Birthdays

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Well, we’re heading back home today, but before we go, we’re going to make a quick stop at Disney Hollywood Studios. We don’t plan on renewing our Disney Annual Passes next year because we want to do some other things, like Universal Studios, Sea World, etc., so wanted to make sure Adam gets to ride the “Tower of Terror,” which he’s been wanting to go one f-o-r-e-v-e-r!

But first: Pictures!

Family

Family

We had four Fast Passes for “Tower of Terror,” but nooo waaayy was Alex getting on there. So, Adam and the Birthday Girl rode it, while Dad and Alex went to one of Alex’s favorite attractions at Hollywood Studios, “The Frozen Sing-Along Celebration”. And Adam for all his bravado, still needs to hold Mom’s hand (or maybe it’s the other way around)…

Family Family

And the ride went something like this…

Whew! Glad I didn’t ride it! I’ll just stick with the “Frozen” thing!! 😉

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And so we head-off to breakfast, and like everything at Disney, we wait in line…

Heading to Breakfast Heading to Breakfast

We didn’t have much planned at Animal Kingdom today…Fast Passes for “Everest” again, this time it was Adam and me, while Mom and Alex went to the “It’s Tough to be a Bug” show (which Alex loves!). As you can see, Adam has learned where the cameras are, so he can make faces during the ride…

Everest Again

and then, it’s Cindy’s favorite show, “The Festival of the Lion King”…

Lion King

Pomba

We were going to do the “Kilimanjaro Safari” ride, but Cindy and the boys were anxious to get to the pool at the resort, so we left a little early. The pool was really nice…

Caribbean Beach Resort Pool

and so was the beach…

Caribbean Beach Resort

So, while Cindy relaxed and sipped a tropical drink, and the boys ran wild in the water, I slipped-off to the Magic Kingdom to visit the “Hall of Presidents”.

Yes. I went there for that one attraction. Not only is it one of my favorites, I hadn’t see it since they added President Trump. Anyway, I drove to the park, walked to the gate, got on the Ferry to Magic Kingdom, walked down Main Street U.S.A. to Liberty Square and arrived just 15-minutes before the show started.

When I arrived, the Muppets were putting on a show right next door…

Muppets

Soon, the doors opened for the “Hall of Presidents” and the crowd strode in. I had an excellent seat…

Hall of Presidents

and the show was GREAT! As always.

Hall of Presidents

After the show, I walked back out to Liberty Square, down Main Street U.S.A., got on the Ferry back to the gate, walked to my truck, and drove back to the resort. Just so you know, this single attraction journey took about 2-1/2-hours.

Dinner was a BIG BUCKET OF CRAB LEGS at Joe’s Crab Shack and a slice of Key Lime Pie for the birthday girl.

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Today is the BIG DAY! We all got-up early and got ready for breakfast, but before we head-out, Cindy opened her present. She’s been wanting a Louis Vuitton handbag for as long as I can remember. I always teased her about it because the practical side of me couldn’t see paying THAT much for a purse!

Well, today, she got her wish…

Louis

Although, I still don’t see what all the fuss is about, Cindy certainly does. And that’s all that matters.

Louis Louis

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Tomorrow is Cindy’s birthday and surprisingly, she wanted to spend the weekend at Disney World. I was working in Tampa, so drove up here a little early to check-in and get things set-up. Cindy picked-up the boys early from school and headed down.

Happy Birthday Button

We’re staying at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort and will be spending this evening and tomorrow at Cindy’s favorite park: Animal Kingdom.

Resort Room Looking out the window

We had a few minutes before we had to get to the park, so the boys chilled out for a bit in the hammocks on the beach outside the room…

Hammock

Soon it was time to go, so the boys dumped the sand out of their shoes and we took-off to Animal Kingdom. We had a Fast Pass for the “Expedition Everest” rollercoaster. Alex didn’t want to ride, so Cindy and Adam went on…

Expedition Everest

We also had a Fast Pass for the “Na’vi River Journey” in Pandora, so before we ate dinner, we visited the Na’vi…

Na'vi River Journey

and then took some pictures…

Pandora Waterfall

then, as the sun was going down, we enjoyed our Pandora feast…

Pandora Drink Pandora Meal Pandora Dessert

After dinner, we had our last Fast Pass for the “Rivers of Light Nighttime Experience,” which turned out to be AWESOME!

River of Light

River of Light

River of Light River of Light

River of Light

River of Light

When the show was over, we headed for the gate because the park was closing. What a fun night! Back at the hotel, the boys chilled a bit before bed…

In Bed

but not for long! Tomorrow will be a busy day!

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One of the great advantages to being a member of the Freedom Boat Club is you have access to boats all over the country. There just happens to be a boat club affiliate here! I arranged a boat to take the family off-shore prior to our arrival, so the folks had the boat rready and waiting when we arrived…

Boat Waiting

and in just a few minutes we were ready to cast-off!

