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Mike’s 50th Trip to Siesta Key, Disney’s Boardwalk, Universal and New York, June 2014 - Part 7

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by Mike, Jul 4, 2014.

  1. Mike
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    Mike Imagineer

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    DAY 7 - Seaworld, storms, Jimmy Choos, Garden Grove seafood buffet, MK and WISHES

    Way-hay! I woke naturally at 6:15am after a solid sleep. We haven't bothered setting an alarm today, as we are off out for breakfast before going to Seaworld, and we have purchased QuickQueue passes in advance, so have no fear of lines!

    We dress quickly and head out to walk around the Boardwalk/Yacht and Beach Club lake, (after negotiating this iconic obstruction in our path)

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    …catching the sunrise and stopping off at the Beach Club to borrow their restrooms en route. It's a lovely start, with warm temperatures and plenty of sunshine, although the forecast is a bit dodgy for later, but more of that soon. As always, I probably should apologise for the excess of images below, but I want to remember the trip in fine detail when I read this in the future.

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    It's just after 7:00am when we return to our room, and after showers and changing we are ready for the road at 7:35. I phone down to ask the valet to retrieve our car, which appears a moment of two after we get to the entrance. $2 tip to the smiley young lady who drove it round, and off we go.

    Used the lobby to set a sat nav destination in my phone and drove off, roof down, to Bob Evans in the 192, arriving at 8:00am.

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    First impressions are good. It's a clean, modern building, and only about 30% full, so we are seated straight away. There is an almost boundless number of breakfast items and different combos available but we eventually settle on a Western Omelette for Amanda and a Rise 'n Shine for me. We both order OJ and coffee.

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    It was delicious, and, by 'normal' Florida standards, not over-facing. $27.76 + tip. We leave at 8:45, to hot sunshine and clear skies.
     
  2. Mike
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    Mike Imagineer

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    The journey to Seaworld via 535 and I4 takes 30 minutes, and it takes about 10 minutes for bag checks and entry. Our first task is to obtain our 'fastpass' wristbands from Guest Services, before a quick restroom visit and off to Manta.

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    We have not ridden this before, and are anticipating an experience similar to Air at Alton Towers in the UK. Our QQ bands ensure a walk-on, and we are on the ride by 9:40. It's fantastic, a lot smoother and less weight-bearing than Air. Straight back round for another play...and it breaks down! Sigh. We elect to leave rather than wait around, and head off to Kraken instead.

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    In truth we don't really need the QQ here, but as the FOTL access is via the exit ramp, repeat riding simply means getting off the car and then sitting down again! Thus we manage two rides within a few minutes. We leave, and head back to Manta, as we can see it is back in service. We manage another go (brilliant!) and then they announce that due to an impending storm system, rides are suspended. Great. Especially as it is still hot and sunny, although admittedly there are thick clouds building up.

    The Aquarium is to hand, so we wander through. It is very impressive, and in the UK it would undoubtedly be a top attraction in its own right, but here it has some pretty hefty competition.

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    We leave to discover that it is now raining, although softly, and still very warm. We notice a new attraction, Antarctica, and head in. We have, I am shamed to admit, done absolutely no research or planning for Seaworld, (except for ordering the FITL passes to make sure we got repeats on Kraken and Manta) and have no idea what this is. But, as the standby line is 45 minutes, it's clearly popular. Our wristbands get us straight to the pre-show 'cave' - ah, it's about penguins!

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    The ride itself is lovely - a gentle (and we picked the 'turbulent' option!) vehicle journey through stormy seas and ice caves, following the fortunes of a baby penguin. It ends up in the live penguin area (ah!) where we spend a few minutes watching the residents watching us! The temperature in here is arctic (great way of keeping scantily clad guests moving along!) and the heavily muffled, hatted and gloved cast members look very cold! We chat to one girl, who tells us they do an hour in the cold area, then an hour in the warm zones. To be honest, it's similar to a spring day in Manchester, so we aren't troubled!

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    We exit at 11:25 to proper rain. After sheltering under a (fake) rocky overhang to update my Trippie notes,

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    …we deploy the trusty brolly and wander on, intending to check out the shark reef. However, the rain becomes torrential, with thunder and lightning accompaniment, and we dash into the pearl diver shop to wait it out.

