Saturday, March 31, 2018

Florida- Down Time Days

During our in between park days we did a lot of relaxing! The resort had everything we needed and the girls loved their room with big beds and Disney channel on their TV. 
Our two bedroom condo had a full kitchen and living room and washer drier in the unit. We had ordered groceries from Amazon to be delivered on the morning after Epcot so we would have everything we needed since we didn't have a car. We had our meals on our patio over looking the pond- full of Alligators I presume!!!
Then after breakfast we geared up for the pools. We were on a mission to hit as many pools as possible at our resort. After the first day at the pool realizing we had not packed goggles or pool toys we made sure to remedy that. Luckily we were in tourist town and there were shops in walking distance to get what we needed.
The weather was ideal, warm but not humid. Some days we would have cool clouds to give us a break. The sun was strong though and we had to lather on the sunscreen.
It was pretty packed at the resort too. I heard they were at capacity and you could tell by the fight for pool chairs. We never had a problem though. They had restaurants and bars at the poolside too. As well as entertainment some days which was funny. There were DJ's playing music and leading games.
It was hot enough that we all spent a good amount of time in the water to cool off. 
Of course the kids barely got out, just to eat and be forced into more sunscreen.
One of the pools had a big splash pad area and waterfall.
There was a lot of mermaid play going on.

The was a kids pool with water slide, and jacuzzi pool with the large hot tub, and then water fall pool.

On our last day we had a later flight home so we had plenty of time to explore. We had a rental car by this point so we could go where we pleased.  Our resort had a mini golf course and we noticed around Orlando this must be a pretty popular activity because they were EVERYWHERE. We decided to play the course across the road from our resort. It had the waterfall volcano and looked more challenging.
We have played mini golf once years ago in the summer with friends. We did much better this time around.
Gemma and I actually both got a hole in one!!
It kept us busy for an hour or two and we only got into a few small arguments over cheating!
After having lunch and doing some last minute shopping and generally killing time we made our way to the airport. Look who we found at the airport!! The next day was Easter and apparently the bunnies were taking a flight. We got a photo and a snickers bar! Not bad!
It wasn't too crazy at the airport but we spent plenty of time in the security lines. We found one last cool photo spot before leaving and returning to reality.
Sad to leave our super fun spring break vacation!

Friday, March 30, 2018

Florida- Kennedy Space Center

It may seem like we packed a lot into our short week of Spring break. Well you're right, we did! I mean some people do a lot more park days and there are even multiple water parks but we didn't want to do so many parks that it all became a blur. Plus when your this close to The Kennedy Space Center (KSC) you can't not go!
We once again got up early in the morning (some vacation, right?) and headed to pick up a rental car. We didn't need one up until now but the KSC is an hour away and we wanted to see more than Disney Disney Disney. We made it in plenty of time to open up the center at 9am. They had a real astronaut out front to greet us and take a picture. How cool is that?!
We got a couple of classics for the Christmas Card here!
You can easily spend a whole day here, and we pretty much did. You enter into the rocket garden and browse retired rockets from the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo missions.
Some you can even climb up and sit in.
We wanted to get right out to the Apollo/Saturn bus tour. These two little Astronauts were ready for the mission.
Loaded up and ready to go.
It was a packed 40 minute bus tour with more information than we could possibly absorb. This is the spaceX launch pad. It is hard to even imagine the scale of these buildings and rockets. When we got up a little closer you could see the little doorway entrances which looked like they were there for ants and that helped us put the size into perspective.

The KSC is on a large wildlife refuge. They have every species of animal that is native to Florida. This includes plenty of alligators which happen to be sunbathing in just about every little pond on the side of the road. That's a gator sun bathing in the water there.
Once at the Apollo/Saturn center we watched a couple of brief films describing the program and its history.
The cool Winnebago the astronauts took to launch on their missions.

There were lots of great interactive exhibits and real artifacts and equipment that made it to space and back.
This space suit was used and still has real dust from the moon on its boots.
After a long tour around we took the bus back to the main KSC to see all the exhibits there.
Of course high on this list was the Atlantis shuttle. There are only 3 retired space shuttles on display in the US and since we have seen the Endeavour in LA we only have one more to go!! I guess a trip to the Smithsonian in DC will have to be on our list soon.