The Sea EO

And we’re off…

The Sea EO

Heading across the bay…

Boat going out

Into the inlet and out to sea! As you can see, Adam like’s to sit next to the Captain 🙂

The inlet

Destination? Anywhere!

Out to sea

We spent the afternoon on the open water. I’d open the throttle and we’d jump the waves at about 50-mph The boys had a blast! Every now and then, I’d slow to idle and we’d just sit on the water rocking back and forth with the rhythm of the ocean. It was wonderful!

Alex would lounge…

Alex lounge

Adam would pace (LOL)…

Adam paces

Cindy would pose…

Cindy poses

Me and Cindy

Beautiful and sooo peaceful!

Pano of Palm Beach Shores

one the way back to the marina, we decided to stop and visit Peanut Island, which is situated in the middle of Palm Beach Shore Harbor…

The boys on Peanut Island

It’s a great place to swim and snorkel, but very rocky!

Cindy and the boys on Peanut Island

This is the life!

Me and the boys on Peanut Island

We had a good time swimming and exploring the island, but alas, the day was drawing to a close, so we reluctantly packed-up the boat…

Loading the boat

and motored-off toward the marina. This time Alex sat next to the Captain…

Me and Alex

What a great day! And did I mention, it was my birthday? 😉

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Today’s the DAY! The boys are EIGHT-years-old and what better way to celebrate this momentous occasion than with a STAR WARS JEDI TRAINING PARTY?!? So, we invited about a bazillion of their closest friends…

Star Wars Invite

Of course, Mom and Dad still have A LOT to do to get ready for the party this afternoon, but before we get started, the boys’ enjoy the pre-party opening of presents…

Pre-Party

Cindy really went all-out with the decorations and the food! Which, of course, made much more work for ME! Not really, Cindy put almost all of this together herself!! All the food was Star Wars themed, like “Obi-Wan Kabobbies”, “Jedi Juice”, and “Edible Ewoks”.

Happy Birthday Banner

Food Food
Food Darth Vader Mister
Happy Birthday Banner The Force is Strong

And R2D2, C3PO, and Yoda came for the party, too…

R2D2 and C3PO Yoda

F-I-N-A-L-L-y it was time for the party, so the boys put on their Padawan garb and the kids arrived, then more kids came, then even more kids. We had several games planned that served as Jedi Training, like Balance-The-Balloon-On-The-Lightsaber, Death-Star-Hot-Potato, etc., so on. Each game had a little poem the Jedi Master Trainer would read to explain the rules of the game, like this one for the Emperors-Lightening-Bolt-Silly-String-Game…

With the dark side, the Emperor is strong
To defeat him, you’ll need a good jolt
You’ll show him with the Jedi you belong
If you can withstand his lightening bolt

So, the kids all had a can of silly string and like Adam…

Adam Silly String

There was also plenty of time for the kids to make-up their own games, like Alex and Westin…

Alex and Westin Alex and Westin

The highlight of the party was this huge Star Wars pinata! In fact, it was the only time we really got any semblance of organization from this rowdy group of Padawans…

Alex and the Pinata Adam and the Pinata

and when the Pinata finally busted open, it was a mad scramble to get the goodies!

Pinata Scramble

So, after a delicious dinner of “Hut” Dogs, the Boys’ were regaled with a chorus of the “Happy Birthday” song from their fellow Padawans…

Happy Birthday

And later that evening, after all of the Padawans had received their Jedi certificates and “goodie bags”, the boys started the day much like it began, with a post-party opening of presents…

After Party
After Party Alex After Party Adam

Yoda, who always seems to know just what to say, summed it up pretty well as he headed back to Dagobah: “A GREAT DAY IT WAS!”

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Today the boys turn SEVEN! Naturally, Mom got had tee-shirts made for the occasion…

Birthday Shirts

So, before school we opened a present or two…

Alex Legos Adam Legos

They left the rest for this afternoon, and enjoyed a bike ride to school…

Bike Ride Bike Ride

Adam and Alex enjoyed cupcakes with their class today, but there were a couple left over to enjoy at home later…

Birthday Cupcakes

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BOYS!

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Labor Day. The boys are out of school and I’m enjoying the final hours of a much-needed 3-day weekend! What better way to spend the day than a visit to America’s oldest city, which just happens to be a mere 20-miles away. This week marks the 450th birthday of St Augustine, and we joined the many visitors absorbing its rich history. The highlight of the day was our visit to the Castillo de San Marcos, affectionately known as the “Old Fort,” and the boys are excited at the prospect of becoming Junior Rangers!

St Augustine 450 Years

We parked down the street at the Mission of Nombre de Dios, which is known for the park with the world’s largest cross, and walked to the fort. We came in from the west side and stopped for a quick picture in front of the San Pablo Bastion.

