Posted in Florida 2013

10th December 2013 (Day 9): Aquatica and Downtown Disney

Aquatica_Logo_640Aquatica today for some swimming and messing about in the water. We started off in Loggerhead Lane, which is the lazy river at the park as well as going into the wave pool.

But by the time we came from there we were getting pretty hungry.  We decided to go the Banana Beach Buffet which was an all day dining deal.  So we could come back later on and have another snack.

The chocolate custard was a big hit.

Chocolate Custard
Chocolate Custard
Chocolate Custard
Chocolate Custard

After having a look at the Commerson’s Dolphins we went back to the water.

Commerson's Dolphins
Commerson’s Dolphins

We then went to the children’s play area (Kata Kookaburra’s Cove) and did some of the waterslides there.  There was one which was done with an adult which was very popular and we did it a lot of times without having to wait around.

Link to the video of the waterslide

After a quick refill snack at the Banana Beach Buffet we left the park.

Aquatica
Aquatica

Which was probably just as well because Rosemary was asleep before we left the car park.

Asleep
Asleep

She got a bit of a snooze in the car on the way to Downtown Disney but once there she soon got eating again with a rice crispy cake thing from the Candy Cauldron.

Candy Cauldron
Candy Cauldron
Candy Cauldron
Candy Cauldron

And we went into World of Disney and tried on lots of ears and hats.

World of Disney
World of Disney
World of Disney
World of Disney
World of Disney
World of Disney

 

Posted in Florida 2013

9th December 2013 (Day 8): Epcot

In the trips we have made to Orlando we have never visited Epcot in the past, although not really sure why.  But we really enjoyed it and I think it’s now our favourite park.

Coming in we took the compulsory picture of the big ball, although we didn’t go on the ride inside it.

Epcot
Epcot

Instead we headed over to “The Seas” area where we went on the Nemo and Friends ride.

Nemo
Nemo

This ride takes you through the story of Finding Nemo (although very compressed) and out into the aquarium.  There are some very large tanks which are full of fish and even some dolphins as well as smaller tanks with tropical fish and some manatees.

Nemo
Nemo
Manatees
Manatees

Couldn’t resist a picture with Bruce the shark before we went and did the Turtle Talk with Crush bit.  This is an interactive session with a computer generated Crush which is fun as the kids get a chance to ask questions to Crush.

Bruce the Shark
Bruce the Shark

As we were leaving this section we went into the Mickey and Pals section where we got to meet Mickey, Goofy and Minnie. Rosemary seemed to be getting the hang of these character meet and greets now and wasn’t in the slightest worried about them, and actually keen to meet the characters.

Mickey
Mickey
Goofy
Goofy
Minnie
Minnie

As we were nearly halfway through the day we decided to head into the World Showcase and start visiting the various countries.  We’d heard that you can get a passport which is stamped in each country and found them in the giftshop at the entrance to the area.  Finding the stand to get them stamped was sometimes a bit tricky but we did get them all done.

Before we got very far we stopped in Norway for a snack.  I got some of mine at least.

Snacks in Norway
Snacks in Norway

In Germany we got to meet Snow White. This was Rosemary’s first Princess encounter.

Snow White
Snow White
Germany
Germany

I can’t remember if this was in China or Japan now…

China or Japan
China or Japan

While the Morocco area has some amazing tiled courtyards.

Morocco
Morocco

There were some great views from the lake.

Goofing about
Goofing about
View from the World Showcase
View from the World Showcase

In France we got to meet Belle.

Belle
Belle

And we had an ice cream before meeting Princess Aurora.

Ice Cream
Ice Cream
Sleeping Beauty
Sleeping Beauty

We stayed on for the Illuminations show on the lake, which was very good.

Illuminations
Illuminations
Illuminations
Illuminations

One thing was that the park was relatively undecorated for Christmas.  The majority of the decorations were around the central area where the fountains are. Still very pretty.

Decorations
Decorations

So a great trip but a massive park that really needs more time to explore properly.

