Trip Start Jul 09, 2008
29Trip End Jun 10, 2009
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Unlike most days we were well prepared for an early start to got ourselves packed up pretty early and quickly and hit the road with the first stop of the day being the Everglades Alligator Farm. This place turned out to be somewhat of a small zoo rather than just an alligator farm. There were Florida Panthers there, Giant Tortoises, a whole array of Snakes, Crocodiles and Iguanas. The conditions weren't ideal but apparently some animals were taken to larger sites in the evening........hmmmm.
We turned up just in time for the gator feeding, now these creatures are only fed meat around once a month which consists of a couple of ton of chops and ribs spread between a few hundred gators. The token daily feeding is a few fish thrown into the pen to allow the crowd to watch these enormous creatures to go wild for the fishy delights
After the feeding we took an airboat ride through the everglades, a superb experience! Around 25 people sat in an aluminium bathtub with a plane propeller attached to a Chevy big block engine only a couple of feet away flying through the swamp. The driver took us through some full 360 degrees spins and 90 degree turns all at full speed, covering the lot of us in pungent swamp water........NICE. We managed to spot a few wild gators as well which was a bonus. In the late 60's gators were on the endangered species list in Florida, but after an intensive breeding programme there are now some 2 million out in the wild, which is good if you're a gator but not so good if you're lost in the Everglades without a boat.
Back at the farm we took in a rather lame snake show and wandered through the hatchery to view the farmed gators which grow far quicker than in the wild as they are fed daily rather than monthly, after seeing the pens I wasn't that keen on sampling a gator burger though.
Later that day we set off for Orlando to have some mindless childish fun at the theme parks. We negotiated what seemed like thousands of toll booths on the Florida Turnpike (Florida's M1 Motorway), and found our way early evening into our budget hotel on International Drive in Orlando - $28 per night for an en suite double room with breakfast included, not bad really.
Sunday, another early start, we visited the Kennedy Space Centre at Cape Canaveral
On the whole - The Kennedy Space Centre - well worth a visit.
The next two days were spent at Disney (a favourite spot for Kash). The first at Disney's MGM Hollywood Studios and the second at the Magic Kingdom.
In all honesty I though that Disney would be a better Alton Towers, full of rollercoaster's and rides, but its completely different. Generally a place for kids and Kash to meet characters they've watched on TV for years (as we all have at some point) with make believe worlds were, to coin Disney's phrase 'Magic Happens'
In the MGM Studios we just about saw the lot, we watched a live stunt show (well choreographed) from Cars to Indiana Jones - and yes he was chased by a big stone ball!, we rode on the Star Wars ride simulator, had a go on the Toy Story Mania Laser ride (a favourite) although Kash whipped my ass on this one, watched the musical parade mid-afternoon before hitting the big rides of the park, Aerosmith's Rock-n-Rollercoaster (Al, Dave and Jim - similar to Rita Queen of Speed but in doors and in the dark) and finally the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, which is a mock up of a lift shaft with a lift car that free falls erratically - all good stuff. At 8 pm once it got dark everyone watched a live show of fireworks, pyrotechnics, stunts and Disney favourites which was really well done.
The Magic Kingdom had some big rides but was more a place for the kids to have fun, but this didn't stop us though!! We rode the big rides, Splash Mountain (Log Flume), Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (Rickety old Rollercoaster) and Space Mountain (Indoor darkness Rollercoaster) coupled with Buzz Light-years Space Ranger Spin (Similar to Toy Story ride from previous day), where I got my own back on Kash. We did the majority of the smaller rides too and some of the live shows which were again quite good. On the whole Disney was good fun and I imagine if you have kids (I had Kash) somewhere definitely worth a trip
We screwed up really, we had planned on buying tickets for Universal and Islands of Adventure online as you get a free ticket to Wet-n-Wild if we did it this way, all for $99 each. When we checked we realised you needed to book at least two days in advance!! - Oh dear we wanted to go in the morning. So I went to see the dude that ran the ticket booth in reception to see what deal we could strike up. The guy was called Jerome and we agreed, after some heated negotiation, that if we went to a sales presentation for a timeshare the following morning then we could have two, five-day multi entry tickets for Universal, Islands of Adventure and Wet-n-Wild for $89 total, that's a saving of $160 on the gate price (not including Wet-n-Wild ticket prices at $90) but only if, when we left we gave him the tickets. At the crack of dawn we got up and out to go and see this presentation at an apartment complex about 10 minutes away. We got a cooked breakfast which was nice, then had a bloke called Ayra inflicted on us for the next 2 hours - what a tosser!! Poor fella tried every trick in the book to get us to sign-up but failed miserably, in the end he waved his white flag of surrender and allowed us to leave at around 10:30am, we collected our tickets and left quite happy we had been fed and saved a load of cash!! - Brilliant. A word of advice, if anyone or family wants cheap tickets for any event in Orlando do this, its a ball ache for a couple of hours but can save a whole raft of cash.
Universal was good fun, very similar to the Universal Studios in Hollywood although on a larger plot of land. This is the equivalent to Disney's MGM Hollywood Studios but doesn't have the clout that Disney has, which results in the crowds being far far smaller, in fact we queued up for no more than 5 or 10 minutes on any ride, but benefits from rides which are equally as good, if not better if you're slightly older
The park shut up shop at 7pm so we headed back and had 32 holes on the best crazy golf course in Orlando - Pirates Cove. This was quite busy but fortunately the people we queued with were quite funny and we had a great time throughout the first and second 18. Kash beat me on the first 18 hands down, on the final 18 I was 2 up on the seventeenth only to have a nightmare and finish behind again!! (and she did it without changing the rules halfway through Shane!!)
We got talking to the guys who ran it at the end who said if we came back we could play FOC, unfortunately we didn't have time otherwise Kash could have extended her unheated record!
The Thursday saw us at Islands of Adventure and for me the best Park of the lot
On Friday we had to catch a flight to LA at 5:15pm so we only really had the morning to do Wet-n-Wild which was unfortunate but as with the previous few days the crowds stayed away and we managed to do all the slides, majority at least twice, before having to leave at 2pm
Jerome met us at the gates and we handed over our tickets (we could have sold them on if we'd tried but time wasn't with us).
We got to the airport in plenty of time and flew to Big John Wayne Airport in LA, good flight on the whole. We managed to wangle a free upgrade to a PT Cruiser as we were to get a Dodge Caliber again - both the dude on the counter and me agreed that the Caliber was crap, so I think our common ground helped us with this one.
We made our way to the Hotel which we had staying in in LA previous to find the last room we stayed in wasn't available we therefore we got a slightly different room unfortunately the shower head was broken so we got moved to another room, this time the toilet didn't flush (poor Kash found this one out!) finally we moved to a room next door to the last room we stayed in which was good as it overlooked the pool.
Sorry I'm waffling now - In a nutshell, got to LA ok and into a hotel after some small problems.