One Adult & Two Kids at LEGOLAND Florida

LEGOLAND Florida is a LEGO lover’s paradise!  My two children, one who is 7 and one who is turning 5 at the end of the month, fell in love with LEGOLAND Florida the minute we walked through the gates.  My daughter was tall enough to ride every ride she wanted to and my son was big enough to ride almost every ride by himself.  This is important to note about our trip to LEGOLAND Florida because I made the visit by myself with my two kids.

One adult, two kids.  Young kids.  Kids that are not very tall.  Or extremely brave when it comes to amusement park rides.

I was worried about what would happen when we got to a ride where both children had to have an adult with them but the rides at LEGOLAND Florida were designed with children ages 2-12 in mind.  Aside from the roller coasters, we only had one other time that my son could not ride by himself.  Unlike other theme parks where you find yourself hanging out in one section most of the day, the entire park beckons children to hop on the rides and experience things by themselves.  At the same time, adults can ride with their children enhancing the family experience.

What I loved best at LEGOLAND Florida was the number of rides that my four year old could ride on her own.  Here are a few of our favorites!

Jr. Driving School – After watching big brother drive his own car around the streets at the Ford Driving School, Little S was ready to practice driving herself.  The track is smaller and perfect for the little ones to try their hand at driving.  Parents are able to sit along the fence around the track to talk to their children or take pictures.

Beetle Bounce – This was, by far, both children’s favorite ride.  They rode it several times both days we were there.  Children are strapped in and the ride brings them up in the air before dropping them and then bouncing them back up.  This ride was also one of the least crowded both days.

The Lost Kingdom Adventure – You ride around in a car that fits four people.  Each person gets a laser gun to fire at targets and the person with the most points at the end wins.  Both of my kids were able to sit in the front of the car and I sat in the back.  I was able to keep an eye on them and beat them at the game!

Rides that would have been more fun with a second adult:

Aqua Zone Wave Racers – This was one of my favorite and least favorite rides at the same time!  We actually entered through the exit because of a misplaced sign, so we didn’t see the height requirement.  My son was too short to ride by himself.  Luckily when we reached the front of the line, the Model Citizen (LEGOLAND Employee) told me that my son could wait while I ride with my daughter and then my daughter can wait while I ride with my son.  Sounds like a great idea right?  Um, it was except for the fact that the ride does nothing but whip you around in a circle.  Over and over and over again.

Roller coasters – While both of my children were tall enough to go on all four of the roller coasters at LEGOLAND, my son refused to ride in the seat by himself (and frankly, I don’t blame him!) and there was no way I was putting my four year old in a seat by herself.  I am sure that we could have waited in line until someone came up that was going to ride by themselves, but we decided not to.

Rescue Academy – At LEGOLAND Florida, most of the rides have some sort of interactive element and Rescue Academy is no exception.  You hop on a fire truck, pump a handle back and forth to race to the fire, put the fire out by pumping the fire hydrant and then you pump the fire truck back to the finish line.  I am not going to lie…this was a lot of work.  With two little ones that didn’t do much of the work, this mama was exhausted!  I definitely could have used some help and I wish I had paired up with the mom and toddler in the car next to me.  They were having as much trouble as I was!

Winter Haven Family Vacation on raveable

Thank you to LEGOLAND Florida for hosting me and helping to subsidize my expenses. All opinions are my own with no outside influences (except maybe my kids!)

Disney’s Aulani – Oahu, Hawaii

When my husband and I went to Hawaii on our tenth anniversary last year, we saw the shell of the Aulani, a Disney resort and spa.  It was still under construction so we just saw it from the road but it looked amazing even then.  Recently they held their grand opening and lots of reviews and posts are popping up all over the Internet.  Going to visit Hawaii with our kids is something we are thinking about doing next year but we will probably visit another island this time.  We might not be seeing the Aulani anytime soon but that doesn’t mean we can’t dream about a trip!  I compiled posts from some of my favorite travel bloggers and writers about their visits for today’s Travel Blogger Tuesday!  Look no further for information…just follow these links!

Pitstops for Kids

Trekaroo

The Vacation Gals

Family Vacation Critic

Delicious Baby
5 Minutes for Mom

50’s Prime Time Cafe – Disney World’s Hollywood Studios

The 50’s Prime Time Cafe is set up like mom’s kitchen…complete with curtains on the windows, black and white televisions, and tasty dishes just like mom would make.  You will find pot roast, meatloaf, fried chicken, chicken noodle soup and tuna casserole on the menu!

