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28 June 2015 @ 11:22 pm
What I Did On My Summer Vacation  
And here is my tell of woe...

Back in April, my BFF said she wanted to go to Harry Potter World in Florida. I said I would go with her, because why not? I'm not a Potterhead but I like the books.

We decided we'd fly down to Florida on Monday, June 22, spend Tuesday and Wednesday in the parks, and fly home Thursday. She lives in Missouri and I live in North Carolina but we got flights fairly close in time.

I made my flight reservations and bought my two day park pass, with a third day free. I figured the third day free would be a bonus because my flight landed in Orlando at 1:40 which would give me some time on Monday to explore the park.

That was the plan. And you know what they (actually Shakespeare said) about the best laid plans of mice and men. I'm a living example of how those plans go astray!

The airport closest to my house is smaller than one that's a little over an hour away. Flying out of the closer airport would mean flying to Atlanta then to Florida. Or worse, I'd have to fly to Cincinnati before flying to Orlando. (No kidding - a lot of the flights leave here, fly to Ohio, then to Florida.) Flying out of the larger, further away airport would mean a nonstop flight to Florida. No brainer, right?

On Monday, I drove to the airport in plenty of time for my noon departure. I took a carry-on and my backpack. I didn't need anything bigger than that and it avoided that whole check-baggage nightmare. The carry-on is an old style bag without wheels. I didn't think that would be a problem. I was only going for four days. I didn't need that many clothes. What I failed to factor in was the walk - the very long walk - from parking to the terminal. The more I walked, the heavier my bag got.

I finally got through the security check and made my way to the gate, which of course was the gate furtherest from the entry. I had just sat down when they announced a gate change. That wasn't a big deal - it was only two gates over. After eating a way too expensive cinnamon roll and drinking a way too expensive bottle of water, they announced that the flight would be delayed to 1:00. Not a bad delay, all things considered.

At about 12:30, they announced that the flight would be delayed until 3:00. That was annoying but okay.

At 12:45, they announced that the flight was cancelled. That was it. Cancelled. No explanation. Just cancelled. There were 73 people on the flight that they just cancelled. I called the number they gave us and was told the next flight was at 5:00 but it was sold out. I could be put on stand by if I wanted. Really? You want me to spend four hours in the airport on the off chance I would get a seat on a sold out flight? No thanks. I accepted a change of flights to Tuesday at noon instead. Just in case, I also called about flying out of the airport closer to my house that afternoon or the next day. There were a couple the next day but none of them were preferable to the noon flight on Tuesday.

So I drove the hour home, frustrated and upset that I was missing a day of seeing my BFF. But, I consoled myself, I'd still have almost two whole days with her.

The next day, I drove back to the airport, then circled the parking lot for half an hour to find a place to park. There were plenty of places on Monday but not so much on Tuesday. I still got through security (again) in plenty of time for my noon flight. The flight was almost immediately delayed to 1:40. Then it was delayed again, and again, and again. We finally boarded about 6:00 or so. There went my Tuesday at the park.

I had a great reunion with my friend - we ate, drank, talked and talked and talked. It was like we'd just seen each other - that's the kind of friendship we share!

On Wednesday, we finally went to the park. That turned into another disaster on which I cannot blame Delta. In case you aren't familiar with Universal Studios Theme Park, there are two sections - Universal Park and Adventure Island. You have to purchase what would be a park hopper in the Disney vernacular. If you want to experience the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, you have to do so by visiting both parks. It's very strange that they broke it up. If you're going to make a Harry Potter park, put it all in one place.

I also discovered that the buy-two-days-get-one-free pass was only good though June 20. That's what I get for not reading the fine print close enough, although by then it had become a moot point.

I am now and always have been a Disney girl. I understand how DisneyWorld works. There are four distinct parks with four different focuses. Most people buy passes in order to visit all the parks.

