A Swimming Pool, a Space Shuttle, and a Safari

Quick Explanation: In most of the pictures from this trip you’ll see some white tissue in Nate’s right ear. Little did we know that only a week later he’d find himself unconscious, taking a first-class helicopter ride up to Primary Children’s Hospital with bacterial meningitis, encephalitis, and sepsis (all stemming from a simple ear infection). That story will come later…

In the meantime, enjoy reading about our lovely trip to Florida and Puerto Rico.

Plans and Then Changed Plans

Since our last few trips were to locations that weren’t balmy, we decided it was time to bail on Utah’s gloomy winter and head south. Originally, we were going to spend our entire time in Florida doing the things one does while in Florida. However, as the time got closer, we decided we were craving something even warmer. That’s why we switched things up and only visited Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Kennedy Space Center before jumping on a flight to San Juan, Puerto Rico.

It was a GREAT choice!

Our vacation got off to a fun start because our dear friends were coming home from their vacation at the very same time we were leaving on ours. That meant we got to greet them at the gate as they disembarked and got to catch up while dining in the airport. It was so exciting!

After our surprisingly easy overnight flight, we landed in Orlando and headed straight to the Holiday Inn Club Vacations at Orange Lake resort where we booked a 2-bedroom villa. Rob and I each had a free night certificate (worth over $225 each) from renewing our IHG Select credit cards so our stay was $0!

We were super lucky and they let us check in at 7am which meant we got a couple-hour nap right away. I don’t think we’ve ever been denied a super-early check-in request and it has been a lifesaver many times.

After our rest we explored the resort and all of its goodies. Shuffleboard was a clear-cut favorite. Who knew?!

I also shocked both myself and Rob with my ping pong skills. I’ve never really played before but I guess I’m a natural đŸ˜‰ The sun eventually came out to greet us and playing games, listening to live music, and eating pizza was a highlight of our first day.

We also went swimming in a couple of the large pools. They were heated, but it still wasn’t warm enough for me to venture in. No surprise there!

Unfortunately, Rob came down with a fever and chills that night. He woke up tired with a headache and sore throat but it wasn’t enough to stop him from making his way to Kennedy Space Center. He was pretty lucky because the week before it was mostly closed due to the government shutdown.

He and Nate LOVED seeing the Atlantis space shuttle, the really immense Saturn V rocket, lunar module, command module, various rockets, mobile launch platform, assembly building, and many other space-y things from all of their favorite space-themed movies.

That night we all went to Disney Springs for dinner (Chicken Guy…good!) and some souvenir shopping.

The next morning was our Disney day! I had visited the Animal Kingdom as a teenager probably the week after it had opened. At the time, there wasn’t much there, kinda bare. Now it’s all overgrown and beautiful and has a lot more to do.

We definitely aren’t morning people but we braved the middle of the night (6:30am) to get there early enough to rope drop entry into the park.

Look at us all being accidentally matchy. How cute.

We all really liked the safari ride, Lion King and Finding Nemo shows, and the Expedition Everest roller coaster (it goes backwards!).

I’d heard so much about the Avatar Flight of Passage ride and how the line quickly grows to over 2 hours long! We only waited 45 minutes luckily. While the scenery was breathtakingly detailed and crazy cool…the ride was only meh for me. The others liked it, but it definitely wasn’t worth all the hype, that’s for sure!

Really, the showstoppers at the park are the “lands” that have been created. Everywhere you look, it really feels like you are somewhere exotic (minus the bugs, poverty, politics, diversity, and culture).

So, overall it was a good day. The downsides were that it was COLD from the polar vortex and there really wasn’t enough to do to keep us busy all day. We ended up skipping the big show at the end of the night because we had been freezing all day, had already walked around the park twice, and we had done everything else there was to do.

Am I glad we went? Yes. Am I glad I didn’t pay full price? Yes. Will I want to return? Nah.

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