Here’s part 2 of our wonderful holiday theme parking it up in Orlando, Florida. You can read about our first incredible week here!
DAY 8 – DAY OFF & HALLOWEEN HORROR NIGHTS
Day off. After such an exhausting week, we need it – but we decide we’ll go to Aquatica.
There seems to be something about that place, after we failed to visit on our first day. After a leisurely breakfast, we’re running a bit late, but we go and sit at the nearest iRide stop. And sit. And sit. And sit some more. We chat to a lovely middle-aged American about our holidays, and he asks if the iRide normally takes this long. We’re about to give up when one finally appears!
It drives straight past. It’s taken so long to arrive that every single person on International Drive is on it, and it’s full. I glare at my phone and there isn’t another one for 15 minutes (supposedly). Given that we were already running late, there was no point going now.
We could have gone shopping. Or lounged by the pool. Or played pirate golf. I recommend doing any of these three things. I can’t remember what we did. I think we just sulked. By the pool.
The evening was better spent – at the second Halloween Horror Night, and this time we were meeting a friend that I hadn’t seen for six years! We had a whale of a time checking out another house, going on rides and watching Bill & Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure (it was as amazing as it sounds). Afterwards we ate at Margaritaville with cocktails and by the end of it, I was knackered again!
DAY 9 – ANIMAL KINGDOM, HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS & EPCOT
It’s Sunday, and we’ve all agreed that Animal Kingdom would be the quietest park to go to. In all fairness, it probably was, but “quiet” isn’t the term I would use…
We started off whimsical, with a ridiculous dinosaur ride and an even more ridiculous ride that can only be described as a mix between a little rollercoaster and waltzers – and we were jolted around so much that we couldn’t stop laughing.
Then we found the real ride of the park – Expedition To Everest. It was one of the longest queues of our entire holiday, but unexpectedly one of my favourite Disney rides!
The highlight, of course, was the animals (not to mention Baloo & King Louie!). We could have watched the apes all day, and the bats were fascinatingly huge. That said, we didn’t actually see many animals overall. We caught sight of a couple of gorillas which was amazing, but the tiger was nowhere to be seen, and because we didn’t go on the safari, we only glimpsed a rhino in the distance. The zebras felt very “on display”, and we could barely see the kangaroos.
So the real highlights? The tree of life is what really springs to mind.
Look at that detail! LOOK AT IT.
We also had a delicious lunch at the Yak & Yeti – Ash & I shared honey chicken and it was one of the best meals we had out there!
But for me, this is my favourite moment. I mean, you can see it in my FACE. Has anyone looked this happy, ever?!
We rounded off the day with a trip to Hollywood Studios as our friends hadn’t been there yet. Donald and the gang were out dancing again!!!! There was no YMCA this time, no silly songs at all, but it was still amazingly fun! I looked around and not a single person wasn’t smiling. THIS is the happiest place on earth, I decided. I looked around again.
My friend can’t stop laughing because Daisy Duck is grinding her tail against me.
I’m still chuckling away as we watch the IllumiNations display at Epcot, our third Disney park of the day. It’s been a long day.
DAY 10 – TYPHOON LAGOON
We decide it’s time for a water park. We don’t go for Aquatica this time, though it may have been third time lucky. Instead, we end up at Typhoon Lagoon, after negotiating our way there. Shuttle to Epcot. Bus to a Disney hotel. Bus to Downtown Disney which eventually gets to the water parks.
FINALLY, we get there. I’ll admit, I’m not a big fan of water parks, so I used the day to top up my tan while the others splashed down slides and rode the bloody great wave that drops approximately every minute and a half.
I did, however, tube down one of the rapid slides, go down one of the raft slides – and I even attempted to hold myself against the typhoon.
That evening, Ash & I went to the Pirate Dinner Adventure show, despite our friends saying it was rubbish. I actually quite enjoyed it! I think something was taken away by the fact it wasn’t packed out, but the food was pretty good – there was a lot of it! – and the show entertaining.
Plus I got this picture with the leader of our pirate team.
DAY 11 – BUSCH GARDENS
Busch Gardens. What can I say?