Posted in Florida 2013

8th December 2013 (Day 7): Chilling and Universal Citywalk

Taking a day off from the parks and started out at Perkins for breakfast and Perky Bear Pancakes.

Perky Bear
Perky Bear

We then went off shopping before going back to the hotel for a swim. Or rather a “sitting on dad’s back while he swims”.

Swimming
Swimming

For dinner we drove to Universal Studios and went to Citywalk. Where there is a Bubba Gump restaurant.  As we got there later in the day the parking was reduced cost, but was still $5.

We all had shrimp dinners which were all very good. Rosemary’s came in a Jenny boat, which went down very well.

 

Dinner
Dinner

Afterwards we walked around the shops and the rest of Citywalk.  There were some great fountains for the kids to play in and try and avoid getting wet.

Fountains
Fountains

And we went over the giant globe for a photo opportunity.

Thing 1
Thing 1
Universal
Universal
Universal
Universal
Posted in Florida 2013

7th December 2013 (Day 6): Seaworld

SeaWorldOff to Seaworld today, using our free entry which comes with the Discovery Cove tickets.  This gives you 14 days entry to Seaworld in addition to your Discovery Cove entry, as well as Aquatica, so it’s pretty good value I think.

Our first stop was to go to the aquarium which is underneath Manta, which is a pretty hairy ride and not one you will find me on!

Aquarium
Aquarium

The aquarium is a little hidden but well worth a visit.  There is a very large tank full of fish, rays and sharks.

Aquarium
Aquarium
Aquarium
Aquarium

And a tank full of clown fish which you can stick your head into.

Clownfish
Clownfish

New since our last visit is the Empire of the Penguin ride and the whole of the Antarctica section. The ride comes in mild or wild and we picked mild (which had a much shorter queue as well).  The ride was okay but nothing amazing and unfortunately you have to ride it to get to see the penguins.

Penguins
Penguins

They are at the end of the ride and very noisy, and smelly.

Penguins
Penguins

We had some lunch in the Antartica cafe and then went over to see the Manatees.  This area has changed since our last visit as well (when you couldn’t see the manatees at all) and there is now a 360 degree film as part of the experience.

Manatees
Manatees
Manatees
Manatees

Took a quick break to have an ice cream, and of course you can’t not have a Shamu ice cream at Seaworld.

Ice Cream
Ice Cream

The Seamore and Clyde show had been changed a bit for the Christmas holidays and we went over to see this.  The pirate ship was all decorated and the show was all Christmas themed.

Seamore and Clyde
Seamore and Clyde

Finally for this day we took a walk around the walk.  Seaworld had really been decorated up for the holidays with lights and trees pretty much everywhere.

Christmas Lights
Christmas Lights

And in the middle of the lake was the Sea of Trees, which were a huge number of trees all lit up and periodically the lights would go to the music.

Sea of Trees
Sea of Trees
Sea of Trees
Sea of Trees

And a link to a video of the show.

Posted in Florida 2013

6th December 2013 (Day 5): Discovery Cove

Our treat thiDiscovery Coves trip (again) was a visit to Discovery Cove.  This is a limited entry park (think it’s 1000 people per day) which is run by Seaworld and is just across the road from the main park.

Discovery Cove
Discovery Cove

We had some breakfast once we had checked in and then got into our wetsuits to swim.

Wetsuits
Wetsuits

Rosemary loved playing with her mask and snorkel, although we didn’t think she was really old enough to use the snorkel in the water itself.

Ready to Dive
Ready to Dive

The lazy river was a lot of fun and it had changed a lot since our last visit with the addition of otters and marmosets.  Couldn’t get any pictures of the marmosets on my waterproof video but the otters were fun and you could swim up to the front of their enclosure.

Video Link to the Otters

The water in the main reef felt particularly cold (well it was December) and we only spent a short while there.  You can see Rosemary shivering in the video.

Video Link to the Main Reef

We got a really cool buggy again with giant wheels, so Rosemary had a chill out in that and warmed up again.

