Adventures of a “Kindermoon” and Review of Legoland Florida

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have you ever heard of a Kindermoon?  It is a relatively new term, I think possibly created by Disney, haha, it basically means a honeymoon before Kindergarten.  Follow our journey through Luke’s Kindermoon this summer.

I gave Luke the opportunity to choose where he wanted to go for his Kindermoon – I literally asked him to choose any where in the world (not that we would actually go ‘anywhere’).   The three options he came up with were 1) Disney World 2) Disneyland 3) The Nickelodeon Hotel in Dominican Republic.  We go to Disney World ALL – THE – TIME, so I really wanted his Kindermoon to be special.

I decided to surprise him with Legoland!!!  Now, I know you are probably thinking “why did you ask him where he wanted to go and then take him somewhere else completely?”  Good question.  I have never flown on a plane with my 2 small (toddler aged) children by myself and I really have no desire to because I would have to lug not only all of our luggage, but the double stroller and 2 car seats – no thanks!  So that nixed both Disneyland and The Nickelodeon hotel immediately and as I mentioned, we go to Disney a lot and even though we LOVE it, I wanted to try somewhere new. Also, to be clear, Luke is OBSESSED with Lego’s and Ninjago! I knew he would be over the moon for Legoland.

  

Boy was I right!  All he knew was that we were going somewhere fun for his Kindermoon, it wasn’t until we pulled up to the entrance of Legoland that he realized where we were; he screamed “oh my gosh, Mommy we’re at Legoland!!! Thank you Mommy, thank you!!!”  Needless to say it was a hit! We visited the park for the first half of the day and ended with the water park.

   

I’d like to share my honest opinions on our experience at Legoland.  First and foremost, I think Legoland is geared more towards younger children (no older than 12 years old) as the rides are a little smaller and not really “thrill” rides that older kids may like.  For us, it worked out perfectly because my kids are 5 and 3 years old.  It is a much smaller park compared to other theme parks in Florida, which I can totally appreciate. We didn’t wait longer than 15 minutes for any rides or character meet and greets – huge plus!

           

The Water Park is also smaller than other theme parks in the area, again though, I didn’t mind – it made it very easy to see and do everything in a matter of hours.  My kids played in the Duplo splash for most of the afternoon – I even rode some of the water slides with them and I had THE BEST time!  There was lots of laughter and great memories made… something we will not soon forget.  The wave pool is not over powering, it was a lot of fun.  We spent a little time on the “build a raft” lazy river; what made this especially fun was the fact that there are floating Lego pieces that you can build on your float.  It kept the kids entertained and me as well as I tried to grab as many Lego pieces as possible as they floated past us.  We had a blast! On our next visit, I would love to stay at the Legoland Hotel – it is literally at the entrance to the park, talk about convenient!

Have you ever been to Legoland? What was your favorite attraction?

New York, New York – The City That Never Sleeps

Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to visit New York City with my sister and nephew.  It has been a solid six years since I have been to New York, I used to go at least once a year but then life happened… husband… kids… yadda yadda!  My nephew is 20 years old and this was his first visit and boy did he have a BLAST!  We were only there for less than 48 hours, but believe it or not we got a ton done.  Oh and in between everything, we still had time to catch the re-plays of the Royal Wedding.  So happy for the Duke & Duchess of Sussex!

 We stayed at Hotel 32|32 – can we just talk about this amazing location for a minute?  I am admittedly a shop-a-holic, haha!  We were just a few blocks away from the largest Macy’s in the world (I mean seriously, just take my money lol)!!!  The 6 train was just feet outside of the hotel and the Empire State Building was also very close by.  This luxury boutique hotel was absolutely perfect for us!  We got a King Superior room, it had a King sized bed and a sleeper sofa with a full kitchen!  I don’t know if you are familiar with NYC hotels, but you’re lucky if you get an ounce of space, Hotel 32|32 was so spacious, and let me brag about how comfy too!  The bed was the perfect mix of firm and soft as well as the pillows.  A perfect location in a clean, spacious room… it doesn’t get any better!  Just a little tip, there is a little hole-in-the-wall deli literally 50 feet from the entrance of the hotel, it doesn’t look like much, but you should definitely go there for breakfast!  We got 3 breakfast sandwiches, I am talking about eggs, bacon and cheese on a challah roll… for like $8.50 TOTAL!  Can’t beat it!

