Posted by: glenswatman | August 17, 2008

200808-1-USA Florida



FRIDAY 1 AUGUST – We are a bit later setting
out and there are really long queues to get into Aquatica car park.  Again there is no charge to park the
RV.  This time we secure ourselves a
seat at the beach and leave the kids to roam freely.  In the afternoon we take the free shuttle bus over to Sea
World.  There are a number of shows the
kids want to do again and a few attractions we have missed.  After the dolphin show the kids buy a tray
of fish, $7 (£3.50) to feed them.  Even
without food they come right up to the edge for you to stroke them and it is a
great experience.  On the way out an
official at the stingray pool gives some fish scraps away.  This time the kids are quite nervous about
feeding the fish and usually end up dropping it. 



SATURDAY 2 AUGUST – We try a different
approach route but it is even worse and by the time we have parked in Aquatica
they have put up signs to say the park is full and no one will be admitted
until 3.30pm.  Take the shuttle over to
Sea World and today I buy one of the all day dining wrist bands $25.95
(£13).  Whilst Steve and Natasha look at
the dolphin nursery Daniel and I go in search of breakfast and he is happy with
his chicken nugget feast.  Throughout
the day I am able to pop into certain restaurants and take 1 main course, 1
starter or desert and 1 drink so I make the most of this and manage to feed us
all quite easily.  Today Natasha gets
lucky and wins on the wacky wire and brings out a giant Shamu.  Late afternoon Aquatica is still pretty busy
but Daniel is more than happy just sitting in the fast river rapids whilst
Natasha wanders around with me.  The
park is open until 10pm and after dark things quieten down so that the kid
manage to get on loads more rides. 
Decide to leave around 9.30pm to beat the crowds.  We’re all fit to burst with food and Daniel
declares he has never been so full nor had a day when he has eaten chicken
nuggets for breakfast, lunch, tea and supper. 



SUNDAY 3 AUGUST – Wake up to receive a text
message saying Claire & Daz are on their way although she is upset as they
took her tan accelerator off her at Manchester airport check in.  We have a really busy morning washing all
the bedding and clothes and swapping beds over again.  Natasha is a great help Steve clean outside the van and the
floors inside.  Leave around midday and
call in for a Wal*Mart shop en route to stock up on groceries for 6 of us.  We are going to be staying at the Disney
Fort Wilderness campground for the first and last 4 days of their visit.  This means we get free transport for them to
and from the airport, free transport around Disney and the chance to return to
the motorhome throughout the day.  Our
site is in Possum Patch circle that has a comfort station (toilets, showers and
laundry).  The sites are level and a
good size with picnic table, water and electricity.  Once we have settled in we head off to check out the bus system
and to use our timeshare earned voucher to pick up the Disney tickets.  All the Disney buses run every 20 minutes so
after picking up the tickets at the studios I decide we will visit Pleasure
Island and explore a bit of the area. 
This soon has to be abandoned as although the buses run frequently you
can waste a lot of time if you have just missed one.  Arrive back around 5.30pm for tea and to await Claire & Daz’s
arrival on the Disney Magical Express shuttle bus.  Around 8am a mini bus pulls up at our site with them
onboard.  Although the last couple have
weeks have gone really quickly the kids are glad to see their parents.  Within minutes of their arrival they have
dropped their bags in the van so we can walk across to the Chip & Dale
campfire.  There’s a band playing country
songs to be followed by Winnie the Pooh movie. 
Daniel & Natasha enjoy roasting marshmallows over a log fire but we
are all too tired to stay up and watch the movie or the 10pm Magic Kingdom
fireworks and are all tucked up in bed by 9.30pm.


$47 + TAX (£24) campsite for 2 + $2 (£1) per extra person


MONDAY 4 AUGUST – After breakfast on the patio
we are raring to go.  Steve has chosen
not to do any of the Disney attractions but joins us on the bus to Typhoon
Lagoon.  Arrive just as it opens at 9am
enabling us to get on some of the more popular rides without waiting long.  Snorkelling over the sharks and fish takes
all Natasha’s courage but she does it and even wants a second go.  There are some excellent rides and the wave
pool is enormous.  By midday the queues
are building up and it’s also very hot so we catch the bus back to the
campground for lunch.  This time we make
great connections and are back within ½ hour. 
It’s handy being able to return for a bite to eat, change of clothes and
a brief rest.  Our afternoon plan is to
visit Animal Kingdom and we arrive there around 2pm.  It’s a somewhat confusing park as all the theme lands are around
an island and not all directly connected. 
The centre of the island is the magnificent 145-foot “Tree of Life”
carved with over 300 animal images.  Our
fast pass for Dinosaur is for around 5pm so with time to spare we take in the
musical Nemo show, which is pretty good. 
Walking via Asia to Africa we catch the 4pm parade before taking the
Kilimanjaro Safari.  A small African
village has been created and from the edge of it we board a safari truck for an
18-minute drive through a game reserve with an excellent variety of
wildlife.  Unlike our safaris in Africa
you are pretty much guaranteed sightings, as it is such a small area.  Wander through the Pangani Forest but it’s
not great so we head back to DinoLand and some rides.  We keep plodding on but Daz has backache, I have neck ache,
Claire has a headache and we are all a bit footsore. As Disney guests we have
an extra 3-hours in the park after it officially closes at 8pm but after a
fantastic ride on “Expedition Everest” we are all done for and arrive back just
before 10pm



