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Re: Orlando Master Thread So this TR is pretty long but want to keep a record for the future (and maybe it will help someone out!)

Went to Orlando for 5 days over Yeshiva week in January. We decided to spend all our time in Disney world as there are 4 main parks.

January is one of the slowest months in the park. If you can I would try to go when it's a slow time as it makes the trip far more enjoyable.

Weather worked out great as the first 2 days was in the 80ís Friday 70, Shabbos and Sunday in the 60ís

Food we bought from home and went to Walmart and Publix. Was too exhausted to go to any restaurants at night.
We bought a 5 day pass at undercovertourist so we saved about $14 a ticket.

There is a major reason to buy tickets in advance. Every ticket comes with 3 free fastpassís (and once you use up the 3 fatspasses you can then add a 4th in the park) You can book the fastpass up to 30 days in advance (if you stay at the resort you can book up to 60 days in advance). Some rides (the Frozen ride in epcot) book up really early.

Its extremely important to plan your trip beforehand. The more you plan the smoother and less line filled day your vacation will be. While you donít have to be at the parks from the second it opens till it closes the more time you spend in the park the more you will see.

Magic Kingdom need 1 and a half to 2 days, Hollywood needs 1 day, Epcot a half to 1 day, Animal kingdom a half to a full day.

I didnít do it but the hopper isnít really recommended especially if you have small kids as it takes a long time just to get from one park to the other

Fastpass can be the difference between having a great vacation and a line filled one. If you plan it well you really can do most of all the parks without any waiting! The most we ever waited on any ride was a half hour (besides for one ride that only 4 people in our group of 18 went on as we couldnít get a fastpass to that). We made sure to fastpass the popular rides, which we found out from researching beforehand

Get the app! Itís a bit buggy at times it shows the wait times as well as your fastpassís for the trip. We linked up all 3 families accounts so anyone could add/change a fastpass for everyone.

It is very important to see what time shows are (especially in Hollywood which has a lot of shows) so you can plan your day around it.

There are photographers in all the parks. Many of the rides have pictures on the rides. It is free to take pictures (make sure you scan your card) and it will show up on your app. For a flat fee you can order all the pictures. If you link up a bunch of families together and split it, its not too bad of a deal

We were 3 families all together so we rented a house in champions gate. House was brand new and had a game room which was perfect for Shabbos.

Day 1 Hollywood.

You should Fastpass: Toystory ride, Fantasmic show, Aerosmith ride (unless you do single rider), Startours, Frozen show

Was in Hollywood at 945. We were planning on seeing the Beauty and the beast show at 11, so the big kids went on Aerosmith ride (excellent) and little kids went to meet Jake, Doc Mcstuffins and Sophia. Tip for Aerosmith, if your party doesnít mind do the single rider. While our wait was about 20 minutes in the morning, the single rider was under 5 minute wait. Beauty and the beast show was a half hour show very broadway like. Kids enjoyed. After that we went to the 12PM Indiana Jones show which the older kids liked. Then we all went to the muppet 3D movie which was just ok, kids enjoyed but you can definitely skip. Then we did a fastpass for startours. Startours was fantastic. They have over 20 different ďridesĒ so if you go on again odds are you wont have the same ride/stimulation twice! Then we headed over to toystory where we had a fastpass which was excellent. Much better than the buzzlight year ride in Magic kingdom. Then we saw the little mermaid show. Was told with puppets, cute but can skip. Then the liitle kids went to see the Disney Jr show (fastpass) and the bigger kids went on tower of terror (fastpass). Tower of terror was a real letdown. Really not scary and a small drop. We then did the great movie ride. Lots of old movies can be skipped. Then we went to the frozen show. While we had fastpass for this not really necessary. This was a great/hilarious show. They had 2 comedians tell over the story with small apperances by Anna and Elsa. Lots of humor that went right over the kids heads. We ended our day with Fantasmic show. As we couldnít get fastpass for this we made sure to get there about 45 minutes early and ate dinner while we waited for the show to start. Even getting there this early we still sat off to the side. This is a fantastic show. Show is a half hour long and park closes at 8. There was a starwars show that some people went to go see, but others went back on the toystory ride as there was zero wait! Went on the ride 3 times before they closed.

