't strong in Math?

So sorry to hear about you DH! That's awful!! I hope it's nothing serious and he recovers SUPER quick!! Sending out healing vibes! Be sure to keep us posted!!!!
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Old 06-20-2012, 09:50 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lidian View Post
So glad to hear that the Math class worked out so well! That's awesome that he got a reprieve from the exam! And yes, sometimes if the class as a whole is not understanding the material, it really is the faculty's issue for presenting the material -- it should be evaluated. Plus, if it's a sub ... then I'm curious as to the system's rules. In our county system, as long as you have a GED, you can sub. In the city system, you must have a BA of SOME sort to sub. I used to sub for the county a few years after HS. I couldn't commit to a daily job, so I was working for temp agencies and subbed to pay my bills. Thankfully I was only tasked with up to fourth grade, so the material wasn't complicated. I recall my Spanish teacher in HS getting called for duty. The sub they brought in was so daft. While he had a teaching degree, he knew NOTHING about Spanish. No one learned anything that year and we all got As. Maybe your DS's Math teacher isn't strong in Math?

So sorry to hear about you DH! That's awful!! I hope it's nothing serious and he recovers SUPER quick!! Sending out healing vibes! Be sure to keep us posted!!!!
Thanks Liddy! Yes I was happy about his math grade overall. I am hoping the teacher he gets next year will be much better. This is, after all, a charter school that is supposed to be strong in math and science and that's the one subject that was not going well. Of course, he also has math homework over the summer and I finally looked at it online yesterday...over 200 math problems to do, some of which I don't even know how to do! Plus two books to read and report on as well. He's not going to have a fun summer! Good thing we started off with the vacation!

Yes DH has a torn muscle in his right calf. We won't know the full extent until we see the orthopedic tomorrow for a follow-up to discuss the MRI results. There's a good chance it will just require healing and no surgery, which is good news. Again, glad he did it AFTER vacay! The bad news is that it's his right leg, so he has no use of it and that means NO DRIVING! So I am spending a lot of time on the road now, taking him to work, the kids to camp, picking him and kids up from camp, getting myself to work. Plus now I get to do the lawn as well. Oh it's just tons of fun around here! With any luck though, he'll be a bit healed in about 2-3 weeks.
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