Florida Welcomes You—with Free OJ and a Whole Lot More!

The last time we were in Orlando it was for a Disney World Extravaganza, complete with Park Hopper Passes and meal plans. We covered all four theme parks, one waterpark, and spent time at the hotel pool. It was an eight day fun-filled, fantastic, frenzy. Parents, kids, and grandparents all had a blast, but I’d be lying if I said it was relaxing.

This time we only spent one day with Mickey and Company and thanks to our friends and fellow Toastmasters, Jerry and Brenda, we got to spend several days enjoying the some of the less commercial fun that Florida has to offer.

Free OJ from the FLA Welcome Center!
Free OJ from the FLA Welcome Center!

We drove from Atlanta to Orlando on Monday and arrived just in time for a delicious dinner of Chili Verde, courtesy of Aunt Brenda, and the kids made themselves right at home in the spare room, enjoying Jessie on their own small screen TV. I’d say that having a television in their bedroom may have been the highlight of the trip, but I’m sure that it paled in comparison to Tuesday’s breakfast. That morning we sampled Uncle Jerry’s chocolate chip pancakes, which we topped with syrup, berries, and copious amounts of spray whipped cream. That was the day that the new “Five Second Rule” was born, five being the number of seconds that one must spray said whipped cream when topping one’s pancakes… or cookies… or ice cream… or coffee… You get the idea. (This rule may be modified to three seconds if needed for those who are faint of heart or in danger of a Diabetic emergency.)

Uncle Jerry's Famous Chocolate Chip Pancakes
Uncle Jerry’s Famous Chocolate Chip Pancakes

After our gourmet breakfast, we ventured to the Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens. We spent the day strolling through the beautiful tree-lined paths and seeing all sorts of new creatures that can’t survive in cruel Ohio temps. The kids were so impressed by the zoo’s super splash pad and the camel rides, that they didn’t even miss the gift shop. And we even got to feed the giraffes!

Is your name Alice?
Is your name Alice?

 

 

 

 

The next day was spent at Cape Canaveral National Seashore. We had fun in the sun, a picnic on the beach, and took pictures that made all of our friends back home just a little jealous. But the best part of that day was hearing my son yell at his sister as they dashed across the sand, “Audrey that’s the ocean!” She squealed and yelled back, “I can’t believe I’m at a real beach!” We lathered them up with sunscreen and off they went. They played on the shore for hours, building sandcastles, collecting shells, and letting the waves wash up to their waists. The water was freezing, but they couldn’t have cared less.

Cape Canaveral National Seashore
Cape Canaveral National Seashore

 

Thursday marked our return to Disney World and the Magic Kingdom. This time, the day didn’t seem nearly as hectic. In fact, from 9:30 am to 11:00 pm, Disney World really did feel like the happiest place on Earth. We had minimal waits, beautiful weather, and we were named Honorary Patriots at the Liberty Tree Tavern when we helped open the restaurant for dinner. I think getting to ring the dinner bell almost helped to heal the scars left after we forced the children to ride Space Mountain!

We finished out the week with one more round of chocolate chip pancakes, packed up the car, and headed for Savannah. We spent Friday night at the Hilton DeSoto, in Historic Savannah. The impressive chandeliers in the lobby were original to the hotel, built in 1890. The room was well decorated with walls painted in a calming powder blue. The pizza from room service was affordable and delicious. Fortunately, the hotel security team was also remarkably efficient when they removed the guests across the hall at two am for unsportsmanlike conduct and/or excessive celebration in the hotel pool!

We arrived home on Saturday night after an eleven hour drive, safe, sound, and happy to be home. It was a wonderful trip filled with great family memories, but there is nothing like the feel of your own bed on that first night back. I’m just thankful we had Sunday to recover before returning to work. I don’t know about the rest of them, but all that fun and family togetherness in the Ford Fiesta took a lot out of me!

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