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Mike’s 50th Trip to Siesta Key, Disney’s Boardwalk, Universal and New York, June 2014 - Part 8

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by Mike, Jul 7, 2014.

  1. Mike
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    Mike Imagineer

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    DAY 8 - Saturday 14th June, my 50th birthday.

    I'm getting better at this sleeping lark now, and although I stirred a couple of times in the night, I don't wake fully until 5:45. Amanda has been busy, and there are balloons and birthday banners decorating the room!

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    I open cards from family and friends, including a particularly moving letter from my mate Scott who was my companion in Florida 10 years ago. The whole holiday is my 'present' but Amanda has already given me some gifts before we left the UK (including a beautiful painting of my old dog, Guinness) but she's also bought me a new watch.

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    This is as close as she could come to replicating a much loved red Swatch I had in the 1980s, and I love it! I also receive an email pic from my parents, holidaying in Madeira, toasting my health from the other side of the Atlantic!

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    Well, today is, to paraphrase Mary Poppins, going to be stuffed with a few of my favourite things. Epcot features heavily, and I'm sure you can guess the evening's entertainment, but we starting with my all time finest breakfast venue, Boma at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. After a brief sortie onto the Boardwalk to stretch our legs,

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    …we shower and walk down to collect our car at 7:10. It's a fine, warm morning with a few clouds scattered about.

    We make the short drive to AKL and valet park at 7:25 before walking down to Boma. Amanda tells the reception CM it is my birthday and comes back with my birthday pin! It's fairly quiet, and we are seated without a wait.

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    Ok, into battle. I intend to visit most if the major food groups in the next 30 minutes or so, and start with African fruit salad with yogurt, strawberries and melon.

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    Omelette with mushrooms, peppers, ham and bacon, plus extra bacon next!

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    The server brings black coffee, and we I head back for more nourishment. Breakfast ham, sausage, asparagus, spicy potatoes and corned beef hash, boboti, grilled plum tomatoes and more bacon! Oh and some scrambled eggs. And a ‘couple’ of sweet treats to finish.

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    The damage to our finances is $55 including a generous tip. We leave at 8:15, retrieve the car, and drive off, top down to Epcot's front door for a change. I love staying on the Boardwalk, and being able to stroll into the park through International Gateway, but it's a treat to enter my favourite place the 'right' way! We park close to the entrance (Journey 5) at 8:40 and are admitted at 9:00.

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    Having missed our one FP+ for Test Track when it was closed by storms the other day, we head straight to it to make sure of at least one ride on the renovated version. The standby time is a little disappointing, already showing 30 minutes, but in we go.

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    Actually it turns out to be only 20 minutes to reach the 'design studio' and, after creating a supercharged monster again, we are loaded and riding by 9:35.

    It's a decent upgrade and we enjoy the change, although I feel mildly nostalgic for the old one.
     
  2. Mike
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    Mike Imagineer

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    After a walk through the new car display, we exit at 9:50 and head across Innoventions plaza, passing the Jammitors just finishing a set, for our FP at Soarin' (10:00am). (Apologies for the blurry image of Soarin’ below, but it’s the only one I took)

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    I do love this ride, and hope that they renovate it at some point with HD graphics and perhaps some new footage? Still brilliant though! We are out at 10:15, we decide to have a look at Living With The Land next door. I've only done this once, years ago, and Amanda has never experienced it.

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    There's a modest 5 minute line, and we are soon floating through the impressive greenhouses with their collection of huge flowers and veggies!

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    It's 10:40 when we exit, and we walk across to Starbucks for coffee (black eye for me, doppia espresso for Amanda) which we take into the World Showcase as it opens at 11:00.

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    Hot and a very sunny now. We browse the tatt stores in Canada and the UK pavilions, before heading over the bridge into France. My pin is getting noticed and I receive lots of "happy birthday Mike!"s from the CMs.

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    We continue anti-clockwise around the World, mooching each of the pavilions and their stores in turn.

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  3. Mike
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    Mike Imagineer

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  4. Mike
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    Mike Imagineer

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    The confused area at the end of the large China shop has been improved since our last visit!

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    After mocking the prices of the woolen ware in Norway, we conclude our international shopping trip in Mexico.

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    A quick restroom visit in the Odyssey building, where they are showing the World Cup footy on large screens, and then we make our way to the exit.

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    It's 12:40 as we leave the park, still very hot but with ominous clouds building up. We're off to Celebration for coffee.

    The rain starts, with thunder and lightning, as we drive over. I park behind the hotel, we get our brews from Starbucks (black eye and espresso) and take them over to the large gazebo. Hoorah, there's a rocking chair under here today, naturally! Happy days. Yes, it's raining, although fairly gently for Florida, but it's hot and not windy. We spend a pleasant half hour or so, sipping our drinks and watching the world go by.

