FYI – this family trip will be a bit lower key, so don’t expect too much drama. 😉
Day 1 – Thursday, April 6, 2017 – Waupaca to Milwaukee, WI
This year we may have the pleasure of not one, but two, family trips. We are taking the first ever spring break-style trip that we have ever done with all five of us. There are many reasons we haven’t done this before and every minute of this trip so far has reminded us all of those.
The first “leg” of the trip was us driving down to Milwaukee. The plan was for us to fly out from Milwaukee to Orlando on April 7 at 10 am, definitely a decent time of day flight. Matt’s idea was to drive down that morning. Using Sarah’s overly cautious timeline, that would put us at leaving at like 3:30 am. Despite reviewing Matt’s more realistic timeline, Sarah won the argument and we drove down the night before.
In more pathetic news, Matt won the argument about whose car to take, and everyone and all the suitcases were jammed into Sarah’s car for journey. Matt’s car keeps having weird electrical problems requiring jumps on the average of once per week, so it was determined that Sarah’s “random flat tire” problem was less likely to interrupt the trip. Turns out the extra 6 inches between us and the kids in Matt’s car really helps us tolerate the kids better. One of those taxi driver partitions would super help, too.
Anyway, we stayed at the Hyatt Place next to the Milwaukee Airport. It was fine. Would stay again. Nothing exciting, had continental breakfast, was really close. Pool was fine. Kids were fine. Sarah attempted to meet her friend who lives 4 miles down the road from there – initially, a restaurant called Jalapeno Loco’s had been recommended so Sarah met up with Chris there. The parking lot at 9:15 pm at night so terrified them at this fine establishment that the idea was abandoned for beers at Chris’s house. Sarah rolled in around 1 am exhausted. The kids were snoring. Life was good.
Day 2 – Friday, April 7, 2017 – Milwaukee to Winter Haven, FL (AKA home of “Legoland”)
The plan for today was to fly to Orlando and motor to Legoland. No, we are not doing Disney. It requires way more planning than we have in us, and Zoe is way too little to be dragged around, and B is still too short for some of the rides. Disney 2019, we will make plans. So this is sort of a hodgepodge vacation, with something for everyone. Legoland, you are the “something” for the kids.
Anyway, the Milwaukee airport was great as usual, everyone is so friendly. Sarah got patted down as she usually does (side note: who in the family has the dark skin and black hair? Not Sarah, my friend, yet she got intimate with the screener and had to go through the special machine for the nth time – at least she doesn’t get belligerent any more and just goes limp). Anyway, got some Starbucks and got on the plane – sixth row – it’s like we were fancy! But we weren’t, as we were flying Frontier.
Noah has flown before but when he was too young to remember and B and Z had never flown before. They did great. It was actually an entirely uneventful plan ride, go figure. Mommy even let Daddy loosen the purse strings and he bought us all snacks on the airplane.
The biggest issue was on descent, Noah (Mr. Motion Sickness) started to look green. And we were waiting to de-plane and he said, I need water now. Then, I need to get out of here, NOW. And he bolted off the plane and almost threw up. Meanwhile, Sarah goes after him and Matt is struggling with the car seat, Zoe and B. On the hallway to the gate, Zoe just refuses to walk and starts screaming, and Noah is green and running. A lovely lady (total stranger) escorted Noah up the hall while Sarah went back for Z and we basically looked like the classy folk that we are.
Why is everything such a production, oh for the love of god. Sarah, B and Noah got all the suitcases and met Matt and Z in the rental car line, which took almost 90 minutes of waiting to get our car. Sarah and the kids settled in on the floor in an area with carpeted floor, people sitting all over, and some wicker chairs. We were all relaxing and almost asleep waiting for Matt, with the kids playing on iPads, when Sarah notes “some dude” looking at one of our 23 suitcases. He says, “hey, there was this huge cockroach that just ran under your suitcases”. Sarah grabs the kids and moved 3 feet away and sure enough there was a giant (bigger than your thumb) reddish cockroach that skittered around and went back under the suitcases. It is a testament to both the vacation and mommy spirit that Sarah didn’t just start screaming and run away without the kids. Some dude and Sarah spent time discussing the difference between a palmetto bug and cockroach, and in the end we hurriedly moved our shit and got Matt and the rental car and got the hell out of there.
Climbed into our rental SUV, which was adequate, and got into rush hour traffic. Played the most depressing game of “I Spy”. “I spy with my little eye something that is grey”. “Is it road?” “yes. Again.” We drove the seeming 60 miles to Winter Haven from Orlando in like 2 hours. We did see helicopters dropping water on a raging fire, which seems to be a theme with our trips. Stopped at McDonalds and felt minimal shame.
We arrived at Legoland and the kids were ecstatic. There is Legoland the amusement park, which is located behind Legoland Hotel. You don’t have to stay at the hotel to go the park, and most people don’t, but we figured the hotel would be a nice treat for the kids. The lobby is full of legos everywhere, kids screaming and running, lego characters dressed up, etc. The elevator has a strobe light and is seizure inducing, playing ABBA music (there are signs warning you of this before you get in, so claims Matt). The room is awesome. There was a treasure chest with a lock and clues that the kids had to figure out, and bunk beds with a trundle bed in a separate area from our king bed (perfect for our irregular family with 3 kids, not 2 or 4). Lake view.
