For anyone in the Clermont/South Lake area, or who wants to come visit December 5-7 for this great annual event!
On April 13 2011, at our 100 day mark, we put out a list of 100 things that we wanted to do as Florida residents. See the original post here . We thought it would be interesting to see what we’ve done so far- our comments will be in blue. We’ll cover #1-50 today, and #51-100 tomorrow.
1. Resort hop. We have only ever stayed at POR-Riverside as a family, and we really want to experience each resort on property. So even though our current goal is to live 20 minutes away from Walt Disney World, we plan to do weekend stays at each resort, over the course of a year or two, and really take in the charm and uniqueness each resort has to offer. Nope not yet. This is something we still want to do.
2. Enjoy a Dole Whip 🙂 We’ve enjoyed them at Magic Kingdom but we still want to experience them at the Polynesian where you can disperse your own.
3. Attend Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party Our first time next year
4. Attend Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party No, we haven’t, but between the two parties we’d prefer to do the Halloween party first, as you can experience most everything the Christmas party offers on the week leading up to Christmas on a regular day in the Magic Kingdom- well except for maybe the hot cocoa and cookies!
5. Go on a Disney Cruise! Right now with living in Wisconsin, the price of getting to the cruise has been a huge obstacle for us. We’re of the mindset that if we’re going to spend that much money, we’d rather spend it at WDW! Cruises are really very reasonable as long as you don’t have to travel over a thousand miles to get to one. Nope, not yet but still in the works!
6. Explore Animal Kingdom Park. There are so many areas of AK that we have not discovered simply due to the intense Florida heat, or lack of time available to us. We have done the basics, such as Expedition Everest, Kali River Rapids, Festival of the Lion King, Nemo & Friends and Kilimanjaro Safari, just to name a few. (There are more). But it seems that there is so much more to Animal Kingdom to take in, and we are looking forward to being able to do that in the cooler Florida months, when we have the time to dedicate to it. We have not explored all that Animal Kingdom has to offer, but we have done more. We find the cooler months are the best times to visit Animal Kingdom, and we tend not to even go in the hot, summer months. Jen will be touring the backstage areas on Thursday through a special promotion with Disney Parks Blog, so check back later in the week for a special post detailing that.
7. Go to Magic Kingdom in the evening just for the parades We have not done this, primarily because although we only live 25 miles from the Magic Kingdom, it takes us approximately 45 minutes to reach the parking lot, and another 15 minutes or so for monorail/bag check time. With the cost of gas prices, it is not cost efficient to travel two hours just to attend a parade.
8. Have brunch at Chef Mickey’s 🙂 One of Ben’s favorite spots to see his buddy Mickey!
9. Ride the monorails, just for the fun of it We do so once in awhile
10. Start a new tradition of celebrating birthdays at Walt Disney World This a wonderful perk of living so close to Walt Disney World.
11. Ride Splash Mountain at night during Wishes We haven’t since moving to Florida- used to be a favorite thing to do while on vacation
12. Ride Big Thunder at night during Wishes See #11
13. Listen to Lou Mongello’s audio guides while on Main Street/Adventureland/Fantasyland/Liberty Square and take the time to absorb all the details No we haven’t but we should 🙂
14. Have lunch at Le Cellier Yes, one of our favorite places to eat in Epcot.
15. Watch Illuminations on a winter’s night, enjoying the fact that it is warm & there is no snow on the ground Yes & we enjoy the no snow fact not just at Illuminations but every month from November to May 🙂
16. Go to Universal Catie has been to Universal on a school trip but the rest of the family has not made it yet
17. Go to Sea World A few times- we especially love the new Antarctica attraction.
18. Explore the beaches of Florida–kids have never been to the ocean before. We plan to go to both sides of Florida: The Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean Yes and yes. We’ve been to Anna Maria Island and Treasure Island on the Gulf side, and Cocoa Beach on the Atlantic side.
