As soon as school was out, we headed off on our first summer adventure! The kids and I were headed down to Florida to visit my family, and have a little fun on the way 🙂
We flew into the Orlando airport, and quickly found my parents just past security. Unfortunately in all the commotion of greeting everyone, my mom took a bad fall. With the help of a nice gentleman standing nearby, we were able to get her up again.
We drove to the Nickelodeon hotel and got checked into our suite. My dad went with us down to the pool for a bit. It was closed when we got there (not sure if it was just an extended lifeguard break or something else) but finally it opened again. They had some disagreements at first but ended up having fun together. Though neither had much interest in the big climbing gym / water play area that the hotel is so well known for. Oh well, just give them a big, plain pool and they’re happy! Lily liked the opportunity to try out her new waterproof camera, and got some cute shots underwater.
We were having dinner with the Ninja Turtles later that night, it was actually the whole reason we were staying here. Owen had been fascinated with them for months, and this was the only way I knew of to meet them.
Once we were dressed and ready, we started slowly making our way to the lobby. It was a big place, and we had to take a slow pace for my mom. But it gave the kids time to sightsee and generally play around as we went.
The meal was a lot of fun! I couldn’t help but compare it to character meals we have done at Disney World. I will say the food wasn’t nearly as good, but the entertainment and character interaction were far better! Not only did each Ninja Turtle come by and spend several minutes with us, but they also did a show through the restaurant and invited the kids to come up to their favorite turtle and learn some Ninja moves. Of course Owen chose Raph.
So the evening was a lot of fun. Probably worth the extra effort of flying into Orlando (instead of Tampa) and staying the night here. Technically you aren’t supposed to be able to do the meal unless you are staying there, but I’m not actually sure how they enforce that. They seemed to have lost everyone’s reservations so were just seating whoever showed up (imagine the choas if that happened at Disney, lol!) And we just payed with a credit card. Oh well, it made it convenient anyway.
We slowly made our way back to the room and settled in for the night. I offered to take the sleeper sofa, and man I have to say that was probably the most uncomfortable bed I’ve ever slept on! At least it was only for one night.
We had to be out early the next morning, as Lily was signed up to do a Dolphin training experience at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. So we had to make the drive to Tampa,amidst morning rush hour. We made it with a few minutes to spare though, and got her checked in.
Once she left with the volunteer running the program, we explored a bit on our own. The highlight of her day was participating in the Dolphin show with Winter and Hope, the famous dolphins from Dolphin Tale.
She got to spend several minutes with Hope, while a crowd of several hundred people watched! I could tell she was positively beaming, and I’m so glad she got to do this.
The rest of the morning was a combination of looking around the aquarium, and also trying to be in the right place at the right time to see Lily doing various training tasks. We got to see her work with the otters and a couple more dolphins.
At the last one, the trainer had her give a command that made the dolphin jump out of the water in such a way that he totally soaked her, and the rest of the deck when he came down, lol! So that’s why a beach towel was included in her goody bag…
All too soon the experience was over, but boy had she enjoyed it! So glad we did it.
She changed into some dry clothes and we started the drive to Naples. We stopped at a little restaurant by the beach for a late lunch on the way, then met up with the rest of the family once we got into town.
We spent most of our time in Naples in Grandma and Grandpas pool and hanging out with the cousins. Owen sadly missed a chance to see his favorite animal, a raccoon – as one appeared on the fence while he was in the pool, but I couldn’t get his attention in time.
He had fun riding bikes around the cul de sac with his cousin though, and generally goofing off with Grandpa 😉
We did briefly go to a park in town and then to the beach, but it was SO hot, we didn’t stay long.