Sunday, September 16, 2012

Florida Family Vacation

As I mentioned in my previous post. We took a family vacation over the summer that I wanted to share a little bit about with you. We went back and forth about when and where we were going to go on our summer vacation. We thought about going to Hershey, Pennsylvania or Orlando and doing the whole Disney thing. Since both kids had baseball/t-ball the whole month of June, we knew we couldn't go until late July or sometime in August. After finally figuring out when we would go, we decided on where to go. As most of you already know from seeing all my pics on Facebook, we ended up doing the whole Disney trip.

We planned to drive down to Florida and knew it would take us two days. We left on July 28th (Saturday) at about 6:30am. Greg and I have driven to Florida many times and always go down through Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, and into Florida. This time though we decided to go a different way. I ran across a new route while on Google Maps and discovered we could go through Ohio, the Virginia's, Carolina's, Georgia, and into Florida that way, and it took about the same amount of time. We've never been to many of those states so we figured, why not head that way and check it out. It ended up being a beautiful drive through the mountains and we absolutely loved it! We made out first day the long day and drove until about 9pm that Saturday night. We stayed in South Carolina. On day two we stopped in Jacksonville Beaches to see my dad and step-mom. They were on vacation there and were leaving to go home that day, but we got there early enough to see them at the hotel they were staying at. It was right on the beach and the kids got to visit the ocean for the first time ever! They dipped their feet in the Atlantic Ocean and collected some seashell. They absolutely loved it! We stayed for a couple hours and then headed onto our hotel in Orlando. Here's my two travelers checking out the salt water.
My dad graciously got us a hotel for the week at the Marriott Springhill Suites which was only 5 minutes from Disney. We got settled in and then decided to take the kids to Downtown Disney that evening. We ate at Planet Hollywood, the kids first time there, and then toured some of the shops at Downtown Disney. We had a busy week ahead at Disney World, as well as a stop at Legoland, and SeaWorld so it was early to bed that night. Our first full day in Orlando, Monday, we headed to Hollywood Studios. The kids absolutely loved it! Much was the same as I remembered from 11 years ago, but there was also a lot of new things. Tuesday, we made a 45 minute drive south of Orlando to Legoland in Winter Haven. Evan really wanted to go to Legoland ever since he heard about it opening last fall. Since it ended up that we would be in Florida for Emmaline's birthday we figured we should do the one thing that he really wanted to do. Legoland was fun, and the kids enjoyed it. I personally have seen it/ done it and if we were to go back I'd rather do more at Disney or go to Universal which we didn't get the chance to do. Wednesday was our big big day. We planned to go to the Magic Kingdom since it was Emmaline's birthday and celebrate her big day turning 5 there. Dreams came true and she got to meet many of her beloved princesses. It truly was a magical day for her, as well as Evan. As a parent, I loved loved loved being able to see all the joy that Disney brought to them. We had a full day at the park and I made reservations before we left for vacation to take Emme to a dessert firework party that night for her birthday. We all were able to finish off our wonderful day and Emme's birthday, and enjoy a buffet of desserts and watch the fireworks over Cinderella's Castle. Awesome!

After three full days at parks, we decided we needed a rest day. It was a lot for the kids to take in and we as well were tired! We took it easy on Thursday, and lounged at the pool in the morning. Then we decided to take the kids over to the City Walk at Universal so they could get a glimpse of what Universal/Islands of Adventure was like. Evan picked lunch at the NBA City Restaurant, and then we played mini golf and shopped at City Walk. Then we headed back to the hotel to chill a little before we went to a nice dinner that night (something that wasn't fast food or park food), and back to Downtown Disney for a bit. It was a much needed day of slowing down and relaxing a little to gear up for the rest of the week.

Friday we headed to Sea World and the kids really enjoyed all the animals. Once again we were at the park all day, and it was fun to watch the kids see Shamu for the first time. Saturday we headed back to Disney and went to Animal Kingdom. We headed straight for the Safari ride first and the kids really enjoyed it! So much we had to do it again before we left. One of the other favorite parts of Animal Kingdom was the Festival of the Lion King show. The kids were even lucky enough to be picked and be a part of the show. So awesome for them! It was nice that this park closed a little earlier, and were able to get out of there at a decent time.  We decided since we were done earlier than normal that we'd go check out some of the Disney Resorts. We walked around the Animal Kingdom resort which was fun to check out. Did you know you can get a room with a balcony that over looks the animals? Giraffes, zebras, etc. right outside of your room! Sunday was our last day and we spent it at Epcot. There were some things at Epcot that I remembered from years ago, but there were A LOT of things that I totally didn't remember or that were new! We had a wonderful last day and the kids had fun touring through the different countries.

Unfortunately Monday was our day to start heading home. We ended up kind of taking our time getting out of there. We made one final stop at Downtown Disney (I love that place) before getting on the road. The drive home seemed to be slower than the drive down. Mostly because we had to leave our wonderful vacation, but we did run into about 20 minutes of bad weather in Georgia that slowed us down. It poured like I've never seen before and I could barely see the road driving. SCARY! Thankfully it cleared up. We made it to Chattanooga, TN that night and called it a night. Our last day of vacation on Tuesday was driving the other half of the way home. We made one stop in Bowling Green, KY to meet another Emmaline. Yes, that's right. I met this gal through Facebook through another friend. Her name is Elaina and her daughter is also Emmaline Grace. Spelled exactly the same way. We never thought they'd meet, but since we were passing right through Bowling Green where they lived we figured it was the perfect opportunity. The girls enjoyed meeting each other. It was really nice to have the chance to do so. We made it home about 7pm Tuesday night.

I have to say the kids did a pretty good job two days in the car down, six parks in seven days (FULL DAYS), and two days in the car on the way home. They really are great travelers! It was such an amazing family vacation. Something I've always dreamed of doing with my kids. Greg really has never been a big Disney fan, but even he had a great time. It's something every parent should do with their kids! Dreams came true and wonderful memories were made! A big thanks to Greg's mom for helping us get there (she gave us money for Christmas last year to put towards vacation, and then she gave the kids money to put towards souvenirs their park tickets before we left. Also a big thanks to my dad and step-mom for redeeming some of their hotel points for us and getting us the hotel. Very much appreciated! And a huge thanks to Greg for making this possible for our family! I love that he let us choose Disney to go to! It will definitely be a vacation we'll never forget and a 5th birthday I'm sure Emmaline will remember forever! I took over 800 pictures on vacation so I'm just going to share a couple of my favorites here. :)

Our first day at Disney- Hollywood Studios (the backdrop if perfect!)
 Emmaline's Birthday at the Magic Kingdom!

The picture I really wanted of the kids in their Mickey/Minnie attire with Mickey & Minnie!
 Her favorite princess- Belle! I LOVE this pic. My favorite!

1 comment:

  1. Looks like you guys had a blast! My family and I are going to Disney next year (shhh! It's a surprise). This year we stayed local and went to a few Texas family resorts. The kids had a blast, and the weather was always right, since it's indoors. But thanks for sharing your pictures!