Florida Talk—January 12

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From Greg Enslen.com:

Events, activities and other hometown items going on in and around Vero Beach and Orlando, Florida, by Greg Enslen

Last week, my family and I were in Florida for a family vacation, so I thought it would be fun to change Tipp Talk to Florida Talk this week.  Next week we’ll get back to all things Tipp City, but read on to hear highlights (and lowlights) of our recent trip…

Traveling on New Year’s Eve

Traveling is always stressful, but it seems traveling with kids is crazy, no matter how much planning you put into it.  But it can also be a blast, especially if you can remember what it was like to be a kid.  I thought the kids would be freaked out by the plane flight, but they were incredibly excited as the plane took off over Dayton, flying up and breaking through the clouds.  They were grinning from ear to ear.

We chose to fly out on New Year’s Eve, so by the time we got to Orlando, got our rental car, and made our way down to my parents’ house in Vero Beach, plans for the night were well under way.  After getting settled, we all went down to my sister’s (she lives four houses down from my folks) for pizza and fireworks.  My brother-in-law Steve set up a fire pit in the front yard and made ‘smores for the neighborhood, then set off a few fireworks to celebrate.  Later, we all watched the ball drop on TV at midnight.

Beach Time

Saturday morning, we headed to the Lemon Tree Café for a great breakfast, and then Katie got her first visit to the beach, where she shrieked and promptly began eating the sand and watching the birds.  The other kids screamed and ran into the water, jumping over the waves and looking for shells. I’m convinced that a wide open beach is the best possible place in the world for kids to play—they can’t make too much noise or get into too much trouble as long as they stay out of the water.

We met some more family members for ice cream, and I still had sand on my bare feet. What a great feeling in the middle of winter!  Afterward, we headed to Sears for family photos—that was a crazy hour, trying to get good photos of our extended family, which includes a newborn, a 1 ½ year old, and four kids under 8.  I don’t think they were ever all looking in the same direction, but we did get a few nice shots.

Star Trek

My Aunt Alva Underwood is one of the original Star Trek fans—in fact, she’s written a series of seven books analyzing the expansive collection of “expanded universe” novels that accompany the multiple TV series and the history of the iconic characters. We had a good time catching up on our Star Trek gossip, dissecting the movie that came out last year and how it fit into the overall Star Trek mythology.  We all agreed that J.J. Abrams, the director, did a great job of “resetting” the story back to the beginning.  It’s almost impossible to recreate and re-“vision” those characters while also respecting the mythology, but he managed to do it.  If you haven’t seen the film yet, add it to your Netflix queue—it’s a great way to spend two hours.

Disney

We got up early Monday morning and drove to Orlando after enjoying breakfast at a place called Too Jays. After checking in at Disney’s Old Key West Resort, we headed off to our first park—the Magic Kingdom! Oh, and by the way, don’t take your whole family to Disney without saving up for it first.  I was waiting for the guy at the ticket counter to offer me financing options! That being said, Xander is eight and Annabelle is six, so they’re the perfect ages for Disney, and the parks did not disappoint—the day was filled with wide-eyed shrieks of “that was the best ride EVER!” and “wow, look at that!”

Anna loved It’s a Small World and the Dumbo ride, and Xander’s favorite rides were the Haunted Mansion and Space Mountain.  I don’t think I’ve ever heard him scream that loud, followed by the inevitable “can we go again?” when it was over. They also enjoyed the “Wishes” fireworks show and the famous “Electric Light Parade,” which I loved as a child.

Epcot and Home

We took Tuesday off and just enjoyed the pool at Old Key West.  My folks took Xander and Anna out for a nice meal at the Rainforest Café, and Sam and I snuck off for Thai food in Celebration, the planned community built by Disney in the 1980s.

Wednesday was a long day—we started out at the gates of Epcot at 9 a.m., waiting with a hundred other folks for the park to open.  The kids loved Spaceship Earth and Soarin’ and the Universe of Energy, but their favorite ride by far was Test Track, which simulates a car testing facility  After meeting my folks and my Aunt Ruth, we enjoyed walking around the World Showcase—a series of miniature “countries” circling the back of Epcot.  I always enjoy snacking my way around the world, and the kids enjoyed it as well, trying churros and kriska and bratwurst and gelato.  I respect other countries’cultures—especially their pastries and desserts!

Tipp City Florida Tidbits:

  • Disney surprised me with some of their innovations, such as when the resort staff texted our room number to my cell phone to let me know it was ready.
  • It was a crazy feeling, going from wearing snow boots and heavy coats to wearing flip flops and short sleeves. Driving on the highway with the windows open, the kids hung their heads out the windows like dogs, just experiencing the warm air against their faces.
  • If you’re going to one of the Disney parks, be sure to check into the Extra Magic Hours, when the parks open early and close late for Disney Resort guests.

Hear something interesting for “Tipp Talk”? Visit my website at www.gregenslen.com and use the “Contact Me” page to let me know what you’re thinking.  And don’t worry – I won’t quote you unless you want me to!

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