Our Epic Holiday Adventure to Orlando in celebration of Jinx’s 21st Birthday during the weirdness of COVID-19

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Intros, Long Hauls, and a Grand Destination

Howdy all, let’s dive into this epic adventure of ours.  And to kick it off here’s a little bit about us.

Mike AKA MnMrMustard

I am an IT Director for a Southern Oregon Community College and have been working there for 28 years.  I am an officer/Scout in the Western Oregon Chapter of an international beard club called the Bearded Villains; whose focus is on Family, Charity, Honor, and Loyalty.  I am a Cold War Army Veteran (13M MLRS) and am celebrating my 10th year as a Make-A-Wish Volunteer Wish Granter.  As you can see from the hat, I’m a big Raiders fan.  And I am the official Disney addict in the family …and Star Wars fan (Dark Side Rules!).  And no, I had not been to Batuu/Galaxy’s Edge yet!


My wonderful wife is an Office Manager for a precision CAD/CAM shop.  She is amazingly supportive woman who assists me in my charity and club endeavors.  She enjoys sewing and doing puzzles and is a recovered LuLaRoe addict with the Disney leggings to show for it.  She is the dynamo that keeps our family moving forward and I wouldn’t be the person I am without her.  She is the Harry Potter addict of the family – the goosebumps I get from walking onto Main Street USA she gets from walking into Hogsmeade Village.  Kings Cross/Diagon Alley was still under construction during our last trip, so I’m really looking forward to seeing her reactions walking around there!


Our DD works for Stone Coat Countertops (check them out on YouTube – very cool DiY countertops, flooring, and shower stuff).  She handles international shipping and quality control among other things.  She is 24 and loves Anime and Cosplay and is a talented ceramic artist.  She has a really cool fashion sense and gets compliments wherever she goes.

Jinx (the birthday boy!)

If you read older TRs (except for the 2017 trip) you will see him referenced as “Bean”, our DD2.  He came out as transgender at age 15 and now goes by Jinx.  He is very into cosplay, LARP, and theater and has been in several community theater productions.  I was proudly on stage with him last Christmas for a retelling of It’s a Wonderful Life (I played Mr. Martini and he played Ernie).  He moved up north to Portland this past year and is working for a private security company and turned 21 a few months ago.

So there’s your cast of characters, now It is time to begin our epic journey.  But alas this journey cannot begin without some last minute hoops.  It is Monday the 30th and we’ve spent the weekend going over our lists and packing.  Unfortunately DW had payroll to process along with getting ready.  She started it on Sunday and went in to finish it and other work up Monday morning.  PumpkinGirl also had work until noon so I did the suitcase stacking in the car.

Soon enough everyone was home and the last of the packing was complete.  Do we drive to the airport?  A quick jaunt down the road and then wing our way east?  NOPE!  We load up and settle in for a 4hr drive north to Portland to meet up with Jinx and fly out from PDX.  The drive itself went pretty quick all things considered and we even got some rainbow action!

And one bonus is that we always drive up into Portland while everyone else is trying to leave the city so we thankfully don’t get hit too bad by rush hour.  We had reservations at the airport La Quinta, which has a shuttle that can have us at the airport in 5 minutes.

Jinx also had to work his security job and wasn’t getting off until 10pm.  The rest of us ordered in Shari’s, which we really enjoy in our hometown.  But unfortunately the order via DoorDash didn’t go well.  Specifically we found out the hard way that you don’t get any utensils unless you specifically ask for them!  I ended up having to drive down after the fact and get some since the dining area at the La Quinta is all locked down due to COVID.  Live and learn aye?

We all tried to get to bed at a decent hour since we had a 5:30am wake-up to get to the airport for an 7:20am flight.  Jinx showed up sometime around 10:30pm, we had the font desk to hold a key card for him.  We said our hellos to him as we hadn’t seen him in a couple of months, then tried to get as much sleep as we could. 

The morning was the standard early morning shuffle of tag-teaming the bathroom and getting ourselves together and out the door.  The hotel handed us a brown bag breakfast and we loaded up into the shuttle van.  Thankfully we had it to ourselves.  We of course had lots of masks for the trip, but Roxy had saved out a stack of proper N95s for the travel day.  The airport went okay with bag drop off – we had of course carefully weighed each of the checked bags, which were all jut under that magic 50lb limit.