19. Dinner with Amy and Craig Petermann No, it never worked out.
20. Being able to meet Facebook friends who do not live in Florida but come to Walt Disney World on vacation. Shelley Urick Jones , we look forward to meeting you! This is another awesome benefit of living so close to Walt Disney World, the ability to meet up with our Facebook friends! There are too many to mention here, but we love meeting up with you all!
21. Lou Mongello’s WDW Radio Meets of the Month We have been to some!
22. Exploring the city of Clermont and getting to know our new home city Yes we know our way around fairly easily. We really like the area and enjoy living here.
23. Spending time in the Parks with Stephen and Judy Demeritt We always enjoy spending time in the Parks with our friends.
24. Meeting Marilyn Johnson in person! Marilyn and her husband Dan were extremely gracious and made us feel very welcome after we first moved to Florida. We’re blessed to have met them.
25. Go to Gatorland Still on the bucket list!
26. Enjoy the Osborne lights at the Studios as many times as possible These are incredibly awesome and guaranteed to instill the Christmas spirit in you! We do try to go as many times as possible during the season.
27. Enjoy making new friendships with all our Facebook friends who live in Florida Absolutely!
28. Walking through the World Showcase at Epcot while our kids are in school. We have not been able to explore all the countries because of the kids not wanting to spend time there. Exploring the countries is still on our bucket list. We pulled our children from the public schools and homeschool them. Can we say field trip! 🙂
29. The various shopping opportunities, not only at Walt Disney World, but at the many outlet malls in Orlando and the surrounding areas. Ikea! Yes, IKEA rocks, and we love being able to visit any store we want to within a short driving distance. We have discovered a few Disney Outlet Stores in the Orlando Area, which can be hit or miss on the merchandise available, but definitely worth checking into it.
30. Just enjoying the whole adventure of relocating to a new state! 🙂 🙂
31. Day trips to explore Florida: cities in particular that pop into our heads for no particular reason are Tampa, Naples, St. Augustine, and Jacksonville. We have not yet had any day trips, but two that may happen in the next year are St. Augustine for the historical aspect of it (another field trip!) and Naples…..can we say Culver’s! Ok, that is not the only reason to visit Naples, but it’s definitely an incentive!
32. Shelling at Sanibel Island We have not done this yet; we have heard it’s not as good as it was in years past, but we would still like to visit.
33. Chuckling to ourselves in February when the temperature is 80 and sunny, knowing that back in Wisconsin it is probably blowing and snowing and bitterly cold. Will we miss snow? No we will not! We apologize to all our Wisconsin friends, but yes we do chuckle 🙂
34. Taking in Bob Jackson’s show at the Port Orleans Riverside resort! We haven’t, but the main reason is the noise level is just too unbearable for Ben. He has noise sensitivities and he can’t tolerate it.
35. Staying at the Port Orleans Riverside resort for old times sake! Definitely on the want-to-do-list SOON! We have eaten in the food court a few times.
36. Christmas shopping at Downtown Disney Every year- we love the atmosphere at Downtown Disney!
37. Riding down the Sassagoula River from Port Orleans Riverside to Downtown Disney (and vice versa) No not yet.
38. Exploring the cities of Lake County Yes, we’ve visited Leesburg, Fruitland Park, The Villages, Mt Dora, Eustis, Astatula, Tavares, Lady Lake, Minneola, & Groveland
39. Visiting Celebration for leaf drop (to replace the Fall we will be missing in Wisconsin) No not yet
40. Being there for opening day of the new Fantasyland No, but we were for opening weekend 🙂
41. Resort hopping at Christmas to see all the different Christmas decorations This is in the plans for this year. We have been to the Grand Floridian, to view the Gingerbread House and the Christmas decorations, which are incredible.
42. Counting garbage cans to make sure the Demeritts caught them all 😉 No.
43. Trying on every hat that is sold on Disney property We’ve given up the practice of trying on hats, after a cast member friend of ours mentioned how everybody tries on hats and do you really want to put something on your head after hundreds of people have put it on their head? Um, no.