TUESDAY 5 AUGUST – New plan for the day, we
will chill in the morning then hit the park after lunch hoping to stay very
late.  Take a boat across the lake to
Wilderness Lodge, a very impressive artificial Disney version of the real
thing.  Our afternoon park is Epcot and
with 2 days to do it in we concentrate on the front area of Future World.  An amazing show is “Turtle talk with Crush”
an animated show that somehow interacts with the audience.  Mission Space is an impressive ride and the
“orange” sector puts you into a rocket that launches into space and bounces
around.  After the spectacular 9pm
firework display we are again all tired and head for home.



WEDNESDAY 6 AUGUST – Plan C is to get up when
we are ready and head to Hollywood Studios but this doesn’t get us there until
after 10am and it is already busy.  Fast
Pass Tower of Terror and do other rides whilst waiting for it.  We do seem to get into more shows and onto
more rides than we have done in the other parks and the park layout is easier
to understand and more compact.  It’s the
hottest day this summer peaking at over 100F and we sure feel it so once again
have to call it a day earlier than planned and arrive back around 8.30pm. 



THURSDAY 7 AUGUST – New plan is an early start
to get to Blizzard Beach for the Disney guest extra morning hour.  This gets us into the park at 8am and
surprisingly we all make it on time. 
The most famous attraction is the Summit Plummet a 120-foot waterslide
but once we arrive at the entrance only Claire & I are brave enough to go
for it.  I almost wish I hadn’t as the
bottom part of the steep drop has you surfing along the water and it really
hurts the bottom of your back.  Teamboat
Springs is the longest family raft ride in the world and great fun as it twists
and turns along a 1400’ course of waterfalls and rapids.  By the time the park opens to everyone the
queues are long so we take on the less thrilling rides and enjoy ourselves
until midday.  Back at Fort Wilderness
Steve has checked out of the campground and is waiting in the day parking area.  (We’re surprised it isn’t full of vehicles
as it is a free parking spot from which you can get free buses to all the
Disney attractions rather than pay the $13 parking fees).   Our lunch stop is the Golden Coral all you
can eat buffet restaurant where Steve & I get away with the seniors price
and as we have a voucher it is only $6.50 (£3.25) each for the full buffet and
unlimited drinks.  Claire & family
are well impressed and all manage to overeat. 
It’s possibly a mistake to take highway 50 out to the coast as the first
stretch is within Orlando area and there are lots of traffic lights.  Do another shop at Titusville Wal*Mart
before heading to visit our Couchsurfing friend Jamie.  He has kindly invited us all to visit, Steve
& I will sleep in his home whilst the family camp in the motorhome.  He is looking after his daughter’s collie
puppy Angus and Daniel & Natasha fall in love with him.  We chat and catch up on Jamie’s news and
admire his handiwork where he is fixing up his park home.  It’s an incredibly hot night and
unfortunately Jamie’s extension cable is not powerful enough to run the air
conditioner in the van so the kids are in for a hot and sweaty night.  Thunder rumbles and we get lots of
lightening but it is a dry storm and does not clear the air.  Getting ready for bed I notice that I have
some quite large bruises on the upper half of my bum cheeks from the ride!



FRIDAY 8 AUGUST – Steve & I sleep in until
after 8am and wake to find the family all up and dressed and breakfasted.  They have not had the best of nights but did
manage some sleep.  Daniel & Natasha
both take Angus for a walk before we leave. 
Arrive just before the 10am opening of the Space museum in town.  The volunteer was once head of the shuttle programme
and points out some interesting pieces in the museum.  Next stop is the Kennedy Space Centre where we stay in the
motorhome whilst the family do the tour. 
We have been before and at $38.95 (£20) a head are not bothered about
doing it again.  It’s just after 11am
when we return to the van.  Early
afternoon a big storm is brewing and an announcement goes out to tell everyone
to stay inside.  Thunder lightening and
a short but heavy downpour accompanied by wind follows.  It’s obviously a very good attraction, as
the family don’t come back until after 6pm and even then did no to everything
that was possible.  Just a few miles
away is Jetty Park campground where we have booked a site.    It’s a smallish camp on the edge of the
canal and behind a beautiful beach. 
Even before I have served tea the kids are down at the beach and also
return for a late swim.  Claire and I
walk along the jetty and spot racoons in the rocks.


