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  1. #1

    Default MI to FL and back 1day disney,little money. any sidetrip ideas along the way?

    I am leaving in 10 days for a spontaneous road trip to Florida and back with my 6 year old in tow. It will just be him and I, a little mommy son bonding.
    My dad always talked about his family vacations to almost all of the states as a child. We were never able to do that, but I am hoping to start for my family on this trip. I have been down to FL once before on a road trip w/ my husband about 5 years ago, but we went alone and did not have kid activities in mind. We are leaving on a Wed. afternoon, checking into the hotel no earlier than 4 on Thursday, doing disney on Friday, and check out by 11 on Saturday, have to be home to Mich. by Sun night for work/school on Mon.
    I have never been to disney before and am planning to do just the Magic Kingdom for 1 day. I have found lots of information for that day and have a hotel booked in Lake Buena Vista for the night before and after. However, that is the only planned accomadation.
    Most of my money is going to the tickets and the two nights of hotel.
    I have already thought of getting "disney" souvenirs in advance, and have luckily found several shirts and hats that actually say walt disney world on them from Goodwill, along with some activity books, books on tape, and other "in the car" activities.
    Now the issue lies with where else can we go? I don't want to just focus on the disney day, but enjoy the trip there and back. We will only have a day each way and not much time for adventures. Any grand ideas for a few hours that we would really remember?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default A trip you won't want to remember

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I'm sorry, but your trip has disaster written all over it. Assuming you are starting in southern Michigan, you're looking at a 1200 mile drive, which can not safely be done by a solo drive in one day. There certainly is no time here for anything that would be a detour for a few hours. Even worse, after an exhausting trip down, and a very tiring day at disney, you'd have to do the same marathon trip the next day. It can not safely be done, period.

    I'm sorry if I sound a bit harsh here, but this kind of trip just has all the trappings of an adult who wants to feel better about themselves by planning a huge trip "for a child." But in reality, there is almost no thought about a child in a trip that happens like this. No 6 year old is going to enjoy being trapped in a car for 24 hours, on 2 separate occations, in the span of 3 days. A day at disney in the middle is not going to make that a worthwhile trip for your son. Quite frankly, at age 6, your son is barely going to be old enough to really appreciate something like Disneyworld anyway.

    One of the great things about children is that doesn't take something as huge as disneyworld for a kid to have a great time. Often times a hotel swimming pool is even more fun and memorable that a huge theme park. With the time you have, I think you could have a much more fun and memorable (for the right reasons) trip by thinking on a smaller scale. There are lots of things you could do where you'd have a fun day driving to a destination, have a day or two doing something fun, and have time for an enjoyable trip home.

    The trip you are planning sets you up for an experience that you will remember, because you won't be able to forget it. Its a bad idea on a tremendous scale. More importantly, you would seriously be putting the lives of yourself, your son, and everyone on the road in danger by driving without nearly enough rest. Please trust me when I say, its just not worth it.

  3. #3

    Default clarification

    Just to clarify, I will have almost two days to get there (don't have to check in by 4), and two days to get home, so it's not as bad as you think. i realize it's a tall order. i think it will turn out alright, i'll report back.

  4. Default

    Just curious how this trip turned out...

  5. #5

    Default We made it!!

    So it took me a year to respond, because i am now planning a new (crazy) trip with family in May, but here is how my trip last year to Florida went down:

    Wednesday - planned to leave at 12pm, didn't leave until 3pm because i had my brakes checked just to be sure
    Drove through Indiana and stopped at the state park for a 20 minute look at Lake Michigan (it was cold and windy, and we live right by Lake Michigan), and about 30 minutes at the nature center, which was nice. Ate dinner in the car at a rest stop with Wind turbines far in the distance. While Indiana is not the most exciting drive, I haven't done it often, so I enjoyed the country fields, many flooded which looked cool at sunset.
    Rolled into Louisville around 10pm, and decided to make a stop. We went to a roadside park across the river from downtown, with a relatively nice view of the city lights. I asked a gentleman at the park how to get to the giant Louisville slugger that was reportedly there, and this is how the conversation went "Do you know how I would find the giant bat?" Man replies, with drawl "a bat? like in a cave?"... hmm. Anywho, we found the bat, well lit for a couple pics of my little guy in front of it. Headed out of town. Slept from probably 3-8. He obviously slept much longer.
    Thursday Drove through the mountains and stopped at a rest stop by the Tenessee river for some more pics. Had a great picnic lunch (we brought a cooler) at a rest stop in Georgia and it was in the 80's! put our winter gear in the trunk and changed into shorts. later that day, got into florida and stopped at the welcome center. We rolled into Orlando late evening, and decided to go straight to Downtown disney instead of checking in to the hotel first. We went to the lego store where my son got to make a race car and race it down a track, and we posed for pictures next to all the cool Lego creations. (he got really good at using my blackberry camera so I could be in some too!) We walked around for a while, and then headed back to the hotel, which was literally next door to the entrance of Disney World. (got the room for $40/night on hotwire a week in advance). We got settled in and when I turned on the TV, they had a channel showing highlights of the disney parks, which was cool, because he had no idea we were going to disney world until we got to florida. (just in case something happened.)
    FridayWe were originally going to take the hotel shuttle to the park at 9am, but we were very tired. Instead of rushing, we took our time, ate a bowl of cereal and some fruit for breakfast, drove ourselves and just paid the $8 to park. We got to the park around 10:30am. Chose to take the Ferry, (I let the munchkin decide) and made our way to magic kingdom. For the day, we brought one small backpack for me, containing snacks and sandwiches (permitted by disney) and such as well as a fleece (bought at goodwill in advance that said disney world), one miniature backpack for my son which contained his leapster video game, bubbles, small toys, and a small activity book, and I did opt for the "fanny pack" for my wallet, phone and such. We followed guide book advice in the park, and began by going backwards through the different sections. Started in Adventureland and went to the Swiss family treehouse... not really a fan. Once we were up in the tree and realized there was nothing to do but look at furniture, we were ready to keep moving. Next we did pirates of the carribean... My son had seen the movie. we weren't too impressed there either, mostly because it's similar to a bunch of characters at chuck E cheese moving to music while you are in a boat under ground just passing through.. Not that I approve of this language, but he got off the boat saying "that was stupid". So I was determined to find a roller coaster. (let me inform you that we live right by Michigan's adventure, with the tallest wooden coaster, and my son had already mastered it.) We found the mining roller coaster in Frontierland (thundermountain railroad) and had a blast! the lines were very tolerable at this point. Next we did Tom Sawyer Island. I was surprised at how out of date Disney was.. but we tromped around for awhile, he thought the barrel bridge was pretty cool. I may have my rides out of order, but here is a list of the rest for the day, Haunted Mansion (relatively cool), Splash Mountain (didn't even get kind of wet), and Dumbo. Around this time, we saw the parade going on by the castle, but we were pretty much at the end of it. Along the way my son had no interest in meeting characters, he just wanted to ride and do things. We skipped it's a small world due to a really long line, and instead opted for Mickey's philharmonic after we had gotten our Peter Pan "Fast Pass". those things were great. The 3D show was pretty awesome. We rode the carousel and then played in the splash park by the little mermaid. I purchased one frozen coke and two ice cream cones for food purchases all day. In Tomorrowland, one other mom in line was quite impressed that my son was munching on celery and playing with bubbles in line for buzz lightyear. That was a great ride, and well worth the wait. We took the transit authority for a break, and then saw Monster's Inc. which was also a pretty cool show. My son was pretty convinced the monster hosting the show was real. We used our fast pass for Space Mountain (totally awesome) and got a space mountain pin $11, and then headed out to the castle for the nighttime