A President’s Day weekend in Orlando

While Disney World isn’t exactly a place I’d think about going to, when my friend Sonia told me she had room for two in her Orlando hotel room, I said why not.

Getting there

It’s pretty easy to get to Orlando from New York and New Jersey. Not so from San Francisco. There no direct flights, and with a stopover in Dallas, it took about six hours to get there. I got in very late, but Sonia was kind enough to wait for me at the airport so we could take the shuttle to the resort together.

If you ever go to Disney, their resorts are the way to go. They probably cost a pretty penny, but it was great not to have worry about going to and from the airport, and having the parks right nearby. Plus they have these bracelets that are all-in-one hotel keys, park ticket, and credit card.

It’s a small world … forever and ever and ever

Originally I was going to go on my own, but I was glad Sonia convinced me otherwise. Turned out she and her cousin ended up having to spend quite a bit of time at their conference.

While they were gone bright and early, Yiannis and I had breakfast in the hotel. (Something I kept doing was saying “fuck” despite all the kids. I had to make a conscious effort to stop. It wasn’t easy.) We were in the park by 11.

To be honest, at first I was creeped out. All that happiness. But I tried ignoring that and had a good time.  We packed in a lot: the lame Stitch ride, the fun Buzz Lightyear ride —

Despite my look of concentration, I had no idea what I was doing.

— Space Mountain, Haunted Mansion, Peter Pan, Pirates of the Caribbean, Big Thunder Mountain, some racecar thing (a little lame), It’s a Small World (where we got stuck for a few minutes and were tortured by that song), Winnie the Pooh, and Swiss Family Robinson. We also caught the Electrical Parade:

While the food was pretty bad (expensive and junky) the weather was great. It was kind of chilly but sunny, which I thought was perfect for schlepping around, although by night time we were cold.

A less intense day at Epcot

Since we had done so much the day before, we took it easy the next day. We both went for runs, then headed out to Epcot.

This is going to show how old I am, but I remember seeing Epcot being built. My family and I had taken a road trip to Disney World, and from the car we saw the construction. We got to visit Epcot the next time we went to Orlando. I was about 15, and I thought it was all right. It probably still wasn’t that built out then.

This time around it pretty fun, although the food was disappointing. I had some terrible beef noodle soup in “China” while Yiannis had some mediocre Mexican. The churritos were pretty good, but you can’t really go wrong with fried dough in sugar.

We guessed that you have to pay $30 or more an entree for the good stuff, but that seems ridiculous since we can both get good ethnic food in our respective cities for much cheaper. The Norwegian boat ride was pretty fun though.

We left the park around five to take a break. (We had a “FastPass” reservation at 7.) Yiannis rode the waterslide. I didn’t feel like swimming so I just chilled in a lounge chair. Then we had dinner at the hotel. The quality of the food there is slightly better than the park’s, although overpriced of course.

Future World was way more fun that the “international” part of Epcot. Our FastPass reservation was for Fast Track. We had no idea what it was. We “designed” our cars, and then we thought we’d drive the actual car, and that there’d be some kind of simulator. But the designed car basically had nothing to do with the ride, which was essentially a roller coaster.

The roller coaster part was really fun, mostly because I wasn’t expecting it. We went very fast around a track outside, going sideways around the curves.

No matter what, Yiannis knows how to strike a pose.

Then we only had time for one more ride, Mission: SPACE. I had signed up for the “more intense” version, and Yiannis the less intense (he had a bad experience with a roller coaster recently). At the last minute, and after hearing the warning several times, I switched. I’m glad I did because even the less intense version was intense to me.

The return

My flight wasn’t until the late afternoon so I was able to have a leisurely morning. While everyone was still sleeping, I tiptoed out to the lobby, had a giant cup of coffee, and read my book. I wanted to sit outside, but it was a mere 45 degrees. So inside the sunny lobby it would have to be.

I had just enough time for another short run, a shower, and packing. Yiannis’s flight was earlier so we had a quick breakfast together before he jumped on his shuttle. Mine wasn’t for another couple of hours, which meant I had time to finish every bit of my sausage breakfast, ingest even more coffee, and read.

Somehow the resort was able to not just check me into my flight but to get me a seat near the front with extra legroom and no extra cost. Plus I lucked out with no seatmate.

That was the first leg of the flight. The second leg was another story. The flight felt jampacked. I was squeezed in with a couple and their baby, who, while squirmy, was well-behaved. The 3.5 hours felt interminable, but we landed on time at about 9:15. It took another two hours for me to get my luggage and back home. Being away always makes that extra nice.

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