Lockdown musical legends The Marsh Family talk travel with four kids, Kissimmee holiday home surprises (good ones) and how to keep everyone happy on holiday. For laughs, read about their home-made white knuckle ride here too!
How do The Marsh Family organise holidays which keep four kids happy?
It’s rare that everyone’s happy all of the time, but we do our best to make sure everyone has a bit of a stake in the holiday – and an activity or an event that they can look forward to. Luckily they all love swimming and wildlife, so those tend to be a big part of holidays for us. But wherever we go, we try to make sure that everyone gets to pick an experience to try. It sometimes backfires of course – Danielle can’t cope with spiral staircases so has waited at the bottom of many a beautiful heritage site, and on several occasions we’ve been trapped in gift shops for hours as Thomas was traumatised by which fluffy toy animal to buy.
After waiting so long to visit, what surprised you most about Kissimmee?
What surprised us most was how much variety there was within a short drive. Kissimmee – and Florida generally – seems like it has lots of different aspects of America rolled into one.
One morning we were driving through a typical American strip – pointing out iconic food outlets, famous symbols, and big adventures on the Highway 192 – and from one turn off we were immersed in a totally different world, as we pulled into Shingle Creek. Within minutes we were all loaded into three kayaks and floating down a flooded tranquil world of cypress swamps, turtles, and cicadas (whose noise just about drowned out the sound of arguing about who was paddling worst).
It was also great – and something of a surprise for Europeans – to find places where you could wander around on foot, like Old Town Kissimmee, where later that day we found a tapas bar with
live music, and a couple of blocks further down an amazing dessert experience (at Abracadabra) as we witnessed custom ice-creams being mixed from scratch with liquid nitrogen!
The weather could also turn in a flash, and although we Brits are used to relentless rainfall, the pace of the fast-gathering clouds and the amazing lightning and downpours that cleared out the skies and the heat excited us each time it happened – it almost felt like you got two days on either side of the daily storm.
Kissimmee is the Vacation Home Capitol of the World, how was The Marsh Family experience staying in a vacation home?
As a family of six we’re used to making compromises when it comes to holiday accommodation – someone on a mattress on a floor somewhere! But the house in Kissimmee was beyond all our
expectations. Rather than hoping to find something as good and suited to us as home, we found something that much surpassed what we have!
The kids loved having their own rooms and bathrooms, never mind the games room, home cinema and pool! Everything has been considered and we could happily have spent much longer there. The house, resort and city are phenomenally well equipped for holiday makers and fully deserving of the title Vacation Home Capitol of the World!
The Marsh Family are very popular in the US, were you recognised in Florida?
Whilst we were recognised in the airport on the way out, and had chats with folk about music and pandemics, we managed to keep a lower profile while in Florida – and we needed the hats and sunglasses to keep the sun off anyway! We typically get some knowing looks and smiles. Luckily most of the people who do recognise us as The Marsh Family from YouTube are very generous and respectful, and only rarely do we get asked for selfies.
You were in the theme park capital of the world, which ride was your favourite and which theme park won hands down?
The nearest our kids had been to a rollercoaster before Florida was the ‘Pumpa bike’ – a buggy attached to a bicycle that our Alaskan Shepherd dog, Monty, could pull pretty fast. So we were starting from a low bar. Maybe because of that, the most memorable ride for most of us was The Incredible Hulk Coaster® at Universal Studios, because we walked straight into the park – without knowing what to expect – and were totally blown away. Tess and Danielle’s favourite ride was a bit further round the same venue: the Jurassic Park River AdventureT, because of the cool way it built up tension, and then the big flume finish.
What’s your family’s most thrilling outdoor experience to date?
The airboat ride at Wild Florida was a fabulous way to begin our holiday (on Danielle’s birthday too!) with a real rush of speed and wind, skirting across the water with herons for company, and the truly amazing highlight of finding day-old gator babies and their protective mother on a quiet creek. Ziplining over Gatorland was another memorable adventure that involved seeing big teeth close-up.
Have The Marsh Family any tips for surviving the flight to Florida with four kids?
Their first ever long-haul flight (to Florida) was a huge source of excitement. The films, the food and (for Tess) the map that showed where we were in the flight were more than enough to keep everyone occupied. And the prospect of a fabulous holiday at the end of it was even more exciting still! A couple of little tips are to book seats in two banks so you can swap around without annoying fellow passengers, and also, so you can ‘own’ a section of the overhead lockers.
Kissimmee is famous for food what was your favourite meal and any yuck moments?
We ate like kings in Kissimmee, Florida and ticked off a lot of requests alongside eating at some lovely restaurants. Calling for take out pizza after a long day at Universal and picking up donuts ticked a lot of boxes for the kids. We had a fabulous steak meal and Thomas ate his first lobster and we were treated to some amazing Brazilian food on our final day.
Our only error was in buying some snacks for a film night which involved some incredibly sour sweets. No-one could be persuaded to eat them, even in the incredibly comfy surroundings of
our vacation home cinema!