Children’s Museum of Indianapolis

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Monday Jun 22, 2015 Under Children's Museums, Claire, Cobey, Kid's Corner, Travel

Children's Museum of Indianapolis

10469218_10205757805319062_1520622651547755356_nWe arrived around noon and stayed till closing which was five o’clock. Cobey is thirteen now and the time has arrived. He thought he was too old for the museum. I wish it was renamed the Indianapolis Science and History Museum because then I think he would have been fine. It was very interactive and fun but also had lots of good information. He said his favorite part was the Mario Cart. Really? Sigh!!!

 

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Claire ,who is ten, loved the entire museum. She especially loved the small fashion exhibit which was right up her alley. She also liked the Treasures of the Earth which was a great exhibit on a Pharaoh’s tomb, Captain Kidd ship wreck and Terra Cotta Warriors.  She had a great time being part of the pit crew in the Hot Wheels exhibit. We watched two well done programs in the Planetarium. One was on the history of flight and one was on returning to the moon.  I was most impressed with the number of programs. They have something going on all the time. You could easily spend an entire day just going to programs. Claire participated in one that was a science experiment and another that taught about Chinese characters.

They claim to be the biggest and best children’s museum. It did seem to be the biggest although there seemed to be a lot of wasted space. It certainly was one of the best we have been to. I guess I am a little sad that my years of visiting Children’s Museums is coming to an end.

 

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Mr. K's Soft Serve

 

 

Mecklenburg County has so much to offer, you can’t possibly cover it in one day or even two. The kids considered past trips when ranking. Cobey said the Whitewater Center was the only reason that the county made it to the top. Previously, we have been to NASCAR Hall of Fame, Raptor Center, Latta Plantation, Discover Place, and Rural Hill.  Our first stop was Mr. K’s Soft Serve which has been family owned since  1967. The kids both got ice cream which they said was good but not the best.  The place was very friendly and great atmosphere.  The rest of the menu looked good also.

 

 

 

The Mint MuseumFor the rest of the day we got to tour with the Browns which always makes exploring a county more fun.  The next stop was The Mint Museum on Randolph Road.   The museum has history of the mint in Charlotte, and a variety of art. Claire was very interested in the fashion exhibit and the conservation of the clothing items that was taking place.  They have many interesting decorative art pieces including wedgewood and pottery. We were all interested in the political pottery pieces.  Many of the galleries at activity bags to make the museum more interactive for kids and they also had an interactive room.  We really rushed through the museum and Claire wants to go back as soon as possible.

We then went to Brook’s Sandwich Shop for what is said to be the best burger in Charlotte. Brenda agreed that it was the best burger in Charlotte but Cobey said it was not the best burger in the state.  Claire had a BLT which she loved!

 

Charlotte Museum of HistoryWe then went to the Rosedale Plantation.  We had a great tour where we learned about the family that lived in the house and interesting features of the house. The last stop was the Charlotte Museum of History.  The museum is also home to the largest bell in the country. It is also home for the   1774 Hezekiah Alexander House who was a signer of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence. This is the largest surviving house in Charlotte. We toured the house, small garden, kitchen and springhouse.  We saw lamb’s ear in the garden which they used for toilet paper.  The museum also houses a large interactive display with a replica stone house and garden.  We ended the day with the First Annual Baby Bundle project hosted by Susan Tillis. These baby bundles go to new babies born at Fort Bragg for E4 families and below. It was a perfect ending to a wonderful day.

Baby Bundle Shower

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Snow Hill SIgn

St Barnabas Episcopal Church Happy JackGreene County is a small county but had an unfair advantage because of our personal tour guide- native Charles Taylor. He did a fabulous job setting up  things for us to see and people to talk to. We stopped by the courthouse which recently had a fire and had boarded up windows. We then stopped by  St. Barnabas Episcopal  Church. This Carpenter Gothic  church was built in 1887. It is a charming church has a church bell outside and a graveyard.    Our  first appointment was  a tour at Happy Jack. This is a family run business since 1946. It was great learning about the inner workings of the business.