    It doesn't stop, but gets even heavier! The shop is full of soaked tourists, and we stand around, watching the rain sheeting down for about 15 minutes. It eases enough that we take the plunge, almost literally, and power walk to the sharks.

    In the entrance area we chat to a local lady resident, dressed only in a modest, skirted swim suit. She tells us she and her family are almost weekly visitors to Seaworld, and they all dress this way, so they can forget about the weather. Good idea today for sure! She gives us a small tip for the shark tunnel - look out for shark teeth in the sand at the bottom of the pool, as the sharks constantly shed their teeth. We do indeed spot many of them as we are carried through the tunnel on the conveyer.

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    It's after noon now and we're getting peckish. We have a wander, checking the offerings at the various food outlets, but to be honest, nothing grabs us. As most of the attractions we enjoy are still closed due to the weather, we decide to bale out and carry on with our itinerary for the day.

    Which, in a nutshell, is a potential shopping trip to Mall at Milenia. Now, anyone who knows me will recall that, basically, Mike doesn't do shopping on holiday! I can't stand much of it at home, so the idea of wasting precious vacation time plodding round genetically identical shops to those at, say, the Trafford Centre, fills me with horror! However, on our last trip (with family, most of whom like browsing stores and malls) Amanda missed buying some hysterically expensive shoes here at a knockdown price, and wants to try again.

    We leave the park at 12:15 and follow Steve's great map to M@M, arriving at 12:45. The rain is trying to abate, with the sun getting stringer above the thinning clouds.

    I'm not a big fan of shopping malls per se, but I do like this one. It's logically planned, on just two floors, with attractive, high-end stores and a quality feel to the public areas.

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  3. Mike
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    Mike Imagineer

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    First things first - food! I fancy seeing what all the fuss is regarding the Cheescake Factory, having never been to one, so we walk in and request a table.

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    It's very busy, but we are seated immediately, as most of the people waiting to dine are in groups of 4 or more. I'm not sure what I was expecting - perhaps sandwiches and cheesecakes! - but the menu is fairly extensive. We ask for water, an Avocado and turkey sandwich for Amanda and I have a house pizza with everything on it.

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    That should have been it really, as we were only planning on eating a light lunch today, due to having a buffet reservation later, but the cheesecake slices look amazing and we succumb I have chocolate chip cookie dough cheesecake, Amanda orders the raspberry and white chocolate version.

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    All is delicious. And filling! We pay the $41 check and wobble out at 1:40.

    Ok, only one agenda now - find the Jimmy Choo store and let Amanda have a browse. M@M is only a medium sized mall so it doesn't take long to locate. I'm used to my lady's tastes now, so the prices don't floor me, quite, and fortunately, as last time, there are sale items available. Amanda is joyous when she finds a pair of heels she loves, and 50% off the dollar price tag! which would be the same as £sterling back home. Result. I sign the kidney release form and we leave with our haul.

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    It's 2:20 as we rejoin the I4 and head back to the hotel. For some inexplicable reason I turn the wrong way and we have an interesting mini tour of the Studios rear parking lot before taking directions and getting back on route. We self park this time (as all our valet budget is now in a Jimmy Choo box) and walk back to the hotel entrance. I am mildly shocked at the size of the valet parking lot - a rough count of rows suggests they have space for between 800-1000 cars!!

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    We change into swimwear and I wrestle Amanda away from the shoes and mirror, before heading down to the Luna Pool at about 3:50. It's hot, and sunny, if a bit hazy.

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    The bar area, themed like a carousel, looks inviting, and we buy a couple of margarita cocktails.

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    It's fairly busy around the pool but we easily snag a couple of loungers near the bar.

    We enter the pool for a bob around - it's busy enough that real swimming isn't really possible, but we're happy. The quiet pool around the corner is available if we want to do lengths at some stage. I climb out and head over to try the water slide (the one with the Stephen King "It" clown face!)

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    Back on our loungers, we enjoy the sunshine and I get us a couple more drinks. The people watching is enjoyable and we are very relaxed.

