I wrote about Disney (or the lack thereof). I wrote about LegoLand. But there was a lot of space on either ends of those experiences that deserve documenting. So here is, albeit late, my last accounting of our trip to Orlando.

The best purchase that I made before we left was this method of transporting my two year old.


Until you’ve carried a three-foot-tall human being that wriggles like a maggot or Jillian Michaels doing doing plank-jacks (which is pretty much the same motion) through an interminable airport, you don’t realize how FANTASTIC it is when you can stick them atop a suitcase and roll them.


This is the number one reason that I recommend all parents invest in luggage that rolls omnidirectionally. And that you roll it at speeds high enough to make your toddler intensely afraid of abandoning ship.

(Until you get to the moving sidewalk. That’ll keep them scared enough to allow you to stop and take a picture.)


And honestly, I kinda want to take that suitcase everywhere now – because it doesn’t matter how much energy he needs to burn, he always ends up in my arms. And the added bonus will be unlimited storage space. My shopping production will be exponential!

Noah also got some seriously adult opportunities by flying. Such as drinking out of a Southwest cup.


And being searched by TSA.

Yes, my two year old did get a complete pat-down by airport security. And no, I didn’t get a picture.

(Which is unequivocally my biggest regret of the trip.)

(But the angle would’ve been all awkward because my arms were out straight out while I was also getting felt up. Because apparently he and I were accomplices.)

(And TSA agents would probably have swarmed me and confiscated my phone and shattered it into a thousand iPieces for taking a photo of them giving a toddler a pat down.)

(But would it not have been EPIC??)

Outside of the airports, the kids most appreciated the non-Orlando-specific parts of our trip.

Such as the Hotel Pool, which we could have totally supplied them in Birmingham.


…except for the fantastic Pirate Ship that housed an internal water slide that Ali non-negotiably refused to consider trying, therefore striking “Water Park” off of our list of possible Orlando destinations.


On a whim I suggested we spend one afternoon introducing or children to Mini-Golf. And I was hailed a hero by all. This photo portrays an eager-to-learn, rule-following young golfer.

Which would be a lie. He is actually an overly efficient, shortcuts-are-our-friends young golfer. And he finished the par 2, 18 hole course at 18 under par.

But lest you think he cheated and dropped the balls in the hole, that is not the case. He just had very strategic teeing off points.

Ali was a much more conscientious player, and did express some concerns with her brother’s speedier advancement.Orlando Mini Golf

But ultimately, she got to experience the exultation of achievement, while he just kept getting his butt stuck in every crack.

Mini Golf Victory

No mini-golf experience is complete without watching strangers feed alligators with hot dogs,


And mining for gems. Which actually ended up being the best value in Orlando.


Nine dollars bought Ali the mining experience she’s always craved,


(I promise – she was happier than she looked,)

And scored the kids TWO bags of supposedly precious stones and arrowheads, along with a chart that kept Ali busy for the next hour while Chris did The Daddy Thing and drove us around looking at pretty houses.


That rock chart saved our afternoon. I am sure of it.

The last “new” experience for the kids was a Greek Taverna. Despite our extensive supply of Greek Restaurants in Birmingham, we do not have a single napkin-throwing, bellydancing, opa-yelling one.


As we were leaving, Ali scored a gigantic stack of Throwing Napkins from a waiter, and went around blessing everyone in the restaurant with paper fibers in their food. To minimize the risk of getting yelled at, I limited my photo taking to her barrage of our own table. But imagine this happening with unwarned, mid-eating diners.

Napkin Throwing

While she slowly worked her way through six hundred napkins, one of the bellydancers tried to invite Noah to dance.


But he assumed from the outfit that she was Potipher’s wife and fled quickly.


So to bottom line the trip. Did we get our “money’s worth” out of Orlando?

Perhaps not in the traditional sense, as didn’t make it past the gates of Disney. But our kids left blissfully happy.

Noah Airplane 1Noah Airplane 2

And, according to the letter that Ali wrote a friend as soon as we arrived home, we experienced enough Disney for her.


So I’m going to go with yes.

16 thoughts on “The Rest of the Trip.

  1. I love that her note points out specifically that her tiger sticker is a “LisaFranck” sticker. TOO Cute. And that rolling suitcase did the job!! Glad you had a happy vacation.

    1. I know! I’ve turned her into a Sticker Brand Snob somehow?? All because I wanted to relive my Lisa-Frank-Covered-Childhood through her.

  2. They do a similar mining thing at some of the Alabama Parks – Cathedral Cavern for sure . . .

    That suitcase looks exhilarating – I wish they made an adult version . . .

    Is Noah taking a nap on an iPad? Poor kid.

  3. Beware though, the two year old who loves to ride on the suitcase through the airport now, will become a six year old that expects the same treatment! It is much harder to do when their legs drag the ground and they weigh more. We have switched tactics now and he likes to pull his own luggage. It worked great for a couple of years though!

    My son also did golf the same way on our first cruise when he was two. He saw the golf course and wanted to play so we asked him if he knew how. He answered “You hit the ball in the hole with the yellow golf hammer.” He then went to the holes and put the ball about six inches from the hole to hit it in.

  4. I’d say you had a successful trip to Orlando, as some people would argue that there’s more to Orlando than DISNEY. I love Disney and we don’t go to the area often enough to do anything but Disney parks, so I didn’t even know there was Legoland.

    My brother took his twin 5-year old girls to Disney this past spring, and all they wanted to do was swim in the hotel pool and hot tub. Yep, could have done that for a lot less money in Dallas. They did go to Disney parks, and I think that Disney parks provide different experiences for each age. If they waited too long to go Disney, the girls wouldn’t care about the princesses, the autographs, the Dumbo ride, and etc. until they get to be teenagers then all of a sudden, they revert to their younger years and want to do all the kiddie stuff, only this time they can go to them on their own, and you don’t have to go with them to each kiddie ride, stand in line forever for autographs, as mine did this year. Fortunately, I’ve been there with them on previous trips, so I didn’t miss out. :)

    Also, when we first took our kids to Disney, we didn’t go the crazy we-have-to-do-all-parks-in-seven-days route. We did Magic Kingdom, and that’s it. We spread the visit to the park over two days and took lots of extended breaks from the park where we went back to the hotel to nap (me) and swim in the hotel pool (the kids and hubby). We went back to the park around 7-ish and we were refreshed while other people were tired and yelling at their whiny kids. I don’t blame the kids from being whiny.

    Yep, we love our rolling suitcase for the same reason.

  5. I like this a lot! Glad Noah resisted Potipher’s wife (I’m guessing he didn’t run away without his tunic on though :))

    And, can you believe Lisa Frank is still around?!

  6. Wow that pirate ship in the pool is pretty awesome! We really need to get to a “real” water park soon. The girls loved the one slide at the pool we went to a couple of weeks ago. Looks like you guys had a great time in Orlando despite the Disney rejection. Love the suitcase/stroller idea! :)

  7. I really like that your family didn’t do the big, crazy Disney thing that so many people with young kids seem bent on doing. It just seems so stressful. Low-key is how I like to roll.

    Also, that suitcase thing is brilliant! My sister, BFFs, and I are about to embark on our annual outlet mall extravaganza…we won’t be packing any kids, but we could haul TONS of purchases in something like that.

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