Friday, June 8, 2012

Florida...part 1

This year's family vacation was a BIG one. We'd been saving for a long while and finally had enough to empty the Disney jar and embark.  The weekend before Memorial Day we headed to Florida with the kids.  We decided to take the trip in two days with a stop in Atlanta.  The kids were pumped about that as we got to stay at an Embassy Suites.  (Love awesome internet deals!!) They had a nice buffet breakfast.  John's comment on that was "I bet dinner here is really awesome with candles and everything!"  I think they would have also ridden up and down the glass elevator at least 100 times if we had let them.  After filling ourselves with breakfast, we headed for Orlando.  As always on our trips we played some car games including Name that Tune.  As we were playing that one, we discovered that the ABC song and Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star have the same tune.  We also taught them the "Big Mac song".  And, as Horn family tradition dictates, we looked for those license plates.  This trip we saw all the states except for Hawaii and Alaska.   We were tempted to count Alaska though because one of the volunteers at a show we saw at Hollywood Studios was from Alaska.

At the Florida Welcome Center.  Those four have so much personality! 

Almost as soon as we got to Florida we saw Tropical Storm Beryl.  Most of the storm went north of Orlando.  We did have a few days of rain, but that is why they invented ponchos.  It was also very nice and cool on those days!

Enjoying a quick breakfast at the condo.  We had special treats like Pop Tarts and Nutella. We were so blessed to get to stay in a 3 bedroom condo that was very spacious.  You need some space after you have spent 18 hours together in a car or lots of family time at an amusement park.

Disney Tips

The fam just returned from a big trip to Florida which included Disney World.  Well, I guess the entire family hasn't returned.  The kids stayed at Grandpa & Grandma Horn's for an extended vacation.  I PROMISE pictures, but while the trip was fresh on my mind I wanted to share my thoughts and tips about Disney World for those who may be thinking about taking a trip.

  • I HIGHLY, HIGHLY recommend that you get the book The Unofficial Guide Walt Disney Word (and the year you are going).  Don't plan on reading it cover to cover will be completely overwhelmed.  There are fabulous tips (some of mine below I got from the book).  They also have touring plans to minimize your wait times at the rides.  And, for additional $7ish you can get a subscription to their website.  The website includes a calendar of which parks are best to visit on which days.  It also allows you to get an app for your phone that gives you real time wait times for the rides.  
  • Fanny packs....I know, I don't like fanny packs either.  That is why I didn't wear one :).  My kids did though.  I found some child size ones on amazon and they are perfect for them to carry their own snacks.  This eliminates one person having to carry a backpack with everyone's stuff in it.  I just had a small backpack purse for my own snacks and the sun lotion.
  • Chums water bottle clips.  These were Joe's idea and it was brilliant (as most of his ideas are.)  These are D-ring clips that have an elastic loop on the end that fits onto most standard store bought water bottles.  You can then have everyone clip their water bottles to their fanny packs.  You can also then refill the water bottles to eliminate the need to purchase expensive drinks to keep you hydrated.  Although, I should warn you that the water from the tap their is rather nasty.  It does still hydrate you though...and it is FREE!
  • If you have access to a lamination machine, laminate the tour plan that you have.  It enables you to read it after it has gotten wet either by rain or water ride.
  • Even if you don't use a provided tour plan by the above book or elsewhere, I would suggest you go in with an idea of where you want to go.  This eliminates the debate in the middle of the park as to where you are headed next.  And it eliminates fighting among the children about which rides they want to go on next.
  • Get to the parks at the ticket gate at least 30 minutes before they open.  We didn't stand in line for any of the rides longer than 30 minutes and I think one of the reasons for that is we were there when they opened.  On three of the days, they opened the park we were at 30 minutes before the "official" published time.
  • An idea for lunch...this is one I came up with, unfortunately, on the last day we were at the parks.  I haven't tried it, but I think it would work.  We budgeted to eat one meal at the parks a day.  But even then, it is hurts when you pay the bill.  But we didn't want to have to go all the way back to the car to get food...especially at Magic Kingdom.  So you might try this...they have lockers at each of the parks.  I think they are around $7 to rent...which is so much cheaper than a meal!!  Pack your lunch in a soft sided cooler and stow it in the locker(s).  If we go back (which we probably won't) this is what we are doing.  It solves the issue of carrying it around all day and you don't have to spend an hour trekking back to the vehicle.
  • Get some Dramamine and take it if you are prone to motion sickness.  I get sick on a regular swing at the park.  So Dramamine was a must for me and enabled me to ride everything I wanted.  Note:  I still stayed away from anything that spun A LOT.  No Mad Tea Party for me, thank you.  Also, I forgot my Dramamine one day and discovered that they don't sell it at the parks (at least at the one we were at that day.)
  • And, lastly, have a great time!  We truly had an awesome time together as a family!