Good evening Lj readers,
how are things? Here they have been well. I : am back! from a recent trip to Orlando, Florida. My original plan was to visit Disneyworld
and see all of the free / non-park attractions present, which are a fair amount. However nicely my sister, brother-in-law and parents surprised me with a birthday gift : a 1-day ticket to any park, plus a $15 gift card!
After a direct Southwest
flight, I arrived and waited for my airport shuttle in the warm weather ; watching spring break kids, tourists, the Florida gay boys with their sockless loafers & personal handbags and hot Latino boys en route to their destinations. Due to all vans being out, I nicely got upgraded to a taxi! I shared with a pharmacist from Ohio, the first of several people from the state I encountered.
After checking in @ the Lakefront Howard Johnson
I walked to nearby Eli's Orange World
, a dome-shaped building and one of several in the area to sell discount t-shirts and mugs. Tiny salamanders scampered on the warm sidewalks.
That evening I did something I hadn't done in many years - had a bath! (I usually shower). My room was nice, with an unexpected 'bonus' of a mini fridge and 3 HBO channels on the TV.
* Tuesday (part 1 of 2)
Today I chose to head to a park. Epcot
was having their annual Flower & Garden festival starting on Wednesday. Nicely, all of the floral displays were already up, so I avoided some of the crowds.
After scanning my ticket and thumbprint (really!), I entered. The front / entrance part of the park (Future World
) has the giant 'golf ball' everyone always remembers. I amused myself with a wonderful electronic paint program, which allowed you to color the walls with an electric 'paintbrush'. Paint the picture with the 'correct' colors, and it interacts! Quite fun.
Next, on to some attractions I had pre-registered for, using Disney's easy Fastpass
system : The Seas with Nemo & Friends (an aquarium where I saw lionfish, some small seahorses and two workers training a dolphin in a giant tank), "4-D" movies (three 3-d animated shorts with mild additional interactions such as light or a spritz of water) and Mission : Space
, a rocket-launch program guided by actor Gary Sinese which replicated enhanced gravity. Featuring a more-intense and less-intense version (I chose the former), they weren't kidding - quite a (pretend) ride!
* Tuesday (part 2 of 2)
An amusing thing was the attention to detail Disney always has : outside of the Space ride they even have a fake (glassed) control center, where uniformed-looking people walk around pretending to do things, lol.
From there it was on to Club Cool
, an "unusual sodas from around the world" display I have seen before. I tried 3 of the 8 myself, including the non-sweet Beverly apertif from Italy.
The other half of the day I walked around the World Showcase
half, seeing the 11 countries (Canada, the UK, France, Morocco, Japan, the US, Italy, Germany, China, Norway and Mexico). I remembered some bits from my prior visit circa 2000. Lots of gift shops and local touches. "France" even had a (pretend) booth where they were "selling" old books and prints, just as they sometimes do in the real Paris!
"Morocco" was nice as it had an inside, open-roof, empty courtyard. Very peaceful. I stopped @ the Tangierine Cafe
(not a typo) here and used my gift card for 2 vegetarian platters. I remember the waitstaff gently shooing out the (tame) ducks and squirrels, for which I was mildly amused / alarmed seeing some other visitors think they were "part of the park experience".
Today I visited some of the "non-park" areas of Disney. It confirmed my belief there are multiple days' worth of activities to do, without even going in the parks!
I took the elevated monorail to the Polynesian
, where I tried the dairy-free soft serve dessert Dole Whip, then on to the Contemporary
, where I waited on the dock near the pool for the boat to Fort Wilderness
, but abandoned it to catch a shuttle for Animal Kingdom
instead for the free restaurant tour.
I missed the original one I hoped to do (Boma
), but did indeed see the (real!) animals outside being fed (including giraffes, zebras and horned cousins to yaks) and also did a personalized tour with Kuena (pronounced quay-na), an 'exchange worker' from Lesotho, a small country in south Africa. We toured the 'other' eatery (Sanaa). Afterwards the chef nicely gave me some naan and dipping sauces, woo!
In the evening I took a pleasant 20-minute boat ride to the genteel, rocking chair, water-wheeled, horse-and-buggies present Port Orleans
(an overlooked Disney gem), then explored Disney Springs
, the shopping center. I tried some root-beer-flavored tea and marveled at the unique store items (such as Hipster Mickey
and political-themed soaps).
* Thursday / overall
Riding the shuttle back to the hotel, I was accompanied by a(nother) family from Ohio who were as well staying @ the same place. At Disney Springs
earlier I purchased a bathbomb, something I had seldom if ever used before, and back at the hotel just past midnight had, yes, a lily-of-the-valley bath. Woo!
Disney has trading cards (27 or so overall) various staff members for the forms of transportation (monorail, boat, bus) around the park have. I managed to collect 19 of them!
Florida is warm and has many lakes. Behind my hotel was the pool (with hot tub!), next to a large quiet lake and Spanish-moss-draped trees. Someone had tied a hammock to 2 trees and, after walking around some Thursday, I relaxed in it.
On the way back to the airport, the gentleman who shared my shuttle was a) also from Ohio! and b) on my literal exact flight back. A small world! "after all".
For a gallery of 11 pictures, one may click here
Okay. Have a good night!