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Holy Land Experience - My Mini Vacay

My mom has always said she would so love to visit the Holy Land Experience in Orlando, Florida. Because it's so hard to know what to buy for her as gifts, my sister Gloria and I gave her an all expense paid trip to Orlando & the park!

For Mother's day we gave her the tickets and for her birthday which is in November, we paid for her plane ticket and hotel room. Gloria and I would also come with her (we were the added gifts!! LOL).

We left for Florida very, very early last Thursday morning out of Austin, like at the ungodly hour of 5:50 am. I had no one to blame but myself - I made the reservations after all. Because I'm an insomniac, I got no sleep the night before, maybe 30-45 minutes and it was so early in the morning, it was a challenge just to find coffee at the airport. This also caused us to land in Orlando hours before our hotel room was ready for check in. The hotel was kind enough to store our luggage and my mom and I were sleepy and tired but we decided to do some sightseeing. There was a trolley stop right in front of the hotel so we hopped on that and just rode around on it seeing the sights. We finally got off in an area that had lots of restaurants. After lunch we went back to the hotel and our room was ready. Nap time!!

My sister flew in from Albuquerque and arrived late afternoon. She had a long day of travel and was exhausted as well. We decided to walk to the nearby Carrabba's Italian Grill. It was happy hour when we arrived and I ordered a Sicilian Prickly Pear Margarita and it was delicious! We went back to the hotel and we were all sound asleep by 9 pm! I've NEVER gone to sleep at 9! We were all tired from our long day.

Friday morning we headed to the Holy Land Experience. We didn't know what to expect. Their website didn't give a lot of information. We were greeted by employees dressed in costumes from the era - no one says hello, goodbye or thank you - everyone says 'Shalom'. I loved that so much. All employees were so kind, friendly and helpful. We had a wonderful time and loved every moment there!

Here are some things I learned from my trip:

  • If you wish to attend two days, but one park ticket at full price ($50) and then upgrade it to a 2 days ticket at the Guest Services office at the park. If you do that, your second day is only $25. I purchased two day tickets online and paid $50 for each day. Hate when I miss a bargain!

  • Take a moment when you arrive to sit and plan your day. There is so much to see at the park! At arrival you are given a brochure with a map and the times of all shows and tours. We spent a lot of time figuring it out as we went along and that wasted time.

  • I used UBER for the first time! When we arrived at Orlando, we took a cab to our hotel - it cost us over $50. My sister used UBER when she arrived and only paid $24. Whaaaat???? I pre-scheduled our cab for the ride back to airport and I promptly canceled that! We used UBER the rest of the weekend to get us to different places in Orlando. It is a perfect way to travel!!

  • Orlando has a mall called the Mall at Millenia. Most fabulous mall I've ever been to! It was beautifully decorated for Christmas and made me want to stop until I drop plus beautiful stores and friendly employees. I did a lot of Christmas shopping and would have done more but my feet weren't as impressed with the size of this mall as I was. They gave up way before I was ready. My poor Mom was tired too. She was quite the trooper, trying to keep up with my sister and I.

Our trip ended on Sunday - again another early flight. TSA at the Orlando airport are very serious about their job. I was held up at check in because my license lists my name as Sandra (which I hate!) and my ticket has the name I've used all my life - Sande. I had to wait to speak to a supervisor who reamed me out about not using my legal name on a legal document!!!! How could they properly check my identity with the terrorist list??? I wanted to tell him "look at me Mr. Supervisor - does this 56 year old grandma look like a terrorist to you??" But I didn't. Kept my mouth shut and took my butt chewing in silence - not easy for a Leo!! I finally got on my way and every single passenger had to go through the x-ray machine. I never was so happy to get to the other side of security!

My mom came home tired but very content and happy. She loved every minute of our trip. It was also wonderful to spend time with my sister who I don't get to see often now that she moved to New Mexico! I also got to spend time in Austin with my brother Chris and his girlfriend Cris. It's always so good to see them. These are memories I will cherish forever!

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