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    Drinks finished, we stroll the streets under our brolly, browsing the shops before doing a circuit of the lake. It's very peaceful here today and I'm very relaxed.

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    At 2:45 we return to the car and head back, via Publix for breakfast goods (bagels, orange juice and spread) a and drive back to the Boardwalk, valet park, and go to our room. Daughter Beth phones to wish me happy birthday and we natter for a while.

    We leave the room at 3:40, to rain. I want a snack and buy a Mickey ice cream cookie sandwich from the Screen Door. Walking to the large verandah area under the Boardwalk Inn steps, we sit while I eat it. Amanda produces a 50th candle from somewhere, sticks it in my cookie and lights it!

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    Amanda buys a scoop of ice cream from the, er, ice cream shop, and we sit under cover outside while she eats, before heading round the lake back to Epcot. Time for a cocktail.

    The Spice Road Table bar/ restaurant is quiet and we easily get a table by the lake on the large, covered terrace. Cocktail time. Pomegranate Mimosa for Amanda, and an Andlusian Nights for me.

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    We enjoy our drinks for a while, watching the visitors strolling by and taking in the view across the lake, where they are setting up the firework barges for Illuminations, then order some food. This eatery only does small, tapas-style plates, and the best deal seems to be the samplers, one seafood, one meat based. We get both.

    Mussels, calamari and salted cod croquettes, plus lamb slider, Harissa chicken and Moroccan lamb sausage. Oh. And another mimosa for Amanda, plus a Moroccan beer for me.

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    The food is lovely, but I suspect the portion size and lack of staples such as burgers and fries will puzzle the American visitors.

    At 5:10 we pay the check ($73.45, we leave $85) and wander off. It is still raining but not heavily. The forecast for later, and for tomorrow,is better. Fingers crossed!

    We leave the park via International Gateway at 5:40, with a restroom break. The rain seems to have stopped and we can feel the temperature climbing as we stroll back to the Boardwalk. There's a crowd of footy fans trying to get into the ESPN bar (England v Italy?) and a significant section of them appear to be Italian fans singing lustily.

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    It's 6:00pm as we reach the hotel. After showering and changing we head back out at 5:45, returning to Epcot in blessedly warm, sunny conditions, and take a right turn to head anticlockwise around the World Showcase as far as Mexico. It's 7:30. We fetch up n a bench for a while, catching up on notes and watching rabbits and ducks foraging on the lawns.

    We continue our slow wander.

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    This is how I like to enjoy Epcot, no fixed agenda or Fastpasses, just ambling along, people-watching and enjoying the atmosphere. We make two stops, one at the UK to buy some chips, and the. Over to France for a beer and a glass of champagne. The vibe seems different today, Saturday, with more locals, many of them a little bit 'in drink' but happily so.

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  5. Mike
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    Mike Imagineer

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    At 8:30 we continue our wandering. The skies are lovely now, but a bit of drizzle does start to fall again, although it is so light we don't bother with the umbrella.

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    At 8:46 we stand on the bridge between France and the UK to wait for the fireworks. This has been informally arranged with our friends Catriona and Colin, who, with their son Michael, are arriving today for the start of their 4 week holiday. If they aren't too tired they said they would try and meet us here for the show.

    They don't appear before the start of the performance, by which time it's too dark to see faces anyway. I am in heaven - another landmark birthday celebrated at my favourite place, finished off with my favourite fireworks display.

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    It is fantastic, but we still have one more element to complete my day, so as soon as the last echoes have died away, we speed walk out of the park, across the boardwalk, beating the first boat back, to Jellyrolls, arriving at a very respectable 9:25!

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    We expected it to be busier on a weekend night, and it is, with all the tables being occupied, but there is plenty of room in our second preferred spot, along the raised area in front of the right hand bar, where a row of stools overlook the stage. It is probably a better viewing area than our last table right in front of the pianos. This is a shockingly bad photograph, but at least you can see our viewpoint.

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    We are only about 4' from the bar so don't need waitress service tonight. I get our drinks (Sam Adams and a vodka diet coke) and help myself to a basket of popcorn from the machine at the end of the bar. The guys are blasting through "Don't Stop Believing!" Then it's a round of "WHAT TIME IS IT." The weekend regulars obviously know the ropes, as no explanation is offered! The ceremony is to 'celebrate' (or mildly mock!) three guests who have birthdays today. They are all press ganged up on stage where they have to perform the Tree Song! Great fun! Even at this early hour I can't keep up towards the end.

    "Benny and The Jets" and "Hey Ya!" (What's better than being cool? Ice cold!) next, then straight into "Sweet Home Alabama" and "Great Balls of Fire". The atmosphere is lively, and the venue almost full as we approach the 10:00pm changeover, with a rousing and much applauded rendition of "Bohemian Rhapsody".

