Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spring Break Marathon, Part II

Let's see, so we got down to Florida in 2 days, we stayed in a tacky looking, but nice hotel, and we enjoyed 1 day of warm weather.  Sunday we woke up with the plan to go to Sea World and unfortunately the cold weather followed us down to Florida.  The cold front that brought rain and cold temperatures at home, fog and thunderstorms on the trip down, had now passed over Florida and left it very windy and temperatures in the mid-60s, not cold, but not as warm as I would have liked.
After a complimentary breakfast the hotel gave us to make up for the late room check-in, we checked out of the hotel and headed to Sea World, all bundled up.  As soon as we got to the park we headed to the whale and dolphin show, unfortunately it had already started and we didn't get the best seats, but it was still nice and the way the theater was situated we were protected from the wind.
I somehow managed to capture this amazing shot.
 The shows had change quite a bit since the last time I was here (over 10 years), there was a lot more want-to-be-Cirque du Soleil.  After the show we headed to the dolphin observation, my favorite, I could have watched them swim around all day.
Lance taking in the underwater observation area

it took a couple of times to get a shot with the dolphin in the background

 We saw more exhibits then headed over to the Shamu theater because we learned at the dolphin show that to get good seats you need to get there early and it was way too chilly to anywhere close to the splash zone.
Enjoying a snack before Shamu
 The Shamu show was okay, after just seeing the dolphin whale show it was kind of similar, just bigger whales.  The trainers did not get in the water, I assumed a result of the trainer dying awhile back, but it was still an entertaining show.
Good shot from Shamu
 After the show we explored more and had lunch, it finally started to get warm and the wind kind of died down.
A beluga showing off its tricks

If there is a carousel, Lily has to ride it

the sharks and rays taken by Lance

Orange bird also by Lance, he took pictures of EVERYTHING
 I am not usually one to spend extra money on something trivial like feeding an animal but for some reason I couldn't resist spending $5 for fish to feed the seals, or was it sea lions?  There were signs posted all around saying beware of the birds because they are aggressive, and boy were they, the sea lion/seal in the bottom left didn't get the fish I threw to him since that white bird was quick.
taken by lance as I threw fish
the shamu lighthouse at the entrance

the ball of fish at the shark and ray exhibit

the kids really enjoyed Sea World too

 Sea World was a lot more fun than I thought it would be and I look forward to going back one day when hopefully it won't be so cold and windy.

After leaving Sea World we stopped at the Fresh Market and a regular grocery store to get food for the week and headed to Disney.  We arrived at the Old Key West resort and were blown away, staying at Disney was the best decision and I don't think we have ever stayed somewhere so nice yet fun.  A cast member at check-in gave the kids tons of stickers, temporary tattoos, coloring pages and crayons, a 1st time guest pin, and balloons (a sword for lance and a flower for lily).  We then got directions for our villa and headed "home."
the Old Key West Resort

The villa was amazing, it had two bedrooms and was HUGE, it was a tiny bit smaller than our house (we do have a small house) but still for a hotel/vacation home at Disney it was HUGE.  It had a full functional kitchen (better equipped than some beach houses we have rented), a large covered porch and huge bathrooms, it felt like home or at least what I would like my home to feel like.
the kids resting on the couch

the swans in the master bedroom- love the little Disney touches

the towel bow in the kitchen

the swimming pool size tub

After hauling all of our stuff up two flights of stairs we had dinner and got the kids ready for bed.  Then Jeff and I as well as my sister and my brother-in-law headed out to the Magic Kingdom to enjoy the magic hours while my mom stayed with the kids.