Beachbuggy
Beachbuggy
Posted in Florida 2013

5th December 2013 (Day 4): Disney Hollywood Studios

For this trip we decided to visit all four of the Disney parks, and bought a 5 day ticket. So to kick off our visits we decided to go to Hollywood Studios (we had also tried to plan out visits using one of the crowd planners so we would be at each park on quieter days).  We’d never been here before, so this would be our first visit.

The park is all 1950’s Hollywood themed and there is a entrance street running up from main ticket entrances. There are really tall palms on most of the streets to add to the California look.

Hollywood Studios
Hollywood Studios

At the top of the street is the Mickey Sorcerer’s Hat which forms a stage and most of the rest of the park radiates out from here.

Mickey's Hat
Mickey’s Hat

We decided to go into the Art of Animation area first which is where there are a number of character meets and greets.  Rosemary had never done one of these before so we weren’t sure how she would react.  When we visited Peppa Pig World she was a bit freaked by the Peppa there (as she was “bigger than I thought she would be”).  While waiting to see Mickey we weren’t too sure.

Waiting for Mickey
Waiting for Mickey

But when she actually got there everything was fine.

Mickey Mouse
Mickey Mouse

After seeing Mickey we really wanted to see Minnie as well.  Initially we were really confused as to where she was.  Mickey was in the hall and there was also Mr Incredible and Frozone in the hall (although we didn’t meet them).  But no sign of Minnie anywhere.  We asked a cast member and were told where to go, which was a queue by a door.  Turns out Minnie has her own dressing room to meet guests in which was really lovely and meant it was really private as well as it was just you in there.

Minnie Mouse
Minnie Mouse

After we left we went to the Voyage of the Little Mermaid show which was just outside.  This is a live action show which whizzes through  the film at some speed.  Was a good show though.

Little Mermaid
Little Mermaid

And then we went onto the Backlot Tour.  This starts off with some stunt effects which you watch.  There are a lot of water effects and felt sorry for the volunteers as they got drenched.

Backlot Tour
Backlot Tour

The tour then goes onto a tram which takes you round some exhibits including cars and planes from movies, and a couple of props from Star Wars.

Jabba's Skiff
Jabba’s Skiff
Snowspeeder
Snowspeeder

It finishes with a fire and water stunt which is pretty amazing.  Link to a video of this.

We stopped for a snack at the Writers Stop, Mickey gingerbread man for Rosemary and coffee for us.

Snack Break
Snack Break

We had hoped to get Fastpasses for the Buzz Lightyear Midway Shootout but they were basically gone by the time we got there.  But we did catch a few more shows during the day, including the Muppets 3D.

Muppets
Muppets

And we got a few more Meet and Greets in as well.  Queues weren’t too bad, although took sometime to see Mike and Sulley.

Monsters University
Monsters University

Goofy was great and loved my t-shirt, calling over the photographer and “minder” to see it. It was great that he was all dressed up for Christmas.

Goofy
Goofy

We continued our walk around the park, including seeing the AT-AT near the Star Tours ride.  Rosemary was too small for that so we’ll do it another time.

AT-AT
AT-AT

We got something to eat at Rosie’s All American Cafe (seemed appropriate) and then went to see the Beauty and the Beast show.  This is a big production with lots of singing and dancing.  Rosemary loved it.

Beauty and the Beast
Beauty and the Beast

And finally we headed back to the Streets of America where the Osborne Family Specticle of Dancing Lights was on.  This was really amazing, with Christmas lights absolutely everywhere.

Dancing Lights
Dancing Lights
Dancing Lights
Dancing Lights

There are a couple of videos of it on my Flickr page which can be found here and here.

The lights are also meant to work with the new Mickey hats which have light up ears and the ears and meant to sync together.  Couldn’t really see this happening and they all looked like they were flashing independently, but they were nice.

Mickey Ears
Mickey Ears

And with that it was time to leave as it was getting very late and we were all pretty exhausted.