parade (Spectromagic) We got a good spot by an aisle, and settled in with a blinking glow necklace for a souvenir $5 (also perfect for 4th of July) The parade was wonderful, I took video with my blackberry the whole time. I also was able to upload pictures from our trip as we went to facebook, which was great for people back home, wanted to make sure we got places safely. We made a final dash back to Tomorrowland for the go carts, and got another light-up souvenir that is a string you can manipulate like a yo-yo, yet without having skill. cost $15, but very worth it, still impresses people with it now, a year later. We came back to the castle for the fireworks, and then made our way with the masses back towards main street. That was rather crowded, so patience is a virtue. We made a final stop in the custom mouse ear shop on the way out, and got a Magician's hat to share (one size fits all) for a whopping $25. However, I also used it for Halloween, since I found a cape at Goodwill for $6. It's also a great dressup item. We took the train back to the parking lot where we proceeded to lose our car.. but found it eventually 20 minutes later. My son was convinced we were going to be stuck in Florida. Made our way back to the hotel, and went to bed.
    SaturdayWe took our time in the morning, and headed out to the pool and hot tub around 10:45. Lucky for us, there was one other boy there from another part of michigan, so they played and swam for a while and i relaxed in the hot tub. We left right about noon, and took a drive to a few touristy stores to see if there was anything worth buying... I got a pin and a few post cards, and the boy got a seashell. We left town around 1pm and made our way north. We rolled into Macon Georgia and the visitor's center around 4:30 I think.. I inquired if there was anything around we could get to close to the freeway to do that was cheap. We were in luck, the Azelea Festival in Veldosta was scheduled until 6pm!! we took the detour and had a great evening at a little fair by the university with free kids bouncy stuff, a park, racing pigs, face painting, and fair food. Bought a few artsy items and he got his face painted. He played at the park for a while, then we headed on. Stayed the night in northern Georgia.
    Sunday We made it to Lookout Mountain, Tennessee by 7am to find that the "world's steepest incline" train didn't open until 9am. Gave in and ordered breakfast at the nearby "Kosmic" something... not worth the money I spent that's for sure. We rode the incline to the top of the mountain, and opted to walk around the National park area instead of the other high priced attractions. Unfortunately for us there wasn't much of a lookout due to fog. We walked around the park, took pictures by the cannons and statues, and made our way back to the incline for the ride down. We were back in our winter gear there in Tennessee.. upper 30's low 40's, but no snow! We continued on our way north, and headed directly home. The fields in Indiana had dried, so that was interesting to see how much the landscape had changed in a few days. I must say there was some sort of vertigo on the way home, because starting in Northern Indiana, I felt like I was driving a little down hill when I was obviously not. Otherwise, all went very well. I was as prepared as I could have been for any disasters and was lucky there weren't any. We got back in our driveway after 11pm. Wish we had a little more time.
    A few sidenotes: I took a laundry basket full of stuff for the munchkin to do in the car, and he has been doing 4 hour roadtrips twice in a weekend every other weekend for most of his life, so he's fine with the driving. We did not have a dvd player with us, and we survived. I didn't even listen to the radio during the whole trip!! It was really nice to have just me and him for a while, as opposed to adults wanting to converse and being interrupted. What was great at Disney since it was just the two of us, was letting him be the guide, and not having to make sure "everyone was happy". No kids to fight with, just mom. My son is ADHD, and was still having some mood issues at this point, so not everything was easy. Before we left (since he didn't know where we were going), I asked what he might like to do on a vacation with mom. His answer was Chuck E Cheese. It took a lot of convincing to explain that disney was better. We had a minor meltdown at the fair, as he wanted to go to the park first, and I had to explain that the fair would be closing, the park would not. But we made it through and now he will see something on tv and say, "I saw that in florida". It was a great experience, and I would highly recommend being spontaneous with your kids, while still being prepared for car trouble, weather, whining, potty breaks, etc. I was prepared to pay for a flight or bus home if I had to, and was willing to change the itinerary if necessary. Only cost $80 each way in gas at the time, so I couldn't say it wasn't a good time to go! Too bad I won't be in Florida this March.. here at home in the snow. Altogether I spent about $800 for the trip, including car repairs in advance. Happy to help anyone else I can! My pics are available on Facebook, as is the parade video, contact me if you want access.

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