Florida Day 7: Disney’s Hollywood Studios

We spent the morning and early afternoon of our second Disney day at Hollywood Studios. The whole park is set up like a giant movie set, with backdrops, fake buildings, and people walking around dressed like old movie stars.

The entrance gate for Hollywood Studios

The entrance gate for Hollywood Studios

17403

That is one BIG hat.

That is one BIG hat.

Donald Duck signs Kyle's autograph book

Donald Duck signs Kyle's autograph book

Kyle and Donald Duck

Kyle and Donald Duck

Ian shows Donald his baby.

Ian shows Donald his baby.

Hey, how did we get to San Francisco? (the section going uphill is a big backdrop)

Hey, how did we get to San Francisco? (the section going uphill is a big backdrop)

The Honey I Shrunk the Kids exhibit was set up to make you feel like you had been shrunk to the size of an ant.

In the "Honey, I Shunk the Kids" exhibit.

In the "Honey, I Shunk the Kids" exhibit.

Ian near a slide shaped like a giant leaf

Ian near a slide shaped like a giant leaf

Kyle goes down the leaf slide...backwards

Kyle goes down the leaf slide...backwards

Kyle and Katra stand next to some giant plant shoots

Kyle and Katra stand next to some giant plant shoots

If you think YOU have ant problems, you ain't seen nothin'.

If you think YOU have ant problems, you ain't seen nothin'.

A giant tonka truck and a giant scrabble tile. The truck was probably 5 feet tall.

A giant tonka truck and a giant scrabble tile. The truck was probably 5 feet tall.

Kyle strikes a pose with Lightning McQueen

Kyle strikes a pose with Lightning McQueen

The Muppet exhibit (which was really just a big gift shop)

The Muppet exhibit (which was really just a big gift shop)

An entire store themed to the movie "It's a Wonderful Life"

An entire store themed to the movie "It's a Wonderful Life"

Mama Melrose's, where we had some excellent Italian food for lunch

Mama Melrose's, where we had some excellent Italian food for lunch

That's one big frog.

That's one big frog.

So THAT'S how it all works!

So THAT'S how it all works!

Suddenly we found ourselves in New York

Suddenly we found ourselves in New York

If this was really New York, there would be a dozen angry cab drivers trying to run those people over.

If this was really New York, there would be a dozen angry cab drivers trying to run those people over.

See if you can spot where the backdrop begins

See if you can spot where the backdrop begins

17492

I know I asked for a large Coke, but this is ridiculous!

I know I asked for a large Coke, but this is ridiculous!

Inside the Toy Story theme ride/video game.

Inside the Toy Story theme ride/video game.

This little alien was wandering around seemingly by himself (there was probably someone in a nearby building controlling him)

This little alien was wandering around seemingly by himself (there was probably someone in a nearby building controlling him)

The Playhouse Disney show

The Playhouse Disney show

On the way out we ran into a bunch of people dressed as actors from old movies.

17538

17539

17540

17541

Florida Day 6: DISNEY!!!

On the sixth day of our vacation we headed over to Walt Disney World. We checked in at the Port Orleans Riverside resort (photos to come later) then headed up to Magic Kingdom for our first day of fun.

Driving into Disney World

Driving into Disney World

The parking lot for Magic Kingdom is actually across the lake, so you either had to take the monorail or a ferry to get to the park. We took the monorail on the way in, and the ferry on the way out.

The monorail pulling into the station

The monorail pulling into the station.

Riding on the monorail

Riding on the monorail

The front gate for Magic Kingdom

The front gate for Magic Kingdom

Kyle was just a *tiny* bit excited about going to see Mickey Mouse.

Kyle was just a *tiny* bit excited about going to see Mickey Mouse.

City Hall, just inside Magic Kingdom

City Hall, just inside Magic Kingdom

There aren't many places in the world where a marching band can just come along out of nowhere.

There aren't many places in the world where a marching band can just come along out of nowhere.

This horse-drawn trolley came along, a bunch of dancers jumped out, and music started playing. Only at Disney.

This horse-drawn trolley came along, a bunch of dancers jumped out, and music started playing. Only at Disney.

