Tuesday, April 28, 2015

My Florida Vacation!

 I have so many pictures to share with you guys, and also want to share my experience! This was our first family vacation and we had a blast. Granted Aiden is only 2 and probably won't remember this, but he had so much fun so it was worth it! 

I first have to mention that I have never flown before in my life. As a matter of fact, I live in Massachusetts and have never been on a real vacation. I used to go to New Hampshire with my grandparents in the summer, but that's only a few hour drive. I also went to Six Flags New Jersey when it first opened, but I got sick so that wasn't fun and I don't count that one haha!
I was really nervous about flying, but decided I had to grin and bear it. I don't think we would have had a good time driving down there especially with a 2 year old! My husband, Stephen, used to live in Florida and has flown a bunch of times, and said that I could not have had a worse experience than what happened. On the way down, there was massive turbulence. We had a connecting flight in New Jersey, but because our plane was delayed, we missed that flight. They got us on another plane, but Stephen couldn't sit with us, so that was awful. Aiden and I were sitting next to a man who didn't want to switch seats with Stephen and be nice, because he didn't want a center seat. When Aiden started freaking out because he was scared of the turbulence, I bet he was wishing he had traded seats then! Karma at its finest.

After all that, we made it to Florida and I was instantly hot. I knew that was going to happen. I don't handle heat well, but I did surprisingly good on this trip! We did the "Disney's Magical Express" thing, so we got on the bus right outside the airport and it took us straight to our resort. The first thing I noticed was how different the air smelled. It was very tropical and such a change from what I'm used to! We stayed at the Art of Animation Resort, and I cannot recommend that place enough, especially if you have kids! It was beautiful. I would go back there in a heartbeat.
The lobby when you walk in

There are 4 sections to that resort - Cars, Finding Nemo, The Lion King, and The Little Mermaid. We stayed in The Little Mermaid section, and my favorite Disney character, Ursula, was right in front of our building! Art of Animation is a relatively new resort (I believe it opened in 2012) so I only found out about it when I was planning our trip. As soon as I saw how bright and colorful it was, and that there were huge statues of the characters everywhere, I knew we had to stay at that one.
 That first night we were exhausted, so we walked our luggage to the room and then went to the cafeteria to eat. We ate there pretty much every day on our trip and the food was great. Expensive, but great! There was a bar near the giant pool in the Finding Nemo section, so we got a drink that night before heading back to the room to go to bed. Aiden was so excited about the pool, so I was excited to bring him in there the next day!

In the morning we got up early and had breakfast, then jumped on the first bus to the Magic Kingdom. The cool thing about staying at a Disney resort, (and though Stephen has been to the Magic Kingdom a bunch of times, he said he'll never do Disney again without staying at one of the resorts!) is that the bus takes you right up to the gates. You don't have to ride the tram up like everyone else. We waited for about 30 minutes for the gates to open, and while we waited the lady that rents out the strollers asked us if she could take out picture and we could have a free double stroller and be the "first stroller family for the day." So of course we did, that saved us $31!
Stephen had planned out our day because I'd never been there before, so we hit Pirates of the Caribbean first. We had to plan our day around what Aiden could enjoy and get on with us, and that ride can get very busy, so we got on it right away. After that we hit up The Haunted Mansion, The Seven Dwarves Mine Train, and The Little Mermaid Under the Sea ride. I loved that so so much. I think that was my favorite ride of the whole trip. Just visual-wise for someone who loves The Little Mermaid, it was such a great experience. By that time it was around 12:30, so we had lunch and then rode the tea cups. Stephen was amazed how ahead of schedule we were, due to the fact that we used Fast Pass for 3 of the rides. He was like, "This is the best thing ever!" Again all the times he went before, and he never used the Fast Pass. That is another thing I can't recommend enough, especially if you have kids, because you get on the rides super quickly without waiting!
After that we shopped a bit and it started raining, but it felt good because it was so hot! The rain didn't last long, and we headed back to the bus soon after to get to the resort. We took showers and went to get dinner, then I brought Aiden to play in the splash area at the Nemo pool and we went in the pool for a bit, which he enjoyed. The splash area had a little pink octopus guy that spit water and he absolutely loved that thing!

The next day we spent at the resort, walking around and taking pictures of literally EVERYTHING. Aiden posed on all of the Cars in the Cars section, and we all went for a swim in the pool in The Little Mermaid section. It was a fun, relaxing day. We even had a long nap before dinner, and then went to play in the splash area again.
Just to give you an idea of how massive these statues were - this is me standing with King Triton!
Stephen was trying to get in and out of the shots so I could take the pictures haha
In the morning we checked out, my brother in law Andrew's husband, Mike, picked us up and we went to Universal Studios Islands of Adventure. We were staying with Stephen's family for the next few days, but were doing Universal first. I made the mistake of giving Aiden milk that morning and he threw up just as we got to the escalator in the parking garage. Luckily he was fine after!
This was the One Fish, Two Fish ride. Our fish got stuck and wouldn't move up and down!
Circus McGurkus Cafe Stupendous (where we had lunch)
On the Carou-Seuss-El
The Hulk coaster (no thank you haha)
The Marvel section - as soon as you walk in there you feel like you're in a comic book!
Hulk car
Entering the Harry Potter section
Stephen and I on the Popeye ride (I loved this one!!)
Universal is definitely less kid friendly. I wanted to go there mainly for Seuss Landing, as Dr. Seuss has always been huge to me. His books are one of the main reasons I got into art and drawing as a kid, so he'll always have a special place in my heart. The fact that my son now loves the books and characters is just awesome to me, and I wanted him to experience this with me! We went on the Cat in the Hat ride, and he LOVED it. His favorite toy that he cannot sleep without (and of course we had to make sure we packed it to take with us!) is his stuffed Cat in the Hat that I bought before he was even born. I took him on the One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish ride after because Stephen and Mike didn't want to get wet, and then we took him on the Carou-Seuss-el. The only thing we didn't go on in Seuss Landing was the Trolley Ride because Aiden isn't tall enough for that one yet. I bought some stuff in the shops, then we headed over to the Marvel area. 

