Our Orlando Holiday

December 26-30, 2019


This year, beginning on the day after Christmas, Jay and Joyce traveled to Orlando for about five nights of fun. They were joined by Robert and his family coming down from Alabama, and Karen and her family, traveling by separate car, coming up from Valrico.

While Robert and his family were driving down to Orlando, Jay and Joyce and Karen and her family got there early and had yet another fun experience with an Escape Room. It was challenging and fun and we successfully made our “escape“ with minutes to spare. We did this before Robert’s family came in because his boys are not yet old enough to appreciate this type of adventure.

At about the same time we completed the Escape Room, Robert arrived in town and we all met at Disney Springs, where we had reservations at the T-Rex restaurant there. Of course that restaurant is quite a hit with all the animatronic dinosaurs moving and roaring, all of which scared Luke pretty bad until he finally got used to them, and then he liked it a lot. Our lunch was very nice and very filling.

Afterwards we did a bit of touring at Disney Springs to include the required visit to the LEGO Store to build and race our LEGO Cars. After a bit more of walking around and enjoying the sights, it was time to head to our lodging which was a BnB in the community of Champions Gate, south of Kissimmee. With Karen‘s help we had found a five bedroom townhouse with washer and dryer and full kitchen and a large dining room and a very nice family room and with many TVs throughout. Jay and Joyce had done some earlier shopping and stocked up on snacks, some lunch foods, and a bunch of breakfast food. After all of that was put away we did some relaxing, but were mostly ready for an early evening.

The next morning we headed up to the Gaylord Palms Resort, just north of the Town of Celebration, to visit its annual presentation of ICE!TM, an amazing display of ice sculpturing. ICE! is an interactive walk-through holiday attraction kept at a chilly 9°F where we explored a variety of holiday scenes and two-story ICE! slides - all made from 2 million pounds of ice! The theme this year was The Polar Express, and it was very well done.

Then - after lunch at Chick-fil-A (of course) - we traveled up to International Drive to experience WonderWorks.

WonderWorks is an amusement park for the mind with 35,000 square feet of “edu-tainment.. The attraction combines education and entertainment with more than 100 hands-on exhibits that challenge the mind and spark the imagination. WonderWorks is a fun place to spend 3-4 hours. Yes, we found it a bit crowded, but that was expected considering the Christmas holiday. But what we did not expect was that the AC was not working well in the building. So Robert approached a manager and explained that the heat was not helping his experience ... and the manager generously gave all of us new tickets for later use.

So we returned to our Champions Gate Townhouse for dinner and some rest.

The next morning we went back to WonderWorks to find the AC fixed and not so many people there. In addition to the many hands-on exhibits, we tried the Indoor Ropes Challenge, the 4D Simulator, and the Laser Tag Arena. We certainly had our fun and then some, and when we left we found the line to get in was maybe 100 people long.

We had some lunch at a nearby shop and then killed some time until meeting at Medieval Times for its dinner and show. Medieval Times is one of Orlando's most popular dinner attractions. You travel back in time to experience the world of knights, horses, wizards, nobles and eating a four course meal with your fingers. There are six knights and - depending on where you are sitting - you have a knight to cheer on. One of the fun things is that while the end of the show may be scripted, the knight-to-knight competitions are probably not ... so you can cheer on your hero. Good fun!

The next day we visited the Champions Gates pool and water park complex - a nice benefit that came with the rental. With truly summer weather, a guest can spend the day there. It has an 82,000 sq. ft. pool deck where you can discover a lot of ways to relax, from floating around your very own zero entry heated lazy river, taking a plunge down the water slide or watching kids play in the interactive splash zone. It is also possible to enjoy a tropical drink or a poolside meal as the dedicated staff of servers greet you right at your chair. There are other outdoor amenities such as two regulation size sand volleyball courts, 130,000 gallon heated circle pool, spa, and a full-service Tiki Bar. Swimming in December? Yep! The pools and lazy river were heated. But the spa did feel good.

That might we were back to I-Drive for the Pirates Dinner Theater - dinner and a show. It is advertised as follows: "Set sail on the high seas on board a pirate ship anchored in a 300,000-gallon indoor lagoon for swashbuckling thrills, combined with the perfect blend of comedy, romance, action, and adventure. Enjoy breathtaking feats of aerial agility and spectacular musical talent as you dine on a Port of Call Feast." As with Medieval Times, you have a character - in this case a pirate - that your seating section cheers for. Again good times.

The next day it was time-to-leave, so we cleaned out the townhouse and headed out. But not back home, but to Gatorland that is a fun place for an afternoon. Gatorland is promoted as "so much more than just alligators at a price that won’t put a “bite” on one's vacation experience! At 110- acres, you’ll find something for everyone with thousands of alligators and crocodiles, an aviary, an incredible breeding marsh and bird rookery, petting zoo, nature walk, award-winning gift shop, and one-of-a-kind reptilian shows including the Gator Wrestlin’ Show, Gator Jumparoo, and the Up-close Encounters Show. Don’t miss the White Gator Swamp with giant white alligators." I characterize Gatorland as a throwback type amusement park that fior the price and the fun makes a good day.

But eventually we ran out of time and energy to we said our goodbyes to each other and headed home.

A nice time!

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