Sorry for the long, rambling story, but trying to remember all of this is as tough as getting through all of it was.
I’m sure I’ll complain a lot throughout the re-telling of our trip, but it was fun overall and we had a great time. The good outweighed the bad, but YEESH the bad did not stop. I think we’ll stick our FL trips in the colder months from now on though, haha.
Day 1: Travel to TPA: flight delayed as we were mid-boarding. We were all pulled off the plane and had to wait 2hrs (sick arriving pilot, nobody available on standby). We were coming in a day early, so this didn’t really bother us. Arrive @ hotel, our room w/2 beds was opened to find it uncleaned and possibly having people still using it. Was told there were no other 2-bed rooms so we got stuck with a single bed and a nearly-useless pullout sofa. Awesome. Couldn’t even get extra pillow throughout our entire stay. So much for Platinum Elite status at this place.
Day 2: Busch Gardens: Had Quick Queue passes carried over from our visit last Dec. when we got evacuated due to water issues in the city, which was pretty great since they were 100% needed in summer as opposed to just “nice to have” in December (not to mention costs of $160+ vs. $20, respectively). Wife lost hers after her 1st ride, I had to kill valuable morning time walking all the way back to the front of the park and waiting in line, BUT they did replace it. As it happens we only used this 3rd pass of ours (family of 3) one more time throughout the day as DS6 chose not to ride Cheetah Hunt and then we got thunderstormed out of Scorpion (his favorite) and Sand Serpent anyway. Cobra’s Curse was closed so we didn’t get to ride that one either. Great day, did a giraffe feeding VIP tour, saw fireworks.
Day 3: Legoland: ran most of the park quickly, DS6 loves this place! Then we made our way to the water park and got thunderstormed out of the big slides juuuust as we approached riding. Well, wife & son did. I just made it on the taller speed slide; they shut it down after the next 1 or 2 people. At least we still got to play on the soaker park, mini slides, and wave pool. Ended the day in the park on a couple rides.
Day 4: Started BRIGHT AND EARLY at 4am with my son waking up screaming with an earache. Quick trip to an ER, given some medication, and back to the hotel to get some sleep. Trip to Clearwater Beach (just what we need with an earache…), the pain and ear meds barely worked, poor little guy was in pain all day except for 2-3hr stretches. Had fun on the beach, found some good food, did some shopping, but ended up walking too much. WIth his ear, we called the day early.
Day 5: Hollywood Studios! Here we go, what you’re all here for
We originally planned to spend the entire day here, but quickly figured it’d be best to hop seeing as our son was iffy on Rock N Roller Coaster, hates Tower of Terror, and wife’s vertigo can’t handle Star Tours and barely Millenium Falcon. I didn’t get Hoppers until I knew what to expect for ROTR. Didn’t want to be stuck with a late expectation and barely be able to utilize the Hoppers.
We were leaving our hotel in the Tampa area this morning, so we had to make a quick pit stop at 7am to attempt getting into the ROTR queue. I nailed BG26 which I estimated to be called between 10-1030am, so we knew we could hop easily. Arrived at the park and it was just too late to properly rope drop for SDD, which we’d planned, but wife & son were sticklers on staying in line so we basically blew our early arrival waiting ~60min. in line for it while all the other rides had very short waits. To no one’s surprise here, by the time we were off SDD the other lines had gained large wait times. Since we knew we had ROTR coming soon, I figured it was just as well and we could wedge The Muppets in between and be right in the area. Sure enough, our BG got called just as we were entering the Muppet theater room. Perfect timing. In our last 2 trips to HS, Muppets was down so I was very glad to see this again (last time was 20 years, and no one else had seen it. We all loved it). On & off ROTR in no time flat, grabbed son’s fave Pizzarizzo for lunch, and finished off with MMRR for the first time, TSM, and RRC. Sadly my son wimped out on RRC after talking it up for so long. For some reason he’s scared of more at a few weeks from turning 7 years old than he was at 5.5! Go figure. Caught a Toy Story cavalcade and pics w/Donald on the way out.
Son’s ear is still bothering him but he’s getting by. He woke up every night so far around 3-4am when the meds wore off, screaming and crying, needing some more. That made for nice amounts of rest since it took 20-30 min for each dose to finally kick in and help the pain, allowing him to not be in agony, let alone sleep.
