Legoland, Florida

Our next day was spent at the Legoland in Winter Haven about an hour outside of Orlando. The park opens around 10am so while we still had to be up bright and early it wasn't as much of a rush. It also closed early.. around 6pm. I had been to the California Legoland many many years ago so I was excited to check out the Florida version.

Growing up my brother and I lived for Lego's.. and I wanted to get D a bit more excited about playing with them too.. they haven't been is favorite toy. So here's hoping!

We started with a really cute welcome family picture..

It was a chilly day.. and our first ride was Island in the Sky.. it takes you 150 feet high and gives you a 360 degree tour of the park.. up that high and near the water it was bbrr..

Next stop was the carousel.. remember how I loved Disney's baby friendliness.. yea well Legoland not so much. Infants must be wearing shoes on all rides.. thank god we had H's shoes with us.. they may take them off and drop them mid ride but.. whatever! And on the carousel I could't sit with him on it.. I could stand next to him though.. so he just hung on for dear life for the 30 second ride.

Next up was the Duplo Valley.. this area was geared for the really little kids with a little train ride and a little tractor ride.. again H needed his shoes and couldn't sit in our laps and there was crying and the toddler geared rides seemed too tame for my roller coaster riding man... so we didn't spend too much time there..

We made our way to Lego Kingdoms. We rode on The Dragon.. my parent's sat this one out with H and D and I took a spin on Merlin's Challenge.

D participated in a Royal Joust

and then we were off to Miniland USA.. seriously this place is great.. you get totally sucked in looking at all the little details and before you know it an hour has gone by.. we had to force ourselves to move along. D loved pushing the buttons to make the married couple walk out the chapel, the boats to shoot water and the cars to go.. 

In the Land of Adventure, D rode the Beetle Bounce by his lonesome.. and we rode the Lost Kingdom Adventure.. my dad sat out with H.. this ride was very similar to Disney's Buzz Lightyear ride which H was allowed to sit on. We skipped the Coastersaurus.. D didn't meet the height requirement. 

We decided to take a break and have some lunch. We ate at iZone Panini in Imagination Zone.

Next up was Lego City.. we skipped Rescue Academy and took a class in Boating School

and then D when to Ford Jr. Driving School and M and I took a course in Flying School

Our last stop was Lego Technic.. the Pirate's Cove was closed for the season.. the Cypress Garden's were under construction and Imagination Zone was geared towards older kids. The only ride left was the Technicycle..

It was another great day.. if you have kids under 10 this is a great park.. any older and they may get bored quick.

And if you are looking to buy some Lego's like we were try the Extreme Brick Bargain's Shop first.. the prices were slashed in half..

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Friday Photography

Blue was taken while vacationing in Aruba. The stunning silvery blue waters of Aruba. The white clouds rolling in to give the sky a painterly quality, a boat at the horizon. Serene perfection.

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A Day at Disney World

Let me just start by saying thank you for all your comments on last weeks post. In case no one has told you yet today... you are all awesome!

We woke as early as we possibly could, I surprised D with a brand new Mickey t-shirt. We were staying at the Marriot, they had a pretty decent complimentary breakfast and shuttle service to the Magic Kingdom. We opted to take our own car to the park instead. Here we are, the gate

We missed the opening ceremony by some minutes.. oh well maybe next time. We hurried down main street and to Cinderella's Castle.

We started the day in Adventureland. The Swiss Family Treehouse was temporarily closed so our first ride of the day was Aladdin's Flying Carpet, what better way to start the day? I loved that there were so many things H could ride on with us. Next up the Jungle Cruise, cute with a great guide, quirk, funny ans so perfectly in character!

H decided to take a nap during the Pirates of the Caribbean, I secretly hoped Johnny Depp was going to step out and yell surprise! And then while enjoying some Dole Whips from Aloha Isle we made our way over to the Frontierland. Splash Mountain for closed for refurbishment and Big Thunder Mountain was having some technical difficulties :( Off to Liberty Square!

