This year we decided to do something different for Aspen's birthday party so we went with Gatorland. Whenever you have a birthday party or the like at a zoo or park, you are not sure what to expect. Our experience was way beyond our expectations. We had an awesome trainer named Donny (who played Cooter in the Gator Jumparoo show later on in the day) who interacted with everyone at the party. He brought out all sorts of animals (no snakes..no snakes!) for us to interact with, hold, take photos and the like. Normally, when you have animal interactions, it is just for a few moments. We were able to hold them for as long as we want. Donny was very impressed that we interacted with the animals as much as we did. After opening presents and eating some cake, we went over to the Gator Wrestling show. As Aspen was the birthday boy, him and me got called "on stage" if you will to pick out the gator to be wrestled. The whole party experience lasted just about 2 1/2 hrs and then we were free to roam about the park. For $300 we got the entire family admission into Gatorland, a private pavilion, a trainer/party host for the entire time, and little extra perks. That is an amazing value!
Tonight was the opening night of the Osceola County Fair. The main reason I went was to see how I did in the Creative Arts competition. I got third place for each of my food items; two third place, a second place, and a first place for my photos! Also a main draw is the food!! I finally got to try a Krispy Kreme burger. Delicious!
So as it be, Central Florida has some of the most delicious strawberries in the world. Plant City (between Lakeland and Tampa) has miles and miles of strawberry fields waiting to be picked. Some of these are open to the public for pick your own. In my 11+ years down here, I had never visited a strawberry patch to get some of my own berries. Looking online, I found a great strawberry patch right here close to Orlando. Pappy's Patch is located just north of downtown Oviedo, near 434. It is a simplistic farm with rows and rows of berries and a small trailer to pay. You can pick as much as you want and they only cost $2.50 a pound. They do not have a website but you can reach them by calling 407-366-8512. There will be a voicemail informing you of the next open day.
This weekend is one of Walt Disney World's busiest with their annual Marathon weekend. While there is the big race on Sunday, a half marathon on Saturday, a 5k today, there is also a Kids Race series. Kids can run anywhere between 100m to 1 mile, depending on age. This was Aspen's 2nd RunDisney Kids race!
Today is a sad day here for all theme park fans. Jaws, a classic Universal attraction has closed. After many tours and over 35 years of no shark sightings, Capt Jakes Amity Boat Tours has shut down. While I took my final ride a week or so ago, I went over to Amity to take a few last pictures. Everyone was very festive, keeping to the 4th of July theme and not in a somber mood.
On Thursday, we went to the Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando to see Notre Dame vs FSU. Even though ND lost, it was still a great game. It was the first sellout in Champs Sports Bowl history not to mention probably the first sellout of any bowl game so far this year.
After hitting up the other major parks for the holidays, it was time to finish up at Sea World. I felt that Sea World did an amazing job with all their decorations, their shows, and other activities for the holiday season. With all the lights, it is obvious that they are trying to compete with Osborne. While they may not have the sheer amount of lights, the quality is certainly up there.
It is time once again for the annual Macy's Holiday Parade at Universal Studios. Now in its 10th year! I loved getting involved in this parade over the years, even got the opportunity to pilot a balloon up in NYC back in 2005!
In keeping with its new tradition of offering fun and free events for families, Old Town is now celebrating Christmas ! Old Town has been fully decorated into 4 different themes spanning from Gingerbread houses all the way up to a Living Nativity. Santa is available in his workshop every night of the week and there is also other live entertainment. While we went in the middle of the week, it was still nice to see everything lit up. My son did GREAT with Santa this year. He is almost two years old and didnt want anything to do with Santa last time, so he is getting better.
Check out some of my pics and for more information head on over to Old Town's website or check them out on Twitter or Facebook
For our third Anniversary, we went up to St Augustine for a quick overnight stay. We had a great time at the Pirate Haus, a great dinner at A1A Ale Works, and a great tour on Ghost Augustine!