DAY 6 – THURSDAY 4TH MAY 2006.
We rise at 5.50am, intentionally, so we can take a walk around the BW lake before the Bakery opens at 6.30. It’s still dark, of course, but the views of the lights and imminent sunrise are lovely. There are few people around, and those that are out are jogging around the lake.
It’s probably about a mile or so, and we land at the Bakery spot on 6.30. We choose a breakfast sandwich for me (like an egg burger, and a bit greasy to be honest) and Amanda has a breakfast burrito (much the same, with more cheese and in a wrap.) With 2 coffees the damage is $12.
It’s light now and more people start to appear around the walkway. More joggers join, although some of them are doing little better than Peter Kay’s Dad sketch… lots of puffing and blowing but around 1.5 mph!
We finish our brekkie at the Bakery tables outside and head back to the room. Amanda’s heel and toe are causing her some problems… she has a few cracks in the skin so we need to get some cream later.
We shower and I sit on the balcony to catch up on my notes. The sun is rising behind us, lighting up the hotels and MGMs Tower of Terror in front. It’s going to be hot again today.
We leave at 7.45, have a chat to Paul at the valet station, and head off to Gooding’s at Marketplace where we find some stuff to treat Amanda’s feet. Then it’s roof off, I4 east towards Orlando, and we are parking up at Seaworld by 8.40. There aren’t many people here today, so far, and the car lots are empty. They admit us to the Village area at 8.45, and we stand at the rope drop nearest the rides, chatting to a Cast Member, (full of enthusiasm for the new Killer whale show, ‘Believe’, which is in rehearsal later today) until they raise the flag and sing the national anthem at 900am. Then it’s full speed ahead, dump the bag in a locker and straight to Kraken…
… where the CM tells us there’s a technical delay and it won’t open for ’15 minutes’. Groan.. a middle-aged couple from Congleton are behind us – they came yesterday and the guy loves the rides. His wife will do Atlantis, she says, but not the coaster. We are admitted at 915 sharp, and dash to the front row!
Wonderful coaster this… we ride again, twice, in the back row, and then walk round to Atlantis…
... I’ve only done this once before and got pretty soaked, but am let off with a mild splashing today! (“Leaving so soon? I think not!”)
We make our way back towards the entrance and Key West, where we mess with the stingrays (“oi, put it back in the water please!”) and Amanda catches a sneaky pic of me updating my notes…
….and then on to feed the dolphins…
… it’s busy here though, and we soon move on.
We start heading towards the Dolphin Stadium for the first show at 11.00, but we’re over early, (10.20) so we divert to the Waterfront to kill some time. This recently finished area looks fantastic, but on closer inspection adds little to the visitor’s essential itinerary except more opportunities to spend $$$ inside the park. We’ve not yet tried the eateries here, but the shops sell more or less the same stuff you can find in 50 other places at SW. The Pearl Divers are briefly entertaining though, and we watch as they ‘seed’ the tank with oysters for the day ahead.
We are close to the entrance ‘village’ again (and my, doesn’t it feel dated next to the Waterfront?) so we pop into the Cypress Bakery for coffees to drink during the dolphin show. We have another Aussie moment when a lady behind us in the line says to Amanda: “I love your accent! Are you from Austrailia?” Doh! I’m wearing a cork-ringed hat and carrying a boomerang next year!
We walk the short distance to the Stadium. Clyde & Seymour has just kicked out, so the walkways are bustling. I love the pre-show entertainment at C & S, but have tired of the show, so we intend to skip it this visit.
The Dolphin Stadium has had an obvious rehash, with sexy looking steelwork projecting almost coaster-like above the stage and the water. Should be good. … the guide says something like it’s a ‘fusion of the animals, actors, acrobats and birds’…well, it’ll either be brilliant or appalling!
Well… it’s great! Most won’t have seen it yet, so no detail, but it works brilliantly! The dolphins and false killer whales mix with the performers and birds to produce a very entertaining half hour.
We leave, satisfied, and after a restroom stop, walk across the boardwalk bridge to Mango Joes, near Shamu, for an early lunch of combo fajitas and fries, c. $19. We sit on the lakeside patio in hot sunshine to eat. Lovely! There’s a little activity on the lake, with a team of three guys practising water ski stunts, although I’ve not seen a proper show staged on the water for several years now.
We’re close to the Wild Arctic now, and there doesn’t seem to be any line for the simulator, so we enter. This is very dated, in my opinion, similar to Star Tours, a rough and bumpy affair, but more fun than walking. The actual base itself is very well themed, but there’s little to see today – no polar bears, although we watch some ‘trainers for a day’ visitors swimming with beluga whales. In the next tank is a huge walrus, looking bored.
We stroll around the lake (12.45 now) to the Nautilus Theatre for the 1pm showing of Oddyssea, a decent, mini version of Cirque du Soleil on a budget. The pre-show is a laugh, having an actor mixing with the audience.
Out at 130, and it’s HOT! We do a quick tour of Shark Encounter on the way to the Shamu Stadium at 1.40 for the rehearsal of the new show, ‘Believe’.
This is well attended, and we take seats in the upper tier, (above the splash zone!) on the right of the theatre.