Day 2 Magic Kingdom

You should Fastpass: Peter pan ride, Seven Dwarfs ride, Space Mountain, Storytime with Belle, Thunder Mountain, Meeting Mickey, Meeting the princesses, Splash mountain 

Every other park you park your car and walk right in. Not in magic kingdom. You have to take a monorail or a ferry (which is slower) from the parking lot till the park. Takes about a half hour extra. We got in and went straight to storytime with belle. One of the best character meetups (as opposed to meeting mickey). They involved all the kids in the story. After that some of the older kids wanted to go on the Seven dwarf rollercoaster. As we didnít have fastpass and the wait was 80 minutes most of the group decided to do other things. In the time they went on the seven dwarfs, the group did winne the pooh ride, little mermaid ride and dumbo ride. All 3 are geared to little kids so was good that we split. Then everyone met back up and went on barnstormer which is a small rollercoaster. After that we all went to buzzlight year ride (fastpass) not nearly as good as the ride in Hollywood (but if you arenít going to Hollywood still worth checking out). Went to the monsters Inc show. Pretty funny (text your joke in while you wait and it will be part of the show!) Then we went to pirates of the Caribbean ride. After that we saw the 3PM Move it! Shake it! Parade. Kids had a blast dancing with the characters. Then the bigger kids went on space mountain (fastpass) and the little kids went to meet cinderella (fastpass). Space mountain is pretty much completely in the dark. I personally liked Aerosmith ride in Hollywood better. Then we all went to itís a small world ride. Then right across is peter pan (fastpass). At this point was getting late so some of us went to get good seats for the 2 shows that were back to back at the castle that night, while other people went to see mickey Philharmagic. Cute 3D movie. Then we all met up to see the shows at the castle (once upon a time and wishes). Had great seats right in front of the castle. Both were fantastic. A must see.

Day 3 Epcot

You should Fastpass: Frozen ride, Soarin, Test track (single rider available), Spaceship earth

We couldnít get fastpasses to frozen and meeting Anna and elsa donít have fastpasses. So we tried to get to epcot early. As this was also Friday we wanted to do as much as we can before Shabbos. So we got into the park at 930 and ran to the frozen ride. As it was still a bit early, we only waited 30 minutes. The ride itself is just OK but my kids are big frozen fans so they loved it. Right next door (in norway) is meeting anna and elsa. The wait was pretty good and only 20 minutes (shhh dont tell the kids but there are 3 sets of anna and elsa characters!). They were both great. Personable, talkative and making my kids feel special. One of the highlights of the whole trip. The bigger kids meanwhile ran to testrack as we decided to use our fastpass on soarin. As testrack has a single rider line they only waited about 20 minutes (instead of 90!). Then we all met up at Mission Space. There are 2 rides. A more intense ride that had a 20 minute wait and a less intense ride that had a 5 minute wait. So we all did the less intense ride, which all the kids really enjoyed. Then we went to Spaceship earth (fastpass) which is a great ride but the future part at the end is laughable (we already have robots which clean our floors as well as self driving cars etc). Then we went to the  living with the lands show (which is a movie about the environment) and circle of life ride (cute but skippable). Then we did soarin (fastpass). Was fantastic (make sure you get the front row, preferably B1) one of the best rides we did. After that we did journey in to imagination and the sea with nemo ride. Both which the kids enjoyed. At this point it was getting close to Shabbos so we left the park to go back to the home. We did skip all the countries in Epcot. Some people say itís a waste some people love it. If you are going to skip the counties you only need a half day in epcot. If you are going to do the countries you need a full day.