    When the next pair join the pianists on stage, we are treated to two group performances, "Wagon Wheel" and "Mustang Sally". The first two guys leave the stage to rapturous applause, and the new pair delight us with one of our favourites, Billy Joel's "Scenes From An Italian Restaurant" A couple we don't recognise follow, before "Isnt it Ironic" for a Canadian guy celebrating his 47th birthday - he gets a fair amount of attention and ribbing from the performers, so I continue to keep my head down!

    "All Night Long" and "Jessie's Girl" take us to 10:35, another round of drinks and another round of "WHAT TIME IS IT?", this time to the Unicorn Song/Dance!

    The other pair of performers return to the stage at 10:40 for a 4-way version of "Blurred Lines" with an amazing dance routine by two of the staff!

    A bit of Tom Petty follows, "Free Fallin'" then one for Amanda, "Living On A Prayer". "Nothing Else Matters" by Metallica takes us to 11:00pm and the next change, with, as usual, a couple of 4 man songs (they all sing, and the two without pianos improvise percussion with anything to hand! Brilliantly done!), first an American song we don't recognise (although amazing!) and "Happy" which of course we do!

    Back down to two singers, and on with the show. "Walking In Memphis" is followed by "Satisfaction" and, one for our friend, Mags, "Hotel California" (she can't stand the Eagles!) then a cracking, rap version of Bryan Adams "Heaven".

    The time is flying by! "Piano Man" (must be played every night, as it's one of the most requested numbers here) "Wrecking Ball", "Buttercup", "Teenage Wasteland", "I'm Too Sexy", "American Pie" and "Wanabe" (hilarious!) take us all the way to midnight. The full group perform "Forget You" and "Sugar. Me" before we're back down to two guys and into "Sweet Caroline" (bah bah bah ba!), U2's "Streets Have No Name" and one we don't know.

    "Single Ladies" next, with a truly fabulous, solo dance routine ON THE PIANO by one of the cast members, a tiny black guy who is one of the door staff! Brings the house down!

    We're flagging a bit now, at 12:20, but reluctant to leave. Let's have one more drink eh? Usual for Amanda, but I have been fascinated with this poster on the bar and decide to try an Alabama Slammer.

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    It's huge! And strong, and delicious!! Good job I didn't start with these, I'd be on my back! And a bargain at $11!

    Ok, we're on the home straight now. Our evening is rounded off with "Shake It For Me", "Miss You" and finally, "We Are Young". At 12:50, happy and weary, we head out into the fresh (warm!) air and return home.

    I have had the best day I could imagine and wouldn't change a thing.

    Mike & Amanda x

    TOMORROW - our 9th anniversary of the day we met (at a Starbucks, so no prizes for guessing where we're going!), Animal Kingdom and meeting up with friends.
     
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  6. Dizneyblonde
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    Dizneyblonde Secret's Birthday Fairy!

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    Loving these Mike.
    Great photos again too.Really missing the place reading your report.
    Thanks for sharing.I hope to celebrate my 50th in the world even if I have to go alone!
     
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  7. Mike
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    Mike Imagineer

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    We'll come with you if you get no offers! ;)
     
  8. Dizneyblonde
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    Dizneyblonde Secret's Birthday Fairy!

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    Ideal I like your beverage choices!
     
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  9. sarah
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    sarah Addicted to Mickey

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    Great fun reading about your adventures
    Glad you had such a fab 50th birthday x
     
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  10. Tony G
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    Tony G Serious Forum Regular

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    What an awesome way to celebrate your birthday!
     
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  11. BUTTERHEAD1
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    BUTTERHEAD1 Addicted to Mickey

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    Jelly Rolls is definitely on my to do list next trip
     
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  12. uscwest
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    uscwest Senior Cast Member

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    Sounds like an absolutely fabulous birthday Mike. You must have a hollow leg. I couldn't begin to get down what you had for breakfast, and if I did, I'd be set for the day. Great photos.
     
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  13. Watchinherskip
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    Watchinherskip Better known as "That Guy"

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    Well done with this trippie Mike, and a belated happy birthday. What a great accounting of the day. Kudos to you.
     
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  14. Mike
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    Mike Imagineer

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    Thanks everyone. :) It was perfect. And I can only eat that much occasionally!

    Have stalled slightly in the writing, but hope to have Day 9 up later
     
  15. Mags
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    Mags Serious Forum Regular

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    Mike, that sounds like the best birthday ever. You planned this well, visiting all your favourite spots and of course ending the night at Jellyrolls. Love the greeting form your Mum and Dad BTW.

    Mags
     
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