For our family, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day have always been extremely busy, and tiring. Understanding that we want to have the time and energy to honor our own parents on these days, while still really getting to enjoy it ourselves, Brooke decided to diverge from the norm. We spend and dedicate our time for Mother’s and Father’s Day with our parents on the traditionally scheduled days and celebrate for ourselves at another time during the year when we are less busy. For Mother’s Day, we chose the weekend of September 10 to celebrate Brooke and she decided to spend the night in Orlando.
On Saturday, September 10, we drove over to Orlando (about 2 hours) so that we could make it in time for lunch. Brooke’s first request for the weekend was to have lunch at Shake Shack , a popular fast casual burger joint that originally started out in Central Park NYC (which is where Brooke and I were introduced to it). We were excited to learn that Shake Shack had opened a location on I-Drive in Orlando, and we had talked up the food to the kids as we came up on the weekend. We parked near the Orlando Eye and walked over to Shake Shack and placed our order for burgers, fries and a Red Velvet milkshake. Emily chose a fried chicken sandwich. The kids loved the food and Emily would not separate from the sandwich until it was gone.
Full and satisfied, we headed back to the main building of the I-Drive 360 (as this area is named) to visit Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum. We normally wouldn’t have spent the money to enter an attraction like this, but in late spring, Legoland Florida had released a buy one get one free offer for their Awesomer Pass that we couldn’t pass up. The Awesomer Pass includes free admission to the Orlando Eye, the Orlando Aquarium and the Wax Museum. I hadn’t visited a Wax Museum previously, and held my expectations in check, but I was actually impressed and entertained by the experience. I had expected a few wax statues to look at and take pictures of, but most of the areas were interactive. We spent time with the Presidents of the United States, Albert Einstein and the sports area. The girls especially liked the pop music section, pretending to sing with Katie Perry and Taylor Swift.
After the Wax Museum, we headed over to the Orlando Eye , a 400 foot tall ferris wheel with sweeping views of the greater Central Florida area. After watching a short video, we quickly (not a bad line at all) boarded our capsule and got ready to enjoy the ride. Again, I was not expecting much, and I must admit this was a better experience than I had thought. The music played, the interactive screens allowed us to explore more details on what we could see and we took in the vistas of Universal Studios, Disney World, Downtown Orlando (and our favorite Lake Eola), I-Drive, Turkey Lake and Sand Lake.
The 30 minute ride went by pretty fast and soon we were leaving the area to check in to the hotel.
We booked our one night stay at the Art of Animation on Disney World property through the Disney website. When looking for Orlando hotels, we scan a few places, and the price was right for this weekend to stay on property. This is one of their value properties, but the reason we ended up booking it was for the room type. We reserved the Cars Family Suite, which provided more than enough room for the six of us. The living room area had a pull out couch and there was a Murphy bed over the table, along with a separate bedroom. The room was pretty sweet too, especially for Lila and Weston who really like Cars. Every element of the room was themed for Cars; the kitchen cabinets looked like a tool box, the lamps are caution cones and the Murphy bed revealed a nighttime sleeping ‘Mater to accompany the kids to sleep. Here, we also gave Brooke some Mother’s Day gifts. The kids gave her a handmade craft sticks craft that listed the reasons they loved her. I had curated a few of her favorite pictures from our California Road Trip this past summer and had them made into a photo book. She loved both gifts and that photo book is something that she pulls out to show guests all the time.
We rested for a bit, briefly explored the hotel grounds and then headed off for dinner. Long ago, we had discovered the Kids Eat Free cards for Orlando. Even though there are dozens and dozens of choices for us to eat, the kids chose the World’s Largest Entertainment McDonald’s for more burgers. Brooke and I did end up ordering from the Bistro Gourmet Menu, which at least meant we weren’t eating burgers for a second straight meal, while we used the cards to get two free kids meals. The food took a while to arrive from the Bistro, so we used the time to peruse through some local coupon books. We came across 50% coupons for Dave & Buster’s, which then trumped our original plans for staying at the McDonald’s Entertainment Center. At Dave & Buster’s everyone found a game or two where their skill was maximized and before long we had accumulated quite the stack of virtual tickets. After negotiating the inches of space still available inside the prize room, each kid finally picked out their treasure and we were headed back to the hotel, arriving with two kids already asleep. We used the double stroller to convey the sleepers up the elevator and into the room without having to leave any kid behind (either in the room or in the car).
The next morning we awoke with plans of exploring the hotel grounds more fully and eating breakfast. We were staying in the Cars area, but the hotel also features areas dedicated to the Lion King, Finding Nemo (which also features the largest pool in Walt Disney World) and the Little Mermaid. Stopping and climbing on everything they could, the kids slowly made their way to the dining room and we put together a few meals for us all to share.
It was back out to the hotel grounds after breakfast and more time climbing and then playing at the Righteous Reef playground. Our time to check out was quickly approaching, so we returned to the room, gathered our belongings and loaded up the car, and headed to Magic Kingdom.
We love utilizing the FastPass+ program available through the Disney App, and always load up with our three allowed Fast Passes before heading into any Disney theme park. For this day, we were able to get passes to the Jungle Cruise, Aladdin’s Magic Carpets and Goofy’s Barnstormer Roller Coaster. We also always have time for a stop by Dumbo The Flying Elephant ride because they kids love playing at the queue playground and we don’t mind an air conditioned spot to sit and watch them. We checked the Disney App and there were no more attractive Fast Passes available to us, so we decided to call it a trip and head back home by catching a ride on the train back to the front of Magic Kingdom.
It had been a great 36 hours and a great way to spend a dedicated weekend for Mother’s Day for just Brooke.