San Pedro Bastion

Tickets in hand, we climb atop the unfinished Ravelin, which is a triangular outer work that originally protected the fort’s front (and only) entrance.

Ravelin

As part of the Junior Ranger program, the boys have to ask one of the park staff members why he or she likes to work at the fort. They selected this man, who said he volunteers to “educate visitors and enhance their experience”. Adam especially liked the “army” uniforms the staff wore

Old Fort Volunteer

Atop the terreplein, the boys explore the San Carlos Bastion…

San Carlos Bastion

and some of the canons on display…

Canon Canon

then pose for a picture with Mom.

Old Fort Volunteer

We had a great time. After the Old Fort, we headed down the street to a little Irish pub for an early supper…and a beer 😉

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After a great night in the Animal Kingdom Lodge, we were ready for a day at the park. I paid the valet for the van and we headed down the road for the short trip to the park entrance.

Animal Kingdom Entrance

We had almost an hour before the first “Fast Pass” attraction I had scheduled the day prior. We went to the gate to activate our annual pass and in the middle of the process, Cindy realized she had forgotten her ID in the car. So I (literally) ran back to the van to retrieve her ID card. Once back at the ticket booth, panting and out-of-breath, we completed the admission process (or so we thought) and preceded to the park entrance.

Bag searched, we each held our magic band up to the scanner. Everyone cleared except for me. Evidently, in the confusion of the forgotten ID situation, the ticket-taker failed to activate my ticket. So, I had to accompany an attendant to the Guest Service Office where she processed my ticket manually, and then gave us an “Fast Pass” ticket for the inconvenience. The process didn’t take too long, and the boys played with the iPads which served as park information centers.

Anyway, despite the delay, we were still on schedule to make our first “Fast Pass” experience, The Kali River Rapids ride! So, we get to the attraction entrance and head to the “Fast Pass” lane where we discovered that Adam had inadvertently changed all our fast pass selections while he was playing with the iPad in the ticket office. Needless to say, I was not too happy.

Fortunately, one of the guest service guys was there and he helped us cancel Adam’s selections and rebook our original selections. Then he have us a complementary Fast Pass ride on the Kali River Rapids. Talk about great service!

Of course, Alex didn’t think it was so great, as both he and I got soaked!!

Kids Soaked

of course, Mom and Adam got a little wet, too, but not quite as bad as me and Alex!

Family Soaked

We figured walking would help us dry-off, so we headed to the Dinoland USA looking for DINOSAUR, a time-machine themed ride. We all road aboard these “time rovers” through a lot of bumps and flashing lights. There were lots of dinosaurs, but certainly not my favorite ride…

Time Rover

After recovering from the whiplash induced by the time rover, we took in the Primeval Whirl (which was, interestingly enough, one of the attractions Adam re-scheduled us to ride). Alex wasn’t crazy about this one, so he and I sat-it-out while Mom and Alex took a whirl.

Adam and Mom Ride

By the time they finished, Alex was good-to-go, so we got back in line, so he could ride.

But the highlight of the Animal Kingdom experience was the Expedition Everist roller coaster!

Expedition Everest

Expedition Everest

We used our “Fast Pass” to get through the line quickly. Here we are going into the 80-foot drop. And despite the looks on the boys faces, they absolutely LOVED the ride! So much so, they wanted to get back in line and go again…

Expedition Everest Roller Coaster

Sometime during the day, although at this point it’s really a blur, we stopped for ice cream…

Adam eats ice cream Alex eats ice cream

Oh, and the boys jammed on some bongos, and Alex got sillier and sillier, as Adam lost more and more enthusiasm…

Bongos Bongos
Bongos Bongos
Bongos Bongos

As the day was winding down, we headed to Africa for our last attraction, the Kilimanjaro Safari. But on our way to Africa, guess who popped out of the ground?!?

Stitch

Then it was on to the safari. There were a lot of animals, rinos, elephants, but the boys really got a kick out of the giraffe that crossed in front of the truck.

Giraffe

And so, with one more look at Mt Everest, we crossed the bridge and headed back to the van, and home.

Mt Everest from the lake

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This weekend we’re having a little family getaway to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. A couple of weeks ago I purchased an annual pass for the family, so considering we make frequent trips already, this’ll actually save me a little bit of money 🙂

So, as a belated birthday present for Cindy, I booked us a room at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, one of the Walt Disney World Resorts…

Animal Kingdom Lodge

Mom and the Boys

The hotel is amazing, and the guest rooms open to the ‘Savannah’, where wild animals roam. The boys thought that was pretty cool!

Animal Kingdom Lodge View

…but what they REALLY liked was the bunk bed in the room!

Bunk Beds

We’re planning on visiting the Animal Kingdom park tomorrow, so tonight we’re just going to relax and enjoy some drinks and this ginormous pool!

Animal Kingdom Lodge Animal Kingdom Lodge Pool

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