The waiters and waitresses are absolutely hilarious.  They make sure you know that your elbows do not belong on the table.  Be careful because if you are caught with your elbows on the table more than once you will be punished!  My husband had to stand up with his nose in a corner!  It is all in good fun and we all had a laugh at my husband’s expense.  When your plate is clean, you get a Clean Plate Club sticker!

Our kids thought the best part of the meal was when it was time to pick our dessert.  This is the dessert menu:

We were able to recharge with food, cool off in the air conditioning and as soon as we were done with dessert we were ready to stand in line for another ride!

Wander on by Wanderfood Wednesday to see sweet and savory dishes around the world!

Orlando Family Vacation on raveable

Life’s Little Disappointments Redeemed

Although their Jedi Training at Disney World’s Hollywood Studios got rained out before they could even yield a light saber, the disappointment was quickly wiped off of their faces when they found out they were going to meet Darth Vader and his Storm Trooper anyway!

Stop by Delicious Baby to travel the world all while sitting in your computer chair!

Sometimes, it just won’t budge!

When I was flipping through pictures from our Disney trip, I laughed out loud when I came across this one (taken by my mom).  The two cousins were trying as hard as they might to get that Sword in the Stone out but it just wouldn’t budge!  The Sword in the Stone was one of my favorite movies growing up.  I am going to have to pick it up next time I go to the store if it is still available!

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Stop by Delicious Baby to see other Photo Friday submissions from around the world!

Five Ways to Save While at Disney World

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 A trip to Disney World is expensive no matter how you look at it but after making several trips over the past few years, we have figured out a couple of ways to save a few dollars.

Stay off site.

Depending on the time of year, staying off of the Disney grounds may help save a few dollars…or a lot of dollars.  When calculating savings, be sure to factor in the parking fees that you will have to pay for each day that you drive to the parks.  Check the Disney Value Resort prices because sometimes the prices are similar to an offsite hotel and you will get the benefits that come with staying at a Disney property.

Stop by Walmart or Target before heading to the parks.

Both Walmart and Target have large Disney souvenir sections with totes, towels, magnets, stuffed animals and more.  We always make a stop to purchase a few souvenirs so that we don’t hear the “I want that” phrase all day long.  We might still pick something up at the park if one of those stores doesn’t carry it, but we have done our research and know how much it will cost. 

Share meals.

There is nothing that irritates me more than buying a meal for each of my children when they don’t eat it.  Or they eat half of it and could have shared a meal.  When I posted on Twitter for some last minute Disney tips, one of my friends sent this one and I totally agree with her.  The food is pricey but plentiful.  Start with one order of chicken nuggets and french fries or one sandwich, split it.  If everyone is still hungry, order more but at least you know it will get eaten!

Bring your own drinks.

Visitors to Disney World are allowed to bring soft sided coolers if they wish.  If you don’t mind keeping track of a cooler bag all day, load it up with ice, waters, juice, sodas, and more to keep you hydrated all day long.  Another option is to bring a Camelbak pack or something similar.  The kids love to wear our Camelbak.  Not only is it a source of water but it can also be a source of entertainment in long lines!

Bring your own poncho.

It always rains at Disney.  I have been to Disney World at all different times of the year and it has rained everytime we go.  The first time it rained, we got stuck buying the 10-15 dollar ponchos with the giant Mickey head on the back.  Now, we bring dollar store ponchos to throw on if we need to.  An umbrella would work as well but is bulkier and a pain to carry around.  Think of the ponchos as an insurance policy.  If you have them in your bag, maybe you won’t need them!

Have you been to Disney World lately?  How did you save a few dollars on your vacation?

It always rains at Disney!

At least on our Disney trips!  This was a picture I snapped while we were running from one indoor ride to another because it rained and rained for about an hour.  We packed the dollar ponchos as our insurance policy to keep the rain away.  Unfortunately, we had to use them!

disney rain

Stop by Delicious Baby to see other Photo Friday submissions!

Our Fast Pass Route at Disney World’s Magic Kingdom

We just got home from a big family vacation at Disney World.  We hit Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom.  This trip just kind of snuck up on me and we didn’t do much planning.  We didn’t read the guidebooks or search the Internet before heading down there and to be honest with you, we had no plan.  I actually got teased by the family because according to them, “what good is traveling with a travel blogger if she is no help?!” 

Waiting in line for the Haunted Mansion and watching the rain!

Waiting in line for the Haunted Mansion and watching the rain!

One of our Disney days was spent at the Magic Kingdom.  We arrived around 9:30 in the morning and didn’t leave until after the fireworks that night.  We had lots of luck with our fast pass timing and standing in lines so I thought I would share our schedule.  I am by no means a Disney expert and don’t claim to be.  This was our one day route through Disney World.  It seemed to work for us, but it might have just been the time of year, the day of the week, and what we chose to do!  We were thrilled that with our Fast Pass route, somehow we managed to only wait in lines for 20-30m.