44. Food and Wine Festival 🙂
45. Enjoy a carrot cake cookie No, but we have enjoyed a Butterfinger cupcake. Actually it was too rich for our tastes, would not buy it again.
46. Visit Star Wars weekend Yes
47. Dinner, lunch and/or breakfast with Lou Mongello Not yet, hoping to one day!
48. Movie at the Downtown Disney AMC theatre We saw Wreck It Ralph there before it was released, courtesy of a special meet-up with Disney Parks Blog.
49. Trying all 500 flavors in the Coke Freestyle Dispenser Not all the flavors- that would take gobs of money & tons of time.
50. DisneyQuest We love DisneyQuest. It was the main reason we renewed our premium passes this year.
A Day At LEGOLAND® Florida by Mark and Jen Vitek
On Monday, April 15th, Jen and I took Ben and Catie to LEGOLAND as part of their Homeschool Days. Ben has been waiting since before we moved to go, even though it didn’t open until October, 2011. 🙂 LEGOLAND is in Winter Haven, FL on the site of the old Cypress Gardens and is conveniently located 45 minutes from Orlando and Tampa. Here’s our experience.
We decided to arrive at park opening so that we could see and do as much as possible. This time of year, LEGOLAND is open 9:30am to 6:00pm most days; but those hours vary by the season. We were surprised by some of the differences to our usual days at Disney or SeaWorld. First, we parked within just a short parking distance of the entrance. There are no bag security checks, but there are also no carry-ins (except for water bottles). And the turnstiles were very quick and easy with no finger scan. Then we were in.
The park wasn’t very busy this day, mainly as this was a day for Homeschooled students and their families to come and enjoy the park. So we had very little (if any) wait for any of the rides that we went on. There is no fast pass type system here, so all of the queues are together; but most rides do have a quiet area where children can sit, wait and build with LEGOs while the parents wait in the lines. LEGOLAND Florida is the largest LEGOLAND Park in the world, but it isn’t too big to enjoy in one day.
You start your park adventure walking through The Beginning, the entrance area. Here you’ll find Guest Services, the Annual Pass Center (and they do have a dedicated AP office as they take your picture which is on the AP), The Big Shop (their LEGO Store), the Market Restaurant (an indoor ‘food court’ that serves a variety of food items) and the Island In The Sky (a 150 foot high platform that gives you a view of LEGOLAND and the area).
Once you leave The Beginning you can branch out in various directions. We entered into Fun Town. Fun Town lives up to its name with tons of LEGO fun. Here you’ll experience a simulated LEGO Factory Tour, The Grand Carousel (a double decker carousel featuring LEGO horses), a Florida Greenhouse, several shops (including a ‘Pick-a-Brick’ shop ($8.49 for a ¼ pound bag of Lego pieces), a LEGO Friends shop and LEGO Studios – dedicated to LEGOs from TV and Movies), the Wells Fargo 4D Theater where you can see 3 different 4D movies (we saw Spellbreakers and LEGO Racers, both awesome!), 3 snack shops (Ice Cream, Slushies and Granny’s Apple Fries) and the Pizza & Pasta Buffet (a sit-down buffet restaurant). We had a lot of fun touring Fun Town. We did stop for ice cream at Sunny’s Ice Cream Shop; and the scoops there are very big. So, unless you’re very hungry or really love a lot of ice cream, one scoop may be plenty. 🙂
From here you can enter Miniland USA, the heart of LEGOLAND. Plan to spend at least an hour of your day here, this is just the most amazing area. We’d also recommend visiting here toward the start or end of your day while the sun isn’t directly overhead as there is little shade as you walk through. Here you visit Florida in general, Daytona International Speedway, the Kennedy Space Center, Pirate Shores, California (LA, San Francisco and Hollywood), Washington DC, Las Vegas, New York City and, the newest addition, LEGO Star Wars Miniland. You walk through and the details are amazing! In several areas, stop and push the buttons and watch (and listen) for the surprising actions that take place. This was one of our favourite parts of the entire day (and I particularly enjoyed the Star Wars area – too bad you can’t take things with you).