Some of the street dancers

Some of the street dancers

Katra, Kyle and Ian in front of Cinderella's Castle

Katra, Kyle and Ian in front of Cinderella's Castle

Karl, Kyle and Ian in front of Cinderella's Castle

Karl, Kyle and Ian in front of Cinderella's Castle

A topiary of... a snail? a swan? A guy holding his fist in the air?

A topiary of... a snail? a swan? A guy holding his fist in the air?

Some random evil step-relatives

Some random evil step-relatives

Pete's Garage, where they sell not gasoline or cartoon vehicle services, but food.

Pete's Garage, where they sell not gasoline or cartoon vehicle services, but food.

Minnie Mouse's house

Minnie Mouse's house

Mickey's bedroom, which was oddly right inside the front door of his house.

Mickey's bedroom, which was oddly right inside the front door of his house.

Mickey's mouse-shaped tomatoes

Mickey's mouse-shaped tomatoes

Mickey's mouse-shaped pumpkins. At this point I was beginning to detect a pattern. EVERYTHING at disney is mouse-shaped.

Mickey's mouse-shaped pumpkins. At this point I was beginning to detect a pattern. EVERYTHING at disney is mouse-shaped.

Everything, that is, except for the Goofy-shaped cactus.

Everything, that is, except for the Goofy-shaped cactus.

Kyle meets Mickey and Minnie

Kyle meets Mickey and Minnie

17318

Cutest. Picture. EVER.

Cutest. Picture. EVER.

My favorite photo from the entire trip.

My favorite photo from the entire trip. Yes, it really does look like that.

We had lunch at the Crystal Palace, and Winnie the Pooh and Tigger dropped by to see the boys.

The Crystal Palace, where we ate lunch on the first day.

The Crystal Palace, where we ate lunch on the first day.

Kyle and Ian meet Winnie the Pooh

Kyle and Ian meet Winnie the Pooh

...and Tigger, too!

...and Tigger, too!

Tigger signs Kyle's autograph book

Tigger signs Kyle's autograph book

Tomorrowland!

Tomorrowland!

Kyle imprisoned with the Evil Emperor Zurg

Kyle imprisoned with the Evil Emperor Zurg

Liberty Square, designed to look like 18th century New England

Liberty Square, designed to look like 18th century New England

Kyle shows off his hula-hooping skills

Kyle shows off his hula-hooping skills

We headed back to the hotel in mid-afternoon to get moved into our rooms and rest a bit before heading out to dinner.

A ferry coming in, with the Grand Floridian resort visible in the distance

A ferry coming in, with the Grand Floridian resort visible in the distance

The ferry we took back to the parking lot. This is an alternate to the monorail.

The ferry we took back to the parking lot. This is an alternate to the monorail.

Remember when I wrote about everything being mouse-shaped? This was waiting for us on our hotel room bed. The maids do this as a special treat for customers.

Remember when I wrote about everything being mouse-shaped? This was waiting for us on our hotel room bed. The maids do this as a special treat for customers.

Dinner was at the Whispering Canyon Cafe at the Wilderness Lodge resort. This is a really fun place to eat. If you make make certain requests of your waiter, the results can be pretty unexpected. If you ask for ketchup, the waiter will yell “I NEED KETCHUP!!!” as loud as they can, and soon you will have several dozen ketchup bottles brought to your table by every waiter in the place. Asking for a refill of your Coke will result in a GIANT bell jar full of Coke. The food was excellent, too – we ordered an “all you care to eat” barbecue platter, and received some of the best bbq we have had anywhere. We left stuffed, and ready for more fun at Magic Kingdom.

The entrance to Wilderness Lodge

The entrance to Wilderness Lodge

Wilderness Lodge

Wilderness Lodge

The view from our table at Whispering Canyon Cafe, in the Wilderness Lodge.

The view from our table at Whispering Canyon Cafe, in the Wilderness Lodge.

