We are not a Disney family and yet I just spent a week in the middle of all things Mickey Mouse.  Okay, not exactly in the middle.  On the outskirts.  Very outskirts, away from all the hoards of people, in our own little house, in a quiet neighborhood, with garbage pickup and everything.  Yeah sure, we could have done the whole experience and stayed in one of the resorts, but we aren’t those kind of people.  We are more like state park kind of folks.  Outdoorsy.  We like to explore the land and visit historical sites.  And yet … there we were among the magic of Disney World.  I’m still not sure who came up with the idea of it being this years vacation destination – oh wait, it was me!  Please don’t ask me why I chose it, though, because I don’t honestly have a good answer other than I think every kid should have a chance to go once and since my boys are thirteen and ten, I figured the opportunity for them going without much of a fuss was soon expiring.  Luckily, there wasn’t much fussing, but the excitement level didn’t run wild, either.  Truthfully none of us were overly anxious for the trip.  In fact, I’d put off making reservations until the very last-minute and was still finalizing plans up until the moment we left.  I know, terrible, terrible me.


First let me say, I’m not one of those snow birds that will migrate to Florida when I retire.  It isn’t bad.  To visit.  I don’t want to live there.  Ever!  It’s too hot, crowded and bare of the dense forest of Kentucky that I’ve come to love.  The house we rented, though, couldn’t have been better.  I would definitely be up to staying there again.   Three bedroom, two bath, with a fully stocked kitchen and it even had its own private in-ground pool right outside the sliding glass door.  How awesome is that?   I”ll tell you, it’s awesome!  I woke up each morning and had coffee poolside.  One morning I manage to read while my little guy took a morning dip.

Now, I know vacations are supposed to be relaxing.  You’re supposed to take it easy, sit back, relax and have a good time.  But again, we are not that family.  We are the doer sort.  Go, go, go and see all that you can. And since we planed three full days in the parks, we wanted to take some time to get out and see a little bit of Florida that didn’t involve standing in long lines out in the summer heat.  A quick internet search led us to Wekiwa Springs State Park.  It did not however, let us know that this seemed to be the most popular park in the state and by 12:30 in the afternoon, it would be completely closed due to reaching its full capacity.   Pretty discouraging news after making the hour-long drive, but we drove around for a while longer and eventually got in.  I must say, it was well worth the canoe trip down the Wekiwa River and the frigid (and I do mean, frigid) Springs.  I’ll refrain from telling the story about the humongous dude my son and I knocked off his paddle board when we rammed him with our canoe.  Let’s just say huge is an understatement, but at least he was nice.    Oopsie 🙂IMG_0656[1]









Now, what is a trip to Disney without a day at Epcot?  This was probably my favorite day in the parks.  A little educational, a lot of interactive stuff, and a couple of good rides, it was the perfect start to our week.

It’s been twenty plus years since I visited Disney as a teenager.  Animal Kingdom may have been an idea back then, but it didn’t exist.  More like an oversized zoo, if you have an animal lover it’s the place to go.  It’s also home to a pretty damn good roller coaster.  Once upon a time (like how I started that?), I was a roller coaster junkie.  Then age set in and I started realizing everything that could go wrong with those kinds of rides.  I haven’t been to an amusement park in years, but Face Everest was an awesome ride.  Smooth, intense and yet exhilarating, it didn’t disappoint.

While we might not be the fairytale family, I have boys, so space and rockets are high on our list of things that make them happy. We were lucky enough to be in Florida during a rocket launch at Kennedy Space Center, so we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to watch it.  Sorry for the terrible picture, (iPhone camera’s suck), but that bright light on the first picture is it.  If you’ve never been the Kennedy Space Center, I’d highly recommend going.  It’s fascinating, and make sure you take the bus tour that takes you out to the launch sites and such, it’s well worth it.  It’s hard to imagine the size of these rockets and shuttles until you’re actually there.   There is also a very emotional memorial to Space Shuttle Columbia and Challenger.  I can guarantee, it’s hard to walk out of there with a dry eye.


I’m sure many of you have been to Disney, but for any that haven’t, you could literally spend weeks there.  I’m not even sure how many parks are involved when you take into account the water parks and all. Originally we only planned two days there and wanted to spend one day at Universal Studios, but when it came to budgeting and number crunching, the multiple day tickets at Disney won out and we ended up skipping Universal in lieu of Magic Kingdom.