We were hoping to cram AK, MK, and Epcot into our entire day, but since we got stuck waiting in full queues for most the rides at HS, we chose to skip MK since we’d been there recently for a single-park trip. With this, we wanted to hit Kali (never rode it before) and FOP, then finish at Epcot. Got to AK, caught Launchpad and Donald (2 of our faves) on a mini boat cavalcade, and then got to Kali. We were loaded and t-storms began rumbling. CMs send us down and we’re all hoping we get off before the storm kicks in. Of course, this was the first day we’d removed our ponchos from our park bag, because we had so much other stuff in there the extra space was helpful. How funny in retrospect. Every other day we’d been caught in rain, it was minimal and no worry, so we figured we could deal with that every day no problem. L-O-L…
Back to our ride on Kali, we were 100% soaked by the time we reached the lift hill, and they stopped loading any other boats. We got STUCK at the top just before the big drop, with the storm in full effect. We were beyond soaked, like drowned rats and then some. The ironic part is, having never ridden it before, we were hoping to get a bit wet and had no idea how wet we’d even get. No worries at this point, that’s for sure. Our son did well and was just worried about hiding his ear from more water, but the other young boy on the ride was in hysterics most of the time we were stuck, which was 20 minutes easy. FINALLY we got sent down the river and CMs confirmed we got stuck vs. stopped on purpose. Greeeeeeat, thanks for sending help.
Downtrodden, we sloshed our way to FOP to suck up a 90min posted wait and just get it over with. It was barely 60min. anyway, and as always we loved it. Since we had no rush to get to MK or and plenty of time to get to Epcot, we took it slow and did a lot of shopping. By now, we were dry on the top and feeling pretty good, so naturally as we got in the checkout line another storm kicked in and we had to walk out into another soaking. Jumped on a bus to Epcot hoping the storm might be quickly passing, and no luck there. By the time we got to Epcot we just kinda gave up and decided to go back to the car, which we’d parked at Swan. But wait - no buses from Epcot to Swan area in operation! CMs had no explanation or reason, others had been stuck waiting for over an hour (!), and you can imagine we were NOT interested in walking clear across Epcot to get to Int’l Gateway in order to walk back to Swan. Although, at that point, we couldn’t have gotten any more wet. Plus we’d be able to see the Garden Festival as we walked. We just didn’t want to subject our poor son’s ear to more trouble.
Eventually some random buses got assigned to all of us poor suckers waiting for a Swan ride, and we got onto Bus #2. That’s how many people were standing there waiting in the middle of a storm. I don’t get to Disney too much but I can’t possibly figure how any route gets overlooked or skipped like this. Ended the day by remembering while on the bus that I’d left the windows in the car cracked all day - LMAO…
Day 6: Sea World: I’m a BH annual pass holder, had some free guest passes, called over a month ago to speak w/SW reps about some pass I held which they assured me I could use at SW. Did every possible proactive step I could, and sure enough I arrive to be told I can’t use them. Even the reservation system accepted the ticket codes as acceptable to make SW reservations, so I really thought I’d be OK. Anyway, the manager wasn’t having it and they had “no idea why (the rep) said that (my passes could be used”. GROAN. I could tell they thought I was just some idiot who thought his BG pass could get me in (I do not have the 2-park pass, but I DID buy myself a single-day SW ticket and my personal entry was not my concern here). I think they were at least half as not-smart as they assumed I was, and they didn’t quite grasp my situation. The only saving grace, as it were, is that I had my BG pass on me so I was able to buy 2 new tickets for the family at $35 each instead of their full price, which if forced to do I may have been escorted off the property. Not because cost is a concern, but principle and having that thrown in my face after everything we’d already been through. Not to mention wasting most of our early arrival time here too. Finally get in and start doing everything. We had an afternoon Penguin VIP tour, and storms came around just as we were checking in, with a warning that tours and shows might be postponed or canceled. Penguins are my and son’s favorite, and I REEEEEALLY wanted to meet a King Penguin, so the prospect of missing it was going to ruin my day. It ended up being fine, and the penguins were lovely. The tour was great, we had plenty of time, and got to meet a few different types including my guy the King.
More attractions, rides (no water rides, that’s for sure), and yes we did bring the ponchos today. They were useful since the rain was 2nd-worst only behind our Disney day.
Son hated the Orca show because we were in the Splash Zone and got wet. He loved it until that point though. We did have his ear covered but he was just worried about it rather than reacting to actually getting it wet again. You know how kids are, he did ultimately like it but was just nervous. Understandable.
Sesame Street Land was awesome, he got to meet Cookie Monster, Elmo, and Grover, his 3 favorites (and 2 of mine, sorry Elmo).
Day 7: Leave for home: Got a nice rock chip in the rental car on the way to the airport. My credit card I used has primary coverage so I had to be tasked with calling them to figure out what I need to do upon returning the car & afterward. Things sounded good until I reviewed my contract and realized I’d used a promo code I had which included agency insurance (my card requires that I do NOT accept it). Things worked out though, as the agency said I’m not responsible for it to begin with, and even HAD I been, the included-insurance would cover it. That’s surely no surprise to anyone who usually adds on agency insurance, but I never do because I my card which offers it anyway. Just never had to actually claim anything before. All’s well that ends well here.
Get on the plane, and as we taxi we’re told that the AC system is busted and we get held up for no less than 90minutes…with no AC. Oof. In a stroke of luck, we’d packed our neck fans in our carry-on backpacks, and those keps us all cool the whole time. Finally arrived home and after thinking we’d lost our car keys for about 15 minutes (ended up finding them tucked away where we NEVER keep them during travel), our ordeal was finally over.