 

 

 

Simply Natural Creamery On the way to the county museum and visitor center, we stopped into the ABC store and learned about a sweet potato Vodka called Covington. It is distilled in the county.  The county has a large sweet potato production and a sweet potato festival. The museum is one room and the exhibits change. They currently had a hat collection exhibit. There was a flag from the county and some information about the forming of the county. Otherwise, not much to the museum. We then headed to Simply Natural Creamery where we had a tour and had ice cream twice. The tour was very informative about the running of the farm. The ice cream moved to the top of list for North Carolina ice cream.  We then headed to Ribeyes of Snow Hill.  It was the first of the franchise and the owner of the franchise lives in Greene County. The best part of the day was our guest at lunch.  Ben Rayford is a WWII vet and past Greene County Mayor and town council member. He told a story of coming face to face with Paton and being in France when the war ended This was the highlight of the trip for me.. After lunch, we meet with the warden of one of the three prisons in the county.

 

 

The last stop on the way out of the county was the monument to  remember a battle at Fort Nooherookuh where almost 1,000 members of the Tuscarora Nation were killed.  They attack took place on March 21-23, 1713. It is now the largest burial site of Native Americans in North America. The monument located on farmland is quite beautiful and unique. It  was a great end to a wonderful visit to Greene County. Cobey bumped newly placed New Hanover County and placed Greene County as number one.

Monument - Greene County

 

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Medieval Times – Myrtle Beach

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Thursday May 21, 2015 Under Claire, Cobey, Homeschool, Kid's Corner, South Carolina, Travel

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11138091_10205509633114912_4883508687306815075_nOur field trip group took a trip to Medieval Times. It was a great way to end the school year, although does our school year ever end? Cobey had been but he was so young he didn’t remember it.  At the beginning there was some confusion and disorganization but that was only group issues. Our entire group was in the blue section and cheered for the blue night. The first part was teaching the kids vocabulary and history from those times. It is done in a fun and creative way. I am not sure if they do it for regular shows but I liked this part. Cobey said they could have left it out. They also showed off a horse that was very well trained and impressive. The main show followed a simple typical story line of knight versus knight. You were suppose to cheer your knight to victory. It also had good versus evil theme and thankfully good won out.  It took a while to get out the food but when it did come out it did get good reviews. They served bread, chicken, a thick potato slice, corn on the cob and a cookie. They had fun names for all of them like baby dragon, baby dragon ear, baby dragon foot. There were no utensils which was part of the fun. Everything was fairly easy to eat without them.  Cobey enjoyed it but said it was fake. Claire loved it. I think she was the perfect age. It was annoying for me how much they came around trying to sell us stuff but  overall, I would give it high marks and it was worth the money. Check them out on your next trip to Myrtle Beach.

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Bellamy Mansion Musem

11235050_10205502955187968_538999169246573655_nWe visited our 17th County- New Hanover. This was a extra special county because my brother joined us and we had special friends John and Pam show us around. We had high expectations with the owners of AllAboutWilmington as our guides. The did not disappoint. We have been to New Hanover several times. We have been to the Battleship North Carolina, Fort Fisher Aquarium and the Wilmington Children’s Museum. We have eaten at some great restaurants in the past including Carolina Cupcakes.  Last Year, Claire learned all about Bonsai trees at the Painted Lady Bonsai. We knew the area had lots to offer.  We wanted to revisit Fort Fisher since we have not been in while, and then see some new things. We took the ferry from Southport and started at Fort Fisher. We watched the fiber-optic battle map first. It had a sign not to push the button that it was only for school groups. We pushed it anyway. 🙂 It is a great overview of the battle there. We walked around the tour trail and read some of the wayside. When we came back in to the exhibits Claire read about a confederate spy- Rose O’Neal Greenhow. She was very interested in the story and wanted to find her grave at Oakdale Cemetery in Wilmington.

