Central Florida: Disney on the Cheap

March 13, 2017

Following our late night adventures of karaoke & ice cream last night, today was a pretty uneventful. I spent the day working and the kids did school. Which was perfect, as most of the day it was windy and raining. So glad we were not trying to do LEGOLand today. When the weather cleared this evening Nolan and I went to explore the activities offered in this mobile home park we are staying in (add this to our list of the unexpected). We are both a sucker for games and found the horseshoe pits and played for a bit.

March 14, 2017

Another day much like yesterday. I spent the day working while the kids kept up with school. After being cooped up in the rain yesterday, we all needed to get out. So the kids and Cortney went to a local park where the kids could just be kids. Following the park they adventured to a citrus grove and factory tour where they learned why the Sunshine State is the 2nd largest producer of oranges in the world. After taste testing all the yummy sugar laced treats, they headed back to the RV with a healthier take home, a 10lb bag of oranges, quite possibly the sweetest and most delicious oranges we have ever eaten.

The kids came home and swam in the pool, the first pool on our trip that has been open and warm enough to swim in. Our days have been full here in Florida, I think all of the fun has finally caught up to us. This afternoon we all vegged out and watched a movie, enjoying some much needed rest. Later at night we had seen that bingo was taking place at the main meeting hall. We walked over to check it out and learned two things, 1-this retirement community takes bingo very seriously and 2- due to the nature of this very serious competition, the kids were too young to stay, so we headed out to make our own fun.

March 15, 2017

One of the challenges of working on the road, being all together much of the time, is that the kids don’t fully understand what am doing – or they forget – they are kids after all. So today I went to McDonald’s to work. It is a great place usually, free Wifi and $1 Iced Tea. I sat down with my computer, plugged in my earbuds (attempting to communicate that I am not interested in conversing), threw on some music and began emailing and completing tasks. That is usually how it goes mobile officing – whether it’s Starbucks, a local coffee shop or Panera Bread, they are all great spaces to work remotely and get stuff done. But today was not one of those days.

An elderly gentleman sat down next to me, obviously not understanding the universal language of no eye contact, baseball cap pulled down, earbuds in. He began talking to me and asking me questions. I must admit – I was slightly irritated. I mean don’t get me wrong – but come on!…My face is in the computer and ear buds in my ears – doesn’t that communicate – “I am busy”? For him – it did not – or maybe he didn’t care? He wanted a conversation. So I closed the laptop, took ear buds out and had a pleasant 30 minute conversation. I learned, he had retired to Florida decades ago and this was his weekly outing to McDonald’s, leaving his wife at home – his big day out so-to-speak. He shared many other unimportant details to my day, things he is proud of like any father; that his son works in the IT Department in New York for some big financial firm, good job and is not married. (In my mind, what am I to do with this information?!)

It is funny what people will tell you when you simply listen, they tell you more when you tell them less. I always joke around with Cortney – when she goes into places – people will tell her crazy things. She doesn’t even ask – other then making eye contact and saying “Hello.” A simple transaction to buy milk always turns into the clerk divulging a crazy life story. When she gets back, I say – “What took you so long?” At first I started asking out of frustration, now I ask for sheer entertainment. She usually proceeds to tell me a story about the checker and their whole life story. I don’t get it. But today I got it – from my new friend at McDonald’s. All that I didn’t even get his name. Too funny!

Disney was not in the budget for our trip, but we knew being this close we had to take the kids to experience what we could. This would be their first living memory Disney experience, never having been to the park before. With little expectations we set out around 5 PM and drove to Disney Springs. It is the outdoor shopping area with restaurants that was formally known as Downtown Disney. We visited the Disney Store (which was essentially Disneyland to the kids) they shopped with the spend money they had been saving (hoarding) for this very day! They found stuffed toys that they had been “Needing!” Hadley found her favorite, Doc McStuffins and Nolan his favorite, Bunga, the honey badger from The Lion Guard. They were excited! Someone explain to me kids and stuffed animals?!

We wandered the property taking in everything Disney, during our 2 hour wait (!!) for dinner at the Rainforest Café (the kids were so patient). Hadley saw Anna from Frozen walking around, we watched a car converted to a boat driving around in the bay – Disney magic at its finest. Found as many Disney character statues as we could and watched a live show from the outdoor amphitheater.

Once we got to dinner, it was fun to watch the kids’ faces when the thunder rolled in the animals began to move above and around them – never having been to a themed restaurant before, this was to them the best Disney experience (they still talk about it being their favorite to this day!) After dinner, we found a Mickey Mouse Ice Cream vendor, a great way to end the day.

Great night overall – hope to maybe make it back tomorrow!?

March 16, 2017

After getting back home very late last night, we had a lazy morning; the kids rode bikes, chalked and played with some neighbor kids. And then naturally we wanted more Disney. So early afternoon we drove to the Grand Floridian Hotel at Disney World, where we parked for free. Seriously, what is EVER FREE at Disney?! Cortney’s childhood friend Claire and her husband Michael are huge Disney fans, thanks to their super helpful tips and tricks we were able to complete our kids first Disney experience in grand fashion. We rode the monorail from the hotel to the Magic Kingdom front gates, then caught a ferry boat to the Polynesian Village Resort. The Ferry Boat Captain gave us (well, really Cortney, she makes friends everywhere – remember the McDonalds story from the other day!) some great tips on where to experience the Happily Ever After Fireworks Show. After exploring for a bit, we hopped back on the Monorail to Floridian Hotel, where we were able to secure an awesome spot. From the waterfront verandah of Narcoossee’s restuarant we had panoramic views of the Lagoon and some of the best seats in the park for the Magic Kingdom Firework Show and Electrical Water Pageant that followed. Wow! Claire & Michael need to start a Disney Tour company!

We had not expected that, nor the electrical light show that followed. Fun, fun times. Another late late night! And we did it all as cheap and as free as we could without entering any of the parks!

This post is part of our Live Like No One Else series, a retelling, through journal entries kept along the way, of all the sights and memories we made during our 2017 #getlivingadventure. We were so busy living the adventure we missed sharing many of the experiences with you. Just happy to have you along as we relive many of the great memories that we hope one day our kids will have to read and remember!


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