 

My nephew like most college-aged kids wanted to visit all of the popular sneaker spots in the city.  Our first stop on a rainy Saturday was to Nike Soho, his face was priceless as we rode the elevator to all the many floors of Nike heaven.  I literally giggled the entire time!  I remember my first visit to NYC when I was just a tad older than him; it was really nice to experience all of the magic of NYC for the first time through his eyes.  We managed to also visit Stadium Goods – that in and of itself was an experience!  Let’s put it like this, all of the display sneakers are wrapped in plastic and once they bring out your size to try on, you can’t walk off of the carpet, lol.  The sneaker game is serious!  We also visited Flight Club – another one with serious sneaker game!

We definitely had to do the cliché “must-do’s” of New York!  We rode the train everywhere, the six was our best friend, we took it most out of any other train.  We stood in line in the middle of time square, in the rain, for day-of Broadway and off-Broadway show tickets.  We ended up seeing STOMP!  It was SO much FUN!!! I will never listen to sounds the same again.  And seriously, we got pimp seats – 10th row, orchestra center – it was worth waiting in the rain for the same-day tickets! The next surprise was really cool too because we actually got to meet and take a photo with  Alan Asuncion and Carlos Thomas – two of the stars from the show; we totally weren’t expecting that! They were very nice and humble.

 

Let’s have a moment of silence for Rice to Riches… #GetInMyBelly  Seriously, the BEST!!!  We loved it so much we went there twice on our short trip. Haha!  I ‘ve loved it ever since I saw it featured in the movie Hitch.

We ate pizza at 2 different places; the first place was in the lobby of the Arlo Hotel NoMad.  Now, I know you are thinking “what? pizza in the lobby of a hotel” Yassssss!!! And it was GOOD! I actually preferred it to other place we ate pizza that I won’t name because I was that disappointed in the flavor. But the pizza at the Arlo was the truth!  I am not going to lie, I wasn’t thrilled when I first saw the pizza because it is thick, like Chicago style pizza (which I really don’t care for, sorry Chi-town!) but hear me out… they cook it/heat it up in this table top oven and WOW!!!  It was the bomb-dot-com.  It had just enough crunch and just enough softness <insert drooling face here, lol>

 

 

We paid our respects at the World Trade Center.  The gaping holes in the grounds where the towers once stood are massive.  Every time I think of that day, I remember exactly where I was when I watched the second tower get hit on live TV; it was traumatizing.  It was such an important part of our history; there was no way we could visit New York, especially for my nephews first time and not visit.  I learned that they place roses next to the victims’ names on their birthdays every year.  It was beautiful and heart-breaking all at the same time.  Almost 17 years later and it is still so emotional.  I hope their souls are resting in peace.

  

What do you love most about New York City?

Key West Trip – Must See and Do!

Oh, Key West! I have to start by saying I am native to Florida, which  is actually kind of rare because most people who live here came from somewhere else.  The first time I ever visited Key West was in 2010; now, without fully giving away my age (I am in my 30’s) it’s pretty wild that I had never taken the time to explore this beautiful little town.

Mallory Square is great for people watching – there are tons of people putting on shows whether it is acrobatic cats (yes, feline cats) or someone singing or ripping you off for a $10 coconut, there is so much to see and do down there.  One thing that surprised me was the amount of kids that were there.  Key West has never struck as a “kid-friendly” destination but there were a lot of families and they seemed to be having a good time.

I am sure you have all heard about the amazing sunsets in Key West.  They are just magical!! I recorded a time lapse video of the sunset – it is worth the watch.  You can see the video here. Note, don’t look directly into the sun or you will see spots for a while after, haha.

If you are in search of a beach experience, I do not recommend Key West.  The beaches are beautiful to look at and sit near, however, there are a lot of rocks.  Maybe I have been spoiled with the beautiful Atlantic Ocean in Miami and Fort Lauderdale, along with The Gulf Coast in Naples.  I just personally didn’t care for the beach in Key West.

