My Monday usually consists of the school run, football kit washing and breakfast by 11am if I’m lucky. Thankfully, yesterday wasn’t a typical Monday.
I had been invited to meet the CEO of Experience Kissimmee. Now, if you’re a Disney fan, Kissimmee might ring a bell with you because it is the nearest resort to Orlando, Florida. But as someone who has never ever been to America, let alone Walt Disney World, I was really keen to learn more about Kissimmee, especially as the meeting just happened to be held at a spa for the day! (Pennyhill Park is in Bagshot, Surrey, and not even the three-hour car journey on the M25 deterred me!)
I arrived at 10.30am, drenched and wearing very inappropriate footwear for the torrential rain I found myself in, but DT, the CEO of Experience Kissimmee, politely ignored the mascara running down my face and was warm, friendly, and very welcoming. Once myself and a handful of other lovely bloggers (Becky at English Mum, Amanda at The Ana Mum Diary, Karin at Embrace Happy, Susanna Scott at A Modern Mother and Cathy Winston at Mummy Travels) had had what turned out to be one of the best cups of coffee I’ve had all year (and I don’t say that lightly), we sat down to listen to what DT had to say.
A gorgeous steak lunch!
Kissimmee is the vacation home capital of the world and it is where a lot of families choose to base themselves if they are holidaying in nearby Orlando because it only takes 15-30 minutes to drive there, depending on which side of Kissimee you are based. Alternatively, you can easily get a bus or a taxi in. I shared my story with the group of how I’ve only driven abroad once, and ended up driving around Lake Garda three times, so I’m a little nervous about driving abroad again, but was reassured that the roads in America are HUGE and the journey from the airport is really straightforward.
Dexter is in love with theme parks right now, but the closest he has got so far is Adventureland in Southend! But personally I want more from a holiday than just rollercoasters. And that’s where Kissimmee really comes into its own, because it is so much more than that. (Although it has to be said that having Disney, the Epcot Centre, Universal Studios and Animal Kingdom on your doorstep, is a massive selling point), but personally, I think it would be a shame if we went all the way to America and didn’t explore the area and what it has to offer in more detail.
Here are a few of the activities that Kissimmee can offer as a holiday destination:
- Zip wire
- Zip wire over alligators (yup, really!)
- Hot air balloons
- Helicopter rides
Another fascinating story that DT told us was that he actually lives in a town called Celebration, which is a short drive from Orlando. Created by the Walt Disney company, it is almost a utopian community that could possibly claim the right to be the happiest place on earth. It’s a town full of parks, squares, homes, shops, boutiques, galleries, hotels, restaurants and festivals and can you believe this, but every day in December, real snow is made and showered on everyone just to enhance the whole ‘holidays’ experience!
I wanted to learn a little more about what the rental houses are like in Kissimmee and one thing is for sure … they sound a whole lot better than the rental houses I’ve dealt with in the UK! We’re talking bespoke Harry Potter or Frozen bedrooms for the children, a swimming pool and outdoor kitchen for family barbecues, games rooms (which, along with Wi-Fi, would probably be Dexter’s only requirements!) and you can even hire a chef to come and prepare your meals for you if you don’t feel like cooking (for an extra fee of course.)
I think the idea of these modern, spacious, and by the sounds of it huge rental properties, is that it gives you the option to enjoy a multi-generational holiday. Maybe the grandparents might not fancy zip lining over alligators (although you never know!), but they would enjoy the experience of having all their grandchildren around them, so having a central ‘hub’ that everyone can come back to after they’ve enjoyed their own particular activity, sounds like a great idea.
The weather seems to be pretty good all year round in Florida, as you would expect, but I have heard that it can get quite muggy during the height of summer so October to December sounds like it could be a perfect time to visit. It’s still really warm but a lot less humid.
Dexter is now 11 and has been asking to go to America for at least five years and I’ve never been in a position to take him before, but I’m really aware that he’s not going to be a child for much longer. I’ve always tried not to feel guilty for not being able to give him the things that he has wanted because I haven’t been able to afford them, but I think I’ll give some serious thought to visiting Kissimmee in the next year or so because I think 11 years old is a great age for enjoying the whole experience, not just the theme parks, but everything. The restaurants, the weather, the countryside, the people … and who knows, he might even enjoy hanging out with his Mum!
Just a quick note about Pennyhill Park, it was the nicest spa I’ve ever been to and also happens to house the training ground for the England rugby team, as I found out when Johnny Wilkinson stood next to me as he signed in … *swoon.* Be sure to check them out – it was an absolutely stunning place.
Part of England’s rugby squad
A huge thank you to DT and the Experience Kissimee team for having me yesterday – you definitely have a new fan.