Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Florida and Disney - Image Heavy

My parents have a timeshare in the Orlando area and this year I opted to join them in Florida with the girls. Kaylee is coming into the perfect age for Disney and for her fifth birthday we splurged on a VERY nice Princess Dinner at Cinderella's Castle on the Magic Kingdom property. It was a big splurge and I didn't do much for her birthday gifts as that was the big thing. It was worth it, IMO.

I flew down with the girls on Friday, 7/14, a week and a half ago. It was awful. Our flight was delayed significantly and we were flying just before bedtime (7pm) for the kids and with the delay ended up finally leaving at 11 pm.  Thankfully all three of us, Hazel included, slept on the flight. We didn't get to the timeshare until 3 am. Ugh.

Thankfully, we had no big expectations for this vacation other than have fun and there were only two scheduled things:  1. Meet up with friends at the zoo where I used to work and 2. Go to Disney on thursday.

So we took Saturday as a recovery day from the late night of travel. We started the morning out with a swim in the pool.

Kaylee was ready.

So was Hazel.

The big kid pool. Kaylee took to it like a fish and was jumping in with her floatie. This is the most confident I've seen her in water. 

The resort also had a zero entry wading pool that was perfect for Hazel. It was 1ft max at its deepest.

After swimming we got dressed and went to Target to pick up a few things that had been forgotten or were needed. Like a hat and sunglasses for me, mineral sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses for Kaylee, etc. Then we went out for ice cream!

Kaylee insisted on wearing her new princess dress that my Mom got for her.

Hazel insisted on stealing her sister's sunglasses.

Then it was chill time in the cool air with Nana and Grandpa.

The timeshare resort has a pool and it has a mini golf course. You can play for free. So once the sun set a bit and the temperature dropped (slightly) we went out to play. The rules were made up and the points didn't matter. No one kept track. Kaylee did her own thing and my test was to finish each hole before Hazel stole my golf ball.  :D 

On Sunday we drove over to the east coast to visit Brevard Zoo.  My good friend Melissa was driving up from West Palm with her husband to see us and Cheri's daughter was also planning to come with her two girls. I had invited more but they couldn't make it, which was fine!

A black rat snake had fallen into the enclosure and provided some unintended enrichment for these guys. The volunteer kept saying "We didn't do this on purpose!"  Alas for the snake, it did not survive.

The Brevard Zoo is my favorite zoo of the ones I've visited and I may be biased but I do believe they have the best giraffe viewing of any place I've been to (Palm Beach Zoo, Detroit Zoo, Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle)  Feeding the giraffes is a regular thing and the guests are at head height the whole time. It's not a special event to feed them, which it is at other places.

Actually, I was really impressed with the expansion that the zoo has undergone since I worked there (left in october 2010)  There was a new platform that let you really see the lemurs (previously you only got a chance if you did the train ride or kayaking)  There was a new ampitheatre for animal demonstrations and several exhibits were revamped for better viewing and better animal environments. The Australia exhibit was changed to a walk through habitat like Detroit Zoo has so you are in the exhibit with the animals. The free flight aviary was expanded and then separated so the cockatoos are separate from the lorikeets. I was blown away by the changes. Rock on Brevard Zoo!

"I love this post."

We did the train ride too. That's Cheri's daughter behind me. Kaylee and her girls hit it off fantastically. More on that later.

And we wore Hazel out. The giraffes were her favorite so Nana and Grandpa got her a giraffe plushie. She's currently sleeping with it and we call it her baby. 

Kaylee and I took silly selfies on the drive back to the resort.

For dinner we got Publix chicken tenders. I have not found any place that has something similar and tasty. And I've looked in 2 states so far.

Then of course we had another pool trip!

This looks like it should be the cover of Hazel's band album, "Hazel and the Grands"

Fearless child!

Recovery day!  Monday we spent local and hardly left the resort property. The zoo had worn the kids out. The girls dressed up in their princess dresses in the morning and danced around.

Then it was off to the pool we go!

I even have a picture of me with both kids that isn't a selfie!! 

Kaylee tripped and got a seriously skinned knee so the resort got her a bandaid and free ice cream to help her heal.

Then it was chill time. It's taken Hazel a bit to warm up to my Dad, but she was snuggling him like a pro by this day and gravitated toward him after that.

Tuckered out baby.

After the nap we went back down to the activities room. They have a bunch of tables with a different thing on each for all ages from baby to adult. 

Also coloring pages and crayons. Kaylee also played some arcade games. 

Then we watched the Disney fireworks from our balcony.  It was a great way to end the day.

We drove back out to the east coast to go to Playalinda Beach in the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. It's the best beach because you can see the rocket launch pads and the VAB at NASA while you swim in the ocean. And since it's a wildlife refuge, it's not touristy at all so it's rarely crowded. You've only got a pit toilet but I think the trade off is worth it. Like I said. Best beach.

We drove by a house Eric and I rented as newlyweds.

Best beach

Hazel was NOT a fan of the waves. The sand, cool, but waves? Nope. Waves ATTACK you. 

