Florida Trip!

My parents and I went to Florida this week! We spent 4 days there: 2 days at Disney World, and 2 days in Tampa, visiting friends/family.

Okay, I’m only going to complain about this once because I don’t want to be annoying, but you need to understand how bad the weather was. It rained 3 out of the 4 days that we were there, and the 2 days that we had at Disney were 45 degrees (and raining). What. the. hell.

So ANYWAY, onto the fun!!!

First, we went to:

The Magic KingdomWe hadn’t eaten anything yet that day, and it was around noon, so we practically ripped the hinges off the door at the first indoor restaurant we saw: Tony’s Town Square Restaurant (meant to be the Italian place where Lady and the Tramp shared their spaghetti kiss). It was just what we needed to get things started.

First off- Jungle Cruise!

Photo (14) - CopyThe one benefit of the *ahem* weather was that there were no lines, on any ride, ever. So we just sauntered around the park like we owned the place. (Or rather huddled together in a soggy heap from one indoor option to another. Ok, I’m done, I swear!) Here’s a shaky picture on the Jungle Cruise. “How can you tell that those are African Elephants?” “Because of their ears…?” “No! Because we’re in AFRICA!” oooh HO HO Oh boy, those cruise directors are somethin’ else.

Next up!

Photo (15) - CopyPirates of the Caribbean!!! This is one of our favorite rides (a classic), but it also causes me a great deal of anxiety. I’m a huge wimp, and can’t handle anything rollercoaster-ish, and there is one “drop” on this ride that totally freaks me out. When I was a kid, I wasn’t expecting it, so it messed with my head when it happened, and it turned into this big scary thing. But this time around, it was totally fine! Barely even a drop. Maybe even enjoyable.

Also, fun little tidbit: When I was a kid, they sold actual (disabled) antique guns in the gift shop for the ride. So naturally, my brother and I each got one. Not only did that lead to some interesting conversations at the airport security line, but years later, having forgotten that I had left the small gun (it was like a mini thing that a lady would carry in her garter) in my carry-on bag, tried to bring it with me on another trip. Wellllll…that was a very very. VERY. embarrassing airport security experience.

So! Next we did:

The Haunted MansionThen we grabbed a treat just before heading out.

Mittens. MITTENS.
Mittens. MITTENS.

Onto:

EpcotFirst we did Spaceship Earth (a tour through the technology of the past, present, and future):

Photo (19) - CopyThen, SOARIN’!, which is a really fun ride where you feel like you’re “soaring” over different parts of the world (snow-capped mountains, canyons, orange groves, etc.). Very cool.

We went on “Living with the Land”, which is a tour through different innovations in agriculture. I’ve always liked this ride.

Apparently most of the crops that they grow on this ride (or at least in this project) are used in the food created in the Disney parks. Or so they tell us.
Apparently most of the crops that they grow on this ride (or at least in this project in general) are used in the food provided at the Disney parks. Or so they tell us.

Then we hustled over to Morocco, for our dinner reservation. We got to see a belly dancer, which I loved! I also caught a glimpse of Jasmine heading into the kitchen. Random…

Photo (21) - CopyOur meal was really yummy (I got chicken kebabs with couscous). We got these weird appetizer things that were basically chicken and nuts inside a cinnamon and sugar pastry crust. Sweet and savory at the same time. So weird! But really good..in a weird way.

Then we had dessert in France, and caught a ride in Mexico before heading back home.

After the exhausting day, we soaked our tootsies in the hotel room’s Jacuzzi tub. It was heaven.

Photo (23) - CopyNext day we were at it again, starting out at:

Animal KingdomHere we are, ready for the fun:

photo (13)First, we caught the “It’s Tough to Be a Bug” 3D show:

Photo (26)Then we went on the Maharajah Jungle Trek, where we saw some beautiful tigers.

Photo (27)We also watched a bird show:

Photo (28)We went on the Safari and saw lions, rhinos, ostriches, hippos, and giraffes:

Photo (29)And we saw elephants. Elephants are the bessst ughhh. Have you guys seen this? (A youtube video of two elephants being reunited.)

Photo (30)The Lion King show and the River Rapids ride were both closed, so we watched the parade and headed out:

Photo (31)We went to our last Disney park:

Hollywood StudiosThis park has my favorite design scheme (old Hollywood/classic Americana/1940s). I would have tried to capture it, but it just wouldn’t have photographed properly.

We did The Great Movie Ride first, which is inside the replica of the famous Chinese Theater in LA. It’s a travel through some of the highlights of movies past.

Photo (33)We watched a bit of the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular! (Exclamation point is part of the title of the show.)

Photo (34)THEN I was coaxed onto the Star Tours ride. I’ve never done this one before, and I was very apprehensive about it because I’m in constant fear of unwittingly ending up on a rollercoaster-y ride and being traumatized. No one could give me a sufficient description of the ride beforehand (the only sufficient description = “As much motion as It’s A Small World”), so I was preparing myself for possible calamity.