TSA went pretty fast, so fast that we ended up dumping most of that La Quinta brown bag and instead foraged in the airport, finding a place that had a decent selection for us to grab both breakfast and lunch for the flight.  The flight was a straight shot from PDX to MCO, but again due to COVID would not be providing any food service.  The good thing is that we had a good tail wind and instead of a 5 1/2hr flight, we would be landing in Orlando in less than 5hrs! 

Boarding went fine and we had a row for ourselves – kudos to Alaska Airlines for taking COVID seriously and staggering seating for good social distancing.

Due to our angle we couldn’t quite see the sunrise clearly, but we did have that warm dawn glow over the clouds

Roxy caught this amazing shot somewhere over the Rockies

The flight was uneventful other than Jinx and I accidentally eating Roxy’s spicy pickles – oops!  We disembarked and made out way to everyone’s second-favorite monorail

Then our first glimpse of Orlando Christmas magic!

We had a bit of  a snafu in not listening to which baggage claim to go to and went the wrong way initially.  After some extra walking we got things figured out and I received a call from our driver.  As I talked about in the PTR, PumpkinGirl’s 21st B-day trip to Disneyland included private car service from LAX to DLR thanks to some credit card points.  So for this trip we reserved MCO Luxury Transport including in airport greeting.  Our driver met us at baggage claim and assisted with our bags. 

Our ride was an Escalade, which just fit us and all of our bags – the fam was happy to be on our way to our resort

Our destination was Cypress Pointe resort, a stones-throw from the entrance to Disney Springs.  It has an amazing pool, which we unfortunately never had time to experience. 

They had some wonderful Christmas decorations in the lobby including this beautiful tree

Check-in was pretty painless other than the obligatory interaction with the timeshare representative trying to get us to sign up to hear one of their presentations.  We were staying here as guests of Roxy’s boss, who gifted us the points to stay at the property.  And as a family that usually stays on property, we were interested in the differences we would see staying here.  We would of course lose the convenience of Disney transportation and would instead be using Lyft to take us to WDW and UO.  But in return we would have SPACE!!!

To be clear we LOVE staying on property and more times than not have stayed in the 50s area of POP Century.  But 4 people sharing a single bathroom can get pretty tricky and the lack of privacy is not much fun.  And if one person snores you’re all in a bit of a pickle!

Staying off property in Orlando is something we haven’t tackled since 2008 when my parents were able to share a very similar timeshare on Lake Bryan.  In that case my parents stayed in the “lockout suite”, PumpkinGirl shared a room with her Nana that had two twin beds in it, and Roxy and I stayed in the master suite with Jinx literally sleeping in the tub as he didn’t want to be alone:

This time the layout was similar minus the two twin beds being replaced by a queen.  This layout worked out perfectly for all of us.

Coming in the front door you have the lockout immediately on the right – this space would be Jinx’s as part of his birthday present and includes a king bed and a big spa tub.

On the left is PumpkinGirl’s room with a queen bed

She had the smallest space, but it was all hers and she had her own bathroom

And adjacent to that was our washer/dryer

Past their rooms the space opens up with the kitchen on the left

…and the dining room/living room on the right

Last but not least was the master bedroom that Roxy and I stayed in. 

It has its own little patio that we didn’t use, but was nice to know it was there.  There was also a main patio and a separate small one for the lockout.  Our room also had a good-sized bathroom with a spa tub.

We did some minor unpacking and waited for our Walmart order to come in.  Unfortunately the delivery guy wasn’t organized and had actually picked up two orders at once and made no effort to keep them separated.  This lead us to have to check every bag and have Roxy standing there cross-referencing items from the online cart.  He also smushed half a loaf of bread by allowing things to roll around in his trunk.  But in the end we had all of our snacks and breakfast items along with some other items we would need throughout the trip.

In the meantime the kiddos were getting showers and changing for dinner reservations we had set for 7:30pm in Disney Springs.  We followed suit and got cleaned up and dressed for our night out.  We didn’t care that we had been up and on the go for nearly 12hrs – after all on PumpkinGirl’s trip we had started early, made it into DLR by 1pm, and stayed there until the park closed at midnight!