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    I do notice that thunderclouds are building up again in the distance, but it remains dry until we leave at about 5:30. We take the longer stroll back to the room, venturing onto the Boardwalk.

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    After showering and dressing we leave the hotel at 6:10 to discover heavy, warm rain falling from a sky that is at least 50% blue! Usual weird Florida weather! We have an ADR at the Garden Grove restaurant in the Swan, "next door" and stroll over under the brolly. The rain ceases before we reach the hotel entrance at 6:20.
     
  4. Mike
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    Mike Imagineer

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    We are seated in the restaurant immediately. This is an interesting space: an airy, circular dining room with a tree in the centre!

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    The appeal for both is that the meal is an all-u-can-eat seafood buffet, and for me (but to Amanda's distaste!) the fact that it is also a character greeting dinner! Pluto and Goofy are circulating already!

    We order our usual Sauv Blanc and Sam Adams (which isn't on the menu but, unprompted, the server heads off to find me one from the room service kitchen! Excellent service!

    There's a good selection of tasty fish and prawn dishes, with a lobster Thermidor per diner. For some reason, perhaps if you don't like fish(?!) they also serve succulent prime rib. The sides aren't bad, and there's a decent choice.

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    The desserts are plentiful and beautifully presented, but we haven't room for more than a small portion each, thanks to our weakness earlier at the Cheesecake Factory!

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    While dining, a few friends dropped by!

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    We are pretty much done by 7:15, and pay the $92 check before leaving. The sun is out properly again, and it is a lovely temperature. Just realised, in UK time, I'm now 50!

    The Disney transport bus stop is just outside the main entrance. We're off to MK tonight to ride the new Dwarf Train attraction and view WISHES. I realise this is probably a minority and controversial view, but we're not overly fond of MK, as it is a bit too smaltzy for Amanda (who has no kids) and too crammed with manic parents coercing their weary children round, forcing them to have a great time, for me. However, there are a few rides we enjoy, and the fireworks are amazing, so we're willing to give it a few hours.

    Driving to MK is a nightmare most of the time, and it can take the best part of an hour to travel either way from an on-site venue, so Disney transport is the way forward. We just miss an MK bus, so hang around the shelter for the next. 4 women, dressed for a night out, join us in the wait. They ask me if I will take a photograph of them together, which of course I am happy to do. We get to chatting, and learn that they are all from Boston (which they urge us to visit!) out here without husbands or kids, to celebrate one of their number, Laura's, wait for it, 50th birthday today! Laura and I exchange happy birthdays and high fives!

    They are off to Downtown Disney, and leave on the next bus. Ours soon arrives, and after picking up at the Dolphin, drops us at the Magic Kingdom in less than 20 minutes, shortly after 8pm. We enter the park and walk, through crowds lining the sidewalks of Main Street (presume there's a parade due?) to Tomorrowland for our first FP+, Buzz Lightyear.

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    There's a 30 minute standby line but if course we're straight in. A bit of fun and nonsense, not as addictive as Toy Story, or MIB, but still worth the effort. We both do pretty badly score wise!

    We exit, visit nearby restrooms, then head to the Seven Dwarves Mine Train as our 8:30 FP slot has just opened. It's getting darker now, but the theming if this extension area looks pretty convincing. You can't see much if the ride itself from the entrance though, so we don't really know what to expect. The standby line is a mind boggling 75 minutes!

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    Even the FP line takes 10 minutes or so, but we are soon on the train. It is a great ride, similar, naturally, to BTMR, but much slicker and smoother, with a fun, slower interlude section in the middle, which I won't spoil for those yet to experience it. Overall, 8/10 from us, and glad we came to ride it.

    We walk around the back of the castle to orient ourselves and watch the light-change effects.

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    Our final Fastpass is for 9:35 at the Haunted Mansion, another favourite, but as it is only 9:10 we wander over to see what the wait time is. Negligible, at 5 minutes, so in we go. We enjoy the familiar journey and double entendres, and are back outside by 9:20.

