Miniland USA at LEGOLAND Florida

Over 50 million bricks were used in the building of LEGOLAND Florida.  You can find those bricks all over the park but many of them are in Miniland USA.  Miniland USA is exactly that…a mini-land made out of LEGO bricks.  Though you would think my kids wanted to hop on as many rides as they could, they chose to spend time in Miniland USA every time we walked past it.  There were buttons to push, things to watch and buildings to recognize.  We loved spying landmarks that we have seen in person and I was so excited when Big S spotted the Washington Monument, something he remembered seeing on a previous trip.

My LEGO-loving son couldn’t get enough of Miniland and I could see the wheels turning in his head about the different structures he was going to try to build with his own LEGO bricks when we got home!

See my other posts about our visit to LEGOLAND Florida:

One Adult and Two Kids at LEGOLAND Florida

LEGOLAND Florida in Winter Haven – A Weekend Getaway from Pensacola

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!)

Sand Sculpting by the Sand Masters

Have you seen Sand Masters on the Travel Channel?  This past weekend, I had the opportunity to meet the sculptors at Navarre’s Sand Sculpting Festival.  They sculpted a beautiful sculpture representing Santa Rosa County.  There was also a competition and some other activities which I will post about later.  For Photo Friday, I wanted to share pictures of the amazing sculpture!

Stop by Delicious Baby to see other Photo Friday submissions!

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!

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!

Should You Buy an Express Plus Pass at Universal Studios Orlando?

UniversalStudios

Should you spend the extra money and purchase an Express Plus Pass when you go to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure?  This week, over at Traveling Mom, I weigh the pros and cons to purchasing the Express Plus Pass.  I hope that you will stop by!

Snow Angels on the Gulf Coast

I know that most of you are seeing hints of spring and probably don’t want to be reminded of winter at all but I just had to share our Gulf Coast version of a snow angel…the sand angel!

snow angel

Stop by Delicious Baby to see other Photo Friday submissions!

A Few Stops on US 27 Heading North from Orlando

As I mentioned on Monday, I stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge this past weekend.  On my way home, back to Pensacola, I usually take I-4 to the Florida Turnpike until I hit I-75 to head north from Orlando.  We stayed the last night at the Lighthouse Key Resort and Spa and I guess it was just close enough to US 27 for the GPS to want to route me there instead of I-4.  Once I was driving down US27 though, I realized that it was not so bad of a detour and there were lots of things to see and do.  Unfortunately, I was traveling early in the morning so I didn’t get to visit anything.  I do have a list started and I wrote about it on Traveling Mom today.  I would love to visit Florida’s largest winery, the orange groves and so much more

Have you traveled down US 27 north of Orlando?  Do you have any pit stops I should add to the list?

Monday Dreaming of Mermaids

I broke my foot.  Again.  Five months after I broke the right foot, I broke my left.  Seriously.  I can’t make this stuff up. 

Today, I am dreaming of the trip that I had to cancel because I broke my foot.  Next weekend, we were supposed to head down to Anna Maria Island to visit and experience what it has to offer.  I was so excited because we were going to be close enough to the Weeki Wachee Springs State Park so we were going to try to make a pit-stop on our way home.  Weeki Wachee Springs State Park is home to mermaids.  

That’s right folks, mermaids! 

I have a mermaid loving four year old and I was so excited to surprise her with a trip to the mermaid show (luckily I didn’t tell her about it!).  Weeki Wachee Springs State Park is one of those fabulous kitschy roadside attractions that has been able to remain open through the years.  The mermaid show opened in 1947 and has had a fascinating history.

Until we can finally make the 8 hour drive to see the Mermaid show, we will have to be happy with the videos that can be found on You Tube!

Be sure to stop by Mara’s at Mother of All Trips for more Mondays are for Dreaming!