Before even going to the Democratic National Convention in Philly this year, I knew D and I needed another vacation.
For D, he hit a major professional roadblock. He was trying for a good portion of the year to move us back to California by seeking a promotion in one of the Marriott hotels in Southern California. For me, I wanted to step back and think through my next steps because working three jobs wasn’t going to cut it anymore. Ultimately both of us needed to unwind and reflect on what we wanted to do — as individuals and as a couple.
A vacation was definitely in order.
It seemed fitting that since it was an even year we would visit Florida. Plus heading to Florida is pretty economical for us as East Coasters. Our plane tickets are usually $100-120 roundtrip per person. Like our last trip, we did a multi-city flight — arriving in Fort Lauderdale to hang out in Miami for a few days and departing from Orlando so we could make a pit stop at Disney World. It’s a pretty easy drive and we did it before (only vice versa last time — Orlando to Miami).
Here was our itinerary:
- Aug 22: Arrived in Fort Lauderdale at 9 am and check-in at Residence Inn Miami Beach Surfside. Luckily they had a room available for us so we were able to quickly change and head to the beach, which is only a 5 minute walk from the hotel. The beach is quiet as it’s not in South Beach Miami. Great for relaxing.
- Aug 23: Venture to South Beach for more beach! One of my favorite things to do to is walk up and down Ocean Drive. There’s a great hole in the wall restaurant called Las Olas that we like going to. Cool tip: If you grab one of their lunch meals it’s definitely big enough for two people.
- Aug 24: We ended up getting sunburnt… Note to self, those sunscreen sprays are worthless. I’m sticking to go old fashion rubbing myself down sunscreen. Because we were burnt and didn’t want to enflame our skin even more, we found a local winery called Schnebly Redlands that makes wines out of tropical fruits. Hint: Most of the wines are sweeter. If you’re looking for something interesting and new, give it a try. On the way back we stopped by another great find from our previous Florida trips — Shiver’s BBQ. Don’t skip it. It’s really good.
- Aug 25: Packed up and made our way to Orlando. We arrived in time to hang out at the Animal Kingdom for the afternoon till evening. I planned it out that we would have a fast pass for our favorite — Kilimanjaro Safari. And I made dinner reservations ahead of time at the new restaurant Tiffins for the Jungle Book dining package. This way we had reserved seats for the night time show.
- Aug 26: Hollywood Studios day. Again, I planned out our fast passes ahead of time to get on our favorites — Star Tours, Toy Story Mania, Tower of Terror. Since it was August, it was also hot and humid. So we made it a point to take lots of breaks. If you fancy a cocktail, get a cocktail and sip on it for a bit. It’s better to take your time when the weather is too warm. Way better experience in the end. Just like our visit to the Animal Kingdom, I made dinner reservations ahead of time at Brown Derby for the Fantasmic dining package.
- Aug 27: Epcot day. Around the world we go! This park is adult friendly. Over the past few trips, D and I have enjoyed beers, tequila, sake, champagne, you name it. This park is great for just taking a stroll. Cool tip: If you arrive at 9, you can walk over to Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie for breakfast, even though World Showcase opens at 10. We did a few rides with our fancy fast passes — Soarin’, Sea with Nemo and Friends, Living with the Land, and Spaceship Earth. This day was also the HOTTEST day, so D and I called it quits early and went to our hotel for some down time.
- Aug 28: Magic Kingdom day. Same thing, different day — I plotted our fast passes for the rides we absolutely wanted to go on. We jumped on some rides that didn’t have that long of a wait. Cool tip: If you download the Disney World app, you can quickly make changes to your fast passes in case you find out the line is super short and you’d rather use your pass for something else! Like the day before, it was blazing hot. We finished up early that day and spent a few hours hanging out at Disney Springs (formerly known as Downtown Disney). We ate dinner at Raglan Road, one of our favorite spots. This place gets PACKED — so be smart and RSVP.
- Aug 29: Whatever we want day! D and I decided to spend our last day at Hollywood Studios for a few reasons. They have the new Star Wars Launch Bay area D wanted to spend more time looking through. There were quite a few Star Wars shows that we also wanted to watch. And we didn’t get a chance to take great photos on the Tower of Terror (the row in front of us last time covered our faces). Unlike the days before, it was RAINY. And it poured buckets for a good 45 minutes. D and I escaped the downpour by watching a Little Mermaid show, which surprisingly was really good. Despite the rain, the evening Star Wars extravaganza show was the best. They blacked out the park and painted the Chinese Theater with lasers and Star Wars clips. Totally worth playing in the rain for us Star Wars nerds. =)
And that was our vacation! The next day we flew out of Orlando back to DC; back to our daily grind.
Listing out our itinerary, I realize I should probably do a follow-up blog post or two on all the tips and tricks D and I have gathered over the years from our Disney World trips. D and I have a bunch. I’ll make sure to add the links here when I do. =)
‘Til then next time.