Winnie's Tavern The next stop was Carolina Beach State Park. They have a small exhibit about carnivorous plants. We had a very good and informative  talk from Ranger Helms about the plants and his job. We were then off to lunch at Winnie’s Tavern.  It is a little off the beaten path and not a fancy place but it did not disappoint. My brother said the burger alone was worth the trip. You should look it up the next time you are in town! We then headed for Oakdale Cemetery. We stopped by the office and got a map of the famous grave sites. They have some really interesting ones. Along with Rose O’Neal, the designer of the Lincoln Memorial, the first governor of NC elected by poplar vote, and  a girl buried in a run barrel . I love the history you can find in a graveyard.

Cotton Exchange

We headed for the Cotton Exchange.  I am not much of a shopper but I really love this place. I love the history written throughout the plaques all the wall. I love the small unique shops. We got toffee at the General Store and dog treats at the Dog Bakery. We then headed to Bellamy Museum Mansion. There we started out by watching a film of the overview of the house and then a house tour. The house has sparse furnishing but some beautiful architecture detail. The tour was almost two hours. He was very knowledgeable but tour was a little long especially after a full day of touring. He also could have skipped some inappropriate stories with my kids and other kids even younger in attendance.   So the mansion ended up being an plus and minus for New Hanover county.  After the tour, we headed home but there is even more to explore in New Hanover County.

After our day spent in New Hanover and considering the things we have done in the past. New Hanover moved to the top of Cobey’s rankings. He also gave Winnie’s the honor of best burger. Claire ranked New Hanover tied for first with Union, Cumberland and Gaston.  I loved The Cotton Exchange so I am giving it best for shopping so far not that I know much about shopping. And although the tour was long it was my favorite home so far Bellamy Mansion is worth checking out just don’t get the long tour.

 

 

Oakdale Cemetery

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Roberts-Vaughan House Yesterday, we made quick trip to Hertford County. We are working on Claire’s project on Lafayette and decided to explore the county at the same time. I was quite surprised what the county had to offer.We first stopped in Murfreesboro. They have so much history and many preserved buildings. We first stopped at the Roberts-Vaughan House (1790-pictured above). We got a tour of this house and learned a little about the town history. We next went to the Agriculture/Transportation Museum. It is small but fascinating.  We  got to see a replica of a flying machine that was built 30 years before the Wright Brothers flight. We also saw the corn husker that gave Gatling the idea for rapid fire gun. We saw a few other houses and buildings from the outside then went for lunch.

Flying Machine

 

We had lunch at Tavern 125. Cobey had a burger (pictured below), Claire had clam chowder and I had philly steak.  The kids had key lime pie(pictured below)  for dessert. The food was very good and reasonably priced.

Tavern 125

Tavern 125

 

We then went to the Parker’s Ferry. It is one of the last cable ferries in NC. It can only carry two cars at a time. The kids actually thought it was fun!

Parker's Ferry

 

Chowan CollegeWe then drove thru Winton which was not very impressive. They had one museum that was not open and a few old buildings but many were in disrepair.  We stayed a few minutes then after some searching headed to Chowan College for our walk in the county. It was the best we could find. The ponds on campus were nice and we walked around for a bit then headed home.  It will not make the top of our counties but it will not be at the bottom either. We will be back for sure either for a field trip I set up or one of their second Saturdays that they start in April. Lafayette visited here and you should too.

 

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Hoke was our 13th county and the first county visit that it rained the entire time.  I am glad our main activity was indoors.  We decided we would fly a mile instead of walk a mile.

We started our visit at The Mill at Puppy Creek for lunch. The food was a mix of Italian and bar food.   My side salad was not so good but the lasagna was good. The bar food was good also. The service was good but took awhile to get our checks. We really liked the atmosphere – big windows overlooking the old mill and river.

Old Mill at Puppy Creek

After lunch, we were unsuccessful in finding another place to have dessert or something interesting to see so  we headed for the main attraction in Hoke- Paraclete XP, Indoor Skydiving. It was a homeschool field trip and we had 15 flyers – age 8 to adults. The staff was awesome. We first went to a classroom where they  explained everything and taught hand signals. We then went and got all our gear and suited up. Once we went in the tunnel, I did get a little nervous. We each got 2 one minute flights.  It was fun and everyone had a BLAST!!   The staff is so patient and professional. We could not have had a better first flight. Claire is begging to go back.

