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Mike’s 50th Trip to Siesta Key, Disney’s Boardwalk, Universal and New York, June 2014 - Part 5

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by Mike, Jun 30, 2014.

  1. Mike
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    Mike Imagineer

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    Day 5 - home to WDW, including Celebration, Boardwalk Villas, Epcot, Illuminations and Jellyrolls. So just a normal, quiet day then!
    I wake naturally at 5:10am, after a solid sleep, so things are getting better. Amanda is still sleeping peacefully so I rise quietly and make a coffee which I drink outside on the deck.
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    Amanda wakes about 6:00 and we dress for our last sunrise stroll.
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    We repeat yesterday's route, up the beach for a couple of miles at a brisk pace, before turning round and heading back. The skies are quite moody and interesting today, with a lot more cloud, but it's still lovely.
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    The conservationists have been out early (I suspect they walk the beaches during the night) to mark new turtle nest sites. One of them is so fresh we can still see the tracks made by the female as she labours out of the water and onto the beach to lay her eggs.
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    Crescent Beach covers a huge area, and the large section closest to the main car park must get hammered by visitors, some of whom leave litter behind. A tractor sieves and levels the sand each morning to keep the beach pristine.
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    After a brief pit stop at the cottage to change t shirts we head across the village for our final breakfast at the Village Cafe, arriving about 7:30 again. Amanda has her healthy fruit bowl and muffin once more. I choose pancake -singular! - with bananas, blueberries and strawberries. $22, we leave $27.
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    Back to the cottage at 8:00 - let packing commence!! We shower and then stuff everything into our cases - most of our gear doesn't need ironing anyway, and we only have to make sure we don't leave anything behind.
    Bill and Molly have emailed to say they will be here shortly after 10:00, but if we leave sooner we can just pop the key on the table and close the door. There certainly doesn't seem to be any petty crime in the area - there is beach equipment, barbecue grills, bikes and other portable kit sitting outside virtually every property in the village, including ours, and nothing seems to walk! Before our trip I had asked Bill if the cottage had a safe, and he had been quite puzzled by the request! He said he'd never been asked this before! It does seem like the kind of place where a lot of people will leave their houses and cars unlocked so they don't need to remember their keys! Most of the bars and restaurants leave their patios and terraces furnished and tables dressed overnight too.
    We have finished our packing and tidying at 9:30, so decide to set off rather than wait. I take some photos of the now tidy cottage (which are on Day 1) and record this quirky electrical outlet for your amusement.
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    It is still sunny, but starting to rain, so we leave the roof up! Just as well. Because the rain becomes quite heavy (although bizarrely the sun is still shining) as we head over to the I75.
    Some miles into the journey we stop at a rest area to use the bathrooms, and contemplate dropping the roof. Just at that moment there is a loud crack of thunder, so we leave it up - as things turn out we would have got away with it - the rest of the journey is hot and sunny, with temperatures up to 90 C. There is one hairy moment though, when in heavy traffic we see the car in front swerve violently round an object in the road - it's a huge, shredded lorry tyre right in the centre of our lane! We can't go left, as there are vehicles in the next lane. I swerve onto the hard (actually SOFT) shoulder just in time, but the surface is terrible, all loose and cambered, and I almost lose control of the car, just managing to get back onto the highway with a heck of a tail-wag! I could do with another bathroom break!
    Thankfully there are no more incidents and we soon find ourselves close to WDW.
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    We take the Celebration exit and park up in my favourite Florida town just before mid day. We park up around the corner from the cinema (sadly now closed) and stroll happily past the fountain and around the lakefront to the Market Street Cafe for lunch.
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  2. Mike
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    Mike Imagineer