Photo (35)But it was actually really fun. Lots of jerky-jolty-high flying motion with some sort of vague Star Wars-related plot. I only had to close my eyes a couple of times. And a scream of exhilaration escaped from me once- rare!

We gave our vestibular systems a rest, and watched the Muppets 3D show.

Photo (36)We were running out of time, so we headed over to the amphitheater to grab seats for Fantasmic! (Disney loves their exclamation points). Can you tell who is dancing on the boat in the below picture?

Photo (37)Well peeps, that’s it for Disney World, but the vacation isn’t over yet! We headed to Sarasota, to check out the Ringling Museum of Art (a museum including the art collection of John and Mable Ringling, John and Mable’s self-designed mansion, and artifacts from the Ringling Circus).

Ringling MuseumAbove is a photo of the front gate designed by the Ringlings. This is essentially the front gate to their home, though it’s seriously about a mile away from the mansion itself. They put this gate here, and then made the. longest. path to their front door (the space in between was filled with flower and sculpture gardens, and has now also been filled with several museum buildings). Seriously, trams run regular schedules on the grounds because it’s so darn big. So, apparently I can’t get over that.

But anyway, the circus museum is filled with paraphernalia from the Ringling circus, including their refurbished train car, programs, posters, and classic circus wagons like these:

Photo (38)Alllsoo, there’s this ENORMOUS miniature (oxymoron!) circus. This was not created/commissioned/conceived of by the museum. This was made by a dude (Howard Tibbals) who spontaneously became obsessed with circuses back in the 1960s. It took him almost 50 years to put this thing together. When the museum people saw it, they were all, “Hey! It’s a circus! Set it up at our place!” So it’s here.

Photo (45)

Photo (46)
Tibbals knows basically everything about circuses, so this circus is very historically accurate. He has the trains, the big top, the sideshow tents, the carnival, bathrooms, fire trucks waiting for possible disaster, animal feed stations, cafeteria tent, many practice tents, etc. Additional fun: the display’s lights dim and brighten at regular intervals to mimic daylight/nighttime, and the ceiling is painted with clouds to resemble the sky.
Photo (47)
I tried to get a picture that showed the full size of the ┬ádisplay, but it wasn’t possible. This is about a third of it.

Then that mansion, cripes. So here it is, now that we’ve traveled about a light-year away from the entrance.

Photo (39)The mansion, which the Ringling’s titled “Ca d’Zhan”, meaning “House of John” in the Venetian language (creeaaative), was designed in “Venetian Gothic” style, which is apparently a euphemism for “gaudy.”

Photo (40)You can’t really tell from this picture, but man, this place was…heavily designed. All of the many windows had multicolored glass panes, the ceilings were painted with people in various costumes or patterned with heavy wooden moldings, the furniture was always heavy and colorful (forest green leather chairs in the “breakfast room”? Oh yeah, there is a separate room for breakfast). Each corner of the place was stuffed with marble sculptures or velvet furniture or something. There were two kitchens (it appeared that there was one for cold food and one for hot food). It’s a bit like the home of the psychopathic serial killer in my recurring nightmares.

And whoa, their back deck (would you call it a deck? Is there a fancier word I could use? Veranda?).

Photo (41)It’s also a dock, as you can see. So one could sail right up to it, hop out, and grab some french toast in the breakfast room. Notice the tiling? Who would ever want just one type of tile laid in just one direction? Psshhh boring.

Here’s a bit of detail on the exterior of the house (the exterior was more understated than the interior):

Photo (42)On the trek back to the entrance, the garden has a few of these Banyan trees, which are so interesting. This is one single tree:

Photo (44)Here’s a closer look:

Photo (43)Pretty sure these trees are going to hijack the earth and supplant us as the highest life form. I’m trying to get in good with them now.

So we headed on to Tampa to visit family. At this point, apparently my brain fell out of my head because I took only one single picture for the last leg of our trip. Anyway, I got to see some family that I rarely see, so that was really nice.

I also got to hang out with a good friend that I haven’t been able to see in a while (she moved to Florida last summer). We ate lunch at a place called Datz’ Deli, where they give you enough food to fill a bathtub, and potato chips coated with sugar. Yes. Potato chips. Coated. With sugar. We kept eating them and trying to figure out why our potato chips tasted like sugar, so we eventually asked, and they intentionally do it. Why? Some things are not meant to be combined.

So aannyway… then we went to my friend’s house and had a blast playing games, chatting, and cuddling wiff dis widdle guyyyyy awwwww:

Photo (51)
This is Sam. He’s 15 years old, but he looks like a puppy. And he is suuuper sweet.

We then strolled around an outdoor mall (got to finally enjoy some nice Florida weather), had some yummy dinner at a place called GrillSmith, and relaxed in the hot tub at my hotel.

Then we beat the odds (the odds made up by my anxietybrain) and survived yet another plane ride. Hoorayy!!