Animal Kingdom and Hollywood
So serendipitously, we found ourselves at Disney (AJ, Holly, Boston, and me) with Megan and Justin and had an epic time with them catching up on life since graduation and going around Animal Kingdom. Not only did they take us to all of the spots we had to hit up like the white-cheeked gibbons (which we LOVE because they're so cute and funny to watch. I imagine life as a monkey must be pretty carefree and fun!), Expedition Everest (I loved the Himilayas theme, big foot, and the crazy turns, very exciting ride), Kali River Rapids (got totally soaked), but they even offered to watch baby for us while we went on rides (unfortunately child swap was not as quick and easy as it had been at Universal)! They did such a great job with baby even with us being gone for so long because of the never-ending queue. We came back to one happy camper.
Our favorite was the Kilimanjaro Safari, which we were able to take baby on and got to see tons of beautiful animals up close like giraffes, zebras, and crocodiles. He was so alert and calm throughout the ride. If this is a sign that he likes animals, we might feel inclined get him a puppy someday [even though I'm terrible with animals and killed multiple gold fish growing up]. This mini safari refueled my desire to go on a safari in Africa and see many more beautiful animals in their natural habitat! How about that, Megan and Justin? Safari in Africa next time? (I'm so serious!) Side note: I loved the eco-friendly conservation theme that Disney brought in throughout the park to raise awareness. Also, make sure to stop at the Wilderness Explorers booth (like in "Up") so your kids can be on the lookout for all of the different animals in the park and learn more about them while collecting fun sticker badges. Holly loved it and even wanted to come back just to finish the badges. Adventure is out there!
Next, we hit up Hollywood Studios where we had to part ways with our friends soon after (so sad, but so good while it lasted). We were grateful they gave us so much of their time and company. This park was a little more big kid friendly - perfect for Holly. We took turns going on rides and hanging out with her. We LOVED Tower of Terror and Rocking Roller coaster, which were both 30 min -1 hour long waits. Gosh I just adore this little girl and seeing how excited she gets about everything. Taking care of her is like taking care of my own little child. We are 15 years apart (17 years for AJ) and that could very well make her my daughter, which people seem to think everywhere we go. She's basically Boston's big sister and is so helpful. We were so glad to have her there with us. Finally, we finished off our night by going see Fantasmic and be dazzled by the incredible fireworks and water show. Wonderful day!
The next day was spent helping baby recover from strange vomiting over the last 12 hours. We had to give him Pedialyte for the first time, which he wasn't fond of. I was glad our parents were there to help so I didn't freak out as much because this has never happened before. We drove 2 hours south of Orlando and hung out at Siesta Key. It was a beautiful day. We laid down our towels and basked in the fresh air, warm sun, white sand beach, and warm water from the Gulf of Mexico for a few hours. Holly had the best time swimming in the water, building sand castles, picking up seashells, and running away from AJ. She had so much energy! I think it was also good for baby because he was fine the whole time and even had some fun with Daddy.
I stayed away from the water the whole time because I was still recovering from a burn accident from the week before (doctor's order). I took this time to be the spectator and enjoy my family's beautiful moments from the outside looking in. I loved watching AJ play with Boston and Holly in the water and my in-laws being so sweet to each other. We are by no means a perfect family, but we do have these picture perfect moments that will be captured in my mind forever and ever. So much laughter, excitement and love. My family makes this great joy a possibility for me and for that, I am immensely thankful. These are the moments I live for.
That night, another sweet friend from college, Allison contacted me and we got to meet up with her at Epcot for a bit before we left Florida. We had a great time wandering through the beautiful annual topiary fest that's going on right now (March-April). Every little detail was well-executed to give the park an extra bit of something special for the season. There were topiaries of story characters like the Lion King, Peter Pan, and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. There was also a section dedicated to butterflies so we got to see them flying around among sweet smelling flowers. Because there are so few rides at Epcot, everyone and their moms were in line for those few extending the wait time to over an hour each. So we opted out of those and just explored.
Epcot is broken up into countries around the world and you can find foods and different characters in their proper sections such as Belle in France and Mary Poppins in England. We especially love the Japanese section which includes Studio Ghibli characters (we're obsessed) although their items go for absurd prices (a Totoro dish set for $130?). There was also scrumptious foods like kakigori (flavorful shaved ice with sweeten condensed milk on top. So good) and sushi. There are generally other goods there like a taiko drums show and a Japanese candy lady. AJ and I love them. I could spend all day here, but we didn't have that kind of time on this trip. Nonetheless, it was so awesome to get to see Allison and her baby. Like I said, it's a such a treat to get to see friends again, especially really awesome ones like these ones.
Well that's it. Cheers to an awesome family adventure! We had so much fun and look forward to going back again. If you're looking for a place for your family to visit, I guarantee you'll love Florida!
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