74. The Plastic Fantastic

Trip Start Apr 19, 2011
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74
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Trip End May 25, 2013


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Where I stayed
Avanti Resort

Flag of United States  , Florida
Sunday, April 7, 2013

Twenty-two hours later, after a veeeery delayed flight, we arrived in Orlando and walked straight on outside without going through customs. We didn´t provide any proof that we would be leaving the country again, nothing. Not quite the welcome we were expecting. 

The morning after we met up with Blair´s friend Sharpie for a day at Universal Studios and the Islands of Adventure. A seasoned theme-parker, Sharpie showed us that lining up as a ´single rider´ is the way to go and we cut hour-long queues down to ten minutes or so, spending the day experiencing the rides - with the favourites being The Hulk, Flight of the Dragon, The Rip It Rock It Roller Coaster, and The Mummy. But fun as the rides were, I spent a good amount of time on them marvelling at how warm the wind whipping past my ears was. The things the UK does to you!

At the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, we walked down the main street of Hogsmeade, sipping butterbeer (delicccccccious!) and perusing the shops - Honeydukes, Zonkos, and Ollivanders Wand Shop. We even sent mail home by owl post!

Blair dropped a few dollars squirting people with water-cannons, and I saw places I remember from when I was a kid. We even went on my favourite ride - ET, which was just about as magical as when I was eleven. 

The next day, keen to experience some of the ´real´ Florida, Sharpie took us out to Crystal River to try and find some manatees. Despite his best efforts, the day was somewhat of a flop due to not very welcoming locals and no manatees in sight. The long straight road and flat terrain does however boast some interesting billboards (i.e. Rent-a-cow, anti-abortion, etc.) and stereotypical American fare - namely trike shops and gun ranges. A very late but yummy dinner at crowded Chilis and we made the decision to hit Disney´s Typhoon Lagoon the next day.

Waking up to a lovely sunny day, we headed for TL´s wave pool, Crush´n´gushing slides, and swam with sharks. We floated around the park on the lazy river, and fell asleep in the sand ...and inevitably got sunburnt. Oops. And as he always does, Blair bumped into a friend of his from hockey, who was working at TL as a lifeguard! With a couple of hours to kill, we had a walk around Downtown Disney, before catching a very entertaining bus back to International Drive. On-board entertainment was a 4-year-old who commandeered the microphone and encouraged by our initial applause, sang nursery rhymes and told stories to the passengers for the duration of the (45-minute) ride.

Our final day in Florida was spent at Kennedy Space Center (KSC). Early in the day we caught a tour bus out to Cape Canaveral, eyes peeled for alligators along the way. We arrived in time to have eight hours at KSC, and truth be told, you just about need that long! The place is absolutely amazing and worth the reviews it gets on TripAdvisor. If you have any interest in our planet and the universe at all, you will love this place. After a good look around the rocket garden, and an incredible 3D Imax movie about the Hubble Telescope (narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio), Blair was sold on taking up a career as an astronaut. He was even more impressed after catching the bus out past the gigantic Vehicle Assembly Building to see the largest spacecraft ever built, the Saturn V, and touching a moon rock. And what made the day ever better was the wildlife. KSC is situated next to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. Our wildlife watch stats now sit at 73 gators, one manatee (finally, wahoo!!!), four turtles, one salamander, one woodpecker, and a bald eagles nest the size of a king bed.

Initial impressions of America is that (despite the Floridian locals around Crystal River) Americans are generally a friendly welcoming bunch, and that maids do a much better job of cleaning your hotel room when you remember to leave a tip.

Rating out of 10: 7.5
In a word: Big
Something interesting: The Saturn V is over 2.4 times the length/height of the Statue of Liberty
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