Day 4 Magic kingdom

Sat night, magic kingdom closed at midnight. So we booked the fastpass to meet mickey for 8 (shabbos was over 640 so worked out perfectly). Was pretty disappointing. Mickey "talks" but says preprogrammed words so not much personable interactions. Kids enjoyed though. As it was night time, there was no wait on splash mountain (checked the app) so the big kids went on that while the little kids did the Aladdin ride. Splash mountain is a very cool experience at night, definitely better then your average water drop  ride at other amusement parks. Then we all did the Jungle cruise together. If you are going to do the safari at animal kingdom you could definitely skip this (all the animals are fake). Lots of corny jokes but it's a nice experience to do at night. Then the older kids did thunder mountain (fastpass) and younger kids did its a small world again. Then we all met up by the teacups and then headed to speedway (fastpass). As the cars are on a track you can't stear off the road. Which made it perfect as my 7 year old was able to drive (he couldn't reach the gas so it was good I went with him). At this point it started raining and was close to 11 but the older kids went on space mountain again and the younger kids did buzz light year again. Then we finally left.

Day 5 Animal Kingdom
Fastpass: Safari, Everest (single rider available), river rapids, dinosaur.

Originally we were planning on doing Magic Kingdom again on Sunday and skipping Animal Kingdom completely. But since we went back Saturday night to magic Kingdom we were able to do all the things we wanted to see there. It was raining in the morning but the forecast said it would stop by 11. As our flight was that night we packed up the car which took a bit longer so it worked out. We also decided to stop off in one of these cheap stores that sell all types of Disney memorabilia for half the price. By the time we got to the park the rain had stopped. We started with a bugs life a 3D movie that the kids enjoyed. Then went to see the Finding Nemo show. Was a live show similar to Lion king on Broadway (where the actors were dressed up like fish/animals). Very good. Then the little kids did tricetop spin while the big kids went on Everest. As we couldn't get a fastpass to Everest we did single rider. The wait was under 5 minutes! Everest might be the best roller coaster in Disney while it doesn't go upside down (only Aerosmith in Hollywood does that) the drop is fantastic and it has a whole backward in the dark part. We wanted to do Dinosaur (which is in that area) but couldn't get a fastpass till later. River rapids was closed for repairs so we couldn't go on that. Walked all the way to the Safari (animal kingdom is huge!) which we had a fastpass for. The Safari is fantastic. Our guide was great! Saw a lot of cool animals. After that we quickly walked through the gorilla trail as we had to make the Lion Kong show. Gorilla trail is very similar to the one on the Bronx zoo (Bronx zoo is better) so if you have been to that one you could skip it. Went to the Lion King show which was a lot of fun. Then as it was getting late we quickly ran to the dinosaur (fastpass) which is just ok, very very bumpy and jerky. Took a few pics in front of the tree and left. While animal kingdom was fun I would say it was probably the least amount of activities of all 4 parks. Lots of walking not as many attractions. Kids really enjoyed the Safari but there many places that have that. They are opening up Avatar in a few months so might be different once they do that.
We got into the car and drove to the airport and our luck we were flying Delta on Jan 29th. Worldwide computer failure. Supposed to fly out at 8pm, didn't leave till 1230 AM. Not fun with 3 kids. But at least I got 5 $200 vouchers!

I am sure I'm leaving out a lot so I might come back to edit from time to time.



February 22, 2017, 11:06:48 PM
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Re: Maui Master Thread

what is the best option for parasailing ?


I did parasailing once in Eilat. Was fun for about 2 minutes. Then its honestly pretty boring. I would skip it.

May 24, 2017, 03:51:10 PM
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Re: Sous Vide Master thread
What is the fixation on long cook times? Those are only needed to get to the middle.

There are 3 main benefits to sous vide.

1. Achieving the same temperature through out the finished product. In traditional cooking, to get the center of a steak/roast to 131 (medium rare) there will be a gradient of temperatures through out the finished product. Just below the surface will be well done, then medium till finally medium rare. With Sous vide, since the item is surrounded by a stabilized water  temperature the result is the same temperature (131) through out the roast/steak. A quick sear for the maillard reaction allows end to end medium rare will little to no gray areas.

