As I mentioned in my last post, my mom and I had the crazy(?) idea to celebrate summer by loading up the minivan and taking the kids to Florida for two weeks. It was quite the adventure.
Monkey Boy really isn’t a theme park type of kid, so I had my reservations about this trip, but one of the reasons for planning it this summer was that I was determined to get him to Legoland before he was too old to appreciate it.
The first stop was to be Jacksonville Beach. Because we are sort of crazy (did I mention that!?), we decided to drive there in one day. Not long into the drive, Monkey Boy and Master Yi-Yi got into some fight that I can’t even remember the cause of, with Monkey Boy scratching his brother several times, but that ended as quickly as it began. It really wasn’t too bad once we were a few hours into the trip and the kids had been lulled into that dazed stupor from riding in the car so long, broken only by periods of eating. As we got closer to our destination, Monkey Boy had to complain that it was taking too long and we were going to be in the car for more than 16 hours. But, we actually arrived in great time and were able to eat dinner and have a short stroll on the beach. I would do it again in a heartbeat. So if you think you can handle it, I definitely recommend powering through and driving as far as you can on Day 1, especially if you’re like me and the thought of dragging all kinds of things into a hotel room for one night makes you shudder.
Jacksonville was fun, and I tried to keep my anxiety about sharks and flesh eating bacteria at bay. The boys survived the ocean, and I didn’t panic too much. There were some battles of wills between Master Yi-Yi and me over how far out was too far for boogie boarding. Luckily, they also had a pool that Monkey Boy especially loved. He equally had a great time in the sand. We also had an afternoon interlude at Kona Skateparkso Master Yi-Yi could skateboard, which gave us a break from some of our battles at the beach. One of the funniest things about our stay was Little H explaining to Monkey Boy what a bar of soap was!
After three nights in Jacksonville, we moved onto LEGOLAND for a night. We stayed in the LEGOLAND Hotel, which just opened in May, and all the kids loved it. We chose the basic pirate themed room. If any of you have Lego loving kids, I would definitely recommend the hotel. The highlight was the hotel elevator with disco lights and music. While the older two kids were too old for much of LEGOLAND, there was still enough to hold their attention for the afternoon. The park says it caters to ages 2-12, and I think that’s about spot on. That being said, there were still at least four or five rides that Master Yi-Yi enjoyed, but one afternoon was plenty.
Monkey Boy had a great time in the hotel pool during the evening. They had giant foam Lego pieces to build with, so he created a whale named Sheila. We wound up staying until just before closing at 10 pm. By that time all the really little kids had gone, and the pool was left with dazed looking parents and energizer bunny kids who weren’t going to bed anytime soon.
Islands of Adventure(one of the two parks that make up Universal Orlando). A dippin’ dots sundae later, and he was much more amenable. Winning a critter in the Arcade further sealed his acquiescence. Honestly, I was kind of afraid he’d refuse to go on any rides, so I was pleasantly surprised that he went on some of the wilder ones with Master Yi-Yi.Monkey Boy was none too happy to discover that he only had one night at LEGOLAND before we moved onto the Hard Rock Hotel in Orlando. He was still irked when we got there, and was even less happy to find out that not only couldn’t we get into our room yet, but we were intending to go to
This was the first time we’d ever stayed on site at Universal, and we found it super convenient. In the past, we’ve found the hike to the parking lot exhausting after a long day in the parks. In addition to being a short boat ride away from the gates of Universal, the perks of staying in the hotel included an express pass for each day we were there (which allowed us to bypass all the regular lines) and early entry into the parks. If at all possible, I highly recommend staying in one of the onsite hotels. We loved the Hard Rock Hotel. My mom especially enjoyed sitting by the pool with someone waiting on her for a change.
The next morning, we arrived at Universal bright and early at 8:15 am, so we could see the new Harry Potter section. Once again, Monkey Boy was less than thrilled, but between a ride on Escape from Gringotts (from which I refrained given my propensity for motion sickness…I’m the real fun one at amusement parks!) and being the child chosen in Olivander’s to receive a wand directly from the wand maker, his mood improved.
We had the option of a third day in the parks, but Monkey Boy was adamant that we were not going, so we wound up relaxing in the gigantic pool after checking out. It was a much needed break to prepare us for the upcoming stretch in Disney World.
Stay tuned for my next post, with the working title of “Can a Frazzled Mom, a Worn out Grandma, Two Semi-Sulky Teens and a Very Needy Eleven Year Old Survive Six Days in Disney World?”