My parents opted out of the Haunted Mansion and waited outside with H while us with our usually afraid of most things D headed in.. to our excitement D was not scared at all.. :) Next was Peter Pan and It's a Small World this was the first line we encountered.. the benefit of going off season.. both were about 25 minutes long and more rides H could enjoy with us.. even though he continued to nap through most of them.

I am just in awe of how beautiful these rides are and can not imagine the amount of work that goes into creating every magical detail.. 

We used the rider swap option for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.. so while my parents waited in line.. the first long 95 minute wait we took D and H on Prince Charming's Carousel and Mickey's PhilharMagic.. once again no lines..and the show was great.. I was having more fun watching D trying to reach out and grab things than watching the show itself. 

The Seven Dwarf's Mine Train was the first ride that H could not ride.. I was initially a bit concerned thinking there would be so much H would not be able to do meaning we'd have to split up and wait.. but that was not the case at all. And this was officially D's first roller coaster.. he barely made it in at 39 inches tall. He held my hand and closed his eyes but he did great.. when the ride came to an end he asked 'that's it?'

While waiting in line for Winnie the Pooh we had our first character spotting.. I was surprised that we hadn't seen more wondering about.. we were not specifically looking for them nor had we planned on waiting in line for them but when D say Winnie he could hardly believe it.. he forgot all concept of line and waiting and rushed ahead.. jumping up and them.. I had to bring him back and explain to him that we had to wait and Winnie and Tiger were not going anywhere.. after 20 minutes we got our turn. H was less excited.

The Winnie the Pooh ride was also great.. what I loved most was the wait. Along the entire line they had set up interactive toys, games and attraction to entertain the kids.. brilliant.

We stopped for lunch at Pinocchio's Village Haus and then made our way over to Fantasyland. Our one and only ride was The Barnstormer.. he decided the skip over Dumbo and the Mad Tea Party. A quick fun roller coaster..

In Tomorrowland we started with the Tomorrowland Speedway..

The little tuft of hair you see over the steering wheel is D. You wouldn't think it but driving these cars was not easy.. thank god each car was on it's own track else I would have been bumping into everything..

We were headed towards the Astro Orbiter when it started to rain.. D wasn't tal enough for Stitch's Great Escape so instead we headed to Buzz Lightyears Space Ranger Spin, which is pretty much where everyone else also headed.. it was a 30 minute wait, by then the rain and stopped to and it was warm and sunny again.. This was a fun ride, it was all neon black light.. you had to shoot monsters plus your car spun too.. i am surprised H was allowed to sit on this thing.. 

After which we headed back to the Astro Orbiter. While we waited in line the dad from Incredibles showed up to start a dance party.. so D and I headed over. Now while D has not watched the Incredible he expected to meet him, get a hug something like that.. instead the dad just danced and while did acknowledge the bigger kids and adults D continued to go overlooked. I don't blame him.. he was doing his job and D is tiny.. but watching my boy running after him trying to get his attention.. i tried too.. I really didn't want to see him cry in Disney World of all places.. instead we made a pact to never watch any movies the red guy stars in..ever and we had back to the Astro Orbiter. Now this ride is kinda like Dumbo or Aladdin's Carpets.. except you take an elevator up two or three stories and then get on your two person rocket and soar even higher in the sky.. you get a glimpse of most of the park and it was awesome.. and H could ride too.. seriously Disney is so baby friendly it is unbelievable.

We skipped Space Mountain.. D would not have been able to ride and we didn't want to end the day like that.. plus it was a huge wait.. 

Instead we headed back towards Cinderella's Castle to scope out a good spot for the Electric Parade.. 

It was the perfect day.. the perfect first visit.. my only complain is tat we never saw Mickey.. maybe we should have spent a little more time on Main Street.. the last time I was in Disneyland.. over a decade ago I remember bumping into so many characters.. and this time around it was so much harder.. we spotted Buzz and the Evil Stepmother.. 

