Excess in mouseville

Trip Start Dec 26, 2009
Trip End Nov 08, 2010

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Flag of United States  , Florida
Wednesday, February 3, 2010


We left Miami Beach at a stupidly early hour of the morning, from outside a construction site that we were told was a hotel... we were a little worried, but the bus did stop there! I promptly started feeling very sick... Ben says hangover (wait until he writes the Miami entry for that story, it's amusing) but it turned out my stomach can handle South American food but not USA food! Ben feels quite vindicated I think, after everything he went through, but personally I think I got the better end of the deal - I may have been sick all through Disneyworld, but it didn't stop us doing anything (just add more toilet stops!), and at least I got sick somewhere with lots and lots of clean toilets that actually supply toilet paper and soap.

Anyway, onto better parts of the story... We arrived at Orlando and had to transfer buses for Disneyworld.. it was a little confusing because it wasn`t booked properly, but there were two spare seats. The man couldn`t find our name from the other bus, and it turned out to be under `Den Tekon`, even after we clearly heard our travel agent spell it correctly over the phone! Ben gets all the names this trip... Benji (from Roxanna in Cusco), Australia (from everyone) and now Den... twice! We eventually made it and checked into the Pop Century Hotel, and although we weren't expecting too much considering it is the cheapest Disney hotel, it was really good. All the Disney hotels on the site (and there's about 30) have their own theme, and ours was American pop culture from the 50's to the 90's. There are two buildings for each decade, and they are all covered in pop art and pop culture bits, with more art all throughout the complex. We needed a map to find our way around our hotel. I desparately wanted to stay in the 80's, which was covered with pacman, but we got the 70's, on the fourth floor. All the rooms open to balcony passageways, and we got two double beds (Ben says all the rooms are like that, so we just used one bed for the inevitable mess), a tv (in English!) and a private bathroom, all very clean and nice. We did see some of the other hotels during our stay, and some of them are amazing. Some of the themes were: a polynesian island, a Floridian spa resort, contemporary, Carribean beach (we tried to stay there, but they were fully booked :( ), a very fancy swan and dolphin matching pair, all time greatest movies, and an old-fashioned boardwalk marina.

The whole Disney complex is huge: apart from the hotels, there are four theme parks, two water parks, a downtown shopping area complete with a circus tent for Disney`s exclusive nightly Cirque de Soleil performance and a giant movie theatre, and a sports complex. A free network of buses, boats and monorails connect everything, so it is surprisingly easy to get around. Our hotel was nowhere near ritzy enough to be on the monorail system (in fact it was always the bus stop furthest away from the parks!) but this did not bother us... we were at Disneyworld! And they really try to sell you the whole `happiest place on Earth` thing. Although we found a few sour workers, most were overly happy and friendly, particularly the performers. Some were so happy it was creepy - after being served by a particularly ecstatic drink seller, Ben commented that those are the kind of people who go home and commit suicide. I hit him for having such a depressing worldview. He hit me back for being naive. And they really carry the theme through, right down to `cast members` (there are no employees, only cast members!) wearing giant mouse hands to direct traffic.

By about midday we were settled in the hotel, and decided not to waste our day! Although it completely poured with rain the entire morning, the instant we went out, it stopped :D Weather win yet again! We went to Hollywood Studios, one of the theme parks. We saw a stuntshow, went on a couple of tame movie-related rides - one of which took you through recreated sets all filled with robots as the actors doing parts from various movies. It was huge. In fact there are so many rides that have such incredibe space and attention to detail that even if you don`t like them, you must appreciate them. And they really, really try and make you believe in each ride. In all the rollercoasters we went on, and most other rides, the line goes through a special room where they play an introduction designed to draw you into the story of the ride. On the Aerosmith Rock and Roller Coaster, Aerosmith were in a recording studio and ended up inviting you to a concert across town... and the ride was a coaster in the shape of a stretch limo, and the whole indoor coaster was designed to feel like a wild ride through LA, complete with street signs, palm trees, etc. The Hollywood Tower of Terror had a creepy movie about the last time the elevator dropped into the twilight zone... and I could go on and on. Both those rides were actually at Hollywook studios, and we saved them for last - and then went on each several times. The best ever thing about low season... all lines, except for one on the last day, never went over 20 minutes and were usually 5 or 10. Both the Rock and Roller coaster and the Tower of Terror were heaps of fun, and although the Tower of Terror is nowhere near as tall as the one in Dreamworld, it goes randomly up and down several times per ride.

We went back to our hotel at about 7:30, tired and happy. We got up early the next morning to do the most famous park... the Magic Kingdom. It was a bit more geared toward kids, and so we did not do quite a lot of things, but there were still some great moments. Ben had to sit through the `It`s a small world` ride, and all I have to do these days to seriously annoy him is start singing that song. We also went to a Little Mermaid stage show, and of course thoroughly enjoyed Space Mountain... the indoor coaster almost completely in the dark. Actually one of the best things about it was all the video games you could play on giant screen along the sides while waiting in line! The Haunted Mansion was heaps of fun, not scary so much as a complete dedication to all things spooky... the attention to detail was incredible. Things appear to change on statues or robots through clever projections. And a ghost appears between you in the seats in a mirror for the last bit. That was the only place in Disneyworld where the cast members didn`t have to be happy! We saw many little girls dressed up as princesses, some of whom had been to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Botique.. which completely makes over little girls with hair, makeup, clothes, shoes, everything, into perfect princesses. I would so have loved that when I was little! We went to the parade and saw all the people dressed up as various Disney characters, and although we did return briefly to our hotel for a nap in the afternoon we went back for the fireworks, which were pretty good considering they do them every night. The firework theme was Wishes, and it came with a big story and music... nothing is ever done incompletely here!

