Thursday, July 29, 2010

Blizzard Beach vs Typhoon Lagoon Vs the long lost River Country

The battle of the Disney Water Parks.

I feel I am pretty qualified to answer this debate.

I first went to a Disney Water park in the seventies while I was a teen. I went to Florida with a lady I babysat for and her four year old son in a pop up camper. It was a 2 week camping trip from Michigan down to Florida and back to Michigan again.

I don't recall if we went into any of the 'Big Parks' while we were there, if there were more than one big park back then, it may have just been The Magic Kingdom.

I do know we were there for the grand opening week of their first Water Park ever at Disney which no longer exists - River Country, which is pictured above along with the park map.

See here for more photos about the long lost water park Disney abandoned about ten years ago with no explanation. The slides and pools remain, allowed to become encompassed by vegetation which happens quickly here in the Swampy state.

I fell immediately in love with water parks. I had always LOVED pools, but this was Extreme Pools! I don't think I ever did get back to a water park again until I was an adult.

So I am making up for my lost water park childhood now. I made sure to add the water park option onto our Disney passes, and will continue to do it as Jamie is a water baby as well.

We visited Typhoon Lagoon 3 times, the first time Jamie wasn't even 3 and wouldn't do anything but splash about. Last winter we went again as Blizzard Beach was closed for refurbishment; and this time Jamie experienced the mid level slides, but none of the bigger slides, even those that don't have a height requirement. She just wasn't ready.

This time she was ready, both for the Air Grover Roller Coaster at Busch Gardens and for some bigger slides at the waterparks . We went to Blizzard Beach both Saturday and Sunday. Although Jamie wouldn't go on any of the solitary slides that were designed for adults, she did go for the Teamboat ride which was a Large raft she could ride with us, and thus felt safe enough to attempt.

Now for my comparison between the two remaining Disney Water Parks.

Both parks had family raft rides but Teamboat rapids at Blizzard Beach was really long (Perhaps the longest?) and alot more fun. The raft held between four and six so my social child was in heaven sliding down with other folks. Typhoon Lagoons raft ride was smaller, and the raft was smaller as well so no room for any others, just ourselves. They also made you haul the raft up yourselves and had gushing waterfalls dumping water on your head throughout the ride. Not a fan of the gushing waterfalls on my head.

Blizzard Beach had more Shaded Tiki Huts and shaded areas period with all the trees they have. The back story is that Blizzard Beach was originally a ski resort, but when the temperatures got too hot they turned it into a them park. Thus more trees.

Also Blizzard Beach had a 'Ski Patrol Training area' for the preteens. It was centrally located in the park at the base of several of the larger slide rides and had several mid range slides and tube rides as well as 'Icebergs' with ropes strung over them for kids to climb over. This area of the park was designed only for preteens and their parents. Mike was delighted that the workers didn't allow the larger children on the small slides in this area.

Blizzard beach also had 2 Wedgie Inducing slides which didn't involve tubes. Those I find are not as pleasurable unless you like having your bathing suit shoved up into your bodily orifaces. One of them claims to be the longest freefall waterslide in the world with speeds of over 50 mph.

I prefer the slides/rides with rafts and the Tobbagon Ride was one with rafts and my favorite ride. It looked just like a regular tobaggon run, but with water. 8 people all went down at the same time, Mike and I traded off several times, but couldn't convince Jamie to try it.

Blizzard Beach also allowed us to use the Beverage stations for ice for our drinks. No charge no waiting.

So not only does Blizzard Beach have a huge amount of shade and available ice, their Lazy River was really long, and the park layout was great - you could see the rides easily. I also preferred their wave pool as it was a regular wave pool. The wave pool at Typhoon Lagoon has a Tidal wave that comes now and again, and I just don't like it. It shoves kids and older folks down and around.

Now for Typhoon Lagoon. Hmmm lets see, some may find that wave pool more enjoyable as it is not predictable and a bit more adventurous. The back story for Typhoon Lagoon is that a Huge Tidal wave came along and flooded out an area, so they turned it into a water park.

TL is more tropical looking, lots of palms and lots and lots of sand. Too much sand.

Yes I like sandy beaches, when there is an ocean or Large lake involved. Otherwise I can take it or leave it. It's messy and can be uncomfortable in your suit, clothes and food.

Almost all of the free Shaded huts in Typhoon Lagoon were in the sand. So another vote for Blizzard Beach. And you couldn't get the ice from the stations, like you could at BB. The Drink stations were activated by the bar code on the cup you would buy for $11, but apparently the technology was different as you couldn't get free ice without standing in lines at TL.

I made a bit of an ass of myself. A lady was getting her cup filled at the drink station. She had activated the ice and soda (I could see the green light over the ice spigot) and I ran up and filled a water pail with it. She said "Oh no these work with the special bar codes only, and I said, "Yup I knw, just needed some ice thanks!" Mike who is usually mortified when I pull something untoward as that, was thrilled, he really likes ice in his drinks!