That area is more shops and food than anything, but Stephen and Mike eventually went on the Hulk coaster later that day. I wasn't getting near that - I hate rollercoasters so much, it was a feat to get me on the Seven Dwarves one. In Toon Lagoon, there were a lot of carnival games and water rides. Stephen and I went on the Popeye ride and I enjoyed that one so much! You get soaked, but it felt good haha. I made him go on it again before we left, too! In the Harry Potter section, Stephen got me to go on the Flight of the Hippogriff (spelling?) coaster. Again, I HATE rollercoasters and I hate drops. This one was one big drop, but it was over in about 15 seconds so it wasn't horrible. I still didn't like it lol. After that, Stephen and Mike went on the dueling dragons one or whatever it's called, another one I didn't want to go near. We did more shopping in Universal than we did at the Magic Kingdom, because I kept finding cool stuff! I think we left around 3pm, and we gave some people just arriving our express passes, I don't know if they could use them or not, but we were trying to be nice!

The next few days were more fun - I finally got to meet my mother in law and my other brother in law, and we went to the Florida Aquarium. Aiden loved all of the fish, especially the sharks! It was a lot of fun. We ate at Hooters because it was right near there and we were starving LOL. I discovered that they lived near a mall and when Andrew told me there was a Sephora there, we had to stop! That night we went to a really pretty restaurant on the water called Bahama Breeze. That was a lot of fun, too.
 In front of the Florida Aquarium
Aiden loved that he could get so close to the fish!
The picture does this no justice, this fish was literally bigger than me!
I think the sharks were his favorite!

The next day we went to Clearwater Beach. Because it was Saturday, we got stuck in traffic, but the beach was so beautiful when we finally got there. It was so hot that day, but it was nice and cool near the water. Aiden absolutely LOVED the beach. It was his first time ever going to one at all, and he kept pulling us to take him back into the water when we got out. I even got a great picture of him pouting when we had to leave!
In the parking lot of the beach
Aiden and daddy walking to the water
The pout when we were getting ready to leave!

We didn't do much on Sunday, just relaxed all day, and that night we went to Sonic, because I absolutely love that place and there is only ONE in Massachusetts. And it is small, and over an hour away from where I live. This one was literally up the street, and HUGE. I would be so fat if I lived that close to one!! We had to get up super early in the morning because our flight home was at 6:52, so we went to sleep early that night. It was all a blast, and I'm sorry this was such a crazy long post! Thank you for reading if you stuck with it this long!


  1. very nice trip report! I am so glad you had a great time.

  2. this is soo weird! At first I started reading this like oh i live in florida, and I have a disney pass so it was really fun seeing you go to disney. in fact, the art of animation resort is the only disney resort I've stayed in! It's so great!! and then when i saw you were in tampa I was like wow that's close to where I live...then you went to Clearwater beach! That's right by my house! haha. Is that where your husband is from? It's too small of a world!

    1. haha that's so awesome! I LOVED that resort so much! If we go again, I don't want to stay at a different one because I loved that one so much. Yes! My husband grew up in Deltona, and then kind of lived all over Florida because he worked for different roofing and construction companies. Now his brothers and his mom live in Tampa, so when they knew we wanted to go to a nice beach, they took us to Clearwater. It's so pretty, you're lucky you live right near it! It is NOTHING like the beaches here haha! Ours are all small and the water isn't pretty like that!

    2. Its definitely the best resort for your money!! especially cause its almost brand new. my boyfriend and I went for our anniversary 2 years ago (only a few months after they opened!) and we got a little mermaid family room since that's all we could afford....we got there and they upgraded us for FREE to a suite! for no reason haha. in fact we asked them nicely if we could be in a lion king room instead of the Cars room they had us in (because my bf and i met through the lion king video game...to make a long story short lol) and they did it no questions asked, it was amazing! That's just why i love disney- they always go above and beyond.
      Clearwater is one of the pretties beaches in the state if not the country. I definitely take it for granted since I've lived here my whole life, I kinda forget that people come from all over to see it! But the traffic quickly reminds me during spring break, haha!

    3. Yeah everyone there was so nice!! And I loved that it had so much stuff for kids, but for adults too. Everything was so colorful and fun to look at. I've been telling everyone they need to stay there next time they go to Disney. It's seriously not that much more than staying off Disney property, and it was so much easier because everything was so close and they had the buses right there to take you to the park!
      Yeah the traffic was bad, we made the mistake of going to the beach on a Saturday and were in traffic for about an hour trying to get to it lol

    4. exactly! the extra money versus staying off property is soo worth it!
      oh noo! Yeah since it's an island traffic gets so bad since theres only one way in and out