Posts Tagged With: Florida

Campfire singing with Chip N’ Dale

I’m a HUGE Disney fan and I’m sure I have as much fun at the various Disney parks (if not more) than the kids do. But let’s face it – a day at Walt Disney World just keeps getting more and more expensive.

So last week, while I was in Orlando with my best friend and her baby girl, we decided to skip the parks and try out some of the free (yes I said FREE) things to do around Walt Disney World Resort!

20170309_190719We made our way to the campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort for Chip’n Dale’s Campfire Sing-A-Long, which takes place nightly in the Meadow Trading Post area of the campground. The campfire is lit around 6:30pm, with the show starting at 7pm. You can bring your own marshmallows and roasting sticks or you can purchase a s’more making kit at the Chuckwagon Snack Bar.  Benches are set up around the campfire and the Chuckwagon stage for the show, which is led by a guitar-strumming, joke-telling cowboy.

He gets the show started and is soon joined by Chip ‘n Dale, who welcome everyone and then make their way through the crowd, greeting guests, signing autographs and posing for photos. 20170309_191905 It’s a great character meet and greet option that has no line and doesn’t come with the price of the character dining options!

20170309_190813The show lasted about 40 minutes and then Chip ‘n Dale waved goodbye and headed back into the forest as we got ready for movie night with Disney’s Movie Under the Stars. They have a giant screen set up by the stage and every night they play a different Disney Movie. We enjoyed a bucket of popcorn as we sang along to one of my personal favourites – Frozen!

Both the sing-a-long and the movie were complimentary to anyone. You didn’t need to be staying at the resort or even have a park ticket. You can just show up and have a free night of Disney Entertainment.  It really is a magical place!!



Tips & Directions:

If you are driving, head towards Magic Kingdom and let the parking gate attendant know you are here for Chip n’ Dale’s campfire sing-a-long and they will let you through.  It’s the first right once you are through the gates (it comes up fast). If you miss it, you’ll have a lovely tour of the resort grounds and golf course like we did our first try! Once you get to Fort Wilderness Campground, let the park ranger know you are there for the show and you can park for free and walk over to the bus stop.  Here, catch the Yellow or Orange bus to the MEADOW TRADING POST area of the park.

There is also a Disney Wilderness Lodge near Magic Kingdom and the two are not connected. If you happen to end up at this one instead, you can either catch one of the Disney buses or head down to the water and take the boat across to Fort Wilderness.

You can also take one of the Disney buses from any of the parks or Disney Springs (where you can also park for free). Just be sure to catch the one to FORT WILDERNESS.

The Meadow Trading Post store and the Chuckwagon Snack Bar both have snacks, food and drinks for sale. At the Trading Post, you can also find a variety of Disney and Fort Wilderness souvenirs.

For more info click here20170309_190810

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The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Take a trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios in Orlando. Travel between Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley on the magical Hogwarts Express. Step inside Gringotts bank and take the thrilling new ride “Harry Pottter and the Escape from Gringotts.”  Watch the wand choose the wizard at Ollivanders and take a flight on a Hippogriff by Hagrid’s Hut. Then, head into Hogwarts Castle and jump on a broom with Harry for a “Forbidden Journey” before strolling through the shops of Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley, sipping a delicious Butterbeer!

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Disney ‘Wishes’

Clips from Walt Disney World’s magical ‘Wishes’ Fireworks display.  Always an impressive show!

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Snorkelling with Manatees

I’ve always had a thing for manatees. What’s not to love? The adorable sea cows always seem to be grinning as they glide through the water (or so I had seen on TV). So on a recent trip to Florida, when I learned you could actually get in and snorkel with the manatees, this became an immediate ‘must-do’ activity. 


We made our way to Crystal River, Florida (where everything has my name!) and stayed at the Port Hotel and Marina,  where Elvis Presley stayed during the filming of ‘Follow that Dream” in 1961. Looking out the window, we could see manatees playing in the Crystal River, their heads or big, flat tails popping up out of the water. Watching them in their natural habitat made me even more excited to get in and swim with them.

We watched a short video on the laws protecting manatees, and how to safely and respectfully interact with them. Then we donned our wetsuits and headed out to meet Captain Charlie and take our boat ride down the Crystal River on our way to Three Sister Springs to find the manatees! DSCF3229

How to meet a Manatee:

  1. Allow them to come to you. Never chase after a manatee, bother it while it is resting on the bottom or interrupt a mother and calf.
  2. Only touch the manatee with one hand. Avoid scratching the algae off their backs and be careful not to step on them (or hit them with a paddle).
  3. DO NOT go in the designated “No Entry – Manatee Refuge” roped off resting areas.
  4. Take only memories and as many photos as you can while keeping a safedistance.


On a beautiful sunny day, Three Sisters was a busy spot with lots of kayakers, snorkelers and the odd paddle-boarder all hoping to see the gentle manatees in the warm 72 degree Fahrenheit spring water.


 Masks and snorkels on, we jumped in and within minutes I had come face to face with a manatee! Slowly reaching out a hand, the manatee swam right next to me, letting my hand run along its soft, algae-covered body, before continuing on itsway.


Soon I was by the designated “No Entry – Manatee Refuge” area, where inside, at least 20 manatees were resting on the bottom. They seem to know where this space is and head there when they want to be left alone.  I hovered outside the barrier, watching them take turns rising to the surface to take a breath before returning to a resting state.


 Out in the river, the water was fairly churned up, but once inside the narrow channel heading into the springs, the water was much clearer. Here, a mother and her calf swam straight at me, allowing me to pet them both on their way by. Manatees in general are cute, but a baby manatee is adorable and even more playful.


Many of the manatees today showed battle scars from being hit by boats. This is a serious issue in Florida. Under the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act, both the State of Florida and the U.S. Federal Government oversee the protection of these beautiful creatures. Laws are strictly enforced to ensure the safety of the manatees and as we snorkeled, volunteers and conservation officers were there to make sure everyone was following the rules.


By the time our two-hour snorkel was over, I had pet five manatees and seen over 40! What an incredible way to spend a few hours in Florida, getting to know the state’s gentle giants.

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Meeting the Manatees

Crossed another thing off my travel bucket list when I got up close with the manatees, snorkelling with them in Crystal River, Florida.

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Searching for Gators

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Searching for Gators

While out on the water in Florida, most people are looking to avoid an encounter with the wetlands 8-foot alligators. However, as we board our airboat with Captain Bob and head out into the Indian River County Marshlands in Vero Beach, gators are exactly what we are hoping to find.tumblr_lqgpe1BGZV1qctrdd

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