IMG_0793[1]I’m not a princess loving kind of girl, but who can resist Cinderella’s castle?  My boys said I wished I lived there and I told them, yeah, because I’m such a princess.  They laughed at me 🙂  Seriously, though, everything at Disney is done with the finest detail.  It’s beautiful, fun, and easy to navigate.  The lines were fairly short and the fast pass’ are easy to get and use.  I’m sure if we (I) put more effort into planning this trip, we would have been able to enjoy a lot more, but we had a fun time anyhow.  Magic Kingdom was by far our longest day.  We arrived when it opened and didn’t leave until after the firework display.  And what a display it was!  There really isn’t any words for it other than TOTALLY AMAZING or maybe MAGICAL!  We sat right behind Cinderella’s castle and they were literally going off all around us.  Even my husband said it was the best firework show he’s ever seen.


IMG_0817[1]No, that’s not Jeff Gordon getting into that car.  That would be my oldest son.  Can you guess where we’re at?  Daytona Speedway.  Yeah, it was on the guy’s wish list of things to do.  All three did a ride-along around the track at speeds up to 170 miles per hour. Trust me, I definitely would have been up for this, but I did it a few years back at Kentucky Speedway, so I figured I’d save the money and pass.  I’m pretty sure it was the highlight of the trip for the guys and I didn’t mind, because it gave me some research time to take pictures and scout around behind the scenes for one of my WIP, a race car story, where not only does the hero drive, but also the heroine.

And what would be a trip to Daytona be without a stop at the beach?  It was the perfect ending to our week in Florida.  I suppose Florida isn’t really all that bad 🙂


Okay, so there was one thing my guys wanted to see while we were there.  Can you guess?  It’s a  long, green and scaly creature. Alligators!  We expected to see some on our canoe trip (we’re told they were there), but that didn’t happen and we looked every where we went and do you know where the first one turned up?  Along the road in front of the space center.  Yep, in the water filled culverts.  Weird I know!  The guys were obsessed with them and the few we saw didn’t satisfy their curiosity, making a detour to find more, a must on our way home.

IMG_0879[1]Alas, we found gators at the Savannah Wildlife Refuge.  All kinds of gators, even teeny, tiny baby ones that were rather adorable.

All in all, our Disney vacation was fun.  We had a great time and I’m glad the kids got to experience it.  My favorite part?  Kennedy Space Center.  I could go on and on about it, but I don’t want to bore you too much.  My only regret was skipping Universal Studios.  I really think the boys would have enjoyed that more than Magic Kingdom, but it is what it is.  I know, we could always go back and try it again, but I doubt we will.  This was a one time, hit it and get it over with thing.  There are far too places in this world I want to see.

I would like to quickly add, a huge thank you to Richard, the owner of the house we rented.  If you are ever in the area and looking for a reasonably priced rental away from all the hustle of Orlando, I’d highly recommend this house.  You can find it on homeaway.com, a site I’ve used several times to book lodging for our vacations.  Richard was easy to deal with, the house was absolutely beautiful, comfy and clean.  You are required to provide toiletries and paper products (trash bags, toilet paper, etc), but the kitchen comes fully stocked with everything you’d need.  The best part about it?  It’s only twenty minutes away from all the excitement and did I mention it had a pool?  This pool was such a blessing after a hot day at the parks.  If I ever come back, I’d stay here again.  Thanks Richard for making our Disney stay so comfortable.

Until next year …

Comments ( 6 )

  1. ReplyE.L. Wicker

    It sounds like you all had an amazing time!! I would love that kinds of holiday, the GO GO GO kind. My other half is not adventurous in the slightest, so it's a lot of sitting around. I'd rather go hiking or something, but there ya go. Looks like I need to come with you guys on your next, lol. Oh dear lordy, I'm not sure Vegas is ready for us.....the poor lizards ;)

    • Replydenarogers

      Thanks, Em. It was definitely a lot to do, but we enjoyed it.

  2. Replywccunningham

    Awesome! Florida is on our wish list of places to go. Still haven't been there.

    • Replydenarogers

      Well, as you know, I'm not a huge fan, but it's not terrible. You should definitely go at some point. We went on a cruise out of Miami several years ago and drove down the east coast on our way there. Going home, we met my mom in Mobile, Alabama, so we drove through the Everglades and up the west coast. I think that did it in for me. Too much of Florida at one time. Plus, I like trees. Big, huge trees!

  3. Replyrachelcarrera

    I'm glad you had a fun time despite our heat and humidity. And glad you didn't get rained out! Universal doesn't have nearly as much to do as Disney, and the rides aren't actually "rides" but simulated rides, if that makes a difference to you. But if you'd have hit one of the water parks, you'd have loved it. :)

    • Replydenarogers

      Actually your humidity isn't nearly as bad as it is here in Kentucky and it only rained once during the day and it didn't last long. We were in line for a water ride, so we were going to get wet anyhow. I didn't know the rides at Universal were more simulated in style. That just goes to show how much I pay attention! And yeah, we thought about a water park, but we have those here, so we were trying to do things we don't have the opportunity to do at home. We had a good time and I really shouldn't be so hard on Florida. It really is beautiful in areas.

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