It's been a long time coming but at last, I have edited the snaps I took during our family holiday to Florida a few weeks back. Considering my passion for photography, I took surprisingly few pictures because I chose to focus primarily on experiencing each moment (and, of course I filmed it too haha) so this is just a glimpse into all the fun.
I would quite happily book another holiday and spend every minute taking pictures of every little detail the whole place was so amazing. I can absolutely see why families spend thousands of pounds every year to go.
Warning - not all the pictures are in order. Sorry!
This is my favourite picture from the entire batch so of course, this had to go first. Watching Darcy enjoy the day time parade was my absolute highlight of the trip. Seeing her face delight in all the familiar characters and watching her tiny hands wave and point in glee was just one of those moments that as a parent you treasure for always. She still talks about seeing 'Sinnerwella' and I still smile.
Despite a decade age gap, me and my little sister (or Lister as I like to call her) are just as much friends as sisters and I love being on holiday with her. I hope we carry on doing things like this in years to come. This is us waiting for I think the ET ride, which Lister hated. She can watch the most scary films but put ET on and she's outta there!
Oh hai there that man I married. How charming you look in glasses.
Darcy meeting Curious George and thinking he was the coolest thing ever. She went straight over and was happy to sit on his lap (with dolly and blankie too of course).
Tina (Dad's partner) and Ben (Tina's son and so my step-brother) having a moment with George.
I have no idea who this was meant to be but she was so sweet to Darcy (no pun intended) and totally rocked pink hair.
After a day in Universal Studios (highlights including Darcy meeting Dora the Explorer, Matt enjoying the Transformers ride and me eating my weight in popcorn *drools*) we meandered out of the park and to the Hard Rock Cafe for dinner. If you ever have the opportunity to go, do. I'm not really a music person (I like it on the in the car and such but I couldn't tell you anything about who does what etc) but I thought the atmosphere was really good and the service was excellent. Also, I'm told it's a Christian British company- who knew? Not me!
What I love most about the above is the lady in pink living it up there. Haha.
Be still my beating heart, it's Disney. Main street is MAGICAL.
My little bug watching the Good Morning parade thingymajiggy.
I could have spent all day just looking at things in main street. Every tiny detail was beautifully done and cared for. More time please!
Matt took this from across the road as we watched Mickey and a few other characters come down on floats. Oh, and the random native american guy there. You might have noticed Darcy's costume change too. We forked out the $64 (whhaatt?!?!) to buy her the most beautiful Ariel dress and honestly, her reaction when we put it on her in the shop was worth $6400. She was THRILLED and pointed it out to us ALL DAY. What made it even more special was that all the disney cast members greeted her as 'Ariel' as we went round the park and really made Darcy feel amazing.
Mosiac inside Cinderella's castle. Again, something to spend more time admiring in the future.
I love this shot of Darcy, my Dad and Tina. She is a very well loved child.
This is Hollie our new(ish) step-sister. Her and Tiyana are so close in age and get on perfectly so they were often in their own little world of searching out free wifi (seriously, they're obsessed) and going on rides.
In America they have these cereal/snack bar things called 'Cliff Bars'. Next time I'm out there I'm stocking up because she bloomin' well loved them and they were the perfect treat to tide her over between main meals. Also, we told her they were biscuits so she thought she was getting lucky. Mwahaha.
'The Kids' (who aren't really all kids) waiting for the parade. We guarded that scrap of pavement like crazies.
Gargh I wanna squish all 4 of those sweet faces!
Yeah, I know, super close up. I wanted to crop out all the other random people and I couldn't leave this picture out because LOOK HOW BEAUTIFUL THEY BOTH ARE. That is all.
Darcy's most special moment. Cinderella looked right at us and waved. Darcy squealed. I die.
My most specials.
Splash Mountain was shut and so the rest of our group went off to go on something else (I forget what). Top tip for you though, if you walk past the entrance to the ride, under the bridge there is a little kiddie play area in the shade which is a welcome break for tots who have been in the sun all day and a great place for parents to sit down and take a breather. Right round the corner (by the loos, benches and drinking fountains), there were Jesse and Woody meeting guests. It was well tucked away so the queue was small and it was a great way to spend an easy 30 minutes before we joined up with everyone.
I'd heard that if you shout, 'Andy's coming!' then the Toy Story characters drop to the ground and play dead. Not true anymore. They had to stop that for health and safety and the line is, 'they know Andy is at collage now so it isn't an issue anymore'.
Waiting for the evening parade and fireworks display.
Amazing. I took over 100 photos but didn't want to throw them all on here but seriously, it was the best fireworks and lights display I've ever seen. Darcy was enthralled, happy and ready for home.
Being the science geeks we are, Nasa Kennedy Space Centre was our next day out. If you are into things like this, I'd really recommend making the drive and going out there. You can take a bus tour all round Cape Canaveral and drive right up to (and get out to photograph) the real launch pads, buildings the space craft are assembled in and listen to talks from retired astronauts.
It's not a day for rides and popcorn but it's so interesting and I think it's important to know about the developments we are making in space exploration and to appreciate the work that NASA does. Also, the centre is a lot less busy than the theme parks so if you need a bit of chilled time, this is the place to go. It was one of my best days.
This part is where I should be showing you pictures of our day at Seaworld. I recently put a snap up on Instagram of Darcy looking at a polar bear and the comments section went wild with debate over whether Seaworld is ethical. I have since done a little bit of research and have decided not to feature any Seaworld pictures and will not be returning to the park. I am glad they seek to provide a message of education and promote ways to protect the oceans but feel deeply sad for the way the whales were captured in the 80's and don't think it's right to keep wild animals in tanks. We don't visit zoos for this same reason. I'm not sorry I went there because if I hadn't have gone I wouldn't have had an opinion but I don't think I will be returning.
Anyway, serious part done, Islands of Adventure!!
Matt and is ultimate hero.
Honeydukes in Hogwarts.
A rare find- healthy food in a theme park. If you are travelling with littles and you want them to eat healthily (Darcy doesn't have pizza, burgers, chips etc which is mostly what was on the menu) then pack plenty of snacks/sandwiches and keep your eyes peeled for the fruit stands. The fruit we bought was fresh and cold and lovely.
We on the other hand didn't eat so healthily. Churro after being soaked on a water ride anyone?
Darcy feeling very daring in a flying fish.
And then on a flying pink elephant.
My little photographer back at the hotel.
And then it was a few last shops (sweets are essential you know) and back to the airport.
Darcy found a unique place to hang out whilst we waited to board, haha.
And that's that!
I want to write a whole post on Travelling with Toddlers in the New Year (December is fully booked with Vlogmas- eeep!) and of course there will be the Florida vlogs but for now, those are a selection of our snaps.
Ermigerhd that was the BEST holiday ever. I've been to America with my family many times over the years but due to the nature of my turbulent childhood family life, it was always with different mother figures or siblings and there were always rows or disagreements or horrible feelings. Living in a 'blended family' (I LOVE that term) can be really challenging and pose a lot of problems (as I have well experienced) but at last, after twenty years, I think our family is happy and peaceful and as it should be. I couldn't be more thankful for Tina, Ben and Hollie, especially as they arrived just as Darcy did and so Darcy will only ever know the good times and will never have tasted the bad. Long may it continue!!
I'd love to know your experiences of holidaying in large groups or with families, or with littles like Darcy! Tell me in the comments!
To find new ways to stalk me or learn about my disclosure policy, click HERE.