When we landed in Orlando and waiting to get off, we looked out the window and saw it was pouring down with rain.
I was very disappointed as I was expecting sunny weather as it had been up until that point. But we arrived in the pouring rain, great, wonderful timing on our part.
As we continued to wait for assistance to help get us off I saw my chair already set up but was sitting there in the pouring rain. How daft do you have to be to leave a wheelchair, – let alone an electric one – sit outside in the rain?
When we finally got the chair, we realised it was soaked through and there was no way I could sit on it. After a rather big dispute with the aircrew about their lack of care and attention to looking after the electrics in my chair and the chair itself, they laid a number of thin blankets over my chair to protect me from the extent of the wetness.
Though this was somewhat better, I could still feel it, which made my chair very uncomfortable. Trying to ignore it, we made our way to the baggage area and collected our bags.
Then we made our way through the airport and saw that there were a lot of Walt Disney themed shops, full of Disney products and merchandise, so much so I couldn’t resist buying more souvenirs, finally heading down to the place where our adapted vehicle was waiting for us.
Once off the plane, we walked through Orlando airport, collected our bags and got our adapted vehicle. We hired an adapted vehicle to be able to move around Orlando and Palm Beach. The vehicle had plenty room for my wheelchair as well as room for all our suitcases and all of our shopping and souvenirs we acquired in New York.
Once we loaded up the car, we drove to our hotel with the windows rolled down; feeling the heat of the sun on our necks and faces. I watched the beautiful scenery as we drove. Following the maps and instructions, we managed to get to the Sheraton Hotel which was right opposite the entrance to Walt Disney World. Yay!!
On arrival, we could see the Sheraton Hotel was very big and a very posh hotel with a stand holding a variety of leaflets containing information on all the events and attractions in Orlando, including many leaflets on the theme parks. Wanting to make the most of our trip, we picked up one copy of every leaflet on display.
We walked into the lobby and followed a long corridor and into our room. The room was very big; with plenty of room for all of us, with two double beds and a large desk. We had a large en -suite bathroom, with a toilet, a sink and a walk-in shower, as well as a shower chair. You can often tell which rooms have been built and adapted for disabled people, based on the size of the bathroom and which rooms the adaptions had just been fitted in at the last minute. It’s all in the design. The view out the window was great, it was very big and sung listened off what was out the window it was just beautiful.
While we were in Orlando, we went to two really nice restaurants. One was a cafe styled restaurant which was quite small and quaint, which was well-known and popular for all those who lived nearby, everyone seemed to know each other. It was encouraging as costumers did return often and enjoyed the food.
There was a selection of home cooked food to choose from. We all picked a different food and tried a little of each, which we all enjoyed. The staff were very hospitable and attentive, chatty, recommending what to do or see while we’re in Orlando.
There was also a really nice steak restaurant which was close to the hotel. Walking in and sitting down at a table, we were given menus. There were plenty of ranges of steaks for sale and to choose from.
As the portions were massive, we decided to have two steaks with fries to share between the three of us. The staff were smiley and attentive and I liked the fact that they asked us how we liked the steaks. They were so yummy, we keep eating and ended up eating so much, we felt sick, but it was worth it! We even we went back a second night.
In Orlando, there were various shopping malls to go to with plenty of shops. As we didn’t have time to do them all, we read leaflets on them and asked around to see which one would be the best one to go too.
One in particular caught our eyes, this one was close to the hotel and had shops all three of us liked. I liked the fact the shopping mall consisted of independent shops as well as those which were part of chains like Pandora.
I enjoyed shopping in this mall, as everywhere had a high quality of clothing and other items at affordable prices, even the prices in the shops that were part of chains, were cheaper than those back home. I found a Pandora shop and unable to resist these prices, I went into the shop and brought charms for my bracelet which would remind me of my New York/Orlando Florida experience. After going around the shop many times, changing my mind every few minutes, I finally chose and brought a passport charm, then a statue of liberty charm and two Mickey Mouse charms.
Going into a clothes shop that I didn’t like but my mom and dad did, I sat near the door writing in my notebook. After a few minutes, I sensed someone was watching me and I looked up to see a shopping assistant had come over thinking I was crazy and she wanted to see if I was alright. We ended talking for ages and we found we had common interests such as we had both visited New York and we were both addicted to “Friends” the TV Series and how many times we watched the episodes and that we continued to enjoy it after we’d watched each episode fifty times.
The conversation went on to Orlando and what we had been doing when we were there. I mentioned that one of the reasons we were there was to go to Universal Studios and Island of Adventures to see the new Harry Potter attractions in the theme parks and I was a big fan of Harry Potter, I was somewhat obsessed.
Realising she was too, we soon launched into a debate about the series which took us ages, Gryffindor VS. Revenclaw, VS Hufflepuff VS Slytherin. Soon the debate got so long and complex, mom and dad were pulling me from the shop reminding me she had to work. After going to a few more shops I got bored again and retreated to that clothes shop again and found the shopping assistant again.
As she had visited the Diagon Ally in Universal Studios and Hogsmeade Village in Island of Adventures before, she has me tips about the things to try, see, have and experience while we were there. Waving a final goodbye to the shop assistant, we headed to car, arms fully of shopping.
A few days before our visit to Universal Studios and Island of Adventures, my dad found a leaflet about timeshare presentation. In exchange for attending and listening to a timeshare presentation, interested or not, we would receive discounted theme park tickets to Universal Studios & Island of Adventures.
The presentation was so dull and time wasting, but the thought of the theme park tickets kept us going. You had to feel sorry for these people, having to put all their energy to selling a property that they already suspect costumers aren’t going to buy. So, repetitive. When selling to us, I felt so pitiful to the women as she was trying to find us a holiday home with the right level of access. Declining the options, we happily received our discounted theme park tickets to Universal Studios & Island of Adventures!
Packing up the car to go to Palm Beach, we loaded all of luggage as well all the souvenirs we brought from the theme parks and the shopping we had. It was lucky we had so much room. Leaving Orlando for a two hour drive for Palm Beach in the hot sun, I was sad to leave, but excited and this meant some time for rest and relaxation.
Over a week later, we drove back to Orlando and stayed in Staybridge Suites hotel for the night before our flight the next morning. The suite that we stayed in had two rooms; a bedroom and a lounge area with a sofa bed, a TV, a counter with a mini kitchen. A really nice hotel for the night.
On the morning of our flight back to Birmingham, I woke and glanced at the clock and it was later than we expected. Fearing that we had missed our flight, I spoke to my parents and found out that there was a pilot strike and our flights back home had been cancelled.
Instead of flying from Orlando to Germany, then from Germany, back to Birmingham, we were going to flyout the following day back to New York then from New York to Birmingham. I thought I was still asleep dreaming when I got told we had an extra day in Orlando. It didn’t take us long to decide what to do with our free day.
Universal Studios here we come!