I BLOODY LOVED YOU!
This was easily one of the best days of the holiday, and I wish we’d been able to spend more time there (though we saw what we wanted to see, I just want to go back!).
For starters – THE RIDES! This surprised me. There are better rides and more of the better rides than Universal & Disney put together. Falcon’s Fury terrified me, Cheetah Run was hugely fun, and SheiKra was JUST AMAZING! Oh, and the rapids ride is wet.
The animals were 100% better than at Animal Kingdom, and they had more freedom. We saw an alligator missing a paw, stroked a kangaroo, fed lory birds, saw elephants, tigers, cheetahs… and then there was the best part.
I’d booked the “Serengeti Safari” for all 4 of us, where we were taken around on the back of a Jeep to see rhinos, wildebeest, antelope and zebra up close. Oh, and then there’s the small fact we got to do this.
It was such a brilliant experience. I could literally post 50 pictures from the safari, but here’s one of my favourites.
That evening, we went to TGI Friday’s, had yummy cocktails, and stumbled across an Arkham Asylum van…
DAY 12 – EPCOT, HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS & MAGIC KINGDOM
Sadly, it’s our final day at Disney. And boy, do we make the most of it.
We start the day by running into Epcot to get on Soarin’, as the queue time is always crazy and we want to see what the hype is about. Honestly? The best thing is the pre-video being Joe from Family Guy.
We hop on a bus to Hollywood Studios to see it in its non-party state. First stop is Pixar, where we run into Mike & Sulley!! Toy Story Mania has a queue time of almost an hour and a half, as usual, so we head off to the Star Wars ride – not gonna lie, I really enjoyed it. By the time we come back to Toy Story Mania, it’s at 55 minutes… we look at each other. Let’s do it.
There’s a reason the queue time is ALWAYS long for this ride. IT IS AWESOME. You get a gun and ride through various screens where you have to shoot and score as many points as possible. I’m normally crap at these things, but it’s easy yet so bloody fun!!! I was genuinely sad when it ended.
It was time to sadly say goodbye to HS and head onwards to Magic Kingdom, where we jump on the train that goes around the park. Obviously we get off at Frontierland for a couple of goes on Thunder Mountain and Splash Mountain. We end up walking to the castle and Ash is keen to see what this mine train business is about. The queue is an hour, but screw it, we’ve done everything in Magic Kingdom and it’s a few hours until the parade.
This ride is NOT worth the queue. Not if you’re an adult without children. It’s like a really, really shit version of Thunder Mountain. In fact, no, it IS a really, really shit version of Thunder Mountain.
So an hour wasted, we go back on the rides we enjoy, and then head to Main Street USA to look through all the shops and find a spot. Except we keep getting moved wherever we sit. Eventually we get a decent enough position.
Okay, I’m going to come out and say it. The electrical parade was really disappointing.
The illuminated scenes on the castle, however? Now THAT is what we came to Disney World for. I almost cried. I really did almost cry when suddenly the Genie’s voice erupts with, ‘HEY EVERYBOOODDDYYY! IIIIIIII’M HEEEEREE!!’ My heart nearly broke. I wish you were, Mr Williams. 😦
The fireworks that followed were everything we had expected. Absolute magic.
Goodbye, Magic Kingdom. Aaaaaaand RUN! RUN!
OUR BUS LEAVES FOR THE HOTEL IN HALF AN HOUR! Oh my God, HOW many people are waiting for the monorail?!?!
RUN. RUN LIKE HELL. We’re on the monorail. We’re making good progress. We stop at the transportation centre to change to Epcot. We stand… for over five minutes. We’re going to miss our bus.
The monorail turns up and we’re willing it on. FASTER, I want to scream. We arrive at Epcot and I hurl myself out, leaving Ash behind.
And I run like my life depends on it. OUR BUS IS STILL THERE. I don’t even want to look at the time. I am so unfit.
It’s our favourite bus driver (seriously – he cracked jokes all the time and then turned the music up, singing along on the mic and honking!! Absolute nutter!) and he laughs at me as I stop, panting. He’s telling the girl in front of me that she’s missed her bus and she’s panicking before he laughs and tells her to get on (nutter!!). I look at the time and it’s 9:43. I can’t believe it. We’ve made it with two entire minutes to spare!