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    The restaurant is moderately busy inside but there are plenty of terrace tables available, and we are seated immediately. I feel at home, listening to the sounds of my favourite Florida bird, the grakel, and enjoying the lovely temperature.
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    We order plain water, a salmon burger for Amanda and a shrimp salad for me.
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    The food is fresh and tasty. After paying the check ($28 + $5 tip) we walk across the street at 12:40 to Starbucks to start the traditional Celebration ritual of coffee on the rockers.
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    Regular drip coffee for Amanda and a 'black eye' for me (regular coffee with two shots of espresso added. A red eye is one added shot, and for the truly heroic, a dead eye has three!) $5.35.
    There are two rocking chairs free at the far end of the lake terrace (naturally, they knew I was coming!) and we sit down to enjoy the brew and view. I text my old forum mate Steve (Mapman) Munns back in the UK as we always raise a cup to each other when one of us is in our favourite coffee spot! Cheers mate!
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    The tradition also requires a record photograph of Mike in his rocking chair. As Amanda stands back to do this, a gent sitting with his wife in the adjacent chairs offers to take one of us both. I explain the ritual, but thank him. We chat for a few minutes - he and his wife are from Mexico (her South American accent is obvious, but he has a cultured, west coast US twang) and are staying at the Celebration Hotel for a few days. They think it is a lively city and are delighted with the lakefront. They ask where we are from - they thought I was Australian, naturally! - and when we tell them they say that they are visiting the UK for a month later in the summer. Soon after he gets a call on his cellphone, and we glean from the conversation that he is a film producer, who lives and works in California, up in Orlando to make some adverts for Disney.
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    I could sit here all day, but more excitement is waiting for us down the road, and so, reluctantly, we take our leave of this beautiful spot at 1:30 and drive up Celebration Avenue to the 192, turning immediately right into the Publix car park. We stock up on water, wine and a few beers.
    As we get to the store exit we discover that it is chucking down! Wonderful. Amanda waits with the shopping while I quickly re-enter the store to buy a folding umbrella. We dash to the car and drive the short distance to Walt Disney World and, our home for the next 6 nights, the Boardwalk.
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    We elect to valet park - it's undoubtedly a luxury, at $20 a day, but (1) we won't be using the car for two days, (2) we want to spoil ourselves, and (3) it's still raining hard!! After receiving our first 'welcome home!' from the valet staff, we recover our bags from the trunk and walk into the lobby of this beautiful resort. It's 2:45pm.
    A number of hotel cast members are meeting and greeting anyone walking in, like us, with luggage. One approaches us, asks if we are checking in (what was your first clue?) and gives us our second welcome home! She asks our name, and using an iPad, quickly finds our reservation details. Because I checked in online a few days ago, on the My Disney Experience app, our room is ready and we don't have to provide further information. Further, our Magic Bands are waiting for us at reception. The CM invites us to rest a moment while she gets them for us.
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    She returns in a few short minutes, bringing the bands in an attractive presentation box. Sadly we won't have room to take it home, so she retains it. Our bands, (personalised with 'Amanda' on the red one and 'Mikey50' on my blue one,) come accompanied with a DVC Member slider, a neat little thing that ensures the fastening remains secure.
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    Within 10 minutes of arriving we are heading up to room 5078. I had requested a high floor (check) overlooking the pool (check!)
    It is a carbon copy of the suite we had in 2006. A large room, with one queen sized bed, a sleeper sofa and a kitchenette. The balcony overlooks the Luna Pool area, with the Swan and Dolphin in the near distance.
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  3. Mike
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    Mike Imagineer

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    We quickly unpack (after taking a few photos 'pre-trashing!') …..
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    …before returning to reception: I want to link a credit card to our bands, so we can charge purchases, but explain that I do not want the card to be used to actually settle the account at the end of our stay. I will instead pay it using my dollar cash card. They tell me this is no problem, as long as I attend to it the night before we check out, or unless we exceed $1500 (!!?) in either case the credit card will automatically be charged.
    We step out onto a warm, overcast Boardwalk, where a fine rain is still falling. No matter, we're very happy.
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    Had it been dry we intended to kick off proceedings by having a cocktail on the Boardwalk before heading to Epcot, but in the circumstances we stroll straight to my favourite park. After the perfunctory bag check we present our magic bands for their first use - the CM realises we have just arrived, due to them being virgin bands, and welcomes us home once more. I never tire of this small gesture throughout our stay.
    Where shall we start? Clockwise feels right, and we wander through the UK and Canada pavilions, not entering any of the stores or attractions, just soaking up the atmosphere.
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    The sun is winning the battle, and by the time we reach Italy the rain has stopped. Time for that deferred first drink to celebrate the start of our Disney leg. I buy a (plastic!) glass each of Prosecco and Chianti which we take to a table in the plaza area of the pavilion. Hot and sunny now - Amanda has forgotten her sunglasses - and we rest to enjoy our drinks. Cheers!
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    We get into conversation with a 30-something American couple, with me and the guy comparing tattoo stories. In the UK almost no one comments on my tatts - once or twice a year at most - here it happens several times a day. Very relaxed.
    After finishing our drinks we spend a few moments laughing at a juggler entertaining the crowd outside the stores, before having a wander through the perfumery and moving on to Japan. It's 5:00pm now, and after a salad lunch at Celebration I am feeling hungry. We have no hard plans for today, not wanting to tie ourselves down with ADRs, on previous trips we have enjoyed the fast food offerings at the Japan pavilion so we walk up to the Katsura Grill.
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    I get a Shogun Combo, and Amanda orders a Tonosama, both with rice. ($26.61, charged to our room via the MagicBand) We take them into the pretty garden at the back of the building to eat. A bit hazier now, but still hot and bright. After finishing the meal and using the restrooms we carry on into the large gift shop, one of my favourites in Epcot (although I rarely buy anything!) for a brief browse.
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    As we exit the shop we discover Matsuriza just starting a set beneath the temple. We stop to watch them. Again, one of our favourite al fresco attractions here. I recognise one of the three drummers, a woman, as having been with the group on several previous trips and wonder how long they stay for?
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  4. Mike
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    Mike Imagineer

