An October 2005 trip
to Orlando by C.Kowalczik
Quote: Our annual vacation to the Walt Disney World Resort area brought us to the Sheraton Vistana in October 2005. The Sheraton is one of the top three most requested resorts in the central Florida area and is surrounded by plenty of things to see and do.
While in the Orlando area, the Sheraton Vistana is central to Disney World, Universal Studios, Wet `n Wild and many different attractions on International Drive . Get in your car and take a short drive on I-4 West and you will find yourself at Bush Gardens . Or follow the Bee Line East to world famous Cocoa Beach: Home of Ron Jon’s Surf Shop and the Kennedy Space Center .
Your options seem almost endless while on an Orlando area vacation, so the best things to do would depend on your personal preferences. Regardless of what they are, you are sure to have a great time.
My most important suggestion would be to make certain that you have planned your vacation properly. The Walt Disney World Resort is 27,400 acres and big enough to encompass three cities: Lake Buena Vista, the City of Bay Lake and Celebration. In order to get the most out of your Disney Vacation I would suggest purchasing a Disney Savings Guide before you book your vacation. A savings guide like this one will give you the inside information on things like:
If you are more like my family and you like to travel around a lot, eat at different restaurants, visit the theme parks and stores or what have you, then you are going to want to rent a vehicle. You can find many well known car rental pick-up and drop-off areas directly in the airport terminal.
This year we had great success with Dollar Rent a Car. We were able to use a discount we found in the Disney Savings Guide and reserved a midsized SUV for eight days for only .00 before taxes.
Hotel | "Sheraton Vistana Resort"
Best Things About the Resort:The Sheraton Vistana Resort #0450 is so close to the Walt Disney World property that you can literally walk there, making the location this resorts best feature. I do have to mention that the resort goes above and beyond for making the kids feel welcomed during the check in process. There was a separate "check-in" center just for the kids with stickers, balloons, coloring and a handful of different activities.
Not being familiar with the property, we pulled into the first entrance and drove to the guard shack hoping that we were in the wrong place. The outside of "The Palms" section appeared to be run-down and in serious need of a remodel, not what you would expect of an RCI Gold Crown Resort. The guard told us that not only were we in the wrong entrance, but we were not on the list of guests who requested an early check-in, and we were redirected to the reception center.
Upon entering the reception center area we were a little more at ease, but still concerned with the type of accommodations we would receive. As I waited to check-in, my wife accompanied our children to the "Kids Check-In Center". The center gave the kids an opportunity to fill out their own registration card and to do some coloring. They also entertained the kids with colorful beaded necklaces and balloon sculptures.
We were assigned to unit 1781 in the Fountains section, and from the outside the unit lacked the ambiance you expect from a newer development. Inside was another story in itself. The decor was outdated with green carpeting and peach colored walls, and the bedding resembled an explosive fruit salad. Although it was not our preferred taste, it was clean and comfortable. Our biggest concern came from a piece of floor-board molding that was torn off the wall in the master bathroom. The board was maybe three-feet long with two-inch staples sticking through the wood. The wallpaper was separating from the wall and the area behind where the molding should have been, was covered in mold and mildew. We called the front desk right away and they said someone would be up to fix it right away. They said the same thing when we called on Saturday when it still wasn’t fixed. When we called again on Monday we were told engineering would be there within the hour. On Wednesday, I went inside and spoke with Jason who apologized repeatedly and said it would be fixed right away even if he had to do it himself. He also said he would send a fruit basket as an apology. To complete this long story, when I checked out I brought the molding with me and we never saw a fruit basket.
We were utterly disappointed with the Sheraton Vistana and would not stay here again. If you have the opportunity I would recommend the Orange Lake Country Club or Vacation Village at Parkway before choosing the Vistana.