We ended the day with some dinner in Downtown Disney.. we ate at Paradiso 37.. not the greatest food but good.. way better than all the fast food we'd had over the last few days..

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Friday Photography

This photograph was taken in Aruba. A water stained wall and water pipe. I was mesmerized by its similarity to a grief stricken face.
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Florida Tripping

Not something I am necessarily proud of but I have spent most of my life a dependent.. I went from my parent's home to my married home.. I have never lived on my own.. apart from an internship or two I have never held an out of the home job.. I don't recall ever eating out alone either. I have flown 16 hour flights alone with D.. if that counts.

So when my parents proposed a Florida trip in January, a month when M is usually very busy at work and would not be able to take days off I was faced with a challenging opportunity. No I would not being doing it on my own per se but I was no longer the dependent. All these years I plan the trips and then the second we leave the house I put up my feet and M drives, takes care of car rentals, parking, pumping gas just about everything else...

I began to plan the trip.. we were to be in Florida for 5 days.. the first two days we would spend driving down to the Keys, stopping in the Everglades to catch an air boat ride and maybe spot a gator or two..and then driving back up to Orlando where M would meet up with us for the theme parks he managed to get a day off :) Those first two days involved a lot of driving.. with two kids in the car.. so I mapped and mapped and timed everything hoping we would make every where we needed to be on time and before dark..

It was an early am flight.. I drove, dropped off the car at parking, checked in, boarded and so far so good. This marked H's first plane ride..

And then the plane was delayed.. and the line at the car rental was long and it took me a while to figure out the new car all the while missing my car at home.. we hit the road an hour later than I had planned.. meaning we were minutes too late for the last air boat ride.. D was disappointed.. we started towards the Keys instead and it started to get dark and the road never ending... D and H stuck in a car all day started to get restless and I don't blame them. I was too busy blaming myself.. we arrived at the Sea Dell Motel around 8pm in Marathon. It was clean and basic.. just what we needed to spend the night. Everyone was exhausted so instead of eating where I had planned to eat me picked up some pizza across the street and ate in our room.. FUN!

The next morning I was determined to salvage day two.. what better way than to put on some lipstick and say cheese.. if nothing else at least the weather was warm and perfect. 

We headed down to Key West for breakfast at La Creperie, where D decided he wanted to eat an omelet. The crepes were delectable.

While we had initially intended to spend a few hours in Key West.. with the long long drive ahead of us back to Orlando with a stop at Gator Park we thought it best to just hit the road.

If you really want to see the alligators.. Shark Valley is your best bet.. but you need a couple of hours for that.. with D and the time constraint I thought the thrill of an air boat would be something he may enjoy a bit more. Purchasing Gator Park tickets online enablde me to save a few dollars per ticket and D and H were free.

We saw a few alligators.. birds and tons of turtles.. the free alligator wrestling show was something we had no interest it.. but got sort of pushed into it anyway.. it was disappointing, sad and inhumane. The air boat ride itself and our guide were both great fun.

After which we hit the road again.. once again the plan was to stop in Downtown Disney for dinner, a way to get into the Disney mood.. but by the time we got to Orlando everyone was exhausted.. so instead we went to the hotel.. the Marriott Fairfield. Showered and relaxed until it was time to pick M up from the airport and I could go back to the passenger seat.

The first two days while in the end worked out okay.. in retrospect they were probably unneeded. We didn't get to spend the time in Key West we wanted..but hey.. we survived :) just in time for some Disney fun!

We are a travel loving family.. see where else we've been here

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Friday Photography

Taken inside the beautiful interiors of Al Azhar Mosque, Cairo's first mosque. The lights turned off and the sun's light the only light illuminating the sacred space creates a serene ambiance. Cairo is know as the City of a Thousand Minarets.

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