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Little Read Florida Trip – 2012

July 9, 2012 in Vacations

Its been quite a long time since I posted anything of value on the site, so I figured this was the perfect opportunity to tell the Little Read World about my recent experience in Disney World.

The Little Read Family headed down South for our annual Florida vacation. This year we decided to go back to Disney. We picked the week of July 4th because it would mean we would have to take less time off from work and we would be in the park for a holiday. What could possibly be wrong with that. As it turns out… a lot.

This trip had been planned since November of last year to ensure good prices on flights and whatnot. I didn’t actually start doing any research about the trip itself until about a week before. So, as is my custom, I headed to the Internet to see what kinds of things Walt Disney has in store for people visiting the park on Independence Day.

The first site I came to listed the week of July 4th as the busiest week of the year. Great. its going to be Florida hot and crowded. Ugh. Okay, fine, we’ll deal. Well, not okay, I was COMPLETELY panicked about this trip now. The Little Read Son is not the most patient person when it comes to lines and amusement parks, and the Little Read Daughter is going to be stuck in a stroller all day. Recipe for disaster.

But I pushed aside my fears and soldiered on. We were staying at the Swan hotel… which is very very nice. Its not on the Monorail, and its not themed, so you make up on the price, but it certainly was not a cut rate place. Quite the contrary, it was actually really nice. There is a shuttle bus that runs every 15-20 minutes or so that takes you to the parks. The trip to the Magic Kingdom takes about 20 minutes or so. The pool and facilities are nice and the staff was very friendly.

The Little Read Mother and I devised a plan: we would divide the park into 2 halves (we were staying 3 days with 2 days at the Park); get to the Park as soon as it opened; Fast Pass whichever ride had the longest wait time and then hit the others. We would then eat lunch and head back to the hotel for some napping (HA!) and relaxing and regrouping. Ready? BREAK!

For the busiest week of the year, the park was a breeze to get through in the morning. Wait times never broke 20 minutes and we hit everything we wanted to do before lunch… WOW! Back to the hotel, sat around, relaxed and then back to the Park. By this time the crowds had come. Wait times were exceptionally long for most rides. But it didn’t matter to us since we hit everything we wanted to already. We Fast Passed a couple of rides and before we knew it, the Little Read Children were ready to sleep… and so were we.

The next day was more of the same. We blasted through the park with astonishing speed, hitting every ride we wanted to. Then we hit lunch. Hotel. Back to the park and then fireworks. This is where the story takes a turn for the worse…

We had heard that after New Years, the Fourth of July fireworks are the best Disney has to offer. Fortunately we had spoken to some employees about the best place to watch the fireworks with small children. We got the best advice we could have asked for:


We were told that if you watch inside, it could take up to 3 hours to get out of the park… 3 HOURS! If you watch outside you can still see everything since the fireworks are 95% in the air and you will be perfectly positioned to get in the buses back to the hotels. I cannot stress how great this was, because at 7:45 the crowds for the fireworks were already causing havoc in the park. Staff members were forming human lanes to keep foot traffic moving. It took us 30 minutes to get from statue of Walt and Mickey to the exit. INSANE!

Needless to say, we had a great view of the fireworks and we were the first on the bus back to the hotel. Did we miss seeing Cinderella’s castle as the backdrop? Sure. Was it worth it to get right out of the park? Absolutely!

if this site does NOTHING else in its existence, it will do this: let every father know, if you are going to Disney on one of the most popular weeks or days follow this advice…

        • Divide and conquer
        • Go early
        • Regroup at the hotel in the middle of the day
        • Make use of Fast Pass (I swear it feels like cheating)
        • Watch the fireworks from outside the park

It was a completely successful trip and I would have no hesitation about going at the same time next year!


Coco Key Indoor Water Park

March 30, 2012 in Reviews, Vacations

So the review is a little old, and almost outdated as we are approaching the warmer weather.  However, with the way the temperatures have been the past few weeks here in NY, I thought we could all still benefit from this.  Plus, I’m sure it would be equally as useful during a rainy summer day.

Coco Key is a chain of indoor water parks.  There were two about the same distance from us — one in CT and one in NJ.  For whatever reason we went with the on in Mt. Laurel, NJ — Coco Key Mt. Laurel.  Turns out we drive past it on our way to Philly for the Adventure Aquarium and the Please Touch Museum (see my previous post).