Posted in Florida 2013

4th December 2013 (Day 3): Kennedy Space Center

So first day oksc_logout on our trip and something that was for me as much as Rosemary, with a trip to the Kennedy Space Center.Was really looking forwards to this as we’ve not visited since the Space Shuttle exhibit opened and having missed out on seeing a launch (it is STS-125 which was the Hubble service mission, which got scrubbed at the time we were there and ended up happening months later) I was looking forward to seeing Atlantis.

Anyway, we headed out on the road for ~1hour drive to the Atlantic coast at Titusville.

Kennedy Space Centre
Kennedy Space Centre

There were quite a few Christmas decorations about including a giant NASA bauble.

Christmas Baubles
Christmas Baubles

Our first part of the day was to head out on the bus tour which takes you past the launch pads and onto the Saturn V hall.  As you leave they take some green-screen photos which we’ve never even bothered to look at before.  But this one of Rosemary was so cute we couldn’t pass it up.

Rosemary
Rosemary

A lot of work was going on around the pads as NASA closes down the Shuttle programme and sets up as a commercial launch facility with companies like Space-X.  One of the Shuttle pads had completely gone and was being replaced with the equipment needed for other rockets etc.

Launch Pad
Launch Pad

I suspect though that I may have been the only one who was finding that interesting though. But we did see some wild manatees in the rivers and streams around the Space Center. There were at least 3 and possibly 5.

Manatees
Manatees

After watching the recreation of the Apollo 8 launch in the firing room we went through into the main hall.  Rosemary was instantly pretty blown away by the size of the Saturn V.  It is after all the size of a skyscraper.

Saturn V
Saturn V
Saturn V
Saturn V
Saturn V
Saturn V

After looking around for a little while we stopped to have sum lunch at the Lunch Pad underneath the Lunar Lander. We carried on looking around afterwards seeing some thing which probably didn’t mean as much to Rosemary, including Jim Lovell’s flightsuit and the Apollo 14 command capsule.

Jim Lovell's Flightsuit
Jim Lovell’s Flightsuit
Apollo 14
Apollo 14

We did get to touch the moonrock that is on display.

Moonrock
Moonrock

We got the first, of what turned out to be many, pressed pennies. She could spot these machines from miles off and every quarter and shiny penny we got in change ended up being saved back for them.

Pressed Penny
Pressed Penny

And finally before leaving we “excited through the giftshop”.

Major Tom to Ground Control
Major Tom to Ground Control

After leaving the Saturn V exhibit hall we got the bus back to the main complex and went to visit the Space Shuttle exhibit. They have Atlantis on display here (the others are at other museums now) in an orbit position in a large hall.

Atlantis
Atlantis
Atlantis
Atlantis
Atlantis
Atlantis

As part of the exhibit they have a mock up of the cockpit which you can play in.  Unfortunately the controls don’t actually do anything, which would have been a nice touch.

Flying the shuttle
Flying the shuttle

There are also some tunnels which you can crawl through which are part of the International Space Station exhibit in the hall.  I crawled in with Rosemary but we both freaked a bit when the tubes became clear and decided to head back the way we came. A bit of camera trickery made it look more impressive than it was.

Weightless
Weightless

After this there wasn’t a specific thing we wanted to see but we noticed that you could meet Santa. Expecting a huge queue we decided to take a look and were a bit surprised that there was absolutely no one there.  We spent about 10 minutes with Santa and Mrs Claus and he got us to take all sorts of photos with him, which was a lot of fun.

Santa
Santa

It was getting a bit late and we were hot so we stopped for ice cream, with Space Dots (frozen strawberry balls).

Ice cream
Ice cream

We just about had time to look around the Rocket Garden and try out the various capsules.  How they got into these with all their gear I don’t know.  Must have been hugely claustrophobic.

Mercury Capsule
Mercury Capsule
Gemini Capsule
Gemini Capsule
Apollo Capsule
Apollo Capsule

A final look around the Rocket Garden and then we drove back to Orlando.

Rocket Garden
Rocket Garden