Florida Family Vacation 2016

We just returned Wednesday from a 9-day family vacation in Kissimmee, Florida. Get ready for a photo dump!

We hit all the usual tourists sights, starting with Disney Springs for some shopping on our first full day there.

cousins, family vacation, disney springs

The kids outnumbered the adults this year!

merry-go-round, carousel, disney springsThe following day we donned our family vacation shirts and hit up Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. They wanted to take a silly picture…vacation shirts, family vacation, disney world, magic kingdom

… but I think only half of them got the message.

I must say the vacay shirts were an awesome idea! It made it so easy to find each other when needed in a crowd. We wanted something lightweight in a bright color. Next time we need to splurge for a dri-wicking shirt, but the color was perfect and really stood out. We received a lot of compliments on them from other park-goers, as well as extra attention from staff members.

disney, goofy

disney, donald duck, cousins

The following day we were all still tired from a 14-hour day in the park, so we relaxed and did a bit of shopping.

Hoppy bought her very first Vera Bradley bag (Pink Swirls) and wallet using her own money she made selling some of her crafts!

shopping, vera bradley

She was so cute comparing all of the patterns, sizes, and prices. She really wanted a crossbody bag like my girls and I all have and she got one!

The next day we were all ready for a beach day. The original plan was to go to our favorite Clearwater Beach, but their forecast called for storms all day. No bueno. We decided to switch directions and head to the Atlantic coast. Cocoa Beach was the closest so that’s where we ended up.

cocoa beach

cocoa beach, waves, atlantic ocean

It was so fun! I had picked up a bodyboard the day before to try out. The kids and I loved it!

Another first for me? Seeing a sea turtle nest! How cool is that? The only thing cooler would have been actually seeing them hatch.

sea turtle nest, beach, cocoa beach

Then another first!!! We happened to be there the day they were launching a rocket from Cape Canaveral.

rocket launch

See the gray clouds right above the middle of the pier? That’s where the rocket took off from. We watched it go higher and higher with its fire boosters (orange arrow). It was pretty far up in the sky before the sound of its lift off ever reached us. Amazing.

After we wore ourselves out in the waves and sun, we needed food ASAP!

family dinner, family vacationAnd adult beverages! Midday adult beverages because VACATION. And seven adults and eight kids in one house for nine days. Lord have mercy. Kidding! It was totally fine. We rented a house with 7 bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms at the same resort in Kissimmee as our last family vacation there the summer before last.

emerald island resort, florida

There was plenty of room for everyone! The cost of renting a house is so much cheaper than a hotel. And we got to cook our own meals. We cooked breakfast at home everyday. And had at least one more meal at home each day. Plus, we had our own pool! I think almost all of the houses at that resort have private pools, plus a large pool for the entire resort at the clubhouse. We again made the most of our pool with nightly volleyball games.

swimming pool, water volleyball

Notice the inflatable pool volleyball net? Last vacay’s “net” was something we pieced together. Tragic. This year we came prepared, lugging that net all the way from home! Worth it.

The next couple of days were spent at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. All the rides!

universal studios islands of adventure

cousins, universal islands of adventure

As a family, we had a great time, but of course, we were right in the middle of the saddest time in Orlando. All three tragedies (the murder of Christina Grimme, the worst mass shooting in American history, and the alligator attack and death of 2-year-old Lane Graves) happened while we were there. As you can imagine, the entire area was in mourning, in shock, and on high alert.  So very, very sad.

orlando

Another incident that didn’t make the national news really scared us. Monday while we were at Islands of Adventure, we could suddenly see a large black cloud of smoke rising. We couldn’t tell if it was coming from inside the park or very close by, but I could tell it was a massive fire. I asked a couple of park workers, but they hadn’t seen it and then were shocked when we pointed it out. We didn’t know if we should leave the park or wait for more information. At that point, I was beyond nervous given the terrorist attack the previous day. I finally called the local fire department’s non-emergency number to inquire. They informed me it was a structure fire at a construction site at the theme park next to ours. We were relieved to find out it was not another attack on innocent people.

Tell me your summer vacation plans!

Any firsts for you lately?

 

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