Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Themepark Overload Orlando: Orlando, Florida, Beyond WDW Series 12

Themepark Overload Orlando 
(Orlando, Florida, Beyond WDW Series 12)

After eight days in Walt Disney World, we
checked out at Holiday Inn Lake Buenavista,  

…located very near the Disney Springs,

…where we all had a blast,

…after visiting almost all the theme parks,

…that WDW Resort has to offer,

…we took a taxi to Turkey Lake,

…for another week and the second phase
of our Orlando vacation beyond the WDW.

Day 8

Westgate Lake Resort Hotel and Spa is a sprawling resort
condotel development complex at the shores of Big Sand Lake,

…where we stayed in a one- bedroom suite,

with everything on it, from living room,

..a full kitchen,

…dining area,

…and even a huge screened balcony that offers a
spectacular view of the sunset at the Big Sand Lake.

The hotel had a mind boggling seven heated outdoor
pools, seven hot tubs  as well as Children's wading pools.

The resort is a tourist destination of its own,
that offers Boat Rentals on lakeside marina.

There is also the 18-hole course
Pirates Miniature Golf Course,

…Basketball Court, four Tennis Courts 

…and several Game Rooms.

They also have a world-class spa
the Serenity Spa by Westgate,

…and a state-of-the-art Fitness Center.

Upon settling in our hotel room, together
with my son, we explored the resort grounds-


…on our way to Joe’s Marketplace and Deli,

…to by some groceries for our in room meals.

When we returned to our hotel room, I treated my young son for a
milk cooking dunking snacks that we bought from the grocery.


Later in the afternoon we all walked our
way to the Smokehouse Grill for dinner,

…enjoying the beautiful lakeside view.

Known as the “home of Orlando's best BBQ,"

…this award-winning restaurant offers a relaxed,
casual dining experience for the entire family.

We tremendously enjoyed the Smokehouse Platter.
Dubbed as the ‘MacDaddy of platter’ this humongous
combo meal has the best of everything in this restaurant.

It was apparently good for two persons but the serving
was so huge that we had tons of leftovers and sustained
our in room dinner everyday for free for three days.

We leisurely roamed around the resort,
and enjoyed to spectacular sunset.

I returned to the lobby and bought four 2- day tickets

…retreated back to our hotel room
and had a good night sleep.

Day 9

We woke up early in the morning,

…and off we went to the hotel shuttle
waiting area had a breakfast in our room,

…that took us to the Universal Citywalk.

While we have been to almost all Universal Studios park around
the world, this was everybody’s first time in Universal Studios
Orlando, so we excitedly walked our way to the park entrance.

We upgraded to Express Pass Tickets at the park to assure
us that we would not have to fall in line to enjoy the attractions.

We started the Production Central zone where we lined
up at the express entrance of the Minion Mayhem.

…and  Shrek 4D nearby.

When we came out of the Shrek attraction were just
 in time to watch a high school brass band parade.

We then went to Hollywood Zone,
for the Terminator 2 3D,

…and chanced upon Dora’s musical parade,

We then we walked our way to the
Woody Woodpecker Kids Zone,

… had a photo- op with Spongebob Squarepants,

…and went to enjoy ET, the Ride.

The kids also enjoyed Woody Woodpecker’s Nuthouse Coaster,

…and Curious George Goes to Town.

My son Timothy is a Barney fanatic and
main reason why we came for to this zone.

The little boy was lucky as he got to meet his 
idol up close and personal before the show,

… and got a chance to meet the other Barney
characters like BJ and Baby Bop after the show.

Our next stop World Expo Zone, where
we enjoyed the thrilling Men in Black,

…and  Simpsons the Ride,

…and had a light snack at the Krusty Burger,

We were all excited to see the Wizarding World of Harry Potter,
where we caught the sight of triple decker Knight Bus with talking
shrunken heads hanging by the bus window set in a London scenery,

…where the magical Diagon Alley was
realistically  recreated at the backstreet.

We dined at the Leaky Cauldron,

…and queued at the King’s Cross station,

…to ride the Hogwarts Express,
that took us from Diagon Alley

…to Hogsmead,located at the Islands of Adventure, and
a park-to-park ticket is required to ride Hogwarts Express.

We did not stay long in Hogsmeade as we
intended to explore it on our second day,

…and we took the train back again to Diagon Alley.
and queued at the Harry Potter and the Escape
from Gringotts which we all tremendously enjoyed.

From the Harry Potter world, we decided to
rest at the San Francisco section of the park,

…before heading to New York zone,

…and returned to the Production Central zone
where we enjoyed the Transformer 3D the Ride.

It was 30 minutes before the park closing
and we walked back to Hollywood Zone,
to watch the Horror Make Up Show.

After the show, we walked our way back to the exit,

…and headed to Universal City Walk.

We dined and feasted on Chinese
specialties on Panda Express,

…and my son enjoyed cookies
from Breadbox for dessert.

We returned to the parking area where
the free shuttle took us back to the hotel.

Day 10

I headed to the Rosen Single Creek for the first day of the
American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE)
convention to register. It was dedicated as a registration day,
no scheduled lecture sessions yet so I returned to the hotel,

…where we took a free shuttle to the

It was a weekday so there were very
 few people around  despite of the sale.

We are not rich and going on a shopping
is never on our bucket list when we travel,
as it is something that we could no afford.

The huge bargain was tempting and with so many things to buy, but 
without enough money, we focused on three stores; Prada, where my 
daughter found a tennis shoes, and a purse for my wife both on 70% off,

Levis 501 jeans for me where they was sold on
a buy one take one deal, with extra 20 % discount.