Member Rating 2 out of 5 on October 26, 2005
Sheraton Vistana Resort Villas, Lake Buena Vista/Orlando
8800 Vistana Centre Drive
Orlando, Florida 32821
Don’t get the wrong impression, you don’t have to live in a trailer park to enjoy this restaurant. While Logan’s offers a comfortable and relaxed atmosphere where it is all about fun, they also have a great menu consisting of U.S.D.A. choice steaks and the freshest chicken and seafood selections.
On the latest visit we took both of our kids, my father and his friend, plus my two cousins, their wives and their four kids. No matter how hard we tried explaining that you were suppose to eat the peanut inside the shell, the kids enjoyed smashing the entire thing on the table and throwing the mess all over the floor. Our waiter was from Boston and although he was a Red Sox fan, he did a great job keeping the thirteen of us happy.
We started the table off with a couple different appetizers. We had the Rockin’ Onion Petals, Fried Mozzarella Cheese Sticks and Hot Spinach & Artichoke Dip with Tortilla Chips and although there was not a dollar draft special, we did get 23oz. Beers at a special price. The waiter did such a great job at making sure everything flowed smoothly. I didn’t even notice when he cleared the appetizers to make room for the entrees and there was never a dry glass on the table.
When it came time for the entrees to be delivered, there was not one mistake. Each of the thirteen different meals was prepared to perfection and as equally delicious. I have to mention the fact that one of my favorite things at Logan’s is the sweet potato you can order as a side dish with your meal.
In conclusion, Logan’s is one of a few restaurants we visit on a regular basis that has never disappointed us. Each of our experiences has been tasty and memorable and we hope there are many more to come.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on October 26, 2005
5925 West Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway
Kissimmee, Florida 34746
Now I hear those of you who are familiar with the amenities of the Vistana saying, “there is a mini-golf course on property.” True, there is one on property, and you can play a round at Animal Trax for $5.00 per person, but have you seen the condition of the course? That is why we crossed the street and played at the Hawaiian Rumble Adventure Golf.
The cost of playing 18-Holes is a little steep at $9.95 for adults and $7.95 for kids ages 4-10, but the condition of the course and the atmosphere made up for the difference in price. Plus there is an Internet Coupon available that will give you half off a second player with someone plays at full price. I guess the days of playing a round of put-put golf for $2.99 are all gone, I wonder when that change happened.
After the four of us gathered up our putters and balls, we headed for The Kahuna course. This was the less challenging of the two 18-Hole courses, I guess the cashier thought that The Lani would be too difficult for the kids. I have to be honest here, I have never played putt-putt golf around a volcano before, but I was up for the challenge as this was a par 40 course. The course was designed to give you the feeling that you were playing gold on the island of Hawaii, complete with running waterfalls and streams. The volcano was suppose to erupt every fifteen minutes, but all we heard was a little rumbling as we played the sixteenth hole which went directly through the structure.
It was a very hot and sunny day when we played, so we kind of rushed through the course a bit. I think that is was attributed to the 74 my wife shot, but I was happy with a 50 considering I haven’t played putt-putt golf in more than 15 years. In all this was a great way to spend a couple hours with the kids, and not have to worry about waiting in line at the parks.
If you are interested in doing something other than Disney then please read my journal:
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on October 26, 2005
Hawaiian Rumble Adventure Golf
13529 South Apopka Vineland Road
Lake Buena Vista, Florida 32836
Ever since September 11, 2001 there has been an incredible amount of increased security at our airports. Although there are mix views as to whether or not the T.S.A. (Transportation Security Administration) is doing a good job, I would have to say that I personally feel as though the added security is a great deterrent, for now.
When most travelers think of security issues when flying, the first thing that comes to mind is terrorism. Some travelers don’t even give security a second thought; after the three checkpoints where T.S.A. agents compare your identification to your boarding pass or the near strip search at the medal detectors, for them the security process is over. All these other passengers must be good, safe people; their bags were searched, they passed the metal detectors and they are going on vacation as well, right? I learned the hard way that this isn’t exactly true.
I never really thought of the other types of safety or security risks that you can encounter while flying until my experience aboard Delta’s flight 1266 from New York’s John F Kennedy International Airport to Hartsfield International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia.
