Orlando

#believeitornot #imabeliever #ripleys

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There is so much to do in this town, am I right? You can visit Orlando every year and still feel like you’re just scratching the surface. I would even say that as a local resident, I feel the same way. I have lived in the Greater Orlando area for the last 4 years, but on and off for the last 16 years and just last year was the first time I ever took a swan boat ride on Lake Eola! Shocking, I know. But if you’re like me, knocking stuff off your Orlando bucket list makes you happy. So yes, that’s right, I’m about to add another must-do to your list and If you have not had the chance to visit Ripley’s on I-Drive, BELIEVE IT OR NOT, you will have so much fun!

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Few fun facts about the man himself, LeRoy Robert Ripley was born in 1890, just a boy who loved to draw. Entirely self-taught he sold his first cartoon to Life Magazine in 1908. He later dazzled his readers with odd, weird, REAL facts in his cartoons. His empire grew from cartoons, to books, to radio, to tv shows, to museums. In 1949, at 59, while Ripley was taping his 13th TV show, he fell unconscious and died 3 days later (Believe it it or not: He died on May 27th, my birthday.). Ripley traveled to 201 countries all within 35 years. Mr. Ripley was just as fascinating and as interesting as his life work and all the oddities in his collection.

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My boys did NOT want to leave! This “world” that Ripley brought to life for us, of true facts and real people was just too much fun. Real shrunken heads, standing next to the tallest man and wrangling Dinosaurs, is right up their crazy kid alley. To be honest, right up mine as well. I love books or documentaries about how this world we live in is full of wonders, people and destinations that we could never imagine exist.  I think Ripley said it best when he said, “Truth, you know, is really stranger than fiction.”

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Think outside of the box when planning your visit as well.  Walking through with my kids also gave me the idea of what a fun date night, this would be. I’m sure I missed a few fascinating facts, while herding my cattle, I mean children through the museum. So actually taking a few extra minutes to read about these odd items, would be so interesting.  Even though this was my 2nd visit to this particular Ripleys, a 3rd visit and a date night with the World’s Tallest Man doesn’t sound too bad to me.

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My fellow art lovers, you will also ooo and ahhh. There are quite a few pieces, that are unique to this Ripley’s and well, to the world. I’ve actually have had the pleasure of seeing the Mona Lisa at the Louvre in Paris. I waited in its Disney-esque lines, worked my way through the crowd till she and I were face to face, and like everyone else in the room, I felt like I could die happy. Ripley’s Orlando has a Mona Lisa too… made of burnt toast that is. No plane tickets necessary (well, if you’re local), no crowds to maneuver through and you can still post your selfie with the Mona Lisa and die happy, well kinda sorta happy. They also have Beyonce made completely out of candy, the Last Supper made of dryer lint and Van Gogh made from nail polish! Seriously, where else can you see this stuff?

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There are so many fun photo opps that I know my social media junkies (myself included) will be in Insta-heaven. The boys and I really loved the life size wax statues of some of their most famous “freaks”, located near the end. We had a blast taking pics with them. Ok fine, I had a little more fun, I guess.

The only thing I’m sad I missed were the famous African Fertility Statues. I totally missed this. Read about them after my visit. Not that I should be touching them, since I have plenty of these little people running around but c’mon, how fun would that have been to REALLY scare my husband! So if you’re thinking of starting a family and want a fertility edge, go rub some of these statues at the Ripley’s in Orlando. But don’t delay, I hear they are going on tour to other Ripley’s Museums starting next year! Hope you can make it out soon, there really is so much more to see and if you do by chance rub one of these fertile myrtles, and it works, I would be honored if you named her after me, thanks in advance! 😉

Thanks to Ripley’s Orlando, you can purchase your discounted tickets here! Also, Florida Residents receive 50% till December 20th!

Ps. Don’t miss taking your free photo, like the one below, and email it to yourself during your visit! #ripleys

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Orlando Road Trips

Fun in the Snow at Stone Mountain Park, GA

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I don’t normally play in snow but when I do, I prefer Snow Mountain. True Story.

Thank you so much to Stone Mountain Park  for inviting us to a day of fun in the snow and exploring their awesome park earlier this month. Stone Mountain Park (SMP) is located in Stone Mountain, Georgia, about a 7 hour drive from Orlando. It was an easy drive, well at least that’s what my hubby informed me. The kids held up well with snacks, sandwiches and iPads, and all was calm in the world.