Next we went into LEGO City. This is a child’s paradise. You can drive your own boat at Boating School, earn your LEGO driver license at Ford Driving School (ages 6-13) or Ford Junior Driving School (ages 3-5), take a flight on an inverted rollercoaster in the Flying School or compete against other families to put out a fire in the Rescue Academy. The ‘Big Test Live Show’ is here, watch as the Fun Town Fire Department teaches you about fire safety during this funny show featuring acrobatics and comedy. There is LEGO City merchandise at the City Shop and you can enjoy a fried chicken dinner at the Fried Chicken Co. restaurant. This area also has the entrance to the LEGO Waterpark, but we didn’t make use of that on this visit.
From here, move into the LEGO Technic area. The Aquazone Wave Racers are a fantastic ride as you zoom around on your own ‘jet ski’ carousel while dodging water cannons. On the Technicycle, you fly higher the faster that you pedal and the Project X Technic Test Track rollercoaster is a high-speed thrill ride. You can shop in the Extreme Zone which features ‘extreme’ LEGO products, Florida-themed merchandise and many clearance items. You can eat indoors at the Lakeside Sandwich Co. which features pre-made sandwiches, wraps and bakery goods or outdoors at the Drivin’ Drive-in where you can grab a hot dog and chips.
Next up is Pirate’s Cove. Here you’ll see the water ski and action show, The Battle for Brickbeard’s Bounty. And you can grab a burger at Cap’n Brickbeard’s Burgers. This is an outdoor eating area, but there is a covered area with picnic tables and fans; and with a view of Cypress Gardens across the waterway. This is where we ate lunch and these burgers were excellent. There is also a chicken sandwich available. Take a moment here to look into the bordering waterway and you’ll see many wild turtles and the occasional alligator. But watch your food, the birds here are “burger hunters”. One landed on Ben’s burger (luckily he had finished) and then flew off and grabbed another child’s burger right off his plate. 🙂
Cypress Gardens is next, a quiet area which kept the garden atmosphere of the park’s predecessor, Cypress Gardens Park. You can enjoy a leisurely stroll through the gardens and watch for the LEGO Southern Belles and the 74-year old Banyan tree.
From here you can enter the Imagination Zone, an area devoted to using your…imagination. Enter past the giant LEGO Albert Einstein and let the fun begin. You can build and program your own LEGO Mindstorms robot, build and test a LEGO race car, play and build with the LEGO Hero Factory and try the latest LEGO videogames in the WB Games Zone. Enjoy the Kids Power Towers, where you pull yourself up a 30-foot tower and then ‘free fall’ back down. You can grab lunch and get a pressed sandwich at the I-Zone Panini restaurant.
Moving on you enter the Land of Adventure. You’ll enjoy Safari Trek, a LEGO jeep trip through Africa featuring many LEGO animals. You can thrill on Coastersaurus, a dinosaur themed old-time wooden rollercoaster, enjoy a bouncing ride on Beetle Bounce and explore the maze of the Pharaoh’s Revenge. We loved the Lost Kingdom Adventure, a dark ride through Egypt firing your lasers at targets to earn points and defeat Sam Sinister. You can snack on Waffle Spears (warm chocolate-covered waffles) and have lunch at the BBQ Pit which features a Barbecue Pulled Pork sandwich on pita bread.
Next is LEGO Kingdoms, where you visit medieval times and the LEGOLAND Castle. The main attraction here is The Dragon, an awesome dragon-themed rollercoaster that travels through the castle before launching you on an exciting coaster ride. We were able to ride this back-to-back; jumping off and then right back on. LEGO Kingdoms also features the Royal Joust for kids to age 12 ride horses through scenes where they will joust with targets along the way, The Forestman’s Hangout – a tree and rope-climb area and Merlin’s Challenge – a high-speed rambler-type ride. You can shop at the King’s Market and enjoy lunch at Castle Burger; which serves the same menu as Cap’n Brickbeard’s with the substitution of a chicken salad for the chicken sandwich. This is another outdoor eating area but not as shaded and quiet as Cap’n Brickbeard’s.