My son chose two classic Toy Story character
toys from Toys R’ US, that interestingly came
with a toy insurance renewable every 5 years.

The two kids also purchased sneakers with colorful dancing lights which were
not on sale, but otherwise not expensive as they were sold in a generic aisle stall.

We returned to the hotel late in the afternoon,

… and decided to explore the hotel grounds.

It was a pleasant and leisurely walk,

…as the it was a lovely tropical afternoon,

…and the resort was scenic and very beautiful.

Our walk led us to Joe’s Marketplace,
where we shopped for groceries,

…and walked back to our hotel room,

…amidst the breathtaking Orlando sunset.

We dined on our 2- day old leftover dinner from the
Smokehouse Grill and headed for a good night sleep.

Day 11.

I woke up very early and I was at the Rosen Single Creek
to attend the s breakfast symposium that began at 6:30 AM,

I attended two more sessions after the Plenary Lecture, and
headed back to the Westgate Lake hotel at about 10 AM.

We were scheduled to visit Universal’s Islands of Adventure,
and we took the 11 AM free shuttle from the hotel to the park.

It was everybody’s first time on this “other”
Universal Studios theme park in Orlando,
and we were all excited to see what’s in it.

The Port of Entry, had a warm Caribbean
port theme,l ined with stucco- walled buildings,
that houses several restaurants and souvenir shops.

We immediately went to the Seuss Landing Zone.

It was a very colorful zone, with
attractive pastel- colored buildings,

…where we lined up at The Cat In The Hat, a lively
storybook ride based on Dr. Seuss iconic children’s book.

The kids also enjoyed very colorful ride
One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish,

…a very colorful carousel called Caro-Seuss-el,

…and the relaxing a train ride, high up the Seuss Landing,
The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride, that gave
us a bird’s eye view of the extremely attractive colorful zone.

We then headed The Lost Continent,
and queued at the Poseidon’s Fury.

It was past noon and so we decided to have lunch at the
Fire Eater’s Grill overlooking the Mystic Fountain.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was our next stop.

…where the Hogsmeade part is located here,

…while the Diagon Alley, its other half is

We immediately line up at Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
which is located right inside the Hogswart School of Witchcraft and Wizardy.

The Hogswart School of Witchcraft and Wizardy,
a recreation of a medieval castle is the centerpiece
of Wizarding World of Harry Potter Hogsmeade
is a stunning and eye-catching attraction of its own.

The next zone was Jurrasic Park, and we queued
at the Jurassic Park River Adventure, one that we
never fail to ride every time we visit Universal Studios.

The gaily themed Toon Lagoon makes the guests feel
like they are transported to a merry world comic strip.

We backed out at the Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls,
as we know we would all  get really soaked in this ride-

…but we could not resist the temptation of 
Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges,
a white water rafting- like ride and our all
time favorite attraction in any theme park.

We got soaked, but it was okay as it was fun.

The Marvel Super Hero Islands, and this is
where most of the extreme rides are located,

…but the Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man was an extremely
enjoyable ride that we repeatedly queued back on line and we
found no problem doing so as we had express tickets anyway.

The park closed at 7 PM and we dropped
by at the Starbucks at Citywalk for a coffee,

…and to satisfy my son’s craving
for a cookie milk dunking snacks.

We headed to the parking where the
free shuttle took us back to the hotel.

Day 12

I attended the morning session of the convention,

…and returned to the hotel.

After lunch at the hotel room and we intended
to return to the Vineland Premium Outlets


…to buy presents for our employees yet,
but the lady taxi driver suggested that we try

Located at International Drive, it was apparently bigger,
had more stores, and most importantly, must cheaper as
it was located away from form the tourist area of  WDW.

We bought Orlando souvenir shirts for our employees
and for my daughter’s friends in school at the Billabong
outlet that was being  sold for 3 shirts for only 40 dollars,

…and Vanhuesen shirts of the our
kids’ male tutors sold at 70% off.

My daughter found a bargain
backpack at Michael Korrs,

… my wife walking shoes from Coach,

…while I got running shoes from the Nike
outlet being sold on a buy one take one offer.

My son didn’t want anything and all he requested was
a huge cookie from Panera, located at the food court,

With the big bargains during the Memorial Day Sale,
Orlando Premium Outlets makes shopping affordable,
even to impoverished tourists from a lowly third
world country traveling on a tight budget like us.

We returned to the hotel late in the afternoon,

…shopped at the Joe’s Marketplace
for in room cooking and dining,


…and retreated later for the night.

Day 13

It was our penultimate day in Orlando,while my family just wanted to laze in the
 hotel to rest and prepare for the long trip back to the Philippines the next day,
I was at the Rosen Single Creek attending  the conference the whole day.

I had lunch with some of my colleagues
at  the Mi Casa Tequila Taqueria, a
Mexican restaurant at the hotel lobby.

It was a busy and fruitful day,

…and I returned to the hotel late in the afternoon,


..and asked the taxi driver to drive
slowly so I could enjoy the view.


I caught the sight of the biggest
McDonald’s restaurant in the world,

…and the Orlando eye.

We had an early dinner at Smokehouse Grill,

…where we again enjoyed their huge
and tasty all American barbecue fares.

We leisurely walked our way back to the hotel,


..enjoying the beautiful afternoon,



…and the awesome resort scenery.




We slept very early as we had to wake up
early for our return trip to the Philippines.

Day 14

It has been exactly two weeks since we arrived
in Orlando, and we were all yearning to go home.

We took a cab to the airport, 


...checked in early,


…marveled at the shops,


…and we were ready to go.


It was a long and fun packed vacation,


…and we were happy that we visited the city,


...while the kids are still young enough to enjoy

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