If you are wealthy you can pay $250 for private shaded patios at either park. I'm not sure how I feel about that. Something smacks me wrong about the wealthy having better digs then the rest of us, just like I don't like the FastPasses the rich can purchase to be first in line at the rides in the big theme parks.

As we aren't wealthy we find the best way to experience the parks is to bring your own drinks and sandwiches in and did all three days. The first day we didn't bring food and had a $50 lunch, so that taught us to be more prepared the next few days. The second day we actually brought in our full sized cooler filled with sandwiches and plenty of cold drinks - even ice. BUt the third day we had checked out of the hotel so had the big cooler iced down holding our milk and staples, so no ice for us on that third day. Plus I had to hike back to the car to get the sandwiches at lunch time. Best advice i have is to bring a big cooler and load it up!

I think with the recession they are loosening the rules for coolers and drinks. Busch Gardens even had a sign saying no coolers, but we brought one every time. We found the stroller really came in handy to transport the cooler and the stuff.

But back to the Water Park Comparison:

We discovered the way to ensure a shady centrally located spot for the day was to get there first. So we did that both on Day 2 & 3, and plan on doing that every time we go from now on. It's just a good practice to do in any kind of park.

One good thing happened at Typhoon Lagoon on our third and last day in the Water parks. Jamie got brave and did rides where she was alone on a tube. And she loved them.

Now I can't wait to take her back to Blizzard Beach so she can do the Tobaggon ride with us!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Lots of Memories from Indian Shores

We left our beautiful gulf front condo this morning. And it was hard. We didn't get out on time, and the owner wasn't pleased.

We will see how much he keeps from our security deposit. We were there 35 minutes past the check out time of 10am and he called at 10:05 hurrying us along. But I also did some major straightening and even mopped the kitchen floor.

We also missed the Dolphin encounter boat ride I had planned for us this morning as we had to be there at 10:30am.

And I was up at 6am!!

Oh well. The memories and the photos remain.

Jamie learned to swim in that pool. We spent alot of time going from beach to pool and Jamie bonded with 11 year old Ashlynn who was staying next door.

We loved the balcony and gazing at the beautiful Gulf of Mexico and seeing the sun set every night.

My lovely Aunt Elaine visited and brought gifts and laughter (hilarity) to the place one night - it was so good to see her and Jamie just fell in love with her all over again. (More on this visit later when I download the photos)

And of course Busch Gardens. As hot as it was it is truly a beautiful Park. We loved the Hippo most of all I think, they had an underground cave butted up to the hippos pond and we stayed there quite a long time.

Jamie loved the Air Grover Roller Coaster and this show she called 'Harmony' because they sang a song about Harmony, called Critter Encounters. It had dogs, cats, parrots and other exotic creatures trained into a skit about a desert island.

And I loved Sheikra. I rode it at least four times and could have rode it four more, every day we went. It has two straight down vertical drops and is just a blast, Mike even likes it.

So now we are in a 2 room 'Suite' at an Orlando hotel. The living room with the ac is ice cold and the adjoining bedroom not so cold. It is ok, but nowhere what we had become accustomed to on the coast.

The plan is to do water parks the next two days. With our Magic your way tickets we added the water park option as well as no expiration option. That means we have 7 extra days in the water parks that we need to use up before using the last 'Big Park' Ticket. So this is the summer of the Disney water parks.

Hopefully Jamie will be fearless and we will have a blast. Blizzard beach first as we haven't been there yet. We have done Typhoon Lagoon already three times.

Can't wait.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Can we handle yet another day in Busch Gardens?

Tommorrow will be day 3 at Busch Gardens since Sunday. We WON'T be staying all day, it's just too darn hot to spend the entire day there as you are out in the 90 plus degrees and it just sucks the life out of you.

Yup there are no photos of us. We just melted, but Jamie seems to bloom in the heat. She is a true water baby, just like me, but I can't do the heat anymore.

So tomorrow will be the last hurrah. We will continue to enjoy the condo and the beach the last day and then Saturday we have to pack up and leave.

That will be difficult.

Ok now this is really the life!

Out here at the pool with the laptop! Blogging!

Ok maybe the connection isn't quite as quick. And grabbing a photo doesn't seem to be an option, but still!

Jamie has a new 'best friend' and is enjoying 10 year old Ashlynn and her slightly older brother. They are staying in the unit next to us. Tyler loves to fish and has kept us all entertained with his netting small bait fish and feeding small shrimp to the heron.

The heron is a trip. He stands by the bait bucket and waits for some fish and if Tyler covers the bucket he circles it squacking up a storm.

Busch Gardens yesterday was HOT. And we stayed all day, well pretty much all day, we left at 6:30. I wore my bathing suit and got wet several times but it was still pretty miserable. The photos I am sure are going to show some bedraggled parents and one Sunburned sweaty child.

We do need to download the photos, all of the photos. Mike downloaded just a few the other night but I haven't taken the time to do it. He's tech for a reason.

