Thursday, January 28, 2016

Florida

Jeremy’s parents left for Florida at the beginning of the month.  We were invited to join them for a long weekend at a resort in Orlando.  We, of course, did.  We flew with Spirit airlines – a budget airline if you are careful about all the costs you could incur, but don’t have to.  The girls hadn’t been on a plane since Ellie was about 9 months old and Madison was a little under 3; we had flown to Kansas City that time.  So, they were pretty excited.  It was our Christmas gift to them, as was a one day ticket to Disney World.  We left on Saturday around noon from Cleveland, landed in Florida around 4, and found the hotel by about 5pm. 

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It was good to see Maynard and Gloria again; it had been a couple weeks.  Maynard’s sister-in-law and her husband (Lois and Ken) were traveling around Florida with Maynard and Gloria, so we were able to spend some time with them as well.  We took it easy that first night, eating lasagna, swimming in the pool, and settling in.  Our room was on the 13th floor.  It is the second balcony from the top.  If you look really closely, you can see Gloria waving!

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The next morning, Jeremy and I left the girls with the other adults and headed to the fitness room for a morning workout.  It felt good to move around after a long travel day the day before.  After breakfast, we gathered our things and headed to Disney Springs (previously known as Downtown Disney).  It is a place with shops and restaurants.  We explored many of the shops, and the girls considered lots of options on what to spend their money.  We went to a Lego store – really cool lego statues were there.

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We went to the largest Disney store around.  That was a treasure trove for them.  Ellie walked away with a baby Minnie stuffed toy.  Madison purchased some rings. 

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Then, we hit the carousel and some other shops before lunch. 

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We had lunch at the Rainforest CafĂ©; this is a busy place so I would recommend reservations if you ever go.  Maynard and Gloria had learned that last time they were there, so we were prepared!  It is a very loud and entertaining restaurant.  There are pretend rainstorms, loud gorillas and monkeys, some animatronic stuff, aquariums, and lots of trees.  The food was good as well.  Madison found the gift shop and purchased a necklace with a small purse and key on it. 

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Afterwards, Gloria joined our family on the bus to Animal Kingdom resort, while Maynard, Ken, and Lois went back for a break.  (I was tired enough to be wishing for a break, too!)  Animal Kingdom was neat.  It was fun to see a Disney resort – over the top!  They had live animals there on the savannah for people to see – giraffes, zebras, red bush hogs, impala, roan antelope, and a few other creatures.  We also had fun finding some of the “hidden Mickeys” around the viewing area.  (A hidden Mickey is just when an outline of Mickey’s ears and face are hidden in something else.)  For example, there were some giraffes in a rock, and a hidden Mickey was in their spots.  In the metal ivy leaves, we searched for a long time – getting others to join us – to find the hidden Mickey.  We were also fortunate to be able to roast some marshmallows there as well.  It was a neat – and free! – place to go.  We had pizza in that night for supper.

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On the way to the car, we saw the copper statues.  These things are so cool.  I have seen them in New York City dressed as the Statue of Liberty.  They are real people that stand statue like for a long time, but every so often they move.  It is so neat to experience. 

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Monday we took it easy.  We had thought about going to the beach, but it wasn’t going to be super warm, and it was at least an hour away.  We thought about going to a place to view Manatees, but that was at least an hour or more away.  So, we just hung out.  Jeremy took the girls swimming; I went to work out.  (I really thought it was too cold to get in the water, even the indoor pool, so it was a good excuse.)  The girls had fun being in the water.  We had a light lunch.  Ellie took a good nap that afternoon; Madison rested quietly.  We took a walk around the resort area and found some sand to play in and a playground.

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That evening we headed to Freddy’s Frozen Custard (similar to Culver’s in this area) for supper.  Delicious!

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We ended the evening with a jacuzzi bathtub experience – and a few surprises packed in the suitcase… character washcloths and magic capsules that made tiny foam shapes when dissolved in water.  There was also some monkey business after the bath!

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Tuesday was a BIG day – Disney day!!!  We headed out of the hotel by about 7:30am – donned in anything warm we had brought along.  The temperatures were about 40F with strong winds and little sun.  We took the ferry boat across (it was that or the bus since the monorail was not running yet); it was so cold on the water.

