Monday 17 November 2014

Our Florida holiday 2014

We've just returned from a fantastic holiday, two weeks in Orlando followed by a week's cruise in the Caribbean. We've been lucky enough to enjoy holidays in Orlando before but of course they are all different!

This year we were in the US for Halloween, which was quite exciting because it's more of a major holiday over there than here (although it's getting that way!). Disney World was beautifully decorated for the season and we were lucky enough to attend Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween party which was brilliant. On Halloween night itself we didn't feel brave enough to go trick or treating around the houses (we've never trick or treated before at home) but we did go to a Halloween event at the Florida Mall which was excellent. Most of the shops were handing out sweets, and the dressed up children just had to flit from store to store filling up their treat bags. We gathered a phenomenal amount of candy!

Halloween costumes at Disneyworld

It was also fun to see the changes to the Magic Kingdom Resort since our last visit. In particular, there have been several updates since the popularity of Frozen, with a few new attractions (including a Frozen singalong show and snow play area), characters to see (if you have several hours spare to wait) and of course plenty of merchandise. The new Festival of Fantasy parade was pretty spectacular too, it's definitely the best that we've seen.

Elsa and Anna dolls at Disneyworld, Orlando

We spent a few days at the Universal Studios Resort too. Ram and I visited Islands of Adventure a couple of years ago to see the new Harry Potter areas, and this time we saw the even newer Harry Potter areas at the Universal Studios park which were very cool, much more about them to follow! Ram does love his Butterbeer.

Drinking butterbeer outside Gringotts bank

We also attended an NBA Basketball game, Orlando Magic against the Washington Wizards. There was a really fun atmosphere before the game started, with opportunities to have your photo taken and printed out for you, and plenty to eat or drink. For young children there was a huge soft play area and free face painting and balloon modelling. Some of the viewing areas weren't seated, so you could stand in a bar area with a drink watching the game.

Basketball game in Orlando

We had press tickets so we were able to sit in the press box which was very exciting with an excellent view. It was a little removed from the atmosphere below though, so we spent some time downstairs too. It was the first home game of the season and unfortunately Orlando Magic lost the game that night, but we still had a fun evening out.

Watching a basketball game from the press box

On our previous two family holidays we've missed a rocket launch each time due to illness and bad weather, so we were really hoping that the launch scheduled while we were out there this time would go ahead and it did! The launch was planned for soon after 1pm, so we arrived mid-morning and parked easily near Playalinda Beach in Canaveral National Seashore (entry costs $5). Then we walked about a mile along the beach to the security fence and waited there until the launch, luckily there was a boardwalk which provided some shelter from the sun.

We had a great view as the Atlas 5 rocket took off, and there were plenty of experts around to answer questions. It really was amazing, and I was really surprised by how slowly the rocket moved. If you are planning a visit to Florida you can check out a launch schedule here to see if your holiday co-incides with a launch, they take place a couple of times a month and as well as rocket launches you can also see deliveries taking off for the International Space Station.

Rocket launch in Florida

After two tiring weeks (my phone told me that on some days I'd walked over 10km around the parks) we were all ready for our week's cruise on Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas, following the Eastern Caribbean route. Unfortunately we had a few setbacks - bad weather meant that the first stop, Royal Caribbean's private island CocoCay, had to be cancelled and two hours out of port we had to go back as a passenger had been taken ill. We had to take a further detour due to the storm, and it was a lot rougher than I remember previous cruises, proper up and down motion rather than gentle swaying. We also discovered at check in that we were sharing our cruise with the 2014 High Seas Rally, which basically meant that our cruise was shared with 1800 bikers partying while raising money for charity. I'll be writing a detailed cruise review in the next couple of weeks.

We still had a great time though and we visited two beautiful beaches, Magens Bay on St. Thomas (US Virgin Islands) and St. Maarten. For the first time the children were confident enough to paddle and splash in the sea as it was so warm and calm, and we all really enjoyed it.

As always I ate far too much on holiday, so I'm trying to watch what I eat now. I read a statistic that suggested cruise passengers put on a pound for each day of their cruise, and I think that was certainly true for me! But how could I resist delicious treats like pizza cookies?

Pizza cookie at basketball game

We did some shopping too, I always like to stock up on different coloured polo neck tops in the Gap Outlet. I made a couple of visits to some craft shops too, and I may have gone a little overboard on the patterned tape amongst other things! It was a brilliant holiday! We have so many happy memories of the holidays that we've taken, I really hope that we're able to get back to Orlando soon.

We had press tickets to the Orlando Magic game and Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, but everything else on holiday we paid for ourselves!


  1. Sounds like a great time, we have just come back and I have the serious Holiday blues as the weather was so lovely while we were out there. Would have loved to see rockets taking off, but there was one the day we left! Lets keep our fingers crossed that we all get the chance to go back, as I know I would love too.

    1. It was lovely weather wasn't it! Yes, fingers crossed we can go back soon!

  2. Looks a sounds like you had a great time, feels like we were there so long ago but was in fact only in Feb! x


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