2. There are certain cuts of meat (with short ribs being a prime example)  that are very tough. With traditional cooking methods, long cooking time would dry out the meat. Due to the fact the the meat is submerged in a vacuum sealed bag in water this prevents the meat from drying out. Sous vide can transform these cuts of meat through collagen breakdown to soft, fantastic dishes. You wouldn't sous vide a steak for 72 hours no matter how large it is. But short ribs are delicious after a 48 hour or 72 hour cook. It all depends on the cut.

3. In certain settings, it's convenient. Making a BBQ for 50 people and don't want to sit grilling while everyone is having fun? Sous vide the burgers and steaks a few hours before and when everyone shows up, throw it on a smoking hot grill to get that flavor and sear. Chef at a restaurant and feeling rushed during dinner? Throw a bunch of entrees in the sous vide and when the order comes in all it needs is a sear.

There are other food items that you can sous vide as well (eggs, duck, vegetables even desserts) but the reasons why you would sous vide would usually fall under one of the reasons or a combination of the reasons above.

May 29, 2017, 12:37:14 PM
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Ten days in paradise: Ten year anniversary trip to Maui, Kauai and Pearl Harbor Planning

My wife and I have been looking forward to going away for a few days for our 10 year anniversary. We needed a place where we could a) relax, b) have enough activities so we wouldn't get bored and c) not have zika. Unfortunately, that last criteria knocked out a lot of close options. Hawaii was always somewhere that I was really interested in but I knew that we would need to spend more time there than just a few days. (I'm not flying 10+ hours to go to one island for 4 days). I calculated that we would need a minimum of 8 days with 10 being ideal. After working out my both my work schedule and babysitting (huge shout out to my mother in law), we were able to get away for 10 days! Hawaii here we come!

Well now which of the islands would we go to? We would really only have time for 2. Besides for Pearl Harbor, Ohau didn't really seem to have anything else to offer. So that quickly whittled it down to 3 islands. After reading up online, it seemed like the big island had the most adventures/activities. If we would want to include relaxing we wouldn't be able to do everything the big island has to offer in the time period we were there. So we settled on Maui and Kauai. We weighed the pros and cons for a while on which island we should go to first and which island we should stay for shabbos. We ultimately decided on going to Maui and then Kauai. Reason being is that we a) would be getting a suite at the Grand Hyatt in Kauai (thanks @bades) which we wanted/needed for shabbos and b) because of the Grand Hyatt new kosher food restrictions we had to stay at Kauai last. After discussing with my wife, she said it would be blasphemous to go all the way to Hawaii and not see Pearl Harbor. I realized that instead of having a short stop over in HNL while flying from Kauai to NYC, I'll just expand the stop over so I'll have enough time to visit the USS Arizona memorial.

For food we ordered meals from pomegranate and bought a toaster oven for $18 in the Walmart in Maui. We were able to stuff in two meals in to it, but as there was no airflow in between the meals, we had to switch it out half way so it still took about 40 minutes to warm up the meals.



I don't remember what nights we ate what so I will just list what we liked and disliked overall.

Great: Schwarma chicken, Sesame chicken, Szechuan beef, Eggplant parm, Mushroom rice, Popcorn cauliflower, Israeli couscous, Portabella mushrooms
Very good: Brisket in gravy, Stuffed cabbage, Spare ribs, Penne Ala vodka, Eggplant rollatini, Cheese blitzes, Mashed potatoes, Garlic broccoli
Ok: Corned beef (very dry), Hot poppers (no sauce)
Bad: General tzo chicken (had a weird taste to it)

We also brought a sandwich maker, bread, cheese and a few dried Salami as well.

For a car, I rented through Costco and got a convertible for Maui. I was supposed to get an Altima in Kauai but got upgraded to a convertible as well.