I must mention the food before I go on. I`m sure other hotels had very nice restaurants, but ours had fast food marketplace thing, and it was terrible. Everything tasted junky and instant. I know we are now in the land of instant, junky food, but there was much, much better food in Miami Beach (aaaaah Sushisamba, I will bring you to Australia even if I have to get a crane and a ship), and it was really the only thing that was bad about our stay. Instant eggs are worse than South America`s constant bread and jam. Why am I doomed never to have a tasty breakfast?! I will take cereal and consider it manna at this point!! Although, quite conveniently, you could buy a mug and get free coffee, tea, soft drink, powerade, etc for as long as you stayed.

Anyway, the next morning was definately one of the funniest moments on the trip so far. Although I`m not sure if Ben agrees. After a nice sleep in, he had first shower and put underwear on, then stepped outside to check the weather just as I got in the shower. The whole time I was in the shower I could hear a constant loud banging and knocking, but I thought it was annoying kids knocking on the doors and windows and then running away. They were at it so long I was going to go and throttle them - and was very surprised Ben hadn`t already - when I finally got out of the shower, but it eventually stopped. Ben was not there when I got out of the bathroom, and when I called out his name, he answered from outside! The door had locked behind him and he didn`t have his key. He had knocked so loudly other people had come out to see what was going on, and he smiled sheepishly at them (because what does a man locked outside without clothes usually mean?)

Ben: My feet are freezing! Didn`t you hear me knocking??
Amanda: *around helpless laughter* I thought you were annoying kids!

So after I finally finished laughing, we managed to get to the Animal Kingdom. We were not sure about this one, but it turned out to be the most fun park of all. Although this was the day I was sickest, it didn`t stop us doing any fun rides! We went on a safari, and other walking tours of animals. We saw a fantastic Lion King circus-type performance. We skipped the whitewater rapids ride (too cold to get wet - also the reason we didn`t do water parks) but went on the best rollercoaster at Disneyworld - Expedition to Mount Everest. The story involves a runaway train on Mount Everest and being chased by the Yeti. We went on a Mad Mouse-type ride that also spun around, and a dinosaur journey that was a tame car, but went back in time to just before the meteor shower. The whole ride was inside and pretty dark, but masses of dinosaurs and plants were recreated... and several dinosaur robots tried to kill you. They take a photo just as a massive lit up T-Rex comes toward you out of a dark corner, and people`s expressions are hilarious. In the final bit, meteors stream down and a charging dinosaur comes directly toward you... but the car jerks down underneath him to the present. And then we went back and did Mount Everest several more times. Animal Kingdom closes at 5, and I wanted to go back to Hollywood Studios to see Fantasmic, which a light show where Mickey battles the sorcerer from Fantasia, but party pooper couldn`t be bothered. And told me I was sick and needed rest.

(at the Animal Kingdom, after Ben has gotten ahead of me in a crowd and come back looking for me)
Ben: *proudly* I`m big and sneaky. I use my ninja skills to get through.
Amanda: *grumpily* Where were your ninja skills this morning when you locked yourself out?
Ben: *sadly* I left all my ninja equipment inside.

Our final day of our park pass was spent at Epcot. Ben spent half the day trying to figure out where it got it`s name, and we did eventually find out what it stood for, but I forgot. Exploration something something of tomorrow. Anyway, Epcot is half devoted to different countries of the world, which really meant it had lots of restraunts from different places and movies about different countries, but we weren`t interested in that. We went on the mission: Space ride, which simulated a trip to Mars in a space shuttle with G-force and pressure changes. It was a good ride but I don`t enjoy that kind of thing as much as coasters... after we got off we felt like we do after riding the Gravitron. We also went on the test track, which is supposed to be a car going through lots of tests, but the line was really long... we waited over an hour and although the ride was interesting and went fast in one part it was not thrilling. We also went on Soarin` which was descirbed as a hang gliding adventure... we were quite excited but it turned out they suspend a bunch of seats in the air and show you a movie of hang gliding on a massive screen shaped so it looks like you are hang gliding. Nice but I wanted to hang glide!

We left the park at 3:20, heading for the monorail (there were no computers at our hotel... so were going to a ritzy one for a facebook and email fix) and literally 10 metres away from the station... it started to rain! Win! We laughed at all the people scurrying to get ponchos and umbrellas. We went to the Contemporary Hotel and paid ridiculous amounts of money to use the Internet. Disney thieves. There obviously isn`t another option unless you leave the park. If we had a laptop, it would have been fine as there is wireless everywhere. Ben pointed this out several times. He is getting his laptop in Chicago and is grumpy without it. We were planning to go to the Epcot fireworks that night but because of the rain thought it might be a wasted trip.

Our bus the next day did not leave until 7pm, so we went to Downtown and watched Sherlock Holmes! And I finally gave in and we had McDonald`s for dinner. Their menu is different... you can get biscuits instead of hamburger buns! It`s ridiculous! But that was the last of our time in Dineyworld... we had so much fun and were very, very happy for almost the whole time. But it wasn`t cheap!

Love, rollercoasters and giant mice,

Amanda and Ben
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