Panama City and Panama City Beach

Panama City Beach was an unexpected treat. On the route to the beach, we passed through Panama City and spied an upside down building. Due to time restrictions, we were not able to explore this building which contains attractions that are promised to challenge your mind and spark the imagination. Across the street is Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum contained within a replica of the Titanic.

We ate on the beach at Sharky’s and then dipped our toes in the soft sand and cool water. We quickly exited the water when we noticed a three full bull shark swimming approximately 15 feet away from us in the water.

Besides these attractions, there are miles of white sand beaches which comprise Panama City Beach. On the Shell Island peninsula, St Andrews State Park has beaches and nature trails. Dolphins and sea turtles are known to swim in the waters offshore. Next time we visit, we will definitely allocate enough time to explore some of these attractions.

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Navigating Disney World Tip #3

The day had come to explore Pandora – The World of Avatar at Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom. I was able to get a Fast Pass for the Na’vi River Journey, but not for the even more popular Avatar Flight of Passage ride. My husband and I were primed to enter the park when it opened and sprint towards the new world. The problem was, so was everyone else.

The park opened precisely on time and we spent the next 20 minutes waiting in the bag check line and then the turnstile line. Finally, we entered the park and rapidly made our way to the World of Avatar with the entire state of Florida. Okay, not really, but it felt like it.

As we approached the area, I noticed a long line running along the pathway. My heart sank. Surely this group is waiting for breakfast. My husband continued his charge towards the bridge that would lead us to this new elusive world. I walked up to a lady standing in line and politely inquired if she was in line for the Avatar ride. Her and ten other people answered, “Yes.”

I was informed that the wait was at least an hour long. I glanced down the line and noticed  that it was wrapped around the corner and growing at an alarming pace. I yelled at my husband to return and we followed the ever growing line. Does this line encircle the entire park?

I finally noticed a Disney employee holding a sign in the air stating that I had reached the dreaded end of the line. Dreaded, because at this point I was informed that the wait was two hours long.

When I was younger, I didn’t mind standing in line for hours on end. Now, a thirty minute wait tries my patience. We decided to stand in line with the rest of the state. Surely, the employee was exaggerating when he said the wait was two hours long. Two hours and fifteen minutes later, we finally entered the ride. My husband and I absolutely loved it!

After the ride was over, my husband noticed the dreaded line was appreciably shorter. We walked over and checked the wait time. “Come on,” my husband said as he entered the significantly shorter line.

With the Disney app on my phone, I periodically checked the wait times on the popular rides over the next couple of days. When the parks open, everyone seems to have the same idea, charge into the parks and make their way to the most popular and/or newest rides.  As the day progresses, the wait times drop notably around lunch and dinner time. Towards the end of the day, when the nighttime shows commence, the wait times drop again. Useful to know if you don’t want to spend the better part of the day waiting in line.

 

Navigating Disney World Tip #2

Backpacks at Disney World? My husband brought to my attention the number of backpacks he noticed in the Disney World parks. Why are all these people bringing backpacks into Disney parks.

Unlike many sport venues, there’s no need to ditch that water bottle at the door. Many of those backpacks contained meals, snacks and drinks.

As one security officer proudly stated, “Disney let’s you bring drinks and food into the park. There are people who bring in coolers and ice chests.”

Good thing to know if you already spent a fortune on lodging, parking and tickets.

Navigating Disney World Tip #1

I love Disney World and all things Disney. I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to visit Disney World several times. As often as I’ve visited this dream destination, I always learn something new.

When we were at Epcot, one of the cast members shared with me a tidbit about getting on the Frozen ride (based on the Disney animated movie of the same name).

The wait for this ride can be as long as two hours. If you don’t have a fast pass, make this your first ride when the park opens. Since the World Showcase (where all the countries are located) doesn’t open til 11, there are no fast passes to slow down the line.

Even though the line looks long, it moves fairly quickly.

Magical Memories

The first time my parents took me to Disneyland, I was 7 years old. As I vaulted out of the car, I looked up and saw the Disneyland sign. I starting jumping up and down. I did this for the next couple of minutes. I was so excited and happy. My dream had come true. To me this was definitely the happiest place on earth.

I have beautiful memories of the vacations we were able to spend at Disneyland, and later as an adult at Disney World. All three of my adult children share this love. With everything going on in the world, it’s nice to be able to enter a world that celebrates the hopes, dreams and optimism of our youth.

Tomorrow, my husband and I will venture to Disney World, however this time without the kids. I’m looking forward to creating new magical memories. Helpful tips if you are able to visit either Disneyland or Disney World, plan ahead and wear comfortable shoes. You will be doing a lot of walking.

Key West Treat

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These pictures are from a road trip my husband and I took back in April. The first picture is the view from our hotel, the Hyatt Centric Key West Resort and Spa. I did not expect to see a giant statue of the famous V-J day picture in front of the Custom House museum, nor did I imagine I would see a life size statue of Marilyn Monroe in front of the Tropic cinema. The last picture of the white house with purple trim is known as The Artist House. This picture was taken as we were passing by on the bus.

An interesting tidbit I learned is that Cuba is closer to Key West than it is to the nearest Walmart.