DAY 13 – SEAWORLD BELUGA EXPERIENCE
Today is a very special day.
We went behind the scenes at SeaWorld and helped out with a training session with beluga whales. FREAKING BELUGA WHALES!
We learned about why each of them were taken into care, and as we walked to the exhibition, we passed seals that were being rehabilitated – and the most important thing was, every single person we met genuinely had a love for these animals.
Do you mind if I spam you with some beluga pictures?
Well do you? The water was unsurprisingly freezing, by the way. I am shivering in basically all of these.
This was literally one of my favourite things that I’ve ever done and I really recommend it if you want an alternative to Discovery Cove. I know SeaWorld has a terrible reputation, and while I don’t agree with some of their ethos, I think as a whole the company does real good for the marine world, especially in things like this where it’s not about the entertainment but the rehabilitation.
After doing a final sweeping tour of the park with our friends, we went our separate ways to meet later at the final Halloween Horror Night. Ash & I had an early dinner at Hooters (well it’s right across from our hotel, so it had to happen) and headed over to get the iRide.
Had it not been for the belugas, this next part would have been the highlight of the day. We are casually crossing the road when Ash goes… “is that a tortoise?!?“
I would have got a better picture, but that bus in the background was moving – and about to hit the tortoise. I leap out, waving my arms, and the bus goes round it. Now there’s a car coming too! I don’t know what to do. The car stops and a guy gets out to remove the tortoise.
Now I didn’t know tortoises could run fast, but when someone is trying to pick them up, THEY RUN FAST. Eventually, the guy catches him and his little legs are going everywhere trying to break loose!! It’s possibly the most stupidly adorable thing I’ve ever seen. The poor thing was terrified, but at least his life is saved.
Finally, we get to Universal and the sky is pretty. In fact, it makes the HHN look pretty damn awesome, don’t you think?
DAY 14 – UNIVERSAL
Our last full day! 😦
We, of course, spend it at Universal, because where else has captured our hearts as much as this place?
We go on all of our favourite rides one last time (or a few last times!) and I meet Captain America and talk about haggis.
I wonder if he only gave me his shield because I had just worn a white top on the rapids? In case you’re wondering what the wettest ride in the world is, that is it. You might as well jump into a waterfall.
We had our final dinner that evening at Miller’s Ale House, and it was absolutely scrumptious! I tried Morgan’s white rum because apparently that’s a thing in America and now I’m jealous.
DAY 15 – LEAVING 😦
Our shuttle to the airport isn’t until after lunch, and I want a Hollister hoodie, so we hit the shops. It doesn’t open until midday (on a SATURDAY!) so we go back to Miller’s for a drink and Ash watches the second half of the United game.
I managed to pick up a hoodie for $49, which is better than the £49 that they are in the UK. Unbeknownst to me, there was a half price sale on everything; I got a Hollister hoodie for under £20. I didn’t think I’d say this, but we should have done more shopping!!
We said goodbye to our hotel room (and my balloon hat, which was STILL THERE!), and chilled by the pool until our shuttle turned up. And then the weather turned awful. On our journey to the airport, we watched lightning strike a plane. The airport was chaos, it took almost an hour just to check in, and the power went out more than once. I was convinced our flight would be cancelled – which would be lucky, as we realised Ash had only gone and left the bloody camera at Miller’s.
But alas, our flight was virtually on time, and we were on our way home without his camera.
At this point, I’d like to mention a group on Facebook called It’s Orlando Time, a community full of ever helpful holiday goers, where I posted a plea for help. Within half an hour, a lovely lady had picked it up for us and it is now back in our hands! We are ever so grateful to the group for constantly helping anyone in need. If you are considering a holiday to Orlando, I highly recommend joining the group for tips, advice and general excitement!
I think that just about sums up what was an absolutely incredible trip. I’m not normally one for “typical” holidays (beach holidays? What are they?), but after all, this is genuinely one of the most magical holidays you can have!
And I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.