Monday, September 26, 2011

Florida vacation, life changes and some good ol' procrastination

Hey there, fellow blog fans.
First, I want to apologize for my absence! Oh my, it's been crazy around this house. A vacation to Disney with the kiddos, some life changes for my parents-requiring oh so much work on my part (but I'm so happy to help..I love my momma!), and some serious procrastination on my part. Please forgive me.

Maybe a picture of the happiest place on earth will help...

Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida
Our happy little family at Clearwater Beach.

This was our first trip as a family and it was great. However, I definitely needed a vacation from the vacation. It was exhausting! I can't even tell you. There are several things I would definitely do again and others that I would change next time. So in case you need some ideas, here they are:

Definitely DO:
-Plan ahead but allow flexibility (don't under estimate the toll it takes on everyone to spend a day (or 3) at the theme parks
-Rent a condo/hotel with your own kitchen (a washer/dryer is a definite plus too!) This saved us a ton of money. We then found a Wal-mart near by and bought most of our food/snacks for the week.
-Plan on a few "down" days between parks (lay by the pool, watch movies,...whatever your family enjoys)
-Consider the ages of your children and plan theme parks accordingly (Disney rides seemed more oriented for smaller children but the Princesses were a hit with all our girls; Universal was much more fun for our 9 year old)
-See the Harry Potter is amazing. It is located at Universal Islands of Adventure (one of the Universal Studios parks..but different entrance/ticket than Universal Studios)
-Rent a car and drive to the ocean for a day or two. We drove to Clearwater, spent half the day there, and then drove down the coastline to check out a few different beaches. We also asked locals where to go for supper to get fresh seafood (we wanted something original, not a chain). Best.idea.ever.
-Shop around!!! We bought airline tickets & car rental through Allegiant and the condo via BookIt
-Consider the season/time of year that you are going. Is it peak season, off peak, etc.. This can really change the way you look at theme parks. We went during the slowest season(Sept) which was wonderful. 1. It was cheaper (love!) 2. Lines are much, much shorter (we waited an average of 10 minutes per ride & sometimes not at all). Downsides- had to take the kids out of school for a week and it was hot in early September.
-Relax and have fun!

-Buy 5,6, or 7 days worth of theme parks ahead of time. You may change your mind. We did 3 days of parks and that was MORE than enough. The local Wal-mart had discounts and it worked out fine to buy them the day before we went to the parks.
-Go to theme parks for several days in a row...unless you are superhuman. It takes so much stamina to go all day and did I mention, it's HOT in Florida.
-Pack too much. The trip was relatively stress-free except for at airport security. Oh my. Getting a family of 5 through security (think 5 carry-ons, diaper bag, purse, liquids that must be taken out of the bags, removing shoes on the kids, stroller, car seat and kids running off). My anxiety level just went up thinking about it.

Ok, with all of that babbling, I hope that you got some good tips out of our experience. I'm so glad we went. With that, I will end with a few more photos and a promise that more furniture posts are coming soon!
 The Harry Potter castle and my two little wizards.
 Pier 60, Clearwater Beach, Fl
Bahama Bay Resort, Davenport, Fl (our condo)

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