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

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

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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!

Dreaming of a Girl’s Weekend Getaway

This weekend is my annual girl’s weekend getaway.  There are a couple of us that try to get together every year.  It started with my 30th birthday.  We headed to Biloxi, Mississippi for a true birthday blowout.  Last year, we were on a super tight budget but we had a wonderful time exploring Destin, Florida.  This year, we are headed to Orlando.  I know I just went to Orlando for the Traveling Mom Retreat and it feels like we head to Orlando every other trip but I am so excited about this trip. 

We have been reading the Harry Potter books since the first Harry Potter book came out over ten years ago.  We have a standing date when the movies come out and I can’t wait to share the books with my children when they are old enough. 

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We are making this trip to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  I got lost in the pages of the books and I can’t wait to get lost in the streets of Hogsmeade, walk the halls of Hogwarts, and drink our first butterbeer (we have been told frozen is the way to go). 

What I am most looking forward to is spending some much needed girl time with two of my best friends. 

Stop by Mother of All Trips to see other travel dreams!

Photo by popculturegeek via Flickr.

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?

Water Park Fun at the CoCo Key Orlando Hotel and Water Park

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Screams of children on water slides and splashing in pools and the roar of the International Drive traffic are just a few sounds you will hear when you wander around the Coco Key Hotel and Water Park in Orlando, Florida.  The hotel and water park opened just a few months ago and we were very lucky to be guests of CoCo Key on our last trip to Orlando, Florida.  Orlando’s hot, humid weather makes it the perfect home to water parks.  And a water park in which you can stay the night?  My kids thought that they had hit the jackpot!

The CoCo Key Hotel and Water Park are located in the heart of the touristy area of International Drive.  I had actually never been to this part of International Drive before and was fascinated by how much it resembled the Panama City strip or Gatlinburg’s main tourist drag.  Within walking distance of the hotel, you will find many restaurants and activities; however, there is plenty to do on the hotel grounds so you might not want to leave!

When we arrived and got checked in, I was disappointed to find that our room was located on the outside of the hotel near the main road.  It turns out that this was a great location because we could have thrown a football at the Dunkin’ Donuts that we got our breakfast from and it was much quieter than being next to the pools and splash areas.  The hotel room was large compared to other typical two double bed rooms we have stayed in and had plenty of room for my family of four.  It was clean and brightly decorated.  I believe I spied furniture from my favorite store!  When we realized that our room only had hand towels in the bathroom (surely they can’t expect us to dry off after a shower with these?!), I called the front desk for towels and they were delivered about ½ an hour later. 

We decided to skip the water play the first evening we arrived because everyone was exhausted from the drive.  The kids popped out of bed bright and early the next day ready to hit the water.  We were surprised to find the water park incredibly crowded later in the day.  We visited over Labor Day weekend after my kids had already started school.  I forgot that lots of people hadn’t started school yet!  There was plenty to do and I never felt like my kids weren’t able to play, but it was a crowded Sunday afternoon at the park.  We kept Little S in a life jacket the whole time and I was thrilled to see that after a few months of constant use by lots of children they were not showing any wear or tear.  We started our day in the Minnow Lagoon and Slides which is under the canopy. 

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The kids spent an hour splashing around, shooting water cannons and sliding down the little slides.  After they tired of that, we went to the area that I was dreading…the Parrot’s Perch. 

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As a slightly nutty mom, I openly admit that I think the worst of things and this was no exception.  How would I find my child?  Can they escape the area without me noticing?  What if they slip and fall?  I was happily surprised that none of this happened.  Both kids spent almost an hour and a half going up and down the stairs, sliding down the slides and waiting for the bucket to dump its 400 gallons of water on them.  To make this more fun for me, Daddy J and I stationed ourselves near the exit gate so we could see the kids at (almost) all times so we didn’t have to worry as much.  It helped that parents are welcome to play too so Daddy J and I were able to walk up with the kids for the first few times.  Little S and Big S both had strict instructions to wave at us every time they went down a slide and were ready to run back up to the top of Parrot’s Perch. 

There are also three very large slides.  Little S was too small to check them out and Big S didn’t want her to feel bad (which was sweet but I think he was secretly a little frightened!).  We saw many tweens and teens getting off of the slide and heading straight back up again.

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The water park is not just limited to guests.  You can purchase day tickets or even have your birthday party at the water park. 

Besides the water park, there is also a large pool that is open late into the night (one of the reasons I was glad our room was on the street side).  We hung out there after dinner for awhile before going back to the hotel and collapsing from water logged exhaustion. 

The hotel has a restaurant that offers kids eat free and there is a Pizza Hut Express.  There is also an arcade available full of state-of-the-art interactive video games.  The hotel has free wifi available but we could never get it working in the room.  We were traveling with two laptops and neither one would pick up the wireless in the hotel room.  Luckily this doesn’t happen often when we travel, but when it does it is incredibly annoying.  We had to spend time working in the lobby because it was the only place our computers would pick up the wifi.  The lobby is huge with plenty of comfortable seating.  There is even a children’s play area with a TV turned to children’s shows.

The room prices are reasonable and for a fee of only 19 dollars more, you add the cost of water park admission for four.  I think that we would stay at the CoCo Key Hotel and Water Park again because of its proximity to the theme parks, the price, the clean hotel rooms, and the friendly staff. 

Disclosure: We were guests of the CoCo Key Hotel and Water Park resort for two nights.  Our water park admission was included.  We paid for everything else including food and gas to get there.

Today we are linking up to Trekaroo’s Spotlight Thursday.

Orlando Hotel Review on raveable

Suggestions for Free/Cheap Orlando activities?

ornament6So much for the House of Mouse.  We are all geared up to make a trip to Orlando and Big S has to go break his collar bone!!!  This week, my little man fell and broke his collar bone.  We are still making the trip to Orlando for other reasons, but we have to significantly change our itinerary for this trip.  No amusement parks, no wild and crazy running around, no fun as far as he is concerned. 

So I am asking for my readers’ help.  Leave a comment in this blog with all of your free and cheap Orlando activity favorites!

Trekaroo Kidsmobile–Hanging out in Orlando!

We are back on the Trekaroo Kidsmobile this week with great places to hang out with kids in Orlando!  I love the Trekaroo Kidsmobile because I am collecting all these awesome lists from all over.  For our participation in the Orlando Kidsmobile, we shared our five favorite tot friendly restaraunts at Disney.  These restaurants have been mom approved for ease, dad approved for cost effectiveness, and tot approved for taste!  If you like this Trekaroo Kidsmobile post, stop by to see the Washington DC Kidsmobile that we also participated in.  If you haven’t visited Trekaroo yet, be sure to read all the great reviews written by families like you!  We have found many an attraction to visit on the Treakaroo site!

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Here are quick links to the wonderful recommendations from Trekaroo families and those of local Floridian bloggers and Orlando aficionados. They’ve been there, done that, and now they’re giving you their inside scoop by jumping on board the Trekaroo KidsMobile Blog Carnival when it stopped in Orlando.

Other Resources for Walt Disney World and Orlando, Florida

Next stop, Memphis, Tennessee – Jump on board the KidsMobile!

The Trekaroo KidsMobile is a blog carnival with a twist. It’s designed to provide a unique opportunity for mom and dad bloggers to be featured on Trekaroo while 1) expressing their unique point of view 2) getting a web of link exchanges. Join us for one of our next stopovers.

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