The view from the dock at Wilderness Lodge as we waited for the ferry to take us back to Magic Kingdom

The view from the dock at Wilderness Lodge as we waited for the ferry to take us back to Magic Kingdom

The big attraction in the evening at Magic Kingdom is the parade followed by the fireworks display. The night we were there they had a special presentation of Spectromagic, where they turn out all the lights in the park and the parade floats come through all lit up with Christmas tree type lights. The lights alternate between pure white and multicolor, and the effect is really amazing. After the parade comes the fireworks show. We had seats right next to Cinderella’s Castle, so the fireworks were exploding right above us. It was truly an amazing experience.

Cinderella's Castle lit by the setting sun

Cinderella's Castle lit by the setting sun

While we were waiting for the fireworks, the castle was lit by a progression of different colored lights

While we were waiting for the fireworks, the castle was lit by a progression of different colored lights

As it turns out, doing a 4 second hand-held exposure of a fireworks display with an excited 5 year old sitting in your lap is no small feat. I thought this one turned out pretty well, though.

As it turns out, doing a 4 second hand-held exposure of a fireworks display with an excited 5 year old sitting in your lap is no small feat. I thought this one turned out pretty well, though.

Florida Day 5: Clearwater Beach

On day 5, we drove down to Clearwater to visit the beach. It was cloudy the whole day and we had spotty rain, but we still had a lot of fun. The boys had never seen the ocean before, so they had a lot of fun just splashing around a little and playing in the sand.

The salmon pink monstrosity that is the Don Cesar Resort.

The salmon pink monstrosity that is the Don Cesar Resort.

It's a manitee! It's a mailbox! It's BOTH!

It's a manitee! It's a mailbox! It's BOTH!

This is someone's HOUSE.

This is someone's HOUSE.

Arrrrrr! There be PIRATES!!

Arrrrrr! Thar be PIRATES!!

The Clearwater Beach pier

The pier in Clearwater Beach

A bird, also on vacation in Florida

A bird, also on vacation in Florida


View of the beach from the pier

View of the beach from the pier

Kyle takes a picture of me and Ian looks in the opposite direction, and this is still the best family photo from the trip.

Kyle takes a picture of me and Ian looks in the opposite direction, and this is still the best family photo from the trip.

A pelican in the water.

A pelican in the water.

A couple of fishermen on the pier

A couple of fishermen on the pier

Another pelican, waiting hopefully next to the fishermen

Another pelican, waiting hopefully next to the fishermen

The nastiest looking seagull in all of Florida.

The nastiest looking seagull in all of Florida.

Kyle and Ian experience the ocean for the first time

Kyle and Ian experience the ocean for the first time

Kyle was SO excited about the water, I could barely hold him still

Kyle was SO excited about the water, I could barely hold him still

I know! If I can't hold him still, I'll just swing him around by his arms!

I know! If I can't hold him still, I'll just swing him around by his arms!

Ian was not so crazy about the water. He dipped his feet in and that was about it.

Ian was not so crazy about the water. He dipped his feet in and that was about it.

Playing in the sand

Playing in the sand

Playing in the sand.

Playing in the sand.

Still playing in the sand.

Still playing in the sand.

Ian excited about something or other.

Ian excited about something or other.

On the way back from an excursion to the water. Guess who got more wet?

On the way back from an excursion to the water. Guess who got more wet?

Florida Day 3-4: Lakeland and Parksdale Farms

On day 3, we finished the drive down to Lakeland, then spent some time with Grandma Mary. Kyle and Ian were immediately drawn to the golf cart, which all the residents of the neighborhood use to make short trips. We drove down the street in the golf cart a couple of times to see the wildlife in the creek that runs along the edge of the neighborhood.

A squirrel in Grandma Mary's neighborhood. It seems like there were a lot more squirrels the last time we were down there - I wonder why there are so few now?

A squirrel in Grandma Mary and Grandpa Bob's neighborhood, eating a peanut we gave him. It seems like there were a lot more squirrels the last time we were down there - I wonder why there are so few now?

Oh. That's why.

Oh. That's why.

How would you like to have this little fella living in the creek near your house? He was probably a good 8-10 feet long.

How would you like to have this little fella living in the creek near your house? He was probably a good 8-10 feet long.