I guess Universal is structured much the same way. Except I don't understand why they split Harry Potter into two parks. It's as if you wanted to visit Toy Story and had to go to one park to see Buzz and a second park to see Woody. It makes no sense. Universal is also much more commercial then Disney. I know Disney is a gigantic commercial for their products but it doesn't overtly feel that way. I mean "It's a Small World After All" isn't intended to sell you anything. It felt like everything in Universal was a commercial. And naturally Harry Potter is located at the far end of each park. You have to walk miles of hot sidewalks to get to Diagon Alley or Hogwarts. Diagon Alley has a lot of the shops mentioned in the books, but they are only storefronts. You can't really visit Fred and George's magical mayhem store. You can't go inside the Cauldron shop. You can visit Hogwarts which is pretty cool but the castle is primarily a Mickey Mouse maze to keep you busy while you wait to ride the roller coaster. Neither of us wanted to ride it so we just toured through the castle.

After we'd been in the parks for about three hours, I started to feel lightheaded. Even though I was born and raised in the South, I don't tolerate heat especially well. I don't sweat enough to keep my body cool and that results in heat exhaustion. I knew it was happening and told my friend I had no choice but to go back to the hotel. It was a very very long, hot walk back to get the bus back to the hotel. (That's another thing that is strange to me. We were staying in a "property hotel" but it wasn't actually on the property. It was a bus ride away from the park.)

When I got back to our room, I got sick, violently sick. Once I felt better, I took a nap which helped. So my two day pass was used for four hours in the parks.

Once my friend got back from the park, I was fully awake and felt like a human. I decided I'd go for a swim since the hotel had two pools. I put on my suit and made it down to the pool in time for the thunder to start, which naturally closed the pools. Was I surprised? Not even a little!

That was Wednesday. We were flying home on Thursday. My flight was scheduled for 2:40. I got to the airport at noon, in plenty of time to find out the flight was delayed to 3:00 then to 4:45. We boarded at 5:00, taxied away from the terminal, heard the safety briefing, and then the pilot came on and announced that the crew had timed out and we had to return to the terminal. We disembarked and returned to the terminal. We were automatically rebooked on the next flight, at 8:19. At 9:00 we finally boarded and landed at 10:30. That meant I still had to find my car in the parking garage and drive the hour+ home. I made it home around midnight - exhausted, frustrated, disappointed.

I wrote Delta a complaint about losing a day of my vacation so they gave me a gift card and a voucher for $75 off a future flight. Where would $75 take me? Nowhere. And they really think I'm anxious to fly Delta ever again???

So that was my vacation. Nothing like I wanted it to be. It did confirm what I never had suspected - I am a total Disney girl. There is very little about Universal that interests me. Huh. Who knew?
Current Mood: disappointed
Current Music: Awesome Mix Tape 1
a geek in such the wrong way: H50-hugshaldoor on June 29th, 2015 03:52 am (UTC)
I'm so sorry that your holiday turned into such a disappointment! That really is horrible when you have paid good money to do these things; they never compensate you properly for all the time-wasting, do they? At least you still manage to sound upbeat about the experience and have learned something valuable. *many many hugs and a nice jug of tequila to help you forget the rubbish*
kaige68kaige68 on June 29th, 2015 04:13 pm (UTC)
I'm so sorry. That doesn't make a lot of sense with the parks, and the flight thing is miserable. But you got some great time with your friend. More precious than galleons!

Kathy: SV/Chloe/Thoughtfulkitmerlot1213 on June 29th, 2015 07:27 pm (UTC)
Man, that's just awful! And the Harry Potter theme park seems rather disorganized.

I'm sorry you had such a crappy time--*HUGS*
Stevia Flunt: Snoopy Typewriterasphaltcowgrrl on June 29th, 2015 08:39 pm (UTC)
ARGH. How frustrating, aggravating, and just plain no fun. On the bright side, you did get some time in with your BFF. That is something good, at least.

The heat though - I've lived in the desert since I was five and even now, sometimes, the heat is too much for me, too. But heat plus humidity will do you in faster than anything.

Why do corporations think they can buy your good favor with a credit that won't get you out your front door? I never really understood that.

As far as being a Disney girl... I never really considered myself one, but I did buy Winnie the Pooh Vans this weekend so... :D
bluedelft on June 30th, 2015 12:27 am (UTC)

I'm so sorry to hear that!!! I would think if you hear the word Delta you're going to run away screaming!!!!

I'd have to say I'm a Disney girl too! Went to Bush Gardens one time when I was in Florida and kept saying it was nothing at all like Disney.