Things went a bit downhill when the kids noticed the lego sculptures adorning the room, which included multiple spiders and scorpions as we were in an “adventurer” themed room. Unfortunately, B is terrified of spiders, and Zoe had a nightmare about spiders last week and spent every moment so far in the room pointing at the wall and screaming “spider” repeatedly.
We went downstairs to the lobby and the kids ran around and played with legos. Interestingly, the bar area kind of melds into a parent sitting area that looks like a lounge, melding into kid Lego play area. It’s ingenious. Parents were sipping beer as their kids played with legos. You’d almost have to, in order to tolerate this. There was a guy sitting next to Sarah nervously rolling a Marlboro Light between his fingers until his wife gave him the green light to run outside. Clink clink clink clink go the Legos.
Kids came up and had a vending machine treat (they are a cheap date) and everyone was in bed, with Z falling asleep murmuring “spiders spiders” repeatedly.
Matt and Sarah enjoyed some adult beverages (Wavemaker beer from Big Storm Brewery in Tampa for Matt, and cosmo for Sarah) with some edemame and Cobb salad (for vegetables?). We are now watching the original Vacation movie, totally nonironically we promise.
Tomorrow – Legoland – 130 kid steps away. Checking out the map and rides right now.
Day 3 – Saturday, April 8, 2017 – Legoland!!
Today was our one full day in paradise. Kid’s paradise, anyway. The original plan was to awake at 6:45, shower up, and make it down to the buffet at 7:30 to beat the crowds to breakfast, and make it to Legoland at 9:30 when the hotel guests get to go in early. WELL, more like we all staggered out of bed around 8:15, did not shower, put on whatever clothes were on the tops of our suitcases, and stumbled into the dining area. It was fine, not crowded, and the buffet was pretty decent. Our planning consisted of us deciding on the area of the park we wanted to hit first: the one furthest area away from the hotel. Of course.
We walked through the metal detector and proceeded in – very cute set up, not crowded at all until around noon, lots of sunshine (we remembered sunscreen as not all of us tan to the point of being unrecognizable (MATT)), and lots of eating places, rides, lego areas, etc. Very nice set up and good maps. Kids were all around our kids’ age.
We proceeded immediately to the Driving School where the kids drove around a track in Lego cars and got very expensive fake driver’s licenses which they wore for about 10 minutes and then made Sarah put in her purse. Both were model drivers, using signals and stopping correctly until B came up on a traffic jam and decided to pass everyone. Not sure who he learned that from.. Matt lied about Z’s age to get her into the Toddler Driving School, where she quickly chose a yellow car and then refused to drive. No license for her!
Everyone then drove/crashed boats and competed against other teams in a fire engine race. Teams of 2-3 would first have to move by pumping the fire engine down a track, then get out and pump water from a hydrant into a 2 story window – the team that could do it all the fastest won (Sarah & Braden won’t say who that was, but Matt, Noah and Zoe will!).
A hit of the day was an Imagination Center where the kids played with Legos. They built and raced cars against other kids, built earthquake-proof buildings they tested with a shaker, and could build gliders. B was loving it, because his crappy looking car beat every other car there – he started trash talking some kids (we pretended not to be his parents) and a couple kids’ parents helped them, and B’s shady looking car still beat theirs on the track. Noah was almost in tears because his cars kept falling apart. He felt better after Sarah helped and her car fell apart even worse. Meanwhile B was running a betting operation on the other track.
We had paninis for lunch (Z had a cookie). We walked around and Noah and Sarah went on a roller coaster, walked around more. Got ice cream (B ate ice cream with strawberry sauce and gummy bears on top). Walked around more. Looked at thousands of things built out of legos all over the place. Started melting in the sun. Went shopping. Headed back to hotel.
Everyone was allowed to rest for 20 min, then we hit the pool at the resort. This was a regular 3-4 feet deep pool perfect for kids, with the single best pool toy – floating large Lego blocks that you could build crap out of. It was a great social experiment too, as most of the people in it (not too full at all) were parents of the younger kids that tired out early at the park itself. Heavily tattooed people, triathlon mom wearing professional swim cap, goggles and racing suit, nerdy guy wearing two of the same medical appearing patches, one on each arm (Sarah’s guess? Testosterone; Matt’s guess? Nicotine. Either one would be helpful to survive this place), normal people, passed out people with multiple empty beer cups, etc.
We went upstairs, showered up, and hit the buffet. Sarah realized she was old when she was excited to have salad, salmon, and mashed potatoes and vegetables, and put an apple in her purse. Z ate 3 jello cups. Matt stated he was recouping the price of the buffet through the dessert bar (mission accomplished). Sarah agreed and wrapped up some petit fours in a napkin and those went in the purse too.
Everyone relaxed and then Z was off to bed and the boys and Matt went to the 8 pm pajama dance party. B was exhausted but refused to stay in the room. He spent the lego dance party off to the side building a gun out of legos (ummm… although most of the kids, and some parents were doing the same). Noah got to dance on stage and Matt got to do the YMCA with all the other parents in the lobby! Weird how there were no pictures of that taken…
Now we are relaxing with what Florida calls “fried cheese” (mozzarella sticks) and some edamame and beer. Ahhh…..
Another end to a glorious vacation day! Tomorrow? Off to Fort Myers Beach….