$25 (£12.50) Inc electric and water


SATURDAY 9 AUGUST – I have a restless
night.  At one stage Natasha falls out
of the over cab bed and lands on top of me and later on Daniel seems to be
playing a game of blind mans buff and feeling his way around the van!  I get up for an early walk and swim then
return to take Daniel and Natasha for their first dip of the day.  After breakfast the Wilson’s go off to the
beach whilst Steve and I do a few odd jobs. 
Throughout the day we make it to the beach only to have to return when a
brief storm comes through.  According to
the weather report these are the backlash of severe storms hitting Orlando so
we are still better off.  During an
afternoon swim small turtles can be seen in the water.  Drive down to Cocoa Beach Pier for an
evening meal at the Atlantic restaurant. 
It’s a great location with fine views up the beach and nice food.  Back at Jetty Park the Wilsons go out for an
evening stroll and see a family of racoons.



SUNDAY 10 AUGUST – Steve & I did a
timeshare presentation back in May and part of the reward was 1 night in a
1-bedroom apartment at the Cape Caribbe Ron Jon Hotel.  Its right night to Jetty Park so as soon as
we are ready we re locate to their car park. 
I do a pre check in enabling us to use their swimming pool and water
park until our room is ready.  There is
a children cinema, mini golf and other amenities free to use so Daniel &
Natasha are very happy.  We get into our
room early afternoon and Steve commandeers the TV to watch the Olympic games
whilst I make full use of the washing machine and tumble dryer!  The apartment is large and well appointed,
the Wilsons are taking the bedroom with 2 double beds and Steve & I will
sleep on the sofa bed in the lounge.  I
cook us a pasta meal in the evening and its nice to be able to all sit around
the table to enjoy it.  We are looking
out over the canal and watch 3 large cruise ships departing.  This reminds me of a special offer I
received on the Internet and with free wi-fi at the hotel it is only a matter
of time before Steve & I are booked. 
On 1st September we are doing a 4-day cruise to the Bahamas
on the Royal Caribbean International ship Sovereign of the Seas.   At $219 (£110) each for an outside cabin
even with taxes and fuel supplements it still only totals $587 (£295) and we
get $20 (£10) each on board credit. 



MONDAY 11 AUGUST – We have to be out of the
room by 10am but can use the pool area as long as we like.  A man and a woman are walking round with
baby alligators promoting their show tomorrow night.  With their snouts taped up they are offered to you for
photographs and even Claire plucks up courage to participate.  Claire works on her tan whilst the rest of
us flit around.  Leave around 3pm and
take the toll motorway back towards Orlando incurring 3 payments totalling
$2.75 (£1.40) so probably worth it. 
Make a slow tour up International Drive before returning to Golden
Coral.  The evening meal is $11.99 (£6)
but includes steak and boy do we get our moneys worth.  Daniel just about eats himself sick and has
to leave before the rest of us are finished! 
The nearby Wal*Mart on Turkey Lake Road say we can stay overnight so we
park up and spend the rest of the evening in the store.  I get my home haircut tidied up for the
cruise and the Wilsons do some souvenir shopping.  It’s another hot night and a little noisy so none of us sleep
really well.



TUESDAY 12 AUGUST – Make an early start to
drive back to Fort Wilderness campground. 
Although check in isn’t until 1pm we again to a pre check in and get our
resident passes enabling us to take in the extra morning hour at Magic
Kingdom.  To get there you take the bus
through the campground and then a boat across. 
Arriving at 8.30am we find they have in fact opened the part to everyone
negating our advantage.  It is still a
great park with all types or rides and shows and lots of fast past
options.  We make the most of theses and
flit between Tomorrow Land and Frontier Land to take in the major rides. Catch
the show in front of the castle and most of the rides before tiredness kicks
in.  I set off back with Daz &
Natasha leaving Claire & Daniel to follow after they return for a second
helping of the very funny Monsters Inc show.



