Trip Start Sep 03, 2007
Trip End Jun 17, 2009

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Where I stayed
Best Western Lakeside

Flag of United States  , Florida
Saturday, December 1, 2007

 We set off to look at the main beach at 'Tarpon Springs'. This was through a very pleasant housing area before we reached a long causeway leading to the white, sandy beach with palm trees and blue water. We have found nearly all of this west coast of Florida to be very pleasant and it looks like a great place to live. Not too sure about the beer though but maybe I could get used to it !!

It was a sunny day and the road north was busy as we followed the coast before heading east to Orlando. It's hard to remember that a lot of Florida is swampland and the roads and housing have been recovered from the swamps, whilst still leaving great areas of swamps untouched. The highways and other roads are good.

We needed a few shopping items and stopped at our first 'Walmart', sheeesh those places are enormous. It was pleasant green countryside until approaching Orlando. This great sprawl became masses of stores, eateries and never ending road junctions and flyovers - it makes 'spaghetti junction' in the UK look like a prehistoric model. We had chosen a hotel near to Disney and within reach of the other parks.  Now to get ready for Playtime !!  Over supper we discussed where we wanted to visit and what we wanted to see and do.

Distance driven   137 miles                                      Distance driven from Miami  628  miles

Sunday 2nd December 

Seaworld was first up. This was a difficult one because we had both had sad experiences with zoos several years before and have never visited one since. We decided to go, as we believed that with its reputation, Seaworld was above the 'zoo' label.

You know when you've had a couple of drinks, when you express wishes that you would otherwise have reservations on ? Well, at supper last night we saw that there was a 'shark tank experience', well I mean, you can't pass that up can you ? Now in the daylight it was time to be brave, check in and get changed into a wetsuit. As you entered the cage, which was at one side of the aquarium above an underwater tunnel that visitors were walking through and could see you, you were fitted with a helmet that had air passing through and you looked out at the passing sharks as the cage moved the full length of the tank underwaterband back again. An exhilarating experience and I got some great photos of the cage  as..... what?  Oh Yes - it was Norah inside the cage and amongst the sharks!!!!   As she said later "When am I ever going to get the chance to be in the water with sharks ?"       Respect for the girl or what ??????
A quick lunch at a cafe where, instead of sparrows flitting amongst the tables, there were White Ibis - this was really strange!  A walk to see the 'Budweiser Clydesdale Shire Horse Team' and for once the Americans did not have the biggest, as these were a smaller version of this Shire breed.

We watched a dolphin show that was well presented and then went to see "Shamu' - the killer whale show. Brilliantly done but it left me somewhat uneasy that these magnificent animals were performing in this way. There was a "Polar Express' ride that was not based on animals but did give us an introduction to the Orlando rides. As we exited this ride in the arctic area there were Beluga Whales, Walrus and a Polar Bear in tanks. This did feel wrong, as my belief is that these creatures, which roam for hundreds of miles naturally, should not be in any kind of restricted areas.

Monday 3rd December

OK - it's Big Kids Day and we're off to 'The Magic Kingdom' at Disneyworld. We chose this one as the typical Disney site that is renowned above all others. Car parked, we boarded a tractor trailer and then a monorail to the site. A ride round the whole site on the steam train before starting at 'Frontierland'. We rode 'Big Thunder Mountain Railroad' and it was so good we got straight on again. Feeling brave we went to 'Splash Mountain', which ended in a 50 foot near vertical drop and we got wet through !!!
We saw the Big Parade in the afternoon, got wet again as there was a brief rain downpour - what, in Florida !!  'Space Mountain' was just a ride too far as we rode in a car in the (mostly) dark, round planets and got our brains, back and eyeballs thoroughly rattled in the severe twists and turns. We rode the "Mad Hatters Tea Party' in spinning tea cups to calm our senses - spinning, yeah !!. We saw the night parade with all the floats and the 'Sleeping Beauty Castle' lit up and then just caught 'The Pirates of the Caribbean' ride before the final, magical, mesmerising closing fireworks. We arrived at 10am and left at 9.30pm exhausted. The Disney organisation whisked hundreds of people off the site in no time in a superbly co-ordinated way.

We topped the day off by getting lost in the Orlando road maze in the dark but made it back to the hotel by 11 pm.  I can only say it was a most magical day and for once it was great to be just a big kid !!!!!!!!!

Tuesday 4th December

Universal Studios. Started with "Jaws', then 'Men in Black', saw the "Blues Brothers Concert (twice), 'Shrek', 'Terminator' - which was a live actor show with effects and motion and the best of all was 'The Revenge of the Mummy'.  This was awesome combining special effects plus animatronics in a spinning, twisting and flying ride. What was clever is that you could leave your bags in lockers that were fingerprint recognised. Neat.  Not quite as busy as Disney but some good rides, most of which involved 3D and getting wet!

We enjoyed the Orlando area, even if it is mostly for kids (and those with flexible backbones and limbs !!!).       It was great to have experienced the Disney and Universal magic.
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