Taking the Mickey in Orlando

Trip Start Dec 27, 2011
Trip End Jul 19, 2013

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Flag of United States  , Florida
Sunday, June 2, 2013

Hi everyone!

So here we are in Orlando, Florida, incidentally right at the start of hurricane season!

We got here on Sunday (2nd June) and after a short delay checking in (the hotel never received our booking!) we collapsed in to bed to try and catch up on some sleep after our epic journey from Nashville!

We had booked to stay for 18 nights in Orlando – the longest we have stayed anywhere since leaving Australia. This is because we had tickets to every Disney theme park (of which there are four), Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, Busch Gardens, Sea World, and a few water parks. We knew it was going to be a jam-packed few weeks!

The first park we ticked off our list was Universal Studios, which was in walking distance from our hotel. This turned out to be one of my favourite parks, and we went four times before we left Orlando! Our favourite ride was the Men in Black ride, where you go around in cars of 6 people, shooting at aliens with guns. Each player has their own score, and Olly and I had found loads of cheats online, so we kept playing and getting amazing scores! The evening show was brilliant at Universal Studios – as well as fireworks, they projected scenes from famous movies onto water and mist over a huge lake. It was very impressive!

Our first attempt at visiting Magic Kingdom (the one you see on tv with the Cinderella castle) was a bit of a disaster. We had left it until lunchtime to go, which is a really bad idea. This is by far the busiest park and if you don’t get there early, you face queue times of well over an hour, and over two hours in some cases! Olly and I are far too impatient to wait for this long in a queue for a ride, so we watch the parade and some shows, and headed back to our hotel, vowing to get there much earlier next time!

On Friday we went to Animal Kingdom, which was my favourite of the Disney Parks. They had a really great safari which got up close to animals such as giraffes and rhinos, and this park was nowhere near as busy as the other had been.

On Friday evening we went to Downtown Disney, a shopping, dining and entertainment complex, to watch Cirque du Soleil “La Nouba”. I am biased when it comes to Cirque du Soleil, as I love them all, but this show was one of the best I have seen.

On Saturday we did intend to go back to Magic Kingdom to watch their night time shows, but a crazy storm rolled in during the afternoon and so we ended up staying in our room all day.

On Sunday we went to Hollywood Studios, where they were having a special Star Wars weekend, with stars from the movies making appearances. I’ve never seen Star Wars, and have no interest in it whatsoever, but there were a lot of fans in costume at the park. We managed to get on the busiest rides early before the park got too busy (we were getting tactical now) and so had a really successful day!

On Monday we took a shuttle bus out to Tampa to meet my friend Danny (from Sweden) who was visiting family there. We met at Busch Gardens, which is a theme park/animal park. This park was much quieter than the others in terms of crowds, and we managed to go on a few of the rides several times. This quickly became my favourite park overall, as the rollercoasters, were much better than those at the other parks, and there were lots of animal exhibits. We spent a lot of time at the white tiger exhibit, which has become Olly’s favourite animal since we saw them in Singapore.

On Tuesday we went back to Universal Studios, to visit the park next door, Islands of Adventure. This is where the new Harry Potter World opened recently, and the wait time for the ride there was 90 minutes at 9.30 in the morning! Knowing everyone would be going over to Universal Studios later to watch the evening show, we decided to hang around until the evening, and try our luck then. We killed time by going to the cinema, and playing on the Men in Black ride at Universal Studios for a few hours, and then went back to Islands of Adventure in the early evening. We were right – everyone had left the park and we walked on to the ride without having to stand in line. Perfect! We also tried butter beer when we there which we quite liked. I have only seen the first Harry Potter movie so a lot of it meant nothing to me, but I really enjoyed this part of the park.

We spent the Wednesday and Thursday at Magic Kingdom and the various shopping malls nearby, and on Friday we visited Epcot, Disney’s science based theme park. My favourite part of Epcot was the Finding Nemo part, which had an aquarium with rescued manatees (one of my favourite animals!) and a show called “Turtle Talk with Crush”. This was a show, where Crush (the turtle from the movie Finding Nemo) “talked” to the audience sat in front of him. Crush was animated on a screen to look like a window to the ocean and audience members communicated via a microphone. At first I thought this was just a video, and we would just listen to him talk, but I was amazed to see him pick people out of the audience to talk to, and respond to any question asked of him, complete with gestures and facial expressions!! I couldn’t figure out how it was done so I had to Google it. I won’t spoil it in case you visit and want to believe its magic, but I will say it was very clever and I was very impressed!

The last park we visited was Sea World, which was so good that we went two days in a row! The killer whale, dolphin and sea lion shows were brilliant, and we spent a lot of time stroking rays and dolphins! They also had manatees, beluga whales (another of my favourites!) and some rescued turtles. One of these had a huge chunk missing from his shell and couldn’t use his back legs, but he seemed pretty happy.

As well as all the parks, we also went to the cinema three times, saw a Bon Jovi tribute band at Downtown Disney, went to watch wrestling (Olly's idea!), did lots of shopping at the outlet malls and ate way too much food! There were so many all-you-can-eat buffets around our hotel and we definitely made the most of these!

The weather wasn't too bad really. Well, it was. We saw some of the biggest electrical storms I've ever seen. But they didn't really affect us too much - we just sat in the hotel and watched the lightning.

Our next destination is Miami, and instead of getting a bus, we have decided to hire a car and drive ourselves. Should be interesting!

Wish you were here!

Helen. xx

P.S. I forgot to mention that Gareth Bale was at Busch Gardens!
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