WEDNESDAY 13 AUGUST – First park of the day is
Typhoon Lagoon where Daz & Daniel head off together and us girls set out to
do all the rides on tubes.  After my
bashing on Plummet Summit and subsequent bruises I am steering well clear of
any other rides.  Claire is struggling
with a blocked ear so after a while sits it out whilst Natasha & I play in
the wave pool.  Natasha is crawling in
the shallows when I see a wave coming but she doesn’t get up when I call her
and gets dragged in to the shore. 
Unfortunately the bottom of the pool is like sand paper and she grazes
her back.  I walk back to Claire to say
I am taking her to First Aid and Claire decides to join us to mention about her
ear.  The First Aid office is unmanned
as they have just had a girl collapse at the nearby restaurant and they are all
busy with resuscitation.  Once the
paramedics arrive to take over we get our minor injuries attended to.  Natasha has some numbing antiseptic sprayed
on her back and Claire is given some anti-inflammatory tablets and told to buy
an alcohol product called “Swimmers Ear” to dry her ear canal out.  Meet up with Daz & Daniel for some
Disney photos in the wave pool.  In all
the parks there are professional photographers eager to take your picture.  You then get a wristband with a card on and
can later go on line to look at your picture and then have the option of buying
some or even spending $130 (£65) to get them all on CD and then be able to edit
them with Disney scripts and logos. 
Back to camp for lunch.  In the
afternoon Steve joins Daz when he goes off for a round of golf whilst the rest
of us return to Magic Kingdom.  Arrive
in perfect time for the afternoon parade and then begin picking up on the rides
we didn’t do yesterday and repeating the ones we particularly enjoyed.  It all works out really well and we round it
off with the fantastic evening “Spectra Magic” parade followed by the fireworks
over the castle.  Manage to race out of
the park and straight onto a boat getting us back within ½ hour.



THURSDAY 14 AUGUST – We’ve realised that the
early and late hours are not working but have heard that the other parks are
quieter on the days without extra hours so plan accordingly.  Today we will spend the morning picking up
the things we missed at Hollywood Studios. 
Claire & I are the only ones up for an early start and everyone else
opts to miss it and have a lie in.  At
Indiana Jones set we chat to one of the employees and he gives us fast passes
for the first showing.  Nearby is
“Sounds Dangerous – Starring Drew Carey” and just as we are heading towards the
theatre doors and man jumps out at us from behind a pillar. “Congratulations”
he says, “you have just won a Dream fast pass as part of the Disney Year of a
Million Dreams giveaway”.   30,000
people are expected visit the park today and at random 300 will be given these
passes.  Once we have recovered from the
surprise we figure that as everyone entering this attractions is getting them
they are targeting people early in the park and doing one of the lesser visited
attractions; enabling him to hand them out without being mobbed.  Now we can take our time knowing that we can
just waltz up to the major attractions at any time and get straight on.  Toy Story seems to be the most popular ride
so we have another go on that plus all the other major rides.  Indiana Jones gets cancelled part way
through due to a storm but by mid-day we have done all we set out to and more
and return to camp.  In the afternoon I
opt to stay behind whilst Steve joins the Wilsons for a visit to Disney Market
Place area.  They return after 10pm as
Steve has managed to get into Disney Quest amusement arcade and also Hollywood
Studios on my ticket.  The new system is
that they take your fingerprint the first time you use your ticket to prevent
people swapping them but he just pretended he had picked my card up by mistake
and got away with it. 



FRIDAY 15 AUGUST – I’ve got confused about the
morning arrangements and get up at 7.30am for an 8am.  By 8.10am I decide to go off alone as I am the only one who wants
to do the ride “Soarin” and this is one of the 2 rides that are particularly
difficult to get on.  I arrive just
before they open the gates at 8.45am and make my way through to the cordoned
off area until they blow they let us pass at 9am.  Fast Track is my first choice and using the single person line I
get on straight away.  It’s a brilliant
ride where they put you in a test car of 6 people and run it through the test
track.  I’m so impressed that I pick up
a fast pass to return within the hour. 
“Soarin” only has a short queue when I arrive and this is also a good
ride and something different.   You are
seated in one of 3 rows of suspended seats. 
When the flight begins the rows move forwards and upwards so they are
aligned vertically.  In front of you is
a half rounded screen on which they show a tour over California accompanied by
smells, sounds and wind effects at the appropriate moment.  It really does give the impression that you
are on a hang glider and I want to go again. 
Already so pick up a fast pass but already it is timed for this
afternoon.  After my second Test track
ride the World Showcase is about to open and I immediately join the queue for
the Norwegian ride Maelstrom. 
Afterwards I take my time wandering around admiring the features of each
country and realise that there is now only Japan that we have not visited.  Back in Future World I pick up a few more
rides and shows and also do a test run on a “Segway” before leaving around
4pm.  Just for the fun of it I take the
monorail to Magic Kingdom and then through 3 of the resorts before catching a boat
back from the Contemporary Resort.  The
Wilsons are not back so must be having a good time.  They arrive back around 8pm having found lots for the kids to do
in the World Showcase. Daz takes them swimming and they stay in the pool until
almost 10pm whilst Claire packs



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