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Old 03-05-2013, 12:13 PM   #1
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One Day Off Disney Property...

My DH wants to plan one day off Disney property and do something outside the Disney bubble. Any recommendations? We have debated Sea World, Legoland, some form of beach (we are from MN and our kids have never seen the ocean). We are heading down in early August and my only concern about the beach is hurricane season... any thoughts?
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Old 03-06-2013, 10:51 PM   #2
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Definitely the beach if your kids have never been there. A beach day would probably be long and hot, so most people would be tired the next day. You might want to stop for a couple of days on the way to or from the Disney portion of your vacation. A good way to relax and that would give them more time at the beach.

Hurricanes always give ample warning. It's not like one is likely to pop up and surprise you on your beach day. Just watch the weather and head for the other coast of Florida in the unlikely event that one is around. Most don't hit both sides, though it isn't unheard of. The ones that hit both sides usually go across the middle of the state (maybe right through Orlando) as well.

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Old 03-06-2013, 11:43 PM   #3
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there is a lot to do in Orlando that is closer - but if they have never seem the ocean then you can take them to the Atlantic - that is coco beach and daytona side.

the Tampa side is the gulf - like it alot better the ocean side/ Ocean side can get to me - those waves can be high. the gulf side is very tame - it only has high waves when there is a storm.

so may be your kids have seem some movies of the Atlantic Oceans beaches.

my brother lives in St Augustine across from the street from their beach which is also on the Atlantic - he loves it.
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Last edited by spiceycat; 03-08-2013 at 08:08 PM.
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Old 03-07-2013, 08:29 AM   #4
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We always do a beach day and honestly, it is one of our favorite days! It is really nice to take a break from theme parks so I would suggest that over another theme park. We always head to Daytona but I have heard Cocoa is nice!
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Old 03-07-2013, 09:17 AM   #5
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NOthing you can do about hurricanes, so I'd just keep track of the weather and see what happens.

For us, on our "grand vacation" to Florida a few years ago, we took one day and went to the Space Coast and toured Cape Kennedy, and it was phenomenal. We didn't expect to enjoy it that much, or spend a day at it, but we did, and it was a *great* treat.

On another day, we went to the west coast and spent part of a day on the beach in Clearwater. Absolutely beautiful, and it was an easy drive. You can see dolphins leaping out of the water on the shore next to the bridge that takes you into Clearwater proper. Highly, highly recommended for a day off.

Either choice would be good. Have a great time.
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Old 03-07-2013, 10:55 AM   #6
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Have you thought about just doing one of the Disney water parks? It would be close and is one of our favorite off days, especially during the warmer months. No major traveling and if you like water, you can easily fill a whole relaxing day. I recommend TL for the beach feel of it. It just has a calmer vibe.

The beach would be a great second choice. Are your kids good swimmers? They'll need to be on the Atlantic side whereas the Gulf side will be more like your MN lakes, waves like anyway. The Gulf is truly beautiful with soft white sand and blue waters. I live on the Atlantic, but much prefer the beauty of the Gulf. I also like to see into the water when I'm swimming and you can't do that on the Atlantic.

I'd skip SeaWorld/Legoland this trip. August is HOT and you're going to need a day away from the parks. I'd even be tempted to just do a movie/pool day.

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Old 03-07-2013, 11:02 AM   #7
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The other problem with the beach is the travel time. Figure 2 hours at least round trip and since you have only 1 day that is a chunk of time.

many other things to do in Orlando as you know. I guess if i had to pick i would choose seaworld for an attraction or Aquatica if you want a water park.

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Old 03-07-2013, 11:12 AM   #8
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I recommend the beach since your kids have never seen it! Get some buckets and shovels and enjoy the day. I would not worry about the travel time--just leave early in the morning. They will sleep all the way home--dreaming about all the very cool things they did that day.

My son loves the beach. He can go out and run, and be as loud as he wants!
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Old 03-07-2013, 12:08 PM   #9
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We took a day trip to the Daytona Beach area last summer from Disney. We actually went to the Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse first, then had lunch and spent the afternoon at the beach. We live in NH, so my kids were so happy to feel the warm ocean water since we are used to it being much colder.
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Old 03-07-2013, 12:14 PM   #10
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Another vote for the beach. Especially since you have never seen the ocean. My kids actually prefer the beach over Disney--and they are huge Disney fans.
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Old 03-07-2013, 01:25 PM   #11
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We always try to do a non-park day visiting local attractions. We did Cocoa Beach and it was a fun day. We stopped at Target on the way and grabbed a styrofoam cooler, drinks, sandwiches and snacks. We parked at one of the state parks where there is changing rooms/bathrooms and we had a nice day. Driving in you pass right by Port Canaveral, so make sure you go on a day when the Disney ships are in port. Its a neat sight!

Its not even an hour drive, and a straight shot with minimal traffic!

Our next trip we are going to Clearwater to see Winter at the aquarium (Dolphin Tale) and then take in a Phillies spring training game!

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Old 03-08-2013, 01:21 PM   #12
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Another idea for a non-Disney day is combining Gatorland and an airboat ride for a "Gator Day". We did this on our Christmas trip, and it was one of the highlights of our vacation. There are tons of pics of both Gatorland and Wild Willy's airboat tour in my trip report (see the link in my signature).

In the winter, it is recommended doing Gatorland in the morning and and the airboat tour in the afternoon while the summer recommendations are for the reverse order (I can't remember why, though....). Either way, its a lot of fun, still relaxing, and a great change of pace from the hectic days at the park.

FWIW, I also love the idea of the beach!
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Old 03-08-2013, 03:30 PM   #13
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We have done a beach visit and going against what PP said it was a fun time and the 2 hour roundtrip is worth it.

We love HoneyMoon Island on the gulf side not far from Tampa.

It is a state park, its clean, there is miles and miles of shells on the beach. There are very clean bathroom/showers
A nice café to get a bit to eat.
You can rent beach equipment.
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Old 03-08-2013, 07:56 PM   #14
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We are going to the Kennedy Space Ctr. If you contact your congressman you may be able to get complimentary tickets.
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Old 03-09-2013, 01:45 AM   #15
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It's really easy to fit in a beach day. You can get to either coast within 1.5 hrs of WDW. Cocoa On the east is a little quicker than the gulf side, at least in our experience. It's not as pretty as the gulf side but makes for a nice day. There is the Ron Jon Surf Sop, which is totally touristy, but fun to look at and cute beachy souvenirs. On our last trip we went to the Canaveral National Seashore. It's a little more off the beaten path but I think it's been our fave beach day yet! Very few tourists when we were there and we saw several gators while driving through the area! Pretty cool.
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