A quick hour and a half from NYC, the water park is connected to a hotel if you choose to stay the night.  Truthfully, if the drive isn’t far, there isn’t much need to stay.  The park consists of an area for smaller children, a water basketball area, a lazy river, an aquatic jungle gym, an activity pool that uses balance and strength, two tube water slides and a hot tub area for adults.  There is also a place to get food and a full service bar.

The area for small children has a wading pool, a small slide, a couple of fountains and some infant bouncers.  The water basketball area is a pool that has four baskets in the middle and a bunch of balls.  The lazy river is a loop along the back wall of the building with some fountains.  The tube slides are just that.  The activity pool is a series of floating lily pads with a cargo net over head where kids can walk across the pads using the net for leverage.  The biggest attraction is the jungle gym.

For anyone who has ever been to Sesame Place in PA, the aquatic jungle gym is essentially The Counts Splash Castle.  Well, not essentially, I’m pretty sure it IS the Splash Castle just painted differently.  it has all the climbing areas with the water spraying from all directions.  It has three slides with varying height requirements and the giant bucket on top that fills with water and pours over everyone at regular intervals.

We got there early, which I would recommend for ANY activity.  We were able to check in, get a locker, get changed and get situated before the crowds showed up… and the crowds did, eventually, show up.  The first thing we noticed was the heat.  All the reviews we read talked about how hot and humid it is inside.  And it is.  And it should be.  What we did not read was that as hot as it was in there, the second you get wet you are freezing.  My son spent most of the day shivering with blue lips (not that it slowed him down any).

The second we noticed was the staff.  There were so many life guards and staff members walking around, watching the different areas and overall just helping out and providing a nice experience.  We felt very safe.  And each one was more pleasant than the next.  We were immediately impressed.

We had gotten there early, so the place was very clean.  But even at the height of the crowds I only ever saw one piece of garbage on the floor, and it was immediately picked up.  The staff kept this place immaculate throughout the day.  I almost could not believe it.

The dining area is your standard theme park fare — hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken fingers, pizza.  It was expensive, but not more than any other place where they have a captive audience.  And, truthfully, in terms of theme park food, it wasn’t bad.  The lines do get long for the food, so next time I might try eating a little early, or holding off the hunger with snacks and doing something a little later.

The hotel/water park also has a game room, which was nice.  I had read in one review that it worked like a charm to get your kids dried and dressed.  Just tell them you will take them to the game room.  From there it just becomes a matter of getting them out the door.

All in all it was a great experience.  I think next time we might try the CT one, just to see the difference.  But I would highly recommend Coco Key for a cold or rainy day adventure.


Weekend in Philly (and Camden)

August 15, 2011 in Being a Dad, Reviews, Vacations

In a rarely seen phenomenon, we had an entire weekend with no plans. Nada. Nothing. Zip. Zero. It was shocking. Rather than sit around and stare at each other, we decided to do an overnight in Philadelphia.

We had two things in mind that we wanted to do (three if you include me getting a cheesesteak from Pat’s, which, incidentally didn’t happen, and four if you include seeing the Liberty Bell, which you will read about shortly); go to the Please Touch Museum and the Adventure Aquarium (which is not in Philly as we had originally thought, but across the river in Camden, hence the title of this post).

The Please Touch Museum is AMAZING. I have been to a few children’s museums. We are actually members at a museum in CT. And for those of you who have never been to one, but “museum” I mean area where kids can run around and play with stuff in themed settings. So, one area might be a supermarket theme and kids can shop, or work a register, or stock shelves or whatever. Another area might be all water activities. One might be animals. The Please Touch Museum is like a children’s museum on steroids. It is HUGE. My wife and I were very impressed.

That night I mentioned that I wanted to see the Liberty Bell. I mean, I’m in Philly, I should see the Liberty Bell. My wife was tired from walking around and from being 7 months pregnant. So, I asked my son if he wanted to take a walk. We set off to find the Bell. It is not outside, as I thought, and the building that houses it closes at 7pm. I got there at 7:09. So, I was able to peer through a dirty window, from about 25 feet away and see the Bell.

Our next stop was the Adventure Aquarium. Again, a home run. Great aquarium. Lots to see. A couple of interactive areas for kids. Just a great day overall. We missed the Hippo feedings, but other than that we saw everything we wanted to see.

I would definitely recommend either of these places to anyone looking for a good day trip (or weekend) who is within comfortable driving distance to the Philadelphia area. I also hear the Zoo is nice. And I still need to get back for my cheesesteak!