August 22, 2017, 01:42:00 AM
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Re: Ten days in paradise: Ten year anniversary trip to Maui, Kauai and Pearl Harbor
Sunday

We flew direct from JFK to HNL. There's no denying it, it's a long flight. But to put it in perspective is shorter than flying to Israel from NYC. We had an hour and change stop over in HNL so we went to the plumeria lounge with our priority pass. Nothing major just basic drinks and snacks. Quickly boarded our second flight and a short while later we landed in Maui. Now I know Walmart is right by the airport but after flying all day we just wanted to get to the hotel and unwind. About a half hour later we arrived at the Wailea Marriot.


Driving into the Marriot



Open Lounge








We got upgraded to an ocean view room which was a regular room (nice but nothing over the top) but had a great balcony with views of the adult infinity pool and ocean.





The hotel doesn't have a beach directly in front of the hotel, some might view that as a negative but we actually liked it as you had unobstructed views of the ocean from the pool.

Sunset our first night from the infinity pool (donít worry thatís not me in the pool :P)



The ďbeach/coastĒ right in front of the hotel



Wailea beach is a 3 minute walk from the hotel where they will set up a beach chair for you.

Customer service was fantastic with everyone really accommodating. They kept my box of pomegranate meals in their freezer and gladly gave me my meals whenever I asked.

There is a Starbucks on the property and they have Nespresso machines in every room

There is a game room with ping pong, a shuffle board, an xbox and kids games. Not 100% whatís in it because I didnít go in.

There is a mens and womens lounge right next to the lobby. If you arrive before check in or have a late flight past checkout they have showers, towels and lockers set up so you can enjoy the pool/beach until you need to leave. The bellhop will watch your luggage for you until you need to leave.

There is a $30 resort fee as well as a parking fee. $25 for self parking or $35 for valet.

August 22, 2017, 01:43:08 AM
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Re: Ten days in paradise: Ten year anniversary trip to Maui, Kauai and Pearl Harbor Monday

While jet lag affected me the first few days, my wife was able to sleep late pretty much every day. For Monday we had nothing planned besides relaxing and going to Walmart. I have to stress how important it is just to include at least one day of relaxing by the pool/beach. I really enjoyed all the hiking and activities that we did over the trip, but I think the "off daysĒ were just as enjoyable. We made sure to be out by 8:00 to reserve a great seat by the pool.

There are 3 main pool areas.

The adult infinity pool in middle overlooking the ocean




Cabanas in the water which you can rent (for what I am assuming is an outrageous fee, I didnít ask)



 
The Kids area with waterfalls, sprinklers and 2 water slides (which they claim are the highest in Maui)





View from the top of the water slides




Then there is regular infinity pool (for kids as well) with hot tub attached. Unfortunately I didn't get a picture of this area. There is also a regular (lap?) pool and a dive pool where they offer free scuba diving lessons.

The adult infinity pool is fantastic with unobstructed views of the ocean (it seemed closer to the water than other hotels in Wailea) but it is a drop cold at night.

After hanging out by the adult infinity pool for most of the morning, we decided to go to Wailea Beach (a 3 minute walk). The Marriot has someone who will set up a chair for you at the beach. We rented some snorkeling gear and snorkeled in front of the hotel. While the visabillity wasn't as great as the morning there were at least 5-6 turtles swimming in the shallow water.

Turtle sticking his head out of the water with the Marriot in the background.



Later in the afternoon we decided to check out lapperts ice cream in Wailea shops. A bit pricey but really good.

Its kosher!



After Lapperts, we drove to Walmart to get a toaster and some other essentials and made it back in time to see another amazing sunset.