I think Jamie is having more fun here at the condo at the pool and the beach than at Busch Gardens. I know I am.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Mommy is never off duty & Fun at Busch Gardens

You know when a mom is on vacation she isn't entirely off duty. I let my baby get sunburned today. Yes I applied sunscreen liberally more than once today but apparently it wasn't enough. She has cherry red cheeks and a bit of redness on her upper back and shoulders.

I feel so bad. I am hoping the cheeks are from the wind, a bit of wind burn...we were out there from 10 am until almost 3pm. We shall see.

Busch Gardens was a pleasure yesterday. We got there right at 9am so the park was relatively uncrowded and not too hot for the first several hours. We went straight to the back of the park as all the books tell you to do.

The big coasters were open - Kumba was pretty neat, nice and long with corkscrews and tbey even let me ride twice without getting off since there were only 2 people waiting (for the front car of course). First time I ever rode a major coaster like that twice in a row with not even getting off the ride in between.

Then we tried to get on the raft ride but Jamie wasn't having it. Crazy kid will stand in the kids water park and let water cascade onto her head like a shower but hates the real shower or a raft ride that may have waterfalls splashing on her head.

I rode it alone, we were hoping she would see how fun it was but no...And yes, I did get wet but it was good. I wore my bathing suit that looks like an outfit and was cool and comfortable most of the rest of the time we were there because of getting wet. And I was able to get wet again about an hour later in one of the kiddie water areas they have there.

Jamie's highpoint is standing under Sheikra, a roller coaster that does a straight drop down, much like the hawk it is named for. It's tail end splashes over the pathway and Jamie just loves screeching as she gets soaked. While she enjoyed that I rode Sheikra. Or waited to ride it. We were going to do the baby swap, (this allows both parents to ride with only having one wait in line) How it works is that first I ride, then when I get off Mike gets a fast pass to the top of the line, but while in line the coaster kept going down for maintenance. It was supposed to be a 30 minute wait, but it took me almost an hour to get to the top. Then it went down again! I sat up in that car poised for take off for over 15 minutes, another first in my rollercoaster history.

Anyway after I got off we decided to move on and let Jamie have the last ride. (Poor Mike misses out alot at the theme parks, he just doesnt seem to care about the coasters like I do). Anyway, Jamie loves this Baby Hippo water ride that has one this one lame hill. It's really for three and under, but she still loves it. Plus she actually rode the Air Grover this time, which is a mini coaster made for kids. She wouldn't step foot in it in February, but this time she LOVED it.

We will probably do BG again tomorrow if the poor baby isn't as burned as I am fearing she may be. She is napping now...and I am laying here with my feet up facing a gulf front view thinking about cooking up some Pasta and shrimp for dinner. I can hear the waves lapping on the beach below us.

It's heaven.

More of Emily's Birthday Party

Here are some random shots from Emily's birthday party which happened at our house.
Any of these photos are viewable in full size or 'grabbable' (is that a word?!) just by clicking on them and on the slide show it will take you to

We were glad to have it here so we could all enjoy swimming and cooling off a bit in the 95 degree heat. It did rain about 30 minutes into the party, just long enough for all to gather in the porch and eat food and cake and open gifts.
Then it was back into the pool for another dip.

Jamie got a little green-eyed during the gift giving, but actually more so the night before when Mike took her to KMart to pick out the gift. Jamie picked out an Ariel doll who 'swims', had a floating inner tube and her hair turns color when wet. Jamie had a mini meltdown at one point, "But nobody is getting me any presents"

Monday, July 12, 2010

Is the economy any better out there?

They let four people go today at my company. We are an old medium in a new fangled world. I work for a newspaper but we do also have a website that is well respected and also very heavily traveled.

Newspapers are having a tough time of it. We are the communities voice and are expected to provide timely news and information both online and in print, but many of the advertisers have abandoned us. The information we provide isn't cheap as our stories are reseached and cross verified. The reputation of a newspaper is extremely valuable and is protected at all costs.

I am in the advertising department and we are given the task of trying to get the kind of revenue necessary to keep the information flowing.

I often wish there were some sort of online message board or community for newspaper advertising reps to compare notes with.

It was sad news to hear of some of my colleagues leaving our company today.

Is it as bad everywhere as it is here in Florida?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Summer is zooming by!

Is it just me or does summer go by faster every year!?

Mike is a teacher so summertime is much easier around our home. For one thing I basically have a house husband. So that means much less in the way of dishes, meal prep, and housework for me. And more for him.

And that is just fine by both of us. I used to get all bent out of shape wanting him to work during the summer and bring in some extra money into the household.

Now I am just happy to have some relief.

It will be tough when he goes back to work. And it's only about a month away.

The photos above are from a few months back. Kelsey is one of Jamies new friends. We met them at church and spend alot of Saturday nights with playing trivia at Dicks Wings.

(We prefer Dick's to Hooters). :-)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Elephants like to Dance!

Wasn't it nice of the guy who did the dvd of Jamies Dance recital to share the code for me to be able to post this here? Cuteness personified!