The final area, and one we didn’t visit, is DUPLO Village; a play area for toddlers. Most of the rides here are temporarily closed while the expansion ‘World of Chima’ area is constructed – to open this summer. There are still play areas open here now, primarily DUPLO Farm, and this area also features an area for new mothers to nurse their babies.
The newest area, The World of Chima, is under construction and is scheduled to open this summer. This area will feature rides based on the new LEGO product line and TV show, The Legends of Chima, as well as characters from the show.
We found LEGOLAND to be very fun and we do plan on going back. This isn’t a park just for children as some might say, we had plenty of fun as adults. But if you have kids, they will absolutely love this! I’ve added some information and links for you below and below that are some photos and videos to enjoy. Please let us know what you think of LEGOLAND if you’ve been and we hope we’ve given you enough information so that you can plan your visit soon.
Official LEGOLAND® Florida App
This is an extremely helpful app, available for both iPhone and Android. It helps with planning, buying tickets, finding places to eat and it even has a function that locates your car in the parking lot.
LEGOLAND Florida Preview Video
Homeschool Days (Every Monday 5/6/13 to 12/23/13, except for 5/27 and 9/2)
Includes admission and water park, parking fee is separate.
Homeschool Students – $8
Accompanying Family/Friends – $25
Ticket Prices (Current as of 4/19/13)
LEGOLAND – PICK-A-DATE (Book 2 days in advance and pick a specific date)
Adult (13+) Child (3-12) / Senior (60+)
1 Day $64 $56
2 Day $79 $71
LEGOLAND + Water Park Combo Tickets – PICK-A-DATE (Book 2 days in advance and pick a specific date)
Adult (13+) Child (3-12) / Senior (60+)
1 Day $79 $71
2 Day $94 $86
Adult (13+) Child (3-12) / Senior (60+)
1 Day $79 $71
2 Day $94 $86
LEGOLAND + Water Park Combo Tickets
Adult (13+) Child (3-12) / Senior (60+)
1 Day $94 $86
2 Day $109 $101
Annual Passes (FL Resident passes include free parking and water park admission)
FL Resident Regular Adult Regular Child/Senior
$99 $129 $99
Facebook status one year ago : “Today we get to Florida. I got to remember I’m not dreaming.”. –Ben just said this morning. What a perfect way to start our post for our final day of travelling!
9:57 A.M. Woo hop! @ Georgia/Florida State Line I-75
10:17 A.M. I’m at Florida Welcome Center in Jennings, FL
12:34 P.M. I’m at I75 & Turnpike Interchange in Oxford, FL
12:44 P.M. Driving down the Florida Turnpike singing songs from The Princess & The Frog soundtrack-life doesn’t get any better than this!
12:47 PM pure joy!
(This was in response from an earlier tweet we received:
9:59 A.M. so, did it feel amazing driving across that state line!!??)
12:49 P.M. I’m at Okahumpka Service Plaza in FL
12:51 P.M. Ben: palm trees make me happy
12:53 P.M. Just entered Lake County! Woo hoo!
1:03 P.M. 13 min !
1:06 P.M. The excitement level in this car is AWESOME!!!!!!!
1:11 P.M. We see Citrus Tower!
Waiting in the lobby as we take care of the paperwork for our apartment:
3:57 P.M. I’m at Golden Corral in Clermont, FL
4:01 P.M. Our apartment is absolutely amazing. Will put a blog up tonight with pictures. Eating a late lunch/early dinner and then off to shop.
4:38 P.M. I’m at Target Supercenter in Clermont, FL
It was absolutely amazing to have gone through this journey from Wisconsin to Florida! If you were to ask us: was it worth it? We would unequivocally answer YES!, if only for the experience. We’ll elaborate further in a separate post, but we will say that if you have a dream, don’t be afraid to pursue it. It is better to have attempted and succeeded/failed, then to be filled with a life of regrets and “what ifs”.