That Sunday night was one of my favorite times as Disney, it wasn't crowded, we got to ride all my favorite rides, at least the ones that were open (Dumbo and Big Thunder were closed for refurbishing), and the Magic Kingdom is just magical at night, something about that color changing castle makes you believe wishes do come true.  Jeff and I had such a fun "date" night.  We rode Space Mountain, the Haunted Mansion, Buzz Lightyear, the people mover, the speedway, the tea cups, and Pirates of the Caribbean.  
Main Street Sunday night- love Magic Kingdom all lite up

the ever changing color castle- so magical

just the two of us

When we left the villa to go to the Magic Kingdom at 7:45 I was exhausted and thought I would not make it till 10, but Jeff and I stayed out till midnight, and had a great time and I hope we can do it again one day.

The next morning we got up, had breakfast and headed out with the kids to the Magic Kingdom.  I had read that Monday is a busy day for the Magic Kingdom, but how do you not go on your first full day?  Well never again, it was extremely crowded and crazy and we rode half the rides we had the night before in twice the amount of time.  Never again.
lance showing lily how to go down the steps every other foot- very cute

the castle Monday morning, it was incredibly crowded by 10 am

taken by lance

fortunately some rides had in line entertainment
If the rides didn't have long lines then they weren't working.  Jeff, Lance, my brother-in-law and I all got fast passes to ride Splash Mountain.  When we arrived at our time we discovered the ride was temporarily closed, we were bummed, we waited awhile to see if it would start up shortly, but after 10 minutes we gave up and headed out.  After talking to a cast member we discovered that the ride stopped at about the time our fast pass would have allowed us to ride and after seeing the poor people stuck on the ride we were thankful we missed it. 

lance excited to be on the steam train

We headed back to the villa shortly thereafter, had dinner, and then returned that evening for the fireworks and a few rides.  I should note, upon exiting we bought the kids balloons and both are still afloat two weeks later, best $19 spent.  The fireworks were amazing, but our location was not.  We unfortunately did not have a good spot and our trip back to the park was kind of a waste, but we planned on what we would do next time.
a tree was kind of in the way for most of the fireworks

Tuesday was our "off" day, day off from the parks, but not from activities.  We headed down and west to Bradenton to visit my grandfather.  We had a nice visit with him and then headed with him and his friend Dee to Anna Maria Island for lunch and some beach time.  The kids got to see the Gulf of Mexico for the first time and if the water had been warmer or the air hotter I don't think we would have ever left.
lily enjoying the beach while we were waiting for lunch

the lunch crew

After some beach time we headed back to Disney and that night we did some shopping at Downtown Disney.  I wish I had more time and energy to really check out Downtown Disney but we were tired and had a full day the next day so we just went a few places and headed back early.

lance and woody at the lego store

yes we did spend $65 on a princess dress, the one thing she wanted at Disney World

Wednesday we visited Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios, both were a bit of a disappointment.  Animal Kingdom was okay.  I think it will be more fun when the kids are older, but there wasn't that much for them to do there.  The safari ride was cool, but the Safari Park in Natural Bridge (with mostly herbivores) is a lot more exciting and fun with less wait.  We did get our picture taken with Mickey and met Pooh and friends at Animal Kingdom since the lines weren't too long.  Jeff and my brother-in-law rode the Everest roller coaster which wasn't as fun as they had hoped since it stopped multiple times and they sat on the ride for a bit.  By 2:30 we were done with the park and headed over to Hollywood Studios because Lance wanted to ride Star Tours, the 3-D moving Star Wars ride/movie/whatever.  My mom and I thought about doing the Backlot Tour ride but it was closed for refurbishing.  We got in line for the Little Mermaid show, but the wait was over an hour long and it didn't seem worth it so we just walked around. 
Lance and speedster

at the Hollywood Studios enterance

grumpy boy after a long day

lily meeting Tigger, not to sure about him
 We then headed back to the villa, had dinner, and tried out the pool.  The pool was freezing so we dragged the kids back and let them "swim" in the jacuzzi tub in the villa, they loved it.  I have always wanted a big jacuzzi tub, but after seeing how much water one requires I realized I don't really want one, it seems like such a waste.
the huge bathtub
 Saving the best for last, our last day at the Magic Kingdom. . .

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