In the days before Hurricane Matthew hit Florida, different models projected different paths for the storm. It seemed like the whole East Coast of the state had a hurricane watch or warning. Even Central Florida felt threatened by the storm – it was so huge and horrible. My brother headed out of town for a work conference when it was battering Haiti, leaving Amanda and the kids home alone. Since they hadn’t been in their house for too long, combined with potential flooding and high winds, we offered up our home to crash with us.
Seven people in our three bedroom house is A LOT, but the kids had a blast. Henry loves his cousins, Grayson and Finley, and the kids played (mostly) well together. The three adults were exhausted at the end of each day, but we had prepared for the storm Florida-style and we were stocked up on snackies and adult beverages.
I’m thankful their house turned out to be just fine; Orlando didn’t get hit hard by the storm. My parents home in Jacksonville lost power for a few days, and there were tons of trees down in their neighborhood, but otherwise they were unscathed. Unfortunately, St. Augustine and the Jacksonville beaches flooded and were torn up, and we have friends who live out there. Hurricanes, especially ones category 3 and above, scare me, and I’m definitely taking steps to make sure our home is secure for next year’s season.
It may be weird to say that one of our priorities in visiting our family was getting pictures of the cousins in matching Disney shirts. I purchased them for the Disney cruise that did not happen, and wanted to make sure to get the kids in a group picture before they outgrew the shirts. Since Keith isn’t the biggest Disney fan, we didn’t want to spend an expensive day at the parks, so we spent a fun day exploring the Magic Kingdom Resort’s hotels!
First up: the Grand Floridian. Modeled after the Victorian era grand hotels that popped up along the Florida coast, it may be the most opulent resort at Disney World. This means it makes for great photo opportunities almost everywhere. It also holds a special place for Scott and Amanda because they were married in the Wedding Pavilion next door. We took some fantastic pictures of the kids, then hopped on the monorail for a ride to the Polynesian Resort for lunch.
We wanted inexpensive, yet delicious food, and we definitely found it at Captain Cook’s at the Polynesian. Serving American and Asian food, Keith got a spicy hot pho noodle bowl, I got a Hawaiian pizza, and Henry got his regular chicken tenders, and my bro and nephew ate dairy and peanut allergy-friendly meals (Amanda ate yummy cheese covered nachos). For dessert, we ate one of my favorite things ever – a Dole whip – from the Pineapple Lanai. Oh my goodness, it just hits the spot on sunny days, with its pineapple and vanilla soft serve mixed together. Henry thought it was dreamy, too.
We would have stayed to swim at the Polynesian, but the large pool area is now locked off to all unless you are staying at the hotel and have a magic band to prove it. Instead, we took a monorail ride back to the Grand Floridian so the boys could swim at its Alice in Wonderland-themed splash pad. It was so fun – the boys really loved the poolside activities and games, even if Henry didn’t really understand them. They also enjoyed sliding down the water slides and splashing in the water. It was a cousin-fun-filled day!