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We had the best time and I absolutely can not rave enough about taking the drive up there. It was better than I had anticipated and absolutely look forward to what Summer at SMP has in store for us. Admission into SMP is $56 for an Annual Pass ($44 for 3+) and $99 for an Annual Plus Pass which includes Snow Mountain and more. Visiting this park more than once a year (even with a 7 hour drive) is easy to do with all their seasonal fun, activities, hiking trails and parks. The beautiful mountain view (photo prop – as I like to call it)  is worth it alone. My camera happy people know what I’m talking about. The Great Barn indoor playground in the winter is a “ball” of fun and the Camp Highland Outpost and Geyser Towers, makes me want to come back this summer so my boys could enjoy them since they were closed. The train ride around SMP was a nice cozy break from the cold and informative for our future hiking plans. We also waited for the enclosed car and it was worth it! Brrrr…

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Of course, being Floridians, our highlight was Snow Mountain. My 3 “snow” balls of energy were in Alaska heaven. We threw snowballs at Targets, tubed down mountains, solo and as a family. I was pretty excited about that. All 5 of us, including my 3 year old were able to enjoy tubing together, that was really special and fun. Even though my littlest one would give a little scream of horror on the way down, he would also yell a scream of delight at the bottom… My brave boy!  The boys built igloos and just played in real snow and I’m not talking about the kind you buy at the mall, people! Not bad for driving 7 hours north from Sunny 80 degree weather. Everyone gets a 2 hour time slot which I love because it keeps the lines short and the area not as crowded. With 3 kids under 8, we really didn’t need more time than that. We chose a later time slot as well, so after our fun in the snow we went right back to our hotel, changed and got warm and cozy. I recommend bringing a change of clothes and shoes if you plan on staying in the park after Snow Mountain if you want to catch the parade and maybe dinner!

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Another highlight, was taking the Skyride to the top of Stone Mountain. The view was amazing and when we got to the top I totally felt as if I had just landed on the moon! It was so great! I told the boys to act like they just conquered the moon in this pic and of course I got, “Whats conquered?”… sigh, lol.  I took so many pics up at the top and next time we go, we plan on hiking up there as a a family.

Our plans are to return this summer and I would definitely say this a must do road trip for all my Orlando families, locals and anyone near and around Georgia. Oh, and the next few days we spent exploring Atlanta, which is only a 30-minute drive away! Visit http://www.stonemountainpark.com for more info and dates.  Good news! Snow Mountain has been extended to 2/23 due to popular demand! Go… now… just go! 🙂

Sidenote: If you’re coming from Orlando a fun stop was the Plantation House Gas Station. We had fun admiring their vintage pumps and yummy store goodies!

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Christmas in Orlando

Christmas with the Rosens!

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“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!” – Dr. Seuss

Christmas means a little bit more this year thanks to Rosen Hotels! What a treat for my family and I to be invited to enjoy some of their holiday festivities this year!

The 2nd Annual Winter Wonderland Festival was a 2 day event at the Rosen Shingle Creek Hotel and we had such a great time with the boys. You can never go wrong with reindeers, train rides, candy cane martinis, a balloon artist, a face painter, did I mention martinis? There really was so much more. I could have easily spent all night at the photo booth trying out props (#allme). My boys were a little weary of the live toy soldier and doll (ha!) but warmed up to them pretty quickly. Oh, and I can’t forget, the “Big Guy” and his elf were there too. Bonus – no line! We really enjoyed Rosen’s Winter Wonderland and I have a feeling that this event will be getting better every year and a must do on the Orlando Christmas check list!

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Breakfast with Santa at the Rosen Plaza was exciting! We have never done a breakfast with the man himself and getting “the best seat in the house” was an added perk! Let’s just say we are on a first name basis with Mr. C. and will be getting the Mega Millions winning ticket in my stocking this year. Plus, the rumors are true, Santa has an excellent memory! He remembered our boys from the night before and they were thrilled! Gavin, my 3 year old, asked for a “scary monster sword”, um yeah, no. The breakfast buffet was yummy and my new healthy lifestyle was pleasantly appeased with their healthy food alternatives, yay turkey bacon!

Thank you so much, Rosen Hotels for the invite and look forward to many more memories with you!

Check out http://www.rosenhotels.com/holidays for any future holiday events and also http://www.rosenhotels.com for any of your vacation or staycation needs!

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