The Marriot has a luau a few nights a week. If you want to just see the show (for free) just sit on the hill outside of the kids area pool. You have a great view of the whole luau and save yourself a $110

Originally we planned on going to Front Street in Lahaina to walk around, but we had to be up early the next morning for the road to hana so we decided to go there a different day

August 22, 2017, 02:15:04 AM
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Re: Ten days in paradise: Ten year anniversary trip to Maui, Kauai and Pearl Harbor Wednesday

When researching the highlights of Maui, I saw that sunrise at the Haleakala summit was one of the must doís. The problem is that my wife and I are not exactly morning people (that's an understatement!) Being that sunrise was at 6AM we would have to leave out hotel at 4AM. Further complicated the issue is that there is no real prediction if the weather would cooperate for sunrise. Even if it doesn't rain, if the clouds arenít perfect, then it turns a spectacular sunrise into an ordinary sunrise. Well I thought, what about sunset? While it's not talked about as much, I did see that people said that sunset is also quite beautiful. So, for Wednesday we decided to end our day with sunset at Haleakala summit.

Now what to do the rest of the day? We wanted to do some watersports and my wife suggested Jet skiing as she had never gone. There is only one Jet skiing place in Maui. They have an interesting setup as you arenít allowed to Jet ski off the beach. You meet a boat in front of the Hyatt Regency which then takes you to their jet ski ďislandĒ. There they have a large area where you can Jet ski and do tricks.

As the meetup was at Ka'anapali beach we decided that we would do the western Maui loop in between Jet skiing and sunset at Haleakala summit.

We left our hotel at around 9:30 as we wanted to stop off at Front street in Lahaina to buy some souvenirs. Front street feels like a seaside town with some cool Hawaiian flair. Nice place to have a quick stop and there is also a giant banyan tree that takes up a whole block

Yes, thatís only one tree



Ten minutes from Lahaina we pulled into the public parking lot next to the Hyatt regency. While we signed up for an hour session, from start to finish it took closer to two hours. You have to take a boat to the ďislandĒ, sign in, get some safety/instructions, jet ski and then wait for the boat back. To top it off everything is on Hawaiian time!

That being said, it was fantastic. I've gone jet skiing before, but there was something really amazing about zooming over the waves at 50mph with the Western Maui mountains in the background.



Leaving Ka'anapali beach we drove to our first stop on the western Maui loop. The two-tiered pools. This entails a 10-minute walk through a field, then to a dirt path and finally down some steep rocks and you come to, some pools by the ocean.



There was no one around and while pretty, it seemed like the reward was not worth the effort.



We then left and drove about ten minutes to the blow hole. This was pretty cool as it was erupting every 30 seconds.



After that we drove to the olivine pools. Again, another walk/hike which led to some really steep rocks and finally the pools. Not one person was there and while it looked pretty, again not really worth the effort.



We then drove through the over the top road to complete the loop. Now this is some road!



I took this picture from the plane. At the bottom of the mountain, you can see the over the top road cut into the mountain side.



This felt like the back road to Hana but was completely paved. Was great driving at the edge of the mountain with some insane switchbacks. I would highly recommend driving the over the top road as its both beautiful and adventurous.

After finishing the western Maui loop we stopped off in Walmart for some snacks (you have to bring your own shopping bags!) and started the drive up to Haleakala summit.

The drive up is really nice with some great views. The temperature kept dropping as we went up the mountain. We were prepared and I was wearing 2 sweatshirts and my wife had on a light winter coat. Truth is it was more windy than cold at the summit. We bought ski caps as well but didn't need them.

Finally, we got to the summit.



Sunset was absolutely amazing.





And Gone.



Once the sun set we waited around a bit for it to get really dark. I have never seen that many stars in my entire life. You could even see the milky way! Unfortunately, my camera phone wasn't able to capture it. We then took the long drive back to our hotel.

I think that sunset at Haleakala summit might be an option for some people who might hesitate about sunrise. It was absolutely beautiful, it wasn't crowded at all, itís not as cold as sunrise, you don't need to make a reservation and most importantly you don't need to wake up at an ungodly hour on vacation.

September 03, 2017, 11:04:34 PM
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Re: Private Island Paradise: Something Fishy's Anniversary Adventure Wow. Really incredible pictures.
September 19, 2017, 12:41:04 AM
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