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    A very enjoyable performance follows, after which, at about 5:35, we leave the pavilion and continue round to Morocco. We check out the new Spice Road eatery and like what we find. The menu is basically small, tapas-sized offerings to accompany a good beverage list. The large, covered patio is attractive with great views across the lake. This confirms our decision to eat a light dinner here later in the week, probably on my birthday when we might still be full from a Boma brekkie and not ready for a full service meal.
    Continuing our clockwise wanderings, we pop into France for a sniff at the fragrant perfume shop there,
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    ..and then back over the bridge, into the UK, heading for Futureworld.
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    It is almost 6:00pm, and we have a Fastpass+ window now open at TestTrack. The skies are darkening as we enter and there's some concern that it may rain again soon.
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    This has been cosmetically remodeled since our last trip in 2008 and the interior of the building is unrecognisable. As always, I feel nostalgic for the old version but am looking forward to the new. We design our vehicle in the pre-ride area, choosing a super efficient and green concept... yeah, right! We do what very other person in the place does, and build a supercharged rocket ship with afterburners and fins everywhere!
    Just as we are done, and being admitted to the loading dock, an announcement is made advising that the ride is suspended due to the approaching storm system. Sigh. We exit immediately (I am surprised at the number of people who elect to remain and wait it out) and head next door to see what the wait times are at Mission:Space.
    This turns out to be 25 minutes standby, so as we have Fastpasses for 6:50 (it's only 6:15 now) we head across towards the main entrance to do Spaceship Earth instead.
    There's a lengthy but mobile line with a posted 10 minute wait time as we arrive. The rain is starting to become heavy, and by the time we are snaking our way towards the entrance, it turns into a torrential downpour with accompanying high winds whipping under the building.
    This pretty much ensures that everyone in the queue get wet. I deploy our trusty Publix brolly to little avail! Thankfully we are soon inside the building and loaded onto this fun but mild attraction.
    There has been an upgrade since our last ride, which it certainly needed, and we are pleased to hear Dame Judy Dench narrating the story. Like TestTrack there has been an attempt to introduce rider participation, and we take the 'quiz' to select our future world preferences. Some amusing if childlike cartoons result.
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    We dash through the (slightly easing) rain to Mission Space and use our Fastpass with no wait. An old favourite, and maybe I'm getting old (well, older!) but it seems to be more intense than I remember. Won't be long before this needs refreshing though, as the storyline is rather dated and a bit cheesy now.
    The rain is a bit lighter when we exit. We restroom nearby and do a power browse through Mousegear (packed, because of the rain) before wandering back into the World Showcase at about 7:30.
    We enter the Mexico pavilion and go inside the pyramid. There's a new (to us) tequila bar that seems quite pleasant, and maybe somewhere to try on a wet evening later in the week. Amanda declines my suggestion that we ride the boat - I think one cheesy dark ride is enough for her today!
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    Happily the rain has stopped completely when we leave, leaving interesting skies and we take some great sunset/dusk shots.
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    We wander clockwise, stopping briefly to listen to part of the Eagles tribute band at the American Pavilion, and, arriving in France decide to have a drink at the kiosk. I have a beer and Amanda has a glass of champagne. Well, a plastic flute of champagne!
    Just as we sit down at one of the tables next to the kiosk it starts drizzling again, so we snuggle under the umbrella. It's like camping in the UK! Thankfully it only lasts a few minutes and we finish our drinks in the dry.
    People are starting to stake out tables and viewing spots for Illuminations. I can't be bothered with this - most fireworks displays I've been to are generally in the skies above us, and genuinely you can see Illuminations for almost anywhere. Just avoid the trees!
    At 8:50 we stand close to the Morocco pavilion, avoiding trees, and wait for my favourited show. We chat to a young American couple who have a very tired 3 year old daughter in tow.
    And then it begins. Boom........boom........boom....... Wheeeeeee! Fantastic! I know many people prefer WISHES, but this is still my favourite. I must have seen it upwards of 50 times, I have the soundtrack on a cd and on my iPhone, but it never disappoints. It will be a very sad Mike the day they cancel this show.
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    Must have caught a bit of smoke or something, as my eyes are watering slightly when we stroll, singing along to the music, towards the exit and back over to the Boardwalk. Go can we possibly top that? Easy- JELLYROLLS!
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  5. Mike
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    Mike Imagineer