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We arrived in time to see the train roll in with a big hoop-la and lots of singing and characters.  We headed through the gates of the Magic Kingdom and to Fantasyland where most of our day would be spent. 

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We managed to get on Peter Pan before the line got long.  It was a fun ride, and a great line to stand in because of all the things to see around you.  They have this cool thing where you can play with your shadow – tip a shadow hat, have a shadow butterfly land on your hand, ring shadow bells – it was neat. 

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Then, we met Cinderella and Rapunzel.  This was the first character meeting of the day.  The girls thought it was amazing. 

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We headed to the Mad Tea Cups,

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sighted Alice and the Mad Hatter,

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took a spin on Winnie the Pooh ride.  This one was fun for all of us as well.  You ride in cars through the Hundred Acre Wood and the characters are animatronics.  This was in Pooh’s tree outside of the ride.

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We went to the big top area.  There we saw Minnie Mouse,

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Daisy Duck,

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Goofy,

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and Donald Duck.

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We also had a great time on Goofy’s Barnstormer – a real roller coaster!  It is short, but fun.  The girls loved it.  I wish we would have time to ride it more than once.

We took the train around to Adventureland.  Besides eating a packed lunch there, we didn’t spend much time.  They have Big Mountain Railroad, which looked fun for older kids.

We went to Tom Sawyer Island to explore the darkended cave, the windmill, the barrel bridge, and paths.  There are no rides here, but it is fun to explore. 

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We went to the Tiki room next – animated birds that sing songs above you.  While a bit corny, the girls enjoyed it.

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Then, we found a spot in Frontierland to watch the afternoon parade.  We were right up front, and it was amazing.  The costumes and floats are incredible.  I was impressed.  The girls liked this a lot, too.

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We caught the Country Bears Jamboree – animated bears singing country music.  Hokey, entertaining, and fun.  Ellie really wanted to see this when we looked through travel books.  It was closed for repairs when we first checked it out, so I am glad they were able to fix it. 

We headed back to Fantasyland to enjoy Enchanted Tales with Belle.  You enter into her castle and the kids (and Jeremy!) were able to be characters in the story that she told.  The girls really thought this was neat – Madison was Mrs. Potts and Ellie was the Wardrobe.

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Let’s see, then we hit the Under the Sea ride.  This one took you through the entire movie of the Little Mermaid because each section had a song and the characters to match.  It was pretty long and involved.

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We rode on Prince Charming’s Carousel.  All five of us in a row!  Ellie was proud because she chose the biggest horse.

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From there, we grabbed supper at Pinocchio's house.  And then, took our last ride of the day – It’s a Small World.  I liked this ride.  Jeremy won the award for matching up the country to the people represented. 

We found a decent spot for the Electric Parade and fireworks.  We were not up front, and I may have been more impressed with this parade if we had been.  I would have rather snuck out and rode some more rides while the lines were short!  The girls enjoyed it though.  We found a friendly helper there.  His name was Maynard as coincidence would have it; we called him “Main Street Maynard.”  Ironically, he looked a little like a young Maynard/Grandpa. 

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We killed a little time making funny faces as we waited for the fireworks. 

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The fireworks were decent, but I am not a huge fireworks fan, so I may be underrating them.  What was cool was watching Tinker Bell – a real person in costume – descend from the tip of Cinderella’s castle all the way to Tommorowland right above our heads!  It would take a lot of guts to be Tinker Bell!

We left via the shops on Main Street, which on the right-hand side of the road (when headed out) are all connected and you can pay wherever.  The girls each found something to spend the money Sandy had given them for their birthdays with these instructions – spend it on whatever you want at Disney… and your mom is not allowed to say no (unless it is too expensive).  Ellie bought a Rapunzel Barbie; Madison bought stencils with leftover money.  (She had already spent Sandy’s money at the big top on baby Lady stuffed toy.) 

We made it back to the hotel by about 9:30pm.  The girls were passed out in the van.  Madison made it all the way to the room in my arms and halfway through getting her clothes changed to pajamas before waking up.  It was a good, long day.

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On Wednesday, we woke up, packed up, shared about Disney, and moved out of the hotel.  We went to a local park to burn off some energy before heading to the airport. 

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The plane ride home went well.  We made it home by about 8:30, and went straight to bed.  A good vacation!  Thanks for the initiation, Grandma and Grandpa!