Claire Skydiving

 

Cobey Skydiving

Me

The kids were not impressed with the courthouse. They thought it was to tall for the width but at least it was not one from the 80s,

Hoke County Courthouse

Overall, this kids put it last on the list. They absolutely LOVED skydiving but overall not much in Hoke County.

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Friendly County-Northhampton County #12

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Wednesday Jan 21, 2015 Under 100 County Challenge, Claire, Cobey, Homeschool, Kid's Corner, Travel

We needed to go to Jackson, NC for a project Claire was working on so we decided to make Northampton county number 11. We started our visit at the Northampton History Museum. It is a small one room museum but it has some interesting exhibits and the person working there was very helpful and informative. We then went to the Chamber to see one of the costumes from The Lost Colony. The costume designer is from the county. We then headed to lunch at Embassy Cafe.  I had the great BLT! Cobey said his barbecue sandwich was one of the best and Claire enjoyed her tuna salad. Bring cash!

BLT

 

After we ate lunch, we went to the Northampton County Courthouse, built in 1858. The courthouse is still in use and we were able to take a peek inside the courtroom.  This was the spot where Lafayette was welcomed officially to the state. We then did a self-guided walking tour of the town. They have some interesting buildings and worth a quick walk.

Northampton County Courthouse

 

 

We then headed for the Trapper’s Cottage, also known as earth house. You need to be sure to visit. Claire and  I were fascinated by this place.

Tapper's Cottage ??????????????????????????

 

We then stopped at the Battle of Boon’s Mill and the marker for Sir Archie. If you stop at the Sir Archie marker, you can still see the Moxie Plantation down a very long driveway. We were wishing we could go tour the place.

Claire at Sir Archie

Cobey at Battle of  Boon's Mill Northampton County is not a flashy county but we were surprised at the rich history so for its population it was nice.  It was not one of our favorite counties but because of the history and nice people we were sad about that fact.

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Five Days in DC

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Sunday Jan 11, 2015 Under Claire, Cobey, Good Eats/Not So Good Eats, Homeschool, Kid's Corner, Politics, Travel

Arriving DC at Union Station We had the most fabulous time in DC.  I have decided it was a great week because even though it was bitter cold and it snowed, the museums were empty.  Also, the hotels were a lot cheaper.

Triple Chocolate Bread PuddingWe stayed in a Hilton Garden Inn on First Street. It was a newer hotel and the staff was some of the best we have experienced. We ate several times at the restaurant for breakfast, dinner and snacks. The service was good and the food was very good. We loved the triple chocolate bread pudding.  There is a Harris Teeter attached so you can easily pick up anything you may have forgotten or some snacks.  I highly recommend the hotel.

We used Uber for the first time and we also loved that. It was easy and cheap and kept us from freezing. Most of the time it was cheaper for the three of us to take Uber than to take the metro. They were fast, friendly and professional.

The only disadvantage that I found for that time of year was worrying about travel to get there. We solved that by taking the train. The train worked out well for us. We didn’t have any long delays. We ended up getting to sit together. We ended up saving money when you factor in gas and parking in DC.  I would do it again..

Day One  

National World War II Memorial When we arrived, we were picked up at Union Station by Brian with Bi-Partisan Tours for a private night time tour of DC. If you can only do one thing in DC, do a tour with them. It was fabulous. We saw all the monuments, the White House, US Capitol, Ford’s Theater and more.  We got great information that was interesting and fun.  It was the best overview in the shortest amount of time.

 

 

 

 

 

Day Two

 

Swearing In of Thom Tillis

The Crowd

 

Cobey and Senator Thom Tillis

We spent the day watching and celebrating the swearing in of our newest Senator Thom Tillis. It was a wonderful ending of two years of hard work. We started out with a tour of the US Capitol which was interesting and the rotunda is just beautiful.  After watching the swearing in, we then had time before the evening party. We dropped in the Botanical Gardens with our friends the Mixons. The gardens were just beautiful and worth a stop in, We loved the statues of all the monuments.

