So, How Was Our 2022 Florida Vacation?
Written by: Mark Plante Published On: March 11, 2022

Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Orlando

Well our 2022 Florida Vacation has come and gone. Months and months of planning and coordinating our home and work schedules is done and now it is time to reflect.

Our vacation started on Tuesday, February 22, 2022, sort of. This was our travel day. We had a 6:00PM flight out of Providence, RI on Southwest Airlines, a direct flight to Orlando. We arrived at the airport and had to park my truck on the very top of the parking garage. Due to it being school vacation week in Rhode Island, most families had already left and the parking garage was FULL.

Southwest Plane at PVD gate
Our plane waiting at the gate in TF Green Airport (PVD) in Providence, RI

We arrived in the terminal about an hour or so before our flight was scheduled to board. TSA in Providence has never been an issue with us. Lines are usually quick and the agents are usually very friendly, as they were this time.

After getting through security and heading toward our get, we find out that our flight has been delayed do to bad weather along the East Coast of the US. This is par for the cause, when we travel to Florida, we have two timeframes in which we can travel… February and April, due to the fact that my daughters were in school and my wife is a teacher.

The majority of times that we had traveled was during April, mainly due to the fact that the State of Rhode Island removed the February Break from the school calendar for the past 5-7 years. But this year, February Break is back.

Anytime that we have traveled during February, our flight has had a delay for snow. Last time we went in February was in 2015 and we had 6″ of snow on the day of our flight, we were delayed for over and hour and a half. When we were getting closer to our travel day I was happy to see that the weather forecast was showing temperatures in the upper 50’s. In the long run, the temperatures worked against me… Along with the warmer temperatures, came heavy, thick fog from Maryland all the way to Maine.

Once our flight took off, everything went smoothly. Other than the fact that masks were required on the flight, but that was not the airline’s fault. It took us about two hours and fifty minutes to fly from Rhode Island to Orlando, FL, which is really a great time.

Once we deplaned, we headed down to get our bags and then off to get our rental car. There is usually at 15-20 minute wait for the luggage to start coming out and I had had my mask on for almost five hours at this point, so I stepped outside to see what the weather was like. Oh My God was it beautiful!!! It was now about 9:30PM and the temperature was still about 75 degrees out with just a slight hint of humidity and there were Palm Trees everywhere!

So we now have our luggage and we need to go downstairs to get our rental car. We booked through Thrifty this year, but to be honest, they are all the same. I always dread getting the rental car. In all the years that we have traveled to Orlando International Airport, it is always the same no matter the rental company. This year was no exception. When you reserver a rental car, no matter how you do it, you let the company know what time you will be picking it up. In many cases, you give the company the airline and flight number of your flight so they know exactly when you should be showing up at their desk. Every year I am greeted to the same thing… 50-60 people in line to get a car and only 1 employee behind the desk. EVERY SINGLE YEAR!!! Come on rental companies!!! You know that 50-60 people were going to be there between 9 and 10PM on Tuesday, February 22, 2022… PUT MORE THAN ONE EMPLOYEE BEHIND THE DESK!!!

So after waiting over an hour to get our car, we go across the street to pick it up and it was beautiful. a 2021 Toyota Camry with 135 miles on it. We load our luggage into the trunk, take out my phone fire up Waze and punch in the address of the hotel.

Unfortunately Waze did not notify us that the ramp to the Martin Andersen Beachline Expy Westbound was closed and Florida State Police were detouring everyone to the Eastbound lanes… AWAY FROM OUR HOTEL!!! Waze started sending us on a maze of U-turns and side street around the airport. I have been to Orlando many times, but never in the area of the airport at after 11PM at night.

Finally I saw a sign to get us on the Beachline going West. Once on there, I knew that I had to go all the way to I-4 East and get off at Universal Blvd or exit 75.

Universal’s Endless Summer, Surfside Inn & Suites

I found my way to the hotel and we were pleasantly shocked on how nice it was. We parked the car and went into the lobby to check-in. It was now almost two hours after the time that I thought we were going to check-in.

The clerk was as sweet as pie and notified us that the level of room that we paid for was completely booked (I felt the blood pressure start to rise for a second.), but not to worry, the upgraded us to a suite… A SUITE!!! OK, the blood pressure went right back to where it was supposed to be.

The room was beautiful. It had two queen-sized beds and then a separate room with it’s own queen-sized bed. A kitchen area with a microwave, coffee maker, table, refrigerator, sink and table.

At this time we were all hungry, but it was now well after 11:00pm and all of the resort’s food options had closed. Looking at one of the maps on my phone, I realized that we were only 3 or 4 blocks from the World’s largest McDonalds and they were open 24hrs… Looks like its Big Macs for everyone for Supper.

So we hop in the car and head over. The restaurant is at the intersection of Sand Lake Rd and International Dr and is indeed, quite big. We entered the restaurant and it was slightly busy, but not as busy as we thought it would be being in the middle of a tourist destination and also being after midnight now.

This McDonalds uses the order kiosks and then you take a number and you put it on your table and they bring it to you, which we did. Now, we didn’t order anything special, I think it was a Big Mac, Chicken Nuggets and I ordered a couple of cheeseburgers. We all ordered fries and drinks and we waited… and waited.

After 20 minutes I went up to the counter and asked what was taking so long. The girl gave me an attitude and said, and I quote “We’re busy, you’ll get it when you get it.” Now mind you, I have now been traveling for over 8 hours, I am tired and I am hungry and I am diabetic… A Manager came over as I started to scream at the girl and tried to tell me the same thing in a nicer way. This is when, I don’t know where it came from, I started recounting all of the cooking times for the product we ordered the way in which they were to be served to customers and told them even if only one person was working in the kitchen there is no way it should take over 20 minutes to get us our food. If that is the case then maybe this store needs a whole new crew. Now I don’t know whether it was because I was irate or if he may have thought that I worked for McDonalds because of the way I spieled out the McDonalds SOP, but he handed me a bag with our food in it within two minutes. As I walked away, there we three or four other people that were yelling at him because they were waiting there before me. Oh, and by the way, the food sucked!!! Even for McDonalds standards, it sucked… but it was food, sort of.

Well, with that done, we headed back to the hotel. It was now 1:30am and we wanted to be up at about 6:30am so that we could get early admission to Islands of Adventure at 8am the next morning.

Thanks for reading. Come back and checkout our first day in the parks and how it went.

Check out PLANNING OUR 2022 FLORIDA VACATION which was our previous post in this series.

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