Searching for shade and souvenirs Florida

Published 7:18 am Thursday, July 14, 2022

Today’s Special

It’s a given if you go to Florida in June, it will be hot.  And even more so with a nation-wide heat wave going on.  We took note and packed clothes made of dry-fit material to stay cool and dry, hats, cooling towels, sunglasses, sunscreen, lip balm with SPF, fans and water, lots of water.  And we looked for shady spots and the most we found at Disney World were in Animal Kingdom.

And that’s where we went for day #3 of our family vacation. A first time for DW and me and so intriguing because you can go on a real-life safari and then fly to imaginary Pandora.  The safari was one of our favorite “rides” for it was cool (-ish) that morning and the animals were out and about.  And the best line of the trip came from son James, sitting behind me in the stretch Jeep that held our party of 13.  As the driver pointed out a beautiful long-horned bovine-looking animal I heard him comment, “oh, pshaw, we can see animals like that any day in Como, Mississippi!”  

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Later our party strolled through Gorilla Falls to see a handsome, elderly silver-backed gorilla living out his retirement at Disney World!  Life was good. Then we turned to the fantastical with a flying trip through the magical place of Pandora.  Interesting too that we were strapped onto a motorcycle-looking ride that moved slightly, back and forth and sideways without actually going anywhere, but the video on the screen in front of our eyes made us feel like we were moving, flying up, down and all around and diving into the most beautiful scenery. 

We looked for souvenirs and ate more ice cream, then found our seats to watch an amazing live production from The Lion King including stilt-walkers, fire eaters and greater-than-life animated animals from the beloved show.  Grand # 5 sat with me but couldn’t understand why anyone would put fire in his mouth and how did those tall people get up there!  In AK Grand #1 hunted for and found badges to complete his collection (as in the movie Up). And, we had our picture made in front of the glorious tree made famous in The Lion King.  AK is a beautiful place.

After lunch we found Nemo, swimming well and living in Animal Kingdom; and the big kids and I (I had not learned my lesson) rode the roller coaster up to the top of Mt. Everest where we heard and caught a glimpse of the Yeti!  Seems that big old snow creature also has made a home in Florida. As well as sun-loving Olaf.  The sun didn’t seem to bother them anyway. 

Next up on Saturday, day #4, was Epcot, my favorite place in WDW.  That morning Grands # 3 and #5 emerged as princesses with hair and makeup done beautifully (wish my eyebrows looked that good)!  First up was the Ratatouille ride in France, which is hard for a former restaurant food-safety instructor (me) to enjoy, but the kiddos loved it.  Close by was another roller coaster, which I almost backed out of, but changed my mind for it only lasted 2 minutes as DIL Kathleen reassured me.

Soon we all “soared” over beautiful country sides and cities. And took a thoughtful boat ride through The Land taking us by foods growing beautifully in unusual ways with future hope of feeding the ever-increasing world population.  Then it was lunch time!  DIL Laura, Grand #1, DW and I traveled 20 miles above Florida for an out-of-this world meal.  As we dined, astronauts, spaceships and shooting stars passed right outside our window.  Back down to earth to a souvenir shop as big as a department store!

Tee shirts, mugs, mouse ears, Elsa and Anna dolls, and Star Wars lightsabers were favorite choices. But my most favorite souvenir was that loving feeling when a grandchild comes up beside you, takes your hand and walks along with you, talking and laughing.  Yes, it was the happiest place on earth during those sweet moments. I came home with many of those precious souvenirs. 

DW and I spent the afternoon strolling through all the EPCOT countries. Thankfully we had ponchos for those ever possible, but usually brief, tropical rain showers. Supper at the Garden Grill served up delicious farm fresh vegetables, home-style meats and cobbler but so hard to eat as Mickey and friends visited our tables.  And that night we stayed for the fireworks as the sun went down and the breeze picked up.  What a finale!

Day #5 started with a Sunday morning family devotional, then back to Hollywood, with all going in different directions so no one missed anything they wanted to do.  I gave in right after lunch and made my way back to room 2254 for a long, cool nap.  I was done, hot and worn out with a roller coaster hangover. 

Last day, breakfast with Chef Mickey and his friends and pictures between every course!  So fun, then it was time to go.  Two-year-old Grand #6 summed it all up as we began our good-byes.  “No bye, bye; no bye, bye” he sobbed.  My sentiments exactly Hudson.