Cobey at Botanical Gardens

 

Day Three 

We started the day at the National Archives with a tour and possibly future appearances on 60 minutes. (They were filming a show) We really didn’t have a long time there but it was interesting and Claire enjoyed the Kid’s room. We had lunch at the cafeteria which was good not great.

National Cathedral Creche Exhibit

10891533_10204606208129852_1856787978464719168_nThe magic of the day started when Claire and I went to the National Cathedral for Tea and a Tour. We arrived a little early for our tour so we were able to visit the Creche Exhibit.  Since I collect them, it was probably my favorite exhibit in DC.  It is an annual exhibit and so worth the visit if you are there at the right time. They are from around the world and all very unique. Afterward, we had the best tour of the cathedral. It is so beautiful and has so much history. Our tour guide was awesome..  We ended our visit with a very special tea in the tower. It is not overly pricey and so worth it.

 

 

Hudson and the BoysWhile the girls where having tour and tea, Cobey was with friends having another tour of the Capitol. He said the tour was fabulous. It was set up by one of our favorite people, US Congressman Richard Hudson.  They also got to sit in the gallery and meet with Hudson.  That night he told me he wished Hudson was our representative.

We all met up and had dinner at the Matchbox which was really good and a great ending to the day.

Day Four 

Rail Car in Holocaust MuseumWith two days left, I let each child have a day to decide what they wanted to do. Claire got to pick this day and she started us out at the Holocaust Museum. She has read a lot of books on the time period and had been wanting to go. She liked the section geared toward kids – Daniel’s Story but she was disappointed in the rest. She thought the one in Richmond was better.  We had lunch at the museum cafe which we really enjoyed. They had several Jewish dishes that were different and good.

After lunch, we went to the Museum of History.  We  could have spent a lot more time there. They enjoyed the food and transportation exhibit but Claire’s favorite was the First Ladies’ Inaugural Gowns. She absolutely loved this collection and wants to go back. We then rushed over to the National Postal Museum. Brian on the first night had told Claire about Owney, the postal dog and she really wanted to go.  It is a smaller museum but one of our favorites. I highly recommend trying to fit it in your visit.

We had dinner across the street at Kelly’s Irish Times. The food was good but the service was terrible. I got the feeling we were not welcome at all. I am not sure whether it was because we were not local or because I had the kids.

Claire and Owney

 

Day Five

Berlin Wall

National Building MusemThis was Cobey’s day and he made some great choices. We started out  at the Newseum  This was my first time at this museum and I loved it!! It had great interactive and interesting exhibits.It is like seeing history thru the lens of news reports.  This museum needs to be on your list. We stopped in at the National Building Museum. You should at least go in and take a look at this magnificent building. It is one of the most beautiful in DC. You can walk around for free but there is a cost to go into the exhibits. I would say skip the exhibits and enjoy the beautiful building and great gift shop.

Our last stop and Cobey’s favorite of the day was the International Spy Museum. It is a very interesting and fun museum. You start by getting a spy identity which the kids really got into. It was neat seeing history through the perspective of spying. The museums ends with a James Bond exhibit. We left the next morning to come back home. We could have easily stayed another week and can’t wait for our next visit.

International Spy Museum

Cobey’s Favorite – Tour of Richard Hudson                                                                            Honorable Mention – International Spy Museum

Claire’s Favorite- Bi-Partisan Tour                                                                             Honarable Mention Owney at the National Postal Museum, First Lady Gowns & International Spy

My Favs- Bi-Partisan Tour, Tour and Tea at the National Cathedral, Creche Exhibit, Newseum.

Favorite Place to Eat- Matchbox

 

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7 Night Disney Cruise

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Monday Dec 15, 2014 Under Claire, Cobey, Homeschool, Kid's Corner, Travel

Disney Cruise 2015

This was our 5th Disney cruise and was my favorite so far There were so many magical moments and it was completely relaxing. The cruise was on the Fantasy and went to Castaway Cay, San Juan and St Marten.  I will just try to touch on the highlights of our trip

On The Ship

Claire, 10 at the time, was still in Club. She did not spend as much time in club as she had on previous trips. I think she felt a little old for it. We got permission for her to go to Edge with Cobey but she didn’t want to do it. Event though she didn’t enjoy club as much as she did on other cruises, she had a great time on the ship. She enjoyed watching movies, the shows,  swimming and she read a lot. Cobey on the other time spent a lot of time at the edge but also enjoyed the movies.  I had a seaweed wrap and massage which was delightful. I really enjoyed the shows and spent a lot of time read.