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    It's 9:35 as we enter the venue, and pay our $12 covers. I remember when it was $7, but I'd pay more!
    As it's midweek and relatively early there are still a couple of tables free, and we take a good one right I front of the stage. The place is probably about half full. A waitress appears and we order a Sam Adams for me and a vodka diet Coke for Amanda, starting a tab to make life easy. (We don’t take many photos inside Jellyrolls, as they don’t really like you distracting the players, so the few I have are of low quality, but hopefully convey the atmosphere.)
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    Can you spot Amanda?
    The guys are playing "Mrs Robinson" as we sit down, followed closely by "Sweet Caroline". The drinks arrive, with a basket if popcorn - I'd forgotten the free popcorn.
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    I tend to record all the songs, but as always there are some I either don't know, or are familiar but can't remember the correct title for. Please excuse my ignorance if you spot any bloopers! "Sherry Baby" and "Sweet Home Alabama" complete the set, and at 9:55 the 10:00 guys join the two already in stage for "WHAT TIME IS IT." This is a Jellyrolls tradition, and depending on the familiarity of the audiences, sometimes, as now, needs explanation. The singer tells us that, when they ask "What time is it?" the audience should reply, loudly, "I don't know! what time IS it??"
    This is the cue for all the singers, servers and security staff to pause their normal roles and take to the stage (or stand on the bar!) where they perform a dance/hand jive routine that gets ever faster with each verse. The audience are all cajoled to their get to join in.. I would be poor at this at the best of times, but with each drink I get increasingly uncoordinated. Hysterical!
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    The new pair of singers (I don't get the names each time, but these are Jason and John) take over the stage and, in between banter and crosstalk, start their set with "Tiny Dancer" and "Lady Madonna". "American Pie" and "Sweet Child of Mine" follow, as does another round of drinks at 10:15. We work our way through classics such as "Country Roads", "Great Balls of Fire" some Jimmy Buffet and then..... as a result of a request from some twisted mind in the audience..... "Barbie Girl"!!!! To his credit, the pianist makes a fair fist of it, and is possibly slightly too comfortable in the role!
    We submit a couple of requests - me "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" and Amanda "Sleep When I'm Dead"
    We enjoy a rousing rendition of "My Girl" followed by (to Amanda's delight, she is a serial Bon Jovi fan) "Living on a Prayer". This is hollered along with by almost everyone in the place!
    "Mustang Sally" receives noisy approval, then we are subjected to another "WHAT TIME IS IT?", performed to "Pink Cadillac" The servers and bar staff do it credit, but I confess I and most of the audience fail to keep up.
    It's 10:45, a third drink magically appears, and after an amazing and exceedingly raucous rendition of "Bohemian Rhapsody" the Barbie Guy gets back in touch with his feminine side by singing "Wrecking Ball". Brilliant! And yes, he is entirely too good at acting the role of a 17 year old girl!!
    The place has filled up now and the atmosphere is vibrant. A couple of unknown (to us) tunes take us to the 11:00pm changeover, with all four singers combining for a great version of "I Get Knocked Down" (he takes a whisky drink, he takes a lager drink, he sings the songs that remind him of the good times, he sings the sings that remind him of the BEST times!)
    The new pair keep things moving along with some Paul Simon - "You Can Call Me Al" and, an essential, Billy Joel's "Piano Man". They are then rejoined by the other two players for a cracking performance of "Happy" and then back to a duo for "Leroy Brown"
    A couple more American songs that we vaguely recognised but couldn't name, before a hilarious if mildly surreal "Like a Virgin"! We notice that a couple who were sitting nearby since the early part of the night, arms folded, expressionless faces, have just left, and there is a minor if happy scrum for their table. I don't think they got what they expected here!
    Bit of Buble next, "Crazy Love" - extremely well done - and then my selection comes up, at the same time as our fourth drink. When I've heard PBTDL here in the past, it has been performed very faithful to the original, including the baseball commentary. This time, possibly because the singers don't know all the words intimately, it is done in comedic style and is very entertaining! They continue with "Raspberry Beret" "Jailhouse Rock" and "I'm a Believer" before the final one of this set, "Rocket Man"
    The midnight change of players brings all four up on stage to do a fantastic number that I absolutely have never heard before! "Billie Jean" follows and is well received, but the next number brings the house down - Spice Girls' "I'll Tell You What I Want"..... Fab-u-lous!!!!
    "Rolling Down The River" at 12:20 looks like being our last song, as we're getting weary. I settle the tab, $74, and am ready to leave when the pianist mentions Amanda (from Manchester) and after admitting he had to go and refresh his knowledge of the lyrics, starts in on "Sleep When I'm Dead". For an unfamiliar song he does exceedingly well. Here's my good lady belting it out with him!
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    Right, that's it for us. We leave, somewhat reluctantly, somewhat hoarse and a bit squiffy, to wobble the few yards back to our hotel. Last photo – the evening view from our balcony.
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    It's been a fantastic day, all my Orlando and WDW itches scratched it seems, and we fall exhausted into bed at 12:45.
    Goodnight peeps.
    Mike and Amanda xx
    TOMORROW - Hollywood Studios, Downtown Disney, La Nouba and Raglan Road.
     