We started our day in Tomorrowland.  We went straight to the Fast Pass line for Space Mountain and then we got in line for Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin where we had a 20m wait.  After riding the Buzz Lightyear ride, we got in line for the Astro Orbiter rockets.  We had a 30m wait for the Astro Orbiter rockets.  While we were waiting, our Fast Pass times for Space Mountain opened up which meant we could pick up another Fast Pass.  We knew we were headed to Fantasy Land after Space Mountain, so while we waited in line for the rockets, two people in our party picked up Fast Pass tickets for Peter Pan’s Flight.  Once we finished with the Astro Orbiter, we got to Space Mountain with time to spare on our Fast Pass.  Then we got in line and rode the Tomorrowland Indy Speedway cars.

After Tomorrowland, we picked up Fast Passes for the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh as we walked straight to Peter Pan’s Flight to use our Fast Pass.  After Peter Pan’s Flight, we waited in line for about 30m for It’s A Small World.  Then we used our Fast Pass for the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.  After that, we had about a 15m wait for Cinderella’s Golden Carousel.    At this point, it was after noon and everyone was getting whiny for lunch so we ate and rested our feet!

After lunch, we went to Frontierland and picked up Fast Passes for the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.  Luckily it was only about an hour until we could get in line for the ride so we took the kids over to Tom Sawyer’s Island to play and explore for awhile.  Once the Fast Pass time passed, we grabbed Fast Passes for Splash Mountain (and our time was hours later!).  We grabbed an early dinner to beat the crowds, rode Pirates of the Caribbean and waited about 35m for the Jungle Cruise.

This is where what little plan we had totally went out the window!  The sky opened up and it started pouring.  Big thunder crashes, lightning cracking through the sky, and buckets and buckets of rain were threatening to ruin the rest of our Disney day.  We jogged over to the Haunted Mansion where we were able to wait in line under awnings for the 30m wait.  By the time we came out of the Haunted Mansion ride, the rain had finally let up but Splash Mountain wasn’t running due to electrical difficulties.  This was going to be a problem because all my son talked about all day long was getting to ride Splash Mountain!  We passed the Country Bear Jamboree as it was getting ready to start so we decided to catch the show (so strange!) to kill some more time.  Luckily, Splash Mountain was open and ready to go when we finished and my son was thrilled! 

If you can believe it, by the time we were finished with Splash Mountain it was time to line up for the 9pm parade and fireworks show.  We missed a few rides that the kids would have liked to go on (the teacups to name one!) but I think for the most part we had a great day!

Do you have any secret tips that help to make a day at Disney World successful?  Please share in the comments!

Three Waterfalls in North Carolina

When I think of North Carolina, my first thought is of the numerous and beautiful waterfalls.  Some can be seen from the street and others take a little walk or hike to get to.  While we were staying at the High Hampton Inn and Country Club in North Carolina, we took one of the rainy mornings to drive around and visit some waterfalls.  The High Hampton Inn provided us with a map of the area waterfalls and some of the staff shared their favorite waterfalls.  We visited three waterfalls in the Cashiers area: Dry Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and Silver Run Falls. 

Dry Falls is really not that dry at all…hardy har har!

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You can walk behind Dry Falls.

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Then we stopped to snap a picture of Bridal Veil Falls.  You can drive under Bridal Veil Falls and at one point the highway actually went under the falls.  It isn’t that way anymore.  A few years ago, the road was damaged and closed.  It looked open when we were there, but I was going to take any chances!  We just stopped at the pull off on the side of the road.

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Our last stop was Silver Run Falls.  You have to take a little walk to get to this waterfall.  It is kind of hard to see because all you see a a little sign like the one above and it seems like you just park on the side of the road. 

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Thank you to Debbie at Delicious Baby for hosting Photo Friday!  Stop by to see great photos from travelers all over!

Seven Children’s Museums in the South

lynn meadows discovery

Having children does not mean that your art museum days are numbered. I take my children to art museums, history museums, science museums, and everything in between. That being said, there is something special about watching my children’s eyes light up when we enter the doors of a children’s museum. Children’s museums are specially designed with children in mind. They are invited to touch things and encourage learning and exploration through the interactive displays. If there is a children’s museum nearby while we are on our family vacation, we try to add it to our itinerary even if it is just for a few hours.

Read the rest of my post about seven children’s  museums in the South at Traveling Mom!