Porthole We had had rooms with balconies, inside rooms,and portholes. For our family, we never used the balcony and  Claire loves reading in the porthole so that is our preferred room. We love that Disney Cruise rooms have two bathrooms one with a sink and toilet and  one with sink and shower. Also, the rooms have great storage for a small space.

Food

????????One of Cobey’s favorite things about a cruise is eating.  He is a very adventurous eater. It is great he can try so many different things. I think the food is overall very good and sometimes great.   Bruce and I ate once at Palo.  You have to pay extra to eat at Palo and Remy. I always say I am not going to go back. I have never had a bad experience but just don’t think it is that much better for the money. Then I see all the rave reviews and I always go back to see what I am missing. Well after this time, I am not going back. (Someone please remind me.) The food was good, not great, but the one thing I didn’t like is now for the first course you have to get up and go to this buffet  where you point to what you want and they put it on your plate. I hate buffets and I certainly not paying extra for it.

 

 

Shows

Elsa Making it Snow

The quality of shows are so much better than on  other ships.  We loved Aladdin and  Dreams. The first night show is just okay so if you go the first night and don’t like it then don’t give up. You should go back for sure. We skipped the pirate show this time but we really have enjoyed it in the past. They had a special Christmas one in the lobby where Santa came and the highlight was Elsa making it snow. We always love the Farewell Party in the lobby  because you can see lots of characters in a short amount of time.

Characters

Photo bombed by Goofy

Sword Fight With Captain HookI always worry that this will be the trip that Claire will not want to see the characters but she was still interested. Cobey will take a few but overall he is not interested and hasn’t been in years. They have changed the princess gathering and you now get a free ticket from guest services. So when you get on the trip ask about tickets. This made the line very short and nice. W also got a ticket to see Elsa and Ana. Claire loved seeing them. One magical moment was when we were photo bombed by goofy when we were trying to get a photo for our Christmas card. Another one was when Claire had a sword fight with Captain Hook.

 

 

Royal Court Tea

Royal Court Tea

Royal Court Tea

This was extra and quite pricey but so worth the money. This was Claire’s favorite thing on the ship and probably mine too. Maybe even more than my seaweed wrap.  I may do a separate  blog in more detail about this alone. For now, it was a show, many gifts, great food and being treated like royalty all wrapped in one. She got a doll, a very nice scrapbook/autograph book, a music box, and a charm bracelet with charms from each princess.  Each princess came to each table and had photos with each child.  It was truly magical.

 

St Maarten

St Marten

????????We did the Tour of Two Flags. This was a tour of both sides of the island. It had a little history of the island and took you to different spots. It was disappointing and I wish we had just hired a taxi and done it on our own. This has never been my favorite island so that may have been part of it. The best part by far was the Italian gelato at Carousel Gelateria Bar which was delicious but I didn’t need a tour guide for that. Claire had fun on the carousel but  she is still talking about the key lime gelato.

 

San Juan, Puerto Rico

Horseback Riding  El Yunque National Rainforest

Claire

 

The boys were suppose to go diving but their tour was cancelled. They ended up touring the fort and of course eating. Claire and I had a great excursion horseback riding.  It was in the rain forest which was beautiful. The best part was the stop for at swim at the river. The guides showed Claire how the Native Americans made paint from the rocks in the river and they painted her face. We also had almonds straight from the tree. They showed us a magical leaf that held water and turned silver when wet. These “extras” are what made this excursion so special. I hope to be able to do the excursion again when we go back in January 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

Castaway Cay

 

Claire and Me Parasailing

We all went parasailing and it was awesome.  It was highlight of the trip for sure. When we were high up in the air, Claire said this is the best Disney Cruise ever. And I have to agree it was the best Disney Cruise ever. It will be hard to beat..

 

 

 

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