Aw, look at the cute little babies! There were these three, plus a few in the water. Maybe 12-18" long.

Aw, look at the cute little babies! There were these three, plus a few in the water. Maybe 12-18" long.

17081

17083

On day 4, we drove to nearby Plant City, home of Parksdale Farms. This place is known for it’s strawberries, and you can see why as soon as you walk in. The main attraction is the giant bowls of strawberry shortcake they sell. We ate our shortcake, unanimously elected Kyle as Strawberry King, then went to visit Grandpa in the hospital.

I am *SO* cool.

I am *SO* cool.

Not as cool as me, my brotha!

Not as cool as me, my brotha!

Parksdale Farms, home of the absurdly large strawberry shortcake.

Parksdale Farms, home of the absurdly large strawberry shortcake.

Waiting in line for strawberry shortcake is a great time to make silly faces.

Waiting in line for strawberry shortcake is a great time to make silly faces.

The Strawberry King, and the winner of the congeniality award for the day

The Strawberry King, and the winner of the congeniality award for the day

The Strawberry King blows kisses to his admirers.

The Strawberry King blows kisses to his admirers.

The Publix water tower, which provides cake-flavored water to the citizens of Lakeland.

The Publix water tower, which provides cake-flavored water to the citizens of Lakeland.

Florida Day 1-3: The Long Drive Down

This is the first in a series of posts about our vacation to Florida. We had a fun, if exhausting, 11 day trip. Highlights (other than the thrillling 40 hours of driving) included a trip to the Creative Discovery Museum in Chattanooga, Tennessee, a stay at Grandma’s, a trip to the beach, three days at Disney World, a day in Savannah, and a drive along the Blue Ridge parkway.

Louisville at night, handheld camera at 70 mph. Pretty bad, but I thought it was interesting.

Louisville at night, handheld camera at 70 mph. Pretty bad, but I thought it was interesting.

Tennessee at 70 mph. It was interesting to watch the seasons change as we drove farther south.

Tennessee at 70 mph. It was interesting to watch the seasons change as we drove farther south.

All tuckered out from a late night and big breakfast.

All tuckered out from a late night and big breakfast.

Daddy wasn't the only one who had work to get done on the drive down.

Daddy wasn't the only one who had work to get done on the drive down.

You know you're in Tennessee when...

You know you're in Tennessee when...

An interesting looking bluff along the side of the highway

An interesting looking bluff along the side of the highway

Driving into Chattanooga, TN. There are actually supposed to be two lanes here. For bicycles, maybe?

Driving into Chattanooga, TN. There are actually supposed to be two lanes here. For bicycles, maybe?

The Creative Discovery Museum in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Full of fun stuff for kids to do.

The Creative Discovery Museum in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Full of fun stuff for kids to do.

Ian inspecting some millipedes at the Creative Discovery Museum

Ian inspecting some millipedes at the Creative Discovery Museum

Kyle explores a cave at the Creative Discovery Museum

Kyle explores a cave at the Creative Discovery Museum

Here, Ian -- you stick YOUR hand in that hole in the rock...

Here, Ian -- you stick YOUR hand in that hole in the rock...

Doctor Livingstone, I presume?

Doctor Livingstone, I presume?

Mommy, can he come home with us?

Mommy, can he come home with us?

Climbing the tall steps

Climbing the tall steps

Gears!!!

Gears!!!

What does this contraption do?

What does this contraption do?

Kyle pulling himself up in a pully-driven lift chair

Kyle pulling himself up in a pully-driven lift chair

Kyle in the tall tower at the Creative Discovery Museum

Kyle in the tall tower at the Creative Discovery Museum

Slinky craziness!!

Slinky craziness!!

Dreaming of Mickey

Dreaming of Mickey

The view from our "conversation mirror"

The view from our "conversation mirror"

And finally, the sight that greeted us as we drove into Lakeland, Florida. Vultures eating a dead armidillo. Yummy.

And finally, the sight that greeted us as we drove into Lakeland, Florida. Vultures eating a dead armidillo. Yummy.