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Guest blog: Family fun in Florida

Scott Dunn guest and blogger Curious Pixie, took her family on the iconic Florida vacation over Easter and here she writes about her adventures and top tips…

It’s only been a week since I left the Sunshine State, but boy does it feel like longer. I have so much to say and took so many photos. So, put the kettle on and settle down…

Preparation for this trip took two guises. Excitement first took over as we couldn’t wait to tell the girls we were going to the happiest place on the planet. We did however make the decision to tell them only the night before. Mainly to save our ears from hearing ‘is it time to go yet?’ on loop. The master plan led to an extreme case of happy hysteria, which inevitably meant no sleep that night. Neatly leading me to my first top tip…

Top Tip 1: Last minute vacation revelation + no sleep at night = sleeping children on a 8.5hr flight – BINGO!

Then the overwhelming sensation of our decision took over. Why you may ask? Well the slow realisation of having to navigate four theme parks, two water parks and a multitude of dining options to name a few reasons. Taking into account that the size of the entire Walt Disney Resort is 40 square miles. That’s the size of Greater Manchester – enormous when you have two pairs of tiny feet to think about!

We booked our vacation through Scott Dunn, they organized our ten day break in Florida flawlessly. BA flights from Gatwick, transfers, amazing hotels, advising me to skip Miami on this trip and stick to Palm Beach (best advice).

Top Tip 2: Plan…Plan…Plan…and plan some MORE.

‘Going with the flow’ is not a good strategy. You need to know which attraction you want to see and when. Without a plan you will walk a lot further and also waste time counting down the minutes in long, long, queues.

Top Tip 3: Prep your mobile

Download the My Disney Experience app onto your mobile. It’s your bible. Follow it religiously whilst in mouse land. You can coordinate dining reservations, your FastPass+ itinerary, track down the Disney characters around the park and receive up-to-date parade and show times. Plus, all your family members can use the same account. I was constantly checking the waiting time for the attractions we didn’t manage to Fastpass+, it’s genius.

Top Tip 4: Fastpass+ (Book your daily three allowances in advance)

We were staying within the resort at the Waldorf Astoria Orlando, a non-Disney hotel. Stepping off the Disney treadmill was very important to Mr S and I – 24hrs of mouse mania would have driven us mad. Returning to the hotel was like taking an Alka Seltzer after a heavy night. We were both re-calibrated and ready for action by the following morning.

Walking into the Waldorf Astoria Orlando after our 8.5hr flight certainly put a smile on my face. Inspired by the original hotel in New York it has been designed with a nod to the same art deco elegance and grandeur. Thankfully the super-efficient check-in had me whisked up to our 10th floor Disney-view room with two queen size beds. Within 15 minutes into unpacking we witnessed the spectacular Disney fireworks from the comfort of our room. Combined with the sweet treats left for us it was like a late night 3D IMAX cinema session for the girls.

After our time in frantic, thrill-seeking and exhausting Disney was over, my arms were open for the part I’d been waiting for since I booked this vacation eight months ago. Our mini Florida road-trip…

Cape Canaveral lies 47 miles east of Orlando. There resides a place my inner space geek has dreamt about visiting for decades – The Kennedy Space Center. After an hour’s drive we were walking through the entrance into the world of space travel. My smile at this stage resembled that of a Cheshire cat.

We followed the footsteps across the very service arm that Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin walked along, from the launch umbilical tower to the command module of Apollo 11. Next stop for them was the moon. The feeling of history in this place is immense and I was in my element.

Everyone goes to Florida to see a fake mouse. I think if you ever make it to the Sunshine State you should come and see, at least once, the place where the first moon missions left planet Earth. It’s such an inspirational place to visit and who knows, if you have kids in tow you might just be nurturing the next Tim Peake!

Our plan for the remaining five days was to totally chill out. Boy did Palm Beach hit the spot! Separated from mainland Florida by the scenic Lake Worth Lagoon, Palm Beach is a 16 mile long island. A place known for three types of people – the old, the rich and the new rich. Actually make that four – the vacation-makers too! It’s where the billionaires live side-by-side to their poorer neighbors the millionaires. The glitterati’s playground.

We decided to stick with the theme and spend the final part of our vacation in style at The Four Seasons Palm Beach, set in one of the best locations backing directly onto the white sands. The hotel is smaller and more intimate compared to other Four Seasons and more traditional in style, so it fits right into the old world glamour that the area exudes.

The beach was sublime. Clean clear blue waters and sandy golden beaches. There was a lovely old pier nearby. Great for seeing the local surfers trying to catch some waves. It offered us a perfect relaxing break in the lap of luxury for a few days. I’m so glad Scott Dunn Travel convinced me to add it to my itinerary. We came back with the most wonderful memories and it was the best end to our Easter break. Until the next time Florida…

Read more of Curious Pixie’s blog by visiting her website: thecuriouspixie.co.uk

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