The hands on cockpit display was a big hit. We didn't even see everything there was to see but we did manage to take in the Imax show Nasa now and next.  Alex was in space heaven and read every single placard and display.
Once we had our space fill we drove over to Cocoa beach to take in the Atlantic ocean and have some dinner.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Florida- Disney World - Magic Kingdom

By the day arrived for us to go to our last park, Magic Kingdom, we had the system down!! Can you tell by the photo we were almost pleased to get up this early in the morning to get to the park for rope drop? Again, the park opened at 8am so we were up and out the door to catch an uber by 7am. We got to the drop off for Magic Kingdom to discover you had to access the park by ferry boat or monorail. 
We went for the ferry boat ride! Go little mouseketeers go!!
We made it to the park entrance and got through the turnstiles into the park entrance by 7:30. It looks just like Disneyland! The train station greets you with the beautiful flower mosaic. 
At about 7:45 they let us past the train station, down main street and to the front of the castle for the opening show. It was just us.....and a few million other people. Main street was PACKED but it is a big park and there would be plenty of room once the rides opened.
We headed straight to the castle towards future land. We knew exactly which ride we were headed for. Surprisingly we were able to sneak in a picture in front of the castle without anyone else in it!! Mickey and friends performed a little show on a stage in front of the castle and then the ropes dropped!
We followed a huge crowd towards one of the most popular rides, which translates into long lines so we wanted to knock it out before the crowds. We entered the vault at the seven dwarfs mine train roller coaster.
The line weaves its way through the tunnel and lets you play with the jewels you are mining for. 
Let's get this first ride of the day started! It was a mild roller coaster much like the big thunder mountain ride but a seven dwarf twist. 
We decided to head over to Adventureland to get on a few more top rides before the whole park got crowded. First up was pirates of the carribean! We love this ride at Disneyland and wanted to see if it was the same. We walked right on the ride. It was pretty much the same with a few subtle differences, missing the blue bayou ambience which makes us vote Disneyland pirates is tops! Right next door in Frontierland is splash mountain. It is a fun log water ride and we figured why not? It was a quick line and the ride was so fun! It seemed a lot longer than the CA one and you floated around bear country before the big drop!! Look at our faces on the ride camera. Say goodbye to Alex's hat because that was the last we saw of it. He forgot to take it off and it blew away on the ride!!
The girls like to watch the ride after we go on to appreciate how brave they were!
We stopped back over in Adventureland for the Aladdin magic carpet ride. Since Lily is going to be the magic carpet in her Sr Chorus play this year we had to go on her ride! It was pretty much like dumbo, up down..up down.
We had been going non stop for a couple hours by now, having granola bars and snacks from our stash we packed. We thought we would try to get on small world before we took a break.  It was crowded but only about a 20 minute wait and it was a nice long ride. We love small world!
It was getting warm and we were getting famished so we headed down main street to have some lunch. It was fun trying to get a family selfie with the castle in the back.
Maybe we should leave selfies to the teens.
We found a shady spot to eat our lunch with a view of the castle.
Lucky for us we just happened to be finishing up when they had a stage show in front of the castle with a small fireworks show!
It felt like something was going on around every turn! We headed to Liberty Square to see the Hall of Presidents, around the bend there was a high school marching band coming through.
The hall of presidents is an animatronic show featuring all the presidents of the USA. We don't have this show in CA and it was pretty cool. When the Obama portion came on there were a few cheers, hoots and hollers. When the Trump portion came on there were no boo's, alas we were in Florida, pretty sure in CA he wouldn't get that same respect.
As we exited the Hall of Presidents we just happened upon a parade!Ariel was checking out her dinglehopper.
The dragon was really fire breathing and  very impressive!

Each float was better than the next. The girls got right up front and watched the whole thing and couldn't get enough.
Of course Mickey and Minnie close the parade.
It was afternoon by now and the place was pretty packed. We knew this would be the case so we had ridden most of our desired rides at opening and had fast passes for three more this afternoon. The crowds didn't really bother us too much because we had plenty of parades and shows to see during the busiest hours.
We headed towards the direction of our first fast pass and happened to see the Muppets great moments in American history.  We then went to ride the Disneyworld railroad to Fantasyland. We had the Disneyworld app on my phone and it tells you how long the wait is for each ride. Somehow the Ariel ride was down to 20 minutes so we went there before it was time to use our fast passes. Our biggest priority ride was Peter Pan's Flight. We love this little magical whimsical ride at Disneyland. 
Our next fast pass was late afternoon for the Haunted Mansion!! We love this ride too.
We took a ride break because we saw the parade coming down the lane. It was the same parade from earlier but we loved it so much we wanted to catch it again.
We found a nice shady spot under a tree to stay cool while we watch.

Each float was more magical than the next.
Peter, Wendy and Captain Hook!

I think it really might be the happiest place on earth.

We were ready for some dinner at Pecos Bill, nothing better than a big meal before your last ride on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. We know we love this ride too and it's not like Everest.
It was starting to get dark and we had been on the fence about whether to stay for the big firework show at 9pm. By the time we finished our rides it was after 8 pm anyway and so we decided to get a spot to sit on main street and wait for the show.
Boy are we glad we did!! It was amazing. I wish I could see it again and again. The castle is lit up with lights and they project scenes and characters from Disney shows onto the castle. The music is all coordinated and fireworks galore!! We were SO GLAD we stayed. Even if it meant having to battle with one million people to get on the monorail back to the parking area to get a ride to our resort.