Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Florida - Day 13

I am doing you all a favor. Trust me on this. If you want to visit Magic Kingdom, don't do it on a Saturday, the official kick-off day of the Christmas season. Okay? Ok. I'm serious. We happened to do just that this year, although it really wasn't our fault. It was kinda my mom's fault but not really hers either. We planned our theme-parking around her schedule and wanted to make sure she would be able to participate in the Disney adventures with us. Alas, she had to change her ticket and we were stuck going to the "Happiest Place on Earth" on possibly the busiest day of the year. I have been going to Disney World since I was four years old. More than three decades have passed. This is the busiest I have ever seen it. The lines were long, people were rude, the streets were crowded, the attendants were overworked. For the first time ever, it seemed like the cast members were just doing a job. They weren't happy to be there. I didn't like that. One thing about Disney that sets them apart is that they always seem so, well, happy!

My dad almost got in a brawl with a man while waiting in the Winnie the Pooh line. I am not kidding. Words were exchanged, some not appropriate to be reprinted in this blog. All I could think was that I was going to be banned for life from my favorite place on the planet because my Dad came to blows with another grown adult while waiting to get on a children's ride.

We had fun, for the most part. I mean, how can you not? However, I can assure you, we will NOT be anywhere near Orlando the 2nd half of December ever again!

Waiting in line for Dumbo

This was one of the first rides I went on with my Daddy-O when I was a little girl

Tom Sawyer Island

These ducks walked over to us, looked for food, then settled in for a nap right at our feet

Riding the riverboat in Liberty Square

The Country Bear Jamboree

Dad was the best but after a week of theme-parking, he was ready to call it a day

Monday, December 29, 2014

Florida - Day 12

**I know that today is technically day 21 but I'll get to it later. I'm trying to catch up on theme parks. 

We woke bright and early to go to Epcot. My family loves all things Disney. I tried boycotting in my early 20s because of things I heard on Focus on the Family but, in the end, I decided as much as I liked James Dobson at the time, I loved Disney more. I'm a heathen I know. I also love Harry Potter. Heather is only one letter removed from heathen so I guess it's in my nature. 

Dad had not been to Epcot in many years and didn't remember liking it but he thoroughly enjoyed himself this time. We went on several rides and then took him through the World Showcase. JP and I usually split a dish from each of the countries. This time we split the dishes in thirds. Dad was a trooper. He ate everything. We had curried chicken pockets, bbq beef buns, egg rolls, strawberry and bean ice cream from China, sushi and teriyaki from Japan, lefse from Norway, sausage and kraut from Germany, chicken shawarma from Morocco with lentils and couscous, flatbread with cream, onions and bacon from France (and a crepe with ham, cheese and eggs) and possibly gelato from Italy, though I can't remember for sure. The weather was gorgeous and we wrapped up the evening listening to a live Biblical narrative of Christmas culminating in the choir singing Handel's Messiah. I cried through three countries. It gets me every time.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Florida - Days 10 & 11 and Days 14,16-19

Ok, lest you get very confused I will explain the days I'm covering in this in post.
Day 10 was our third day at Universal Studios/Islands of Adventure. They had an online special where you could get three days for the price of two. We started at Diagon Alley, explored Universal Studios one last time, took the Hogwarts Express to Hogsmeade, explored Islands of Adventure one last time and headed home. I have a few pictures from this day but not many since we had already been here for two days. 

On Day 11, we stayed home, slept, watched movies and got caught up on our rest in anticipation of our two huge days at Disney. I will cover our time at Epcot (Day 12) and Magic Kingdom (Day 13) in future posts. 

Day 14 consisted of packing our stuff, cleaning up the condo and driving to Sarasota to pick up Mom. We spent most of the rest of the day at home, eating snacks and playing cards. 

Day 16, we went to Fort DeSoto beach. I didn't take any pictures. I just walked the beach looking for shells and sat in a lounge chair reading while listening to the waves. On Day 17, we went to the flea market before taking JP to the airport. Day 18 was Christmas. No pictures. We were planning on going to the beach but since it was only 72 degrees, Mom and Dad thought it was too cold!!! We stayed home and relaxed. 

This brings us to Day 19 which is today.  We had a slow morning before making our way to Myakka River State Park. Dad and I were here earlier this month but today we took the tram tour. It was very interesting. We drove through "old Florida" and saw a lot of prairie-land and marshes. Our tour guide was excellent. He had us imagine we were early settlers and taught us what to look for when choosing a place to build and graze our cattle. I learned how to tell when an area was considered to be a flood-plain and saw baby alligators as well as grown gators. We saw herons, osprey, egrets, a spoonbill, and vultures, of course. They are everywhere. We picnicked within view of a LARGE, LONG gator, took a couple of pictures and called it a day.

Preparing to get wet at Jurassic Park. 

Entering Diagon Alley...again.

The Owlery

Stewed Eels anyone?

Dad trying not to drool over these classic cars!

I love Lucy!!!

See ya next year, Universal.

Forgot to put this one in the other day...egret begging for food from Dad.

This guy joined us on our picnic today.

The lovebirds...plus one.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Florida - Day 9

Merry Christmas! We are enjoying 74 degree weather today. Doesn't really feel like Christmas. This is the first time in my ENTIRE life I haven't awakened before 5:00 a.m. to open presents. I knew we weren't exchanging anything this year so no one got up til 9:00. So sad. I didn't like it. I like getting up, making coffee for Mom and Dad, hot chocolate for my brother and me, putting the carols on the radio, opening presents, eating breakfast and going back to bed for a few hours until we all wake up and start playing with our new gifts. If I come here next year - we will be doing that again. No more of this not-really-Christmas kind of day. I like candlelight services at church, the Christmas story in the morning, thinking about Jesus' birth and what that means to me...anyway...

Day 9 - We hit Universal: Islands of Adventure and began our day of rides on The Hulk roller coaster. We wandered through Marvel, Cartoon Alley, Jurassic Park, Hogsmeade, The Lost Continent, and Seuss Landing. We ate dinner at The Three Broomsticks...sooo yummy...and I sent postcards by owl from the Hogsmeade post office. Not as many pictures from this day since I didn't bring my phone with me but here are some for you to enjoy.

Taking the train to Hogwarts

Entering the village of Hogsmeade

Carriage pulled by thestrals - horse-like creatures you can only see if you have witnessed tragedy


Crossing a swinging bridge at Jurassic Park...holding on for dear life

Entering The Lost Continent

Dinner at The Three Broomsticks

Merry Christmas from Seuss Landing!