    Our plan is to view the fireworks from as close to the exit as possible, for a quick getaway, so we head that way, but are blocked for 10-15 minutes by the passing of the Main Street Electrical Parade. I've never seen this before, and with that bleeping tune rattling round in my head for hours afterwards, I wish I'd missed it this time. Most Disney parades leave me cold, and this one just seems daft! Clump together a load of mismatched characters from the last 60 years and stick bulbs all over them?? What's the point? Meh.

    We finally fight our way across the street and through the crowds massing around the hub at the top of Main Street. CMs are trying, mostly unsuccessfully, to direct the guests, and attempt to stop us returning to Main Street, but we foil them with the sis oldest of tactics, we smile and ignore them. Soon enough we reach the bottom third of Main Street, where you can at least see the ground, and wait for 10:00pm.

    The Magic starts, and I forgive the earlier grumbles about crowds and parades, enjoying the spectacle immensely.

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    As soon as it ends we about turn and speed walk out of the park. We are first in line for our bus by 10:25, seated at 10:30 and disembarking at the Boardwalk, the first stop, by 10:50. Not bad. The last time I drove to MK it was well after 11:00 by the time we left the car lot.

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    We enjoy a nightcap on our balcony, overlooking the quiet and peaceful pool below, and head to bed at 11:30.

    Goodnight once more.

    Mike & Amanda xx

    TOMORROW - Mike's 50th Birthday! Boma, Epcot, Celebration, Epcot, Spice Road, Illuminations and Jellyrolls!
     
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  5. Isafari
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    Isafari Wild Animal Expert

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    What a fantastic day. You always seem to fit so much into your days yet, they also seem so relaxed.
    Great report and love the photos :thumbsup:
     
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  6. Tony G
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    Tony G Serious Forum Regular

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    I wiss Mishes :(

    ...Or something.
     
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  7. Wendy
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    Wendy A hui hou kakou makuakane Staff Member Administrator

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    I think I need to let you plan our holiday next year :D
     
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  8. Mike
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    Mike Imagineer

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    T'would be our pleasure. :)
     
  9. sarah
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    sarah Addicted to Mickey

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    I was just thinking that lol x
     
  10. uscwest
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    uscwest Senior Cast Member

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    Another busy day. I can't believe those heels. I don't know how women can even walk in them. That seafood buffet looks lovely, for me, as my DW doesn't do sea food and rarely eats prime rib.
     
  11. Watchinherskip
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    Watchinherskip Better known as "That Guy"

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    Mike, another great episode. Well done. First, I am very impressed with your recall of the events. I think when we go it all gets too much to remember. I think you have it right, do a quick recall all along the day. Secondly, like John and others have said, WOW you certainly pack a lot into a day. Lastly, now that you have joined the 50 something club, great stamina, think I would have needed a nap somewhere along the day.
     
  12. uscwest
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    uscwest Senior Cast Member

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    And just wait until you join the 60+/almost 70 club. :jawdrop:
     
  13. Watchinherskip
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    Watchinherskip Better known as "That Guy"

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    Hey John, you are doing all right my friend. You and Donna looked like you were good to go and ready for more fun at VA Beach!
     
  14. Mike
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    Mike Imagineer

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    Ha ha! Thanks! I'm working hard on keeping my fitness levels up - we walk and climb about 40 miles a week at home, and I climbed England's two highest mountains on a day off last week - am revisiting all my favourite first 50 year activities in the next 50!
    Regarding recall, I carry a Trippie note book and write every detail down as often as possible, in lines, waiting for food, sitting with a drink etc. We also take 1000s of pics, and comparing those with the notes, in chronological order, usually fills in any gaps.
     
  15. Mags
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    Mags Serious Forum Regular

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    Finally getting around to reading these Mike, albeit after two large glasses of G&T! lol Loving the sunrises yet again. I still can't believe that all the photos are taken with a phone. They really are excellent. I totally agree with you about the parades. I am not a massive fan but I did love the Cars Parade in MGM as I found that quite grown up and it was definitely to my taste. Loving the look of the buffet food. Can I say (as you are a good friend :) ) that I don't know how the heck you put all that food away! lol
     
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  16. Mike
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    Mike Imagineer

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    Thanks Mags. :) Practice makes perfect!;)
     

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