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  6. sarah
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    sarah Addicted to Mickey

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    What a great time at Epcot
    I do love illuminations
    I've never been to jelly rolls it looks great - is it somewhere to take older children to? X
     
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  7. Mike
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    Mike Imagineer

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    Jellyrolls is great fun Sarah, but strictly over 21s. To be honest, I'm not sure anyone under 25 would "get it" anyway. :)
     
  8. sarah
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    sarah Addicted to Mickey

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    Thanks mike x
     
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  9. BUTTERHEAD1
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    BUTTERHEAD1 Addicted to Mickey

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    You sold me on Jellyrolls, I have never been there but I will do my best to stop by in August. The Tequila bar in the Mexican Pavillion serves some of the best margaritas anywhere, if you get a chance give the avocado one a try.
     
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  10. BUTTERHEAD1
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    BUTTERHEAD1 Addicted to Mickey

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    BTW you're trip reports are great, some of the best I have ever read.
     
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  11. Mike
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    Mike Imagineer

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    Thank you. You're very kind! :)
     
  12. Watchinherskip
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    Watchinherskip Better known as "That Guy"

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    Mike, well that was brilliant! Great job on this Trippie. I really got a feel for the happenings. I love BW! That to this day is our favorite place to stay. I get happy just picturing the lobby in my mind's eye, so good to see an actual shot of the lobby and pool. Oh and the room as well. I forgot how nice the room was. BTW that is the same size one we had on our stay. Our friend had like a two or three bedroom place. Much bigger but I liked our room better. It was on the other side of the resort though, right over the Boardwalk itself. You could see the fireworks from Epcot right from our"balcony". Not really a balcony was it? Rather small.

    You have sold me as well on Jelly Rolls. How did we never visit that? Well it is on my list for the next trip.

    BTW...that shot of the sunset with the flaming torch was very good. Was that with your iPhone?
     
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  13. Mike
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    Mike Imagineer

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    Yes, all from the phone cameras. Can't see the point in carrying a camera and video cam any more! :)
    We visited friends in a 2 bed below us, and that was like a roomy apartment so I guess the 3 bed would be huge!
     
  14. Watchinherskip
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    Watchinherskip Better known as "That Guy"

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    Yeah, I guess your favorite or best camera is the one you have with you. Have to agree, they have come a great way haven't they. Now the one on my hand me down Blackberry..eh....not so good.
     
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  15. Mike
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    Mike Imagineer

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    I've had this one nearly 2 years so in looking forward the the upgrade next year. I feel sorry for compact camera dealers and manufacturers.
     
  16. uscwest
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    uscwest Senior Cast Member

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    Mike, all I can say is that you are having a wonderful trip and seemingly have boundless energy.
     
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  17. Mags
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    Mags Serious Forum Regular

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    Geez Mike, both you and Amanda have boundless energy. What is this walking at 5.30am business? :biggrin: Another fab day with great photos. I can't believe that the photos were all taken on a phone. Jellyrolls sounds like such fun. We still haven't managed to visit.

    Mags
     
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  18. Mike
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    Mike Imagineer

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    I don't have enough holidays to sleep in, Mags, I can sleep at work! ;)
    I was up at 3:15 today, and driving to the Lakes by 4:00am, walking at 6:15. I have a serious conviction that if I die young like some of my mates have, I will still have squeezed more in than most people manage in 80+ years. Bit maudlin perhaps, but I use it positively.
     
  19. Wendy
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    Wendy A hui hou kakou makuakane Staff Member Administrator

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    Another wonderful instalment. I wish I had your energy :lol:
     
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