There’s a new set, with four, huge, flat screen, LCD displays. It transpires that these are on rails and swivels and can move apart to show separate images or combine for a larger picture. The pre-show is no longer the Q & A, adults –v- kids quiz, and the ecological videos have been dropped.
There’s an amusing, animated penguin pre-show, before a CM tells us that this will be a full run through of the whole show. There’s a short, technical delay, but the show begins around 2.10.
It’s outstanding, and, if this is a rehearsal, seemingly faultless. Again, I won’t spoil the plot for everyone yet to see it, but the show has a story threaded through it, which works well to keep the whole thing flowing. Of course the whales do their usual (incredible!) jumps and stunts, and everyone in the lower tiers gets drowned!
We leave after the show and drive back along I4, in easy traffic conditions and 95-degree heat, after an initial detour along International Drive to see the sights. We miss an odd turning along the way, but arrive back at the resort by 3.30pm.
We have a beer on the balcony and I call the kids. There’s a problem though, as my work mobile won’t connect… we were due a change of service provider after I return, but it must have happened early. I get through on a spare, pay as you go phone, but use up all my credit!
We shower and change before leaving at 4.45. It’s still very hot as we enter the cool, air-conditioned lobby of Spoodles a few minutes before 5pm.
There are several parties waiting, but when I check in the CM tells us our ADR means we will be first to be seated at 5pm.
The reception area is attractive, finished in dark wood with a chequer board floor and beamed ceiling. We are shown through to the airy dining room at 5 sharp, and lead to a table in the corner near the Boardwalk window. The dining room has a lighter, still predominantly wood finish, with heavy furnishings and open kitchen. We like it.
Our server, Lynne, arrives and introduces herself. She describes the specials available and we select as follows: Starters – Flatbread for both, plus a shrimp cocktail,
… entrees: Amanda has a Portuguese fish stew, and I choose a lamb shank from the specials. To drink – Buena Vista Chardonnay 03.
The starters are lovely, followed by some free herb bread with a tapenade dip.
The main courses arrive – mine is a huge, slow-cooked lamb shank with the meat falling off the bone, served on a bed of seasoned polenta. It’s excellent. Amanda’s stew also impresses.
Amanda doesn’t want a full dessert, so we split a Chef’s Platter.
A fine meal in all. $125 + tip… not cheap, but good value. We leave at 6.15pm and wander back up the Boardwalk to the village green in front of the hotel entrance. I like the Wyland Gallery here, so we enter for a browse. Most of the exhibits would look ridiculous in our modern home, and we can’t afford them anyway, but they have a new jewellery range and Amanda gets a lovely silver/pearl and diamond bracelet at a sensible price.
Back to the room so Amanda can change her heels for something more suited to browsing the shops at Downtown Disney, and then off to the bus stop in front of the hotel in case we fancy a drink after La Nouba. We only have to wait 5 minutes for the next one, which arrives at 6.50 and takes us by an indirect (to me) route via the Swan/Dolphin and rear of Saratoga Springs resorts. It drops us at the Marketplace bus station at 7.10pm. The area is busy, especially around the Rainforest Café.
We wander through the area, in and out of the stores – we ‘do’ the Disney store, of course, but refrain from buying anything.
At the end of the Marketplace are, where you used to have to walk onto the car lots in order to reach Westside there have been a few changes – a pleasant, Irish Pub and Fish & Chip shop form part of the new block here.
The memorabilia place is interesting, although expensive, and Amanda sulks when I suggest $10,000 is a lot to pay for a Bon Jovi guitar! My personal favourite is the Magnetron shop, where I search in vain for a maggot ball similar to mapman-Steve’s the other year!
We walk through happy crowds to Bongos Café, where we buy two Cuban (espresso) coffees, which we drink on a bench overlooking the lake and Saratoga across the water. The sunset is beautiful.
After coffee we make our way to the Cirque building and have a look in the store before climbing to the lobby and entering at 8.30pm.
We have Cat 1 seats, in the first block near the centre of the stage. This is my third visit to La Nouba, and Amanda’s first. Previous shows have always stunned me, and this one does not disappoint. I suppose at some stage they will replace the show, and having seen another Cirque production in Manchester, the prospect does not worry me, but until then I hope to keep making periodic visits to this one.
What is it? Not a ‘circus’ in any traditional sense… no horses or elephants here, folks, but the mix does include clowns, acrobats, high wire, aerial ballet, mountain and BMX bike stunts and incredible, diabolo hurling Chinese girls. There’s supposed to be the loose thread of a story binding Cirque performances together, but I’ve not really picked anything up over the years. Excellent, atmospheric backing music, superb costumes and make-up do complement the acts though.
The hour and a half flies by, and the finale, where the performers use hidden and visible trampolines to leap up the sides of a tall building set is incredible. We exit at 1040 in good spirits. Saratoga Springs looks lovely across the lake, viewed from the raised entrance area.
We had intended to stop somewhere local, perhaps House of Blues, for a drink after the show, but, as usual, we are both weary, so we make our way to the nearer bus stops serving Westside and are on the way back to BWV just after 1100. It drops us off at 11.15, and we have a beer on the balcony of our room before collapsing into sleep sometime after 11.30pm.
Mike & Amanda
Tomorrow: Magic Kingdom, Sweet Tomatoes, Celebration, and EMH at Epcot