State #32 Florida Stop 2 of ?

My boys favorite place in Florida – Winter Haven. Now those of you that know your Florida geography are going to say – Wait! Hold up! You can’t go to Florida and skip Orlando and Disney World! Well, all I can say is been there, done that, we’re good. Now you Disney lovers, no need to be haters. My boys just didn’t love it. It was okay but they didn’t like the extremely long lines and they aren’t into a lot of the Disney characters except Toy Story and Star Wars and we didn’t like the expense. That being said, we are glad we went a couple years ago. You never know unless you go. I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything but since we have already experienced it, we headed straight for Legoland.

And it looks like Christmas came early for the Cain household. Legoland always has a Brick Friday special. They call it Brick Friday instead of Black Friday. We usually go to Legoland in February during winter break so the special is a pretty good deal. This year since we were going to be there in December, we opted for the other Black Friday deal…50% off their Awesomest Annul Pass. That is a huge savings and with the Awesomest Pass verses just the Awesomer Pass we get admission to Legoland California too; which for us makes sense this year since we plan on being out there in early spring. It also gets us into SeaLife, Madame Tussaud’s, and the Legoland Discovery Center’s across the US. And we get free parking which, just to let you know, is $23. Extra bonus!

My boys are nuts over legos and the lines aren’t anywhere near as long as Disney. The rides are VERY mild but fun. It’s designed for the 12 and under crowd. It’s clean and the workers are usually in a good mood. We normally stay at the Legoland Resort which is amazing. I could do a whole post of the great things about the resort and how kid oriented it is. I bet that’s how Disney lovers feel so I totally get it. But we are in the camper so we are camping and the campground is just a couple of miles away. Really convenient.

In addition to the regular LEGO fun they have Christmas events on Saturday and Sundays. Mason and Tucker got picked to participate in one of the shows but Tuck was not having it.

Below is Mason with his ticket to help with the show.

Tuck was excited because he could drive the bigger Lego cars this year. I think Mason is getting about to that age where everything is a bit too tame for him but the lego building stations keep him interested in the park.

Trevor loves the Ninjago 3D ride. He even made the park’s daily leaderboard. He was ranked #2 for that day. The boys thought Dad was the coolest! As a team we came in first for that ride.

The boys and I got stuck on the Masters of Flight ride so we made the best of it with some selfies.

I signed the boys up for a Lego Mindstorm class (they’re free but they fill up). They loved it. Yep, they are using rulers and protractors and computer “coding.” They didn’t even realize that they were using math and science to move those Lego robots around. They were just having fun. Awesome! Way to go Lego!

The boys still love Legoland but I’m getting the sense that it won’t be long before Mason outgrows it.

Imagine you fall asleep somewhere along the way headed south and you wake up and you’re not sure where you are. Well, if you wake up and see orange groves all along the side of the highway, then you know you’re in central Florida. Lake Wales, just south of Winter Haven, is home of Florida’s Natural.

So of course, we had to drive over to Florida’s Natural Grove House Visitor’s Center. They had a short video and some exhibits related to the history of the company and the growing process and a some samples of their juice and lemonade flavors.

Tuck wanted to get a jug of their orange juice so he could compare it to the Simply Orange we drink. So we did. We tried to have a blind taste taste but that didn’t pan out. Before we decided to do a taste test, I had already compared the nutrition labels and mentioned the Simply Orange had one more gram of sugar per serving than the Florida’s Natural. I put the initial of each brand on the bottom of the cups so when they were on the table the boys couldn’t tell which one was which…..until Mason tipped his cup back and Tuck was staring at the brand name on the bottom of the cup. Once they knew which was which, they started talking about how one was sweeter than the other. Oh me! Apparently, I would never make it as a scientist. I’ll just just stick to balancing debits and credits.

We drove over to Orlando to check out SeaLife Aquarium and Madame Tussaud’s.

The boys love aquariums. SeaLife was a nice little aquarium. Clean and the employees were super friendly and informative. My favorites were the sea turtles. Mason has even mentioned being a marine biologist one day. I remember when he was two he told people he wanted to be a paleontologist. You should have seen their faces to hear such a little boy pronounce such a big word clearly and correctly. Half the people had to ask him what a paleontologist was. Ha! I’m not sure what either of the boys will wind up being but its neat to see how their choices change as they grow.

I wasn’t sure how Madame Tussaud’s was going to go. There were a lot of people my kiddos just didn’t know but there were plenty of others to keep them entertained.

They have props so that keeps it fun for picture taking.

Plus, given the fact that it was hands on, in the same building as the aquarium, and neither attraction cost us anything since we had the Legoland Awesomest Passes, who in the world could complain.

So we saw a billboard for Davidson’s of Dundee. Free factory tours and samples. As you know, we are suckers for a factory tour. Then you add free samples and you’ve got yourself the making of a detour. It’s a small operation still making the candy by hand with some really sweet employees.

As is usually the case with us, a free tour usually turns out to be not so free in the end.

Yum! All in all, I would have to say it was a good day!

We stayed at Cypress Campground. They had putt-putt, pool, bocci ball, horseshoes, and games. It’s right beside Walmart so we just walked over to grab supplies. The internet wasn’t great but the camp staff were very friendly. It isn’t your quiet getaway from it all campground, as you’re right off the road and did I mention right beside Walmart, but it was very convenient.

This little guy cooks and cleans. He even asks to do the dishes. Back off ladies, he’s only seven.

Wanna know how you know when you’re a few hours south of the heart of Florida? You start seeing alligators in the water; in retention ponds, drainage ditches, campground ponds, etc. We moved down to South Bay RV Park ran by Palm Beach County for a quick overnight stop on our way to our next destination. This paper was inside our check in info.

This campground, albeit, open to your neighbor, was clean and well maintained and super cheap! Win-win.

More importantly, the boys struck out on an alligator hunt. Sure enough, there was an alligator in the pond right behind our camper that Tuck found, another one Mason found on the other side of the pond, and Trev spotted one in the creek on the other side of the park and that’s just the ones we saw.

It’s kind of surreal as their are no fences or anything between us and them. Trev is constantly telling the boys to watch for snakes but has no problem walking them to the edge of the water with an alligator in it. All I picture is one swimming stealthily to the edge of the water and SNAP! My child is in its clutches. I’m a wreck.

There’s just something about guys and fishing. And yes, that is the same creek I mentioned earlier that they saw the gator in. Mason caught this little guy. It was the only catch of the day but they were happy to just be hanging with dad.

The orange groves have given way to the sugar cane fields, including the Domino Sugar plant. Tours are not open to the public. Bummer. But when we were on the road, I found Sugarland Tours and they give a tour that includes some portion of a plant tour, sugar field, and history of the city of Clewiston. The tour is offered once daily at 9am and I found it at 8:57am. But I’m not sure that we would have went anyway given that it was a 3 1/2 hour long tour and it cost $38/person.

We were ready to move further south and look for more gators. Being a Dawgs fan, it sure is hard to talk about gators so much. 😉

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