The flight itself was just fine and the initial problem that I encountered was no fault of Delta’s, but Delta did not do anything to prevent the problem from occurring again in the future. Before I lose your attention, I am talking about airline pickpockets. Ok, I hear some of you saying the same thing I always said, No one will ever get their hand in my pocket without me noticing, but apparently there are some really good pickpockets out there who have thought this through. I also hear those readers who are thinking, how much can an airline pickpocket really get? and I will get to all that after I tell you what happened to me.
Just after the plane landed I noticed a man go into the rear bathroom of the plane even though the fasten seatbelt sign was lit and we were taxiing to the terminal. At the time I didn’t think too much of it, other than maybe he really had to go. The flight was slightly delayed and I only had twenty minutes to get my family off this plane and on to our connecting flight, so I was prepared to stand up and get our carry-on luggage as soon as it was safe to do so. As anyone who flies can tell you, I was not the only person who intended on doing this. I didn’t know it at the time but as I stood up, the man from the bathroom was walking up the aisle and was stuck behind me and the scores of other passengers who stood up. As usual when you are waiting to get off a crowded airplane, people bump into one another. The one thing I have a habit of doing is checking my back pockets when I have been bumped. Usually I check my right back pocket where I keep my wallet, but I was holding two carry-on bags with my right hand, so this time I checked my left back pocket where my car keys were and I found more than just my car keys in my pocket. What I found was four fingers of this man’s hand inside my pocket, which he quickly removed when my hand touched his. I felt that my keys were still there and I put the bags down to check on my wallet. As I checked to make certain my wallet was still there I gave the man an evil look and he apologized. Not wanting to cause a scene on the aircraft, I leaned over the seats and told my wife about the problem and that I wanted to tell the attendants on the way out. No sooner do I turn around because the line has started to move and my wife tells me she just caught the same man with his hand inside her purse. At that point I had enough, and I very aggressively asked the man if he found what he was looking for. The rest of the plane got quiet and people began staring at me, so I asked him again. He appeared to be shocked that I spoke up and said he didn’t know what I was talking about. So to enlighten him and the other remaining passengers on the plane I asked him again if he found what he was looking for, but this time I added, “when you had your hand in my pants or inside my wife’s purse.”
Every other passenger on the plane kept silent with the exception of one who told me I was out of line and that this man was simply trying to get by. Now that I'd said my piece and with no line in front of me, I got my family out of their seats and we walked to a flight attendant. As I was telling her what happened the man literally sprinted out of the aircraft. The attendant instructed me to exit the plane and tell the security agent at the end of the gate. It was at this point that the passenger who spoke up on the plane pushed past my family and began to argue with me in the gateway. I didn’t think of it until afterwards, but these two men were obviously together and this guys job was to stall me long enough for the other man to get away. The entire length of the gateway this man attempted to intimidate me and provoke me into a fight, however it wasn’t my lack of fear that caused him to stop harassing me, it was the sight of the security agent I was approaching. When I pointed out the guys and explained the situation to the agent, his only response was that he couldn’t leave his post without being fined $5,000 and suggested I find a police officer. Strangely enough there was a police officer about two-hundred feet away at the coffee stand. Again I explained the situation and gave him a complete description of the men to only be told there was nothing he could do if nothing was stolen. So we went to our next flight and figured the next best thing would be to educate people about airline pickpockets.
When I came home and told a few friends about what happened they all asked the same question: “How much can someone actually make doing that?” The more I put a little thought into it, the more I realize how much of an opportunity there was for people like this. If you really think about it, the majority of people fly for business or vacations. It is the people on vacation who have more to lose. When you travel for vacation you usually have two forms of ID or your passport, which makes for an easy identity theft. Some vacationers will carry large amounts of cash with them, or an extra credit card, making the event of taking just one wallet more than worth the cost of a ticket for a pickpocket.
Knowing now that this is yet another security issue that you need to be aware of, I would like to make five suggestions to assist you in future travels.
East Haven, Connecticut