One of my favorite hidden gems in Key West is Better Than Sex!  Wait! What?  YES!!! It is a dessert restaurant – first things first, how genius is it to have a restaurant that only serves dessert? Yes please!  All of the desserts and drinks are seductively named and they totally live up to the hype.  I have to go there every time I visit the Keys.  Before they moved locations, the restaurant was very dark; I mean so dark that they gave you mini flashlights so you could see the menu.  They really set the tone with the ambience.  While their new location is still quite dim, you can actually see the person/people you are with.

Here are some of my favorites:

   

 

What are your favorite things to do in Key West?

Spring Break 2018 in Walt Disney World

If you keep up with my blog, you know that I travel alone with my kids a lot.  This year for Spring Break was no different!  We decided to go to Walt Disney World, shocking, I know, lol.  We were there for 3 days and visited Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom and Blizzard Beach.

Now, I know what you are thinking “Disney during Spring Break? No thanks!” because of the crowds.  But honestly, it wasn’t that bad!  It was crowded but probably not any more crowded than a normal weekend (even though we were there during the week).  It was a “different” crowd though – there were people that were clearly unfamiliar with the parks so they would stop and look around a lot.  But that didn’t bother me at all!  I actually kind of like the idea of seeing people experience Disney for the first time, it’s well, magical! Pun totally intended.

I was still able to get fast passes to some of the best rides like Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Peter Pan at Magic Kingdom.  We also got a fast pass for the Na’vi River Journey at Animal Kingdom.  The Avatar Flight of Passage of course was unavailable – but it is normally unavailable anyway, so no biggie.  And as I mentioned, I was alone with my kids – my daughter isn’t tall enough yet for it, so no baby swapping for us!

We stayed at Bahama Bay Resort in a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom, 4 bed condo – that was nothing short of amazing!  It had a full sized kitchen that allowed me to cook breakfast and dinner every night that we were there.  I was able to go Grocery shopping at Publix which was just a short 5 minute drive away and stock up on all of our goodies.  The resort had a splash pad that my kids just LOVED!  It was really a home away from home experience.  I also liked that it was in more of a residential neighborhood, so it gave me the feeling of not really being a “tourist” which I liked a lot.  But yet we were so close to all of the action!

One of our favorite places to eat in Orlando is Texas Roadhouse  (the fresh baked rolls, OMG! – Try them with ranch dressing, don’t judge, just try it!) which was just 10 minutes away on the 192.  If you are familiar with Orlando at all, you know the 192 is one of the main roadways and it is very close to Bahama Bay Resort.  Animal Kingdom and Blizzard Beach were also just a 20 minute car ride.

  

Our experience at Blizzard Beach was SO. MUCH. FUN.  I cannot express what a good time we had there.  Right before our trip, I upgraded our annual passes to the Platinum Plus because it includes the Water Parks and has no blackouts.  Boy, am I happy that I did that!!  I can’t wait to go back to the water parks.  My son did an epic backflip on the zip line attraction – I am pretty sure it was unplanned but it was amazing!  You can enjoy a little video clip of it below:

If you want to see more of our fun videos, be sure to check us out on YouTube here.

How did you spend your spring break?

 

Traveling Alone With Kids For Spring Break

More often than not, my friends ask me how I travel alone with my kids all of the time.  Most of our Disney trips are just my kids (ages 5 and 3) and I.  To me, it is work but I just do it.  My husband has a crazy work schedule and isn’t able to travel with us that often.  So, do my kids suffer because of that? Or do I take the bull by the horns and just make it happen?  I choose the latter.

Just yesterday though, I had a “situation”.  Spring Break is coming up for my kiddos and I have been on the fence trying to decide what to do with them.  I asked my son (5 years old) where he wanted to go.  He said “to China to climb the Great Wall”.  Er, um, lol, I don’t think so buddy.  So I decided on a Disney Cruise.  We took one last year and absolutely LOVED it!  I will write another blog just on that one, I promise.  So, I went ahead and booked the Disney Cruise… then called back 20 minutes later and cancelled.

