it's a small world...
TRAVEL JOURNAL | FAMILY FUN
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Until a few years ago, I used to immerse myself in natural, earthy colors. I wore brown, beige, and blue and I decorated my home in brown, beige, and blue. I still like earthy colors but they are not in the exclusive realm anymore. Dominik & Filip have literally and figuratively filled my life with color. Our house and backyard are packed with colorful books and toys and we incessantly explore the world of color at playgrounds, nature centers, kids’ parties, in children’s art, and in indoor playrooms. But I have never seen anything richer in vibrant, vivid colors than the Magic Kingdom
. Some call the Walt Disney World an ultimate vacation destination and in many respects it really is. Unless, of course, you prefer peaceful and more relaxing time off...
Relaxing in Estero, FL
We arrived in Florida on April 9, 2011 and we were greeted at the Fort Myers airport by Dominik & Filip’s grandparents, Nancy & Jack. They generously agreed to host us in their charming new condo in Estero, FL. After a couple of days of exploring the property grounds and relaxing by, or rather playing hard in, the pool, we took a three-hour drive to Orlando.
Holiday Inn Orange Lake Resort, Orlando, FL
The Holiday Inn Orange Lake Resort
hotel was both neat and affordable. It offers 9 restaurants, 4 golf courses, 1,200-foot lazy river, 12-acre waterpark, 80-acre lake with watersports, 7 swimming pools, 4 water slides, 3 arcades, 19 poolside cabanas, 3 fitness facilities, 4 racquetball courts, 6 tennis courts, 2 basketball courts, 1 playground, a kids’ center and more. Needless to say, we never had a chance to use any of these amenities with the exception of Breezes Restaurant and River Island Grilling Company where we had our dinner and breakfast respectively.
Let the Memories Begin
That evening, the kids were getting more and more anxious to meet Mickey, but I don’t think they were able to fully anticipate what was going to unfold the next day. We had showed them online videos about the park, but you can’t possibly feel the magic until you get there and until you see your children being so excited to board the Disney Monorail. Soon, we were greeted by Let the Memories Begin signs and Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade. The memories began.
Main Street & Cinderella Castle
Walking through the Main Street toward the Cinderella Castle was dazzling. And so was our first attraction, the Mickey’s PhilharMagic – an amazing 3D film with scenes from classic Disney movies.
it's a small world
“it’s a small world” was next on our list. It is everyone’s favorite and the boys adored it. A boat takes you on a gentle ride through the various continents of the world filled with nearly 300 brightly costumed dolls. The theme song
will stick in your memory for a long time, especially if you get on that boat more than once. We certainly did.
In the Hundred Acre Wood
In the afternoon, we took the sweeping Peter Pan’s Flight and we proceeded to see the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. The journey through the Hundred Acre Wood in the Hunny Pot was delightful but watching Dominik meet Pooh and Tigger was truly unforgettable. Regretfully, Filip had fallen asleep before we got to the Hundred Acre Wood, but thankfully, Grandmama Nancy had arranged a dinner at the Crystal Palace where most of the Winnie the Pooh characters visited our table.
Magic Carpets of Aladdin & Country Bear Jamboree
In the evening, we flew aboard the Magic Carpets of Aladdin, which was one of Dominik’s favorite rides, and we concluded day one with the Country Bear Jamboree show. Yeehaw!
Town Square Theatre
We decided to begin day two with a Mickey Mouse photo shoot. We rushed into the Town Square Theater and after waiting for about 45 minutes, the door finally opened. Except, there was no Mickey there! Instead, we entered a room full of princesses! Needless to say, Dominik did not want to have anything to do with them. He wanted Mickey and he would not pose for even one single picture with a princess. Filip, on the other hand, enjoyed the royal company. He was a true Prince Charming and he gave each of the three princesses high fives. Luckily, waiting in that long, very wrong line was not a complete waste of time.
We were planning to leave the Town Square Theatre and distract Dominik with a different attraction, but conveniently, the line to see Mickey had become very short. And surely, Mickey was a hit! He saved and made our day!
That day we also enjoyed the Pirates of the Carribean, the Swiss Family Treehouse, a yummy taco lunch at the Tortuga Tavern, the Jungle Cruise, the Prince Charming Regal Carrousel, and Dumbo The Flying Elephant.
In the afternoon we finally got to the Splash Mountain. Splash Mountain was on Dominik’s radar for more than two weeks. He had watched the ride online and he would never leave Magic Kingdom without going on Splash Mountain. What he did not know was that the boat ride through Splash Mountain is a little more adventurous than any other Magic Kingdom attraction. I am glad we did it but the dark caves and a massive splashdown after a 5-story fall were not laughing matters either for Dominik or for me. Mark was fine and so was Jack although I had almost suffocated him by holding onto the protective bar going across our chests a bit too tight. Nancy and Filip took a stroll around the park instead. Good for them!
Mickey's Backyard BBQ
That evening we returned to Magic Kingdom to witness the end of illuminating Main Street Electrical Parade and the beginning of the Wishes Nighttime Spectacular. The boys were too tired to stay for the fireworks but the colorful image and light show over the Cinderella Casle was a perfect culmination of the fun-filled day. We purchased the balloons and we took off, leaving the crowds behind. We ended up catching the glimpse of fireworks from the Disney Monorail.
Typhoon Lagoon Water Park
Day Three was Disney's Typhoon Lagoon Water Park
. It is not located within the Magic Kingdom which was a bit problematic because Dominik really really really wanted to see Magic Kingdom one more time. But his misery ended immediately after he realized he was in an aqua-paradise! Filip was as happy as can be as well.
Sun-N-Fun Lagoon Water Park in Naples
We were sad to leave Disney World but thankfully, our Florida vacation was not over yet. After returning to Estero, we continued our pool & playground adventures and we visited the Sun-N-Fun Lagoon Water Park
in Northern Naples. On the way there, Grandpa Jack drove over his glasses which he had accidentally left on the roof of his car. When Dominik saw the broken glasses, he said, "Are they now nine pieces of sticky china?" I could not figure out what he meant until we came back home and read Peony Lewis'es book I Will Always Love You.
In the story, a little bear named Alex breaks his mom's favorite honey bowl, tuning it into nine pieces of sticky china...
Evening at the Beach
An evening excursion to the beach on our last day in Florida was one of my most favorite moments. The sun was setting, the boys played peacefully in the sand and water (yes, they did have sand in every single part of their bodies), and I remember feeling both happy and a bit nostalgic. Playing at the beach was a big part of my childhood.
Until Next Time
Many thanks to Nancy and Jack for such a fabulous vacation!!!