Sunday, January 10, 2016

Fabulously Fun Florida Vacation

FLORIDA IN JANUARY is a great place to be. The 15 hour drive was SO worth it.
New Year's Eve we hit up Legoland. It was a blast and the boys loved it! It's big enough to have a day of fun but small enough not to overwhelm. The fireworks show that night was incredible. They gave us 3D glasses with 2016 on them that made the fireworks (and any other light) look like Lego blocks. It was fun and super creative.
As sweet as they may look, the only annoying part was standing in line with these active guys. 
They constantly wrestled and knocked into everyone packed in around us. 
At least we didn't have to wait longer than 30 minute in any line.
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On the way to the Florida Keys we drove through the Everglades to search for wild alligators. Driving eastward on 41, we took the 94 Loop Road. This road didn't come up on my google maps search, but it branches off of highway 41 where it curves northward, about halfway through the park (right after the Miccosukee Indian Village). We never had to pay to get inside the park this way. We saw at least a dozen gators, which was good since I don't think Jan is gator "season".
They hang out between the grouping of trees in the waterways. We drove slowly and spotted some through the trees, too, though that was tiresome.
Watch out for the mammoth mosquitoes. Keep your windows up or wear bug spray. This road curves around and meets back up with highway 41. 
I never thought it'd be so difficult to find a sandy beach in the Florida Keys!
Most are full of painful rocks.
We drove an extra couple of hours to reach Sombrero Beach in Marathon.
White sand, warmish water that I swam in all day. No waves to wash my little ones out to sea. Rock outcroppings with small holes with little fish in them. It had bathrooms and a nice playground. Overall it was a great beach, though I wouldn't travel those bridges again just for a beach (I guess the Keys are more for snorkeling).
I had a shark sandwich at a random restaurant it was DIVINE. Wish I could remember the name of the place but man! It was memorable. Probably helped that I was super hungry.
The next day, after an hour of church, we walked around South Pointe Park in South Miami Beach. We watched some guys fish off the pier, which was surprisingly fun. A guy caught a large Southern sheepshead 20 minutes after casting in. The pier was big and really pretty. We had to pay to park but such is the way of life in large well-populated cities.
Afterward, we got our feet wet walking along the beach and searching for shells before heading up to Orlando.
Monday we went to Magic Kingdom. Now I've always been skeptical about Disney parks. The astronomical prices of tickets and gaudy Mickey gear. Really? It's just a theme park, right? 
The rides alone are amazing. Super fun yet not physically painful like carnival rides, and they last LONGER. They have little characters moving along the ride joined with the thrill of the rising and falling and twisting. And the shows, full of fire, waterb fake snow or bubbles falling down on our heads (or all of the above), and parades and fireworks shows truly make it the happiest place on earth. I see why tickets cost so much!
I can't wait to return!
Once again, standing in line with these guys was QUITE annoying.  But we maneuvered the lines and figured out how to use our Fast Passes (via my Disney experience app, which is a must have) so we didn't have to wait too long.
On the boat, ready for It's a Small World. There were enough rides Logan could go on that it wasn't too annoying to take turns sitting out with him during the bigger kid rides.
Still, we've decided not to return until he's at least 44". :)
Two cuties saying hello to Goofy while waiting for the parade of lights. Rides, interactive 3D movies, fireworks...all of the funnest things in one park. A-MAZing!
Cinderella's castle was beaUtiful at night. We did 2 days at Magic Kingdom and still didn't see it all. It was by far my favorite park. Clean streets, polite people, happy staff...
I fulfilled a lot of childhood fantasies here.
Christian and Miles did Jedi training at Hollywood Studios. We signed up right when we got there in the morning and spots were filling fast.
We also loved the stunt car and Indiana Jones shows! 
Fantasmic was the prefect end to a super fun day. I must see at Hollywood Studios. We spent one day here and I thought it was plenty. I am intrigued by the movie making process so I loved it, but it's still not as filling as the meat and potatoes: Magic Kingdom.
ANIMAL KINGDOM had a fun safari ride. Not much else by way of rides but there is a fun interactive 3D bug show.
The funnest ride is called DINOSAUR. Christian and I rode together first, then I took the three oldest boys right before we left. They were FREAKED out (life sized dinosaurs chasing them, roaring in our faces, sneezing on us) but I loved it! :D There was a mountain ride we didn't have time to go on.
Thank you, Walt, for dreaming so big. We truly enjoyed our trip!
Going hard each day, they ended up passing out on the bus ride to our hotel. Sweet critters.
In another few years we'll be back, Disney World, and pad along your clean streets once again.

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