I got myself a bikini because SCREW the haters. I'm done waiting for my body to be something different and I'm gonna do what I want when I want to. The bottom half was galaxy print!

See? Launch pads. Best beach.

NASA helicopter. BEST BEACH

Storm coming in over NASA

The rain was coming down so heavy you couldn't see the VAB anymore.

We detoured to the manatee viewing platform but the haulover bridge was closed for repair so we didn't get to the actual platform, but across the canal. We still saw manatees!

Family is hot and covered in salt and sand.

And then a stop at Cheri's house to see Gwyn's family. This is Blanche, Gwyn's aunt!

And Nyx, Gwyn's cousin.

Nyx is the same breeding as Gwyn and yet looks completely different. It's fascinating how the color genetics work in horses, and appaloosas  especially.

Still has a speckled nose though!

And itty bitty piggy.

Who Hazel was fascinated with.

We also did dinner in Cocoa Beach with our friends who couldn't make it to the zoo. It was great to see them. They'll be road tripping to Minnesota and we plan to meet up with them for a day in Ohio on their way back to Florida!

Then family cuddles before bed.

Recovery day and friend visit.
Our stop at Cheri's was not NEARLY long enough so we invited them to the resort for some swimming. Since they had errands in Orlando anyway, they took us up on the offer! Yay!
Hazel and Kaylee are getting the hang of things and know the way to the pool and back to the rooms.

Kaylee really hit it off with the two little girls and they became fast friends. It was really nice to have that on vacation.

Then it absolutely downpoured and some herons came out to play.

I had a grumpy Kaylee so into the ergo she went.

Hazel colored.

And as the storms passed we tried mini golf again!



I had no goals for the day beyond survive and make it to our reservation on time. I achieved both of those goals. I hoped we would ride some rides (we did - teacups, it's a small world, pooh's adventure and Kaylee and my mom did the carousel) and meet some characters (definite yep! Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Cinderella -twice, Snow White, Jasmine, Sleeping Beauty, Ariel and Elena). The day started out rough, just because it takes so long to actually make it into the park proper. We were worn out and hot before the day had barely started.

Main street looking at the castle, full of hope for the day

We started on the tea cups because A. short line B. Hazel could ride and... yeah, that's about it. We pretty much stuck to Fantasyland because of the Hazel contingency.

I love that look on her face.

We met Tigger and Pooh. I need to buy the photos from that because Hazel was BLOWN AWAY. She's in love. I swear. I thought she'd be scared but she was surprisingly very excited. No phone pictures from that or the Pooh adventure ride.

We grabbed a snack to tide us over until our late lunch reservation. Kaylee was in a pissy mood due to hunger and heat. I really had to make a bathroom run (I had my period the WHOLE TIME, and a heavy day to boot on this day) so I took Hazel with while my Mom rode the carousel with Kaylee. She did not want to sit next to Nana, and Nana didn't want to argue, lol.

We had about an hour to kill after that so we did It's a Small World

I baby wore on this ride since Hazel was just done. You can see her zoning out and once I got off and started walking she passed out.

Kaylee made friends with a girl in front of us and sat with her and her mom on the ride. 

 Then it was dinner with Cinderella time!  We checked in and waited in line to be greeted by our hostess, Cinderella. All the kids are encouraged to dress up for their fancy dinner in the castle.

Passed out baby.

Once your food comes to the table (it's a 3 course meal that you prepay for, gratuity included) the Princesses making the rounds of the dining hall come to your table for a one on one meet and greet. Here we have Snow White, who was oh so charmed by my own Sleepy on my back.


Aurora/Sleeping Beauty. I didn't get a photo of Ariel.

I got the steak and shrimp. Hazel is stealing a shrimp.

Nursing in Cinderella's castle

omg delicious desert, a fancy take on cheesecake.

Kaylee got a decorate your own cupcake plate

After lunch we came back out and let Kaylee pick out her souvenir from a shop. She picked a small toy, well under my budget I had allotted. Then we went to decide what to do. When she found out she could meet Elena of Avalor that was it, we were doing that. So in line we went and waited FOREVER. Second worst line of the day (worst line was waiting for an empty train while it stormed and trains were breaking down to get back to the parking lot....)

But Cinderella was also a part so she got talk with her again (and I told her that lunch was delicious)

And then it was time for Elena. Hazel was finally awake enough to interact with the princesses and Elena played peekaboo with her. It was great. 

And we came out to a ridiculous thunderstorm and downpour. On went the ponchos (prepurchased in CT where they were super cheap) and off went my gut demanding a bathroom trip, which required some dangerous lightning dodging through the park to the closest bathroom. 

We were planning on doing Haunted Mansion as our last ride but the wait was 90 minutes long and so that got squelched pretty quickly. 

So we hustled for the car. Which was another adventure in and of itself. But we made it back and crashed at the resort. 

Time to go home. We had one last trip to the pool before quickly drying our swim suits and packing up for the flight home.

Our flight was slightly delayed due to lightning but it was only 15 minutes, not 4 hours! 

The kids were very glad to see Eric again. 

And I was VERY GLAD to see Eric's handiwork. Brand new maple hardwood floors. 

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