Why?  Well, I freaked out about being on a ship and traveling internationally alone with my kids.  I mean, full blown, crying, shaking, anxiety, panic attack!  I am normally a rational person, but for whatever reason unknown to me, I just couldn’t stomach the thought of going on a cruise alone with my small children.  My mind went to the craziest places of my brain.  I thought “what if something happened to me? My kids wouldn’t know how to get help”.  Disney, of course, was super great about it and was able to help me.  After cancelling, I literally felt the blood and heat return to my body.  Was it just an irrational thought?  My intuition? Buyers remorse? Or just downright crazy? I guess I will never know.

  

Now I am back to square one trying to decide where to go and what to do for Spring Break, lol.  And to be honest, I am a Floridian through and through – it’s kind of cold right now!  I need the ocean to be a good 85 degrees, lol.  Where are you going for Spring Break? I need some ideas!  Do you travel alone with your children?

  

Here are my Top 10 tips for traveling alone with small kids to Disney:

  1. Go with the flow.  I like to have the idea of a plan, but it is important to let things unfold.
  2. Pack snacks! Lots of snacks!
  3. Take time to explore and let them play; don’t rush
  4. Don’t forget sunblock
  5. Take lots of photos
  6. Even though my kids are 5 and 3, I think a stroller is needed. It is also a good place to store things like a bag with cups, water and snacks.
  7. Take naps!  My kids still nap, so we go early in the morning, break for a nap and return to the park after
  8. Make dining reservations.  Quick service is difficult when I am by myself so Table Service is always a better option for me.
  9. Do character meetings and get a break from the sun… win-win!
  10. Last but not least, HAVE FUN!

Our First Visit to the Kennedy Space Center

 

 

 

 

 

Being a native Floridian, it is so bizarre that in my 30+ years I have never visited the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.  I am not entirely sure why we never visited, not even as a kid on a field trip.  Lucky for me, I gave birth to a little boy who loves all things transportation – planes, trains, automobiles and well… space shuttles!

In preparation for our trip, I downloaded the official NASA, KSC app.  I was able to plan out our day and read all about the attractions that we might want to visit and see.  We arrived right at 9am when the park opened, we wanted to be sure to beat the crowd.

It was most important to me that we see the space shuttle Atlantis, so we headed there first.  The space shuttle is HUGE! It had to be at least the size of a three story building (or bigger).  It was surreal to look at a shuttle that had been to outer space and back; and there it was right in front of our eyes in real-life.  It is so close, you can almost touch it.

Another area within the Atlantis building that was so touching to me, was the memorial for the Challenger and Columbia.  I can remember watching the launch of the Challenger as a kid in school.  It was such a traumatizing experience to see in real-time.  Seeing a piece of the panel and being able to read about the brave men and women aboard that mission was very emotional.  It was a very somber, yet proud feeling.  I had a moment of silence for our fallen heroes.  There is also a memorial wall for each astronaut, with personal items and photos.

On a lighter note, we had lunch with astronaut Sam Durrance.  We didn’t know what to expect considering our kids are 5 and 3 years old.  They were both SO into it! #nerdalert #proudmommoment My son asked Mr. Durrance if he had ever been to Mars, it was cute.  Mr. Durrance was so polite in saying that he (my son) could be the first astronaut on Mars – his eyes lit up with excitement and optimism.  I think as a parent, it is our job to nourish and develop the curiosity in our children;  allow them to dream big and know that anything they can imagine is indeed possible.

KSC had so much to spark wonder and our inner child curiosity.  There is a Rocket Garden with massive sized rockets, a Journey to Mars and also one of our other favorites was the bus tour to the restricted areas.  We were able to see launch pads 39 and 40 and see the huge building that houses the rockets.  That is the closest we could get to the launch pads.  Watching it on television just doesn’t do any justice to showing the enormous size.  The bus tour also takes us to the moon area where you actually get to touch a piece of the moon!

We really enjoyed our time at KSC and would recommend it to all ages.  If planned out correctly, you can complete the entire complex in a day.  I highly recommend taking the opportunity to have lunch with an astronaut; the prices are affordable… and honestly, when else will you be able to meet and hang out with a real astronaut?!

Have you ever been to KSC?  If so, what was your favorite attraction? Sound off in the comments!