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Mike’s 50th Trip to Siesta Key, Disney’s Boardwalk, Universal and New York, June 2014 - Part 9

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by Mike, Jul 10, 2014.

  1. Mike
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    Mike Imagineer

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    DAY 9 - Animal Kingdom and Celebration

    Sunday 15th June

    Good morning all! I wake at 5:45, and lie quietly, checking emails and Facebook etc until Amanda also stirs at 6:00am. I note that our friend Cat, who arrived yesterday, is up and wandering locally, as she's posted some pics. Today is our 9th anniversary (of meeting) and also Father's Day, so I open cards from Amanda and daughter Beth.

    It's a promising start weather-wise, with blue skies and already warm as we head off out for our ritual circuit of the lake. We take some lovely photos once again.

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    As we pass the Beach Club I see someone familiar walking towards us, waving. It is Catriona, a fellow insomniac! Cat and family arrived yesterday, and had hoped to meet us in time for Illuminations, but we didn’t see them. She explains that by the time they reached the park entrance, Guest Services were closed, and they could not activate their Magic Bands and passes. They tried to spot us in the crowds leaving, but we must have slipped by in the dark, as we sprinted for Jellyrolls! She has left her husband Colin and son Michael asleep in their room (two floors below us) and gone for a wander. We natter for a while before saying goodbye and heading back up to the room for breakfast (we toast the bagels we bought yesterday) and showers.

    I phone down for our car (very movie star, eh?!) and we are driving off to Animal Kingdom at 8:00am, arriving and parked by 8:15 (unicorn 26). It's early, so the lines are quite short and we restroom before joining them.

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    They start to let us in at 8:45. I anticipate another hold at the entrance to the central hub, but nope, as at the Studios, this seems to be a thing of the past. We continue quickly across to Asia and get in line (6 from the front) for Everest. Ah, this is where the 'old' Disney habits return - it's 8:50, but the ride doesn't open until exactly 9:00am.

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    I love this park, especially when it is quiet. The theming is exquisite, with tiny details hidden everywhere, from leaf prints in the concrete paths to the artificial ageing of 'rusty' corrugated iron sheet roofing.

    The clock clicks round to 9:00 and we are admitted. There's now a fair line behind us. We're loaded and rolling at 9:03! What a buzz! I had forgotten how intense this little coaster is! Fabulous!

    We head west, past the monkey island, make a quick restroom visit then on towards Kali River Rapids. Now, although I don't mind getting wet, I'm not a fan of squelching round in damp underwear for hours, but it is already so hot I reckon we'll be dry very quickly.

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    There's virtually no wait - most of the early crowd has almost certainly split into two groups, half typically heading to Everest and the rest to the Safari.

    Well, it's not the world's longest water ride, but we get well and truly SOAKED!

    Off at 9:25, and across to 'Africa' for our Fastpass+ (9:00 - 10:00 slot)

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    We're straight on, aboard by 9:40. The safari has (happily) been updated, and extended somewhat since our last visit 6 years ago. I, for one, am not sorry to see the back of the tired and patronising Little Red storyline! We enjoy the journey, with plenty of animals spotted, and exit the ride at 10:15.

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    Ok, another FP slot is open.

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  2. Mike
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    Mike Imagineer

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    We walk across the park to Dinoland USA (never quite understood the rather puzzling title of this Land) for a firm favourite, the simple, old fashioned Primeval Whirl. There's a similar (actually longer and better) version at Alton Towers back home, but we always enjoy this one. We're more or less straight on the attraction, and leave, happy, at 10:40.

    It's seriously HOT here with all the concrete and less shade than elsewhere in the park. Not complaining though, as my nether regions are still quite damp from the rapids!

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    We've a little time to kill now, as our Everest Fastpasses aren't open until 11:25. We walk back across to Asia (passing the monkeys again for about the 10th time!) and wander through the Maharajah Jungle Trek.

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    This is mildly disappointing, as we see virtually no animals! The CM guides seem a bit embarrassed, trying to answer questions from other guests, the main one being “Where the heck are all the tigers ‘n stuff?”

    We leave the walk and start to think about a pre-lunch snack. Chicken Fried Rice and a portion of fries from Yak and Yeti ticks the box quite well. We eat them in the covered dining area at the side of the cafe.

    At 11:25 we return to Everest to use our FPs, but I am a bit concerned at the length of the FP line! The system works though, and our wait is less than 5 minutes. Chatting to a CM, I learn that they can move 30 people a minute which seems impressive!
    I sneak a photo during the only stationary part of the ride!

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    We exit at 11:40 and walk quickly (past the Monkeys, naturally! One day we’ll stop and have a look at them!) to the Flights of Wonder theatre for the 11:45 show. I really enjoy this gentle attraction, which is often overlooked by visitors in search of musical stage shows or more contemporary thrills.

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    In essence it is a lovely 25 minute show demonstrating essentially natural bird behavior that has been sculpted with training to entertain an audience. I manage to get in on the act, (albeit with a borrowed banknote, as I couldn’t find my wallet!) when I volunteer to let Harley, an African Pied Crow, fly onto my arm and remove a dollar bill! He then flies off and gives it to his trainer, back on stage. He does, of course, return it soon afterwards – here he is, depositing it in my hand!

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    We leave the theatre at 12:10. There’s nothing else we really feel we ‘must’ do, but we head back towards the Safari area to see if the Pangani Forest Trail is any better than the Asian version.

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    On the way there we spot Catriona’s husband and son, although they don’t see us! (Blue T-shirt and White T-shirt, walking left between the signpost and the ‘Good Eats’ verandah)

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    This trail is also a bit ‘meh’ sadly… too few animals and too many people milling around the narrow walkways. Too many of the attractions at Animal Kingdom need to be done very early, partly for crowd avoidance, but mostly because of the animals hiding away from the rising temperatures.

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    Upon exiting the area we are a bit gob-smacked at how many people are now in the park! Time for us to leave!!

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    Once we’ve managed to squeeze through the multitudes heading into the park we recover the car and are soon on our way. It only takes a few minutes to get to our destination… what better place to celebrate our anniversary than Celebration? Actually, it’s slightly (only slightly!) more subtle than that: Amanda and I first met 9 years ago at a Starbucks in the Trafford Centre near Manchester. For many years we have returned to the same coffee shop on our meet-anniversary to mark the occasion. Until last year. When ‘they’ closed ‘our’ Starbucks. (*expletive deleted*)

    So…. as the Celebration Starbucks has also been a happy part of my/our world for many years, we reckon it will substitute quite nicely today! And I don’t care (for anyone who is still awake and counting,) that this will be our 3rd visit in less than a week!

    We have in fact made a reservation for lunch at the Celebration Town Tavern, but for 2:00pm, and it’s only just after 1:00 now. The restaurant is busy, but we approach the reception to see if we can bring our reservation forward? Once again, as a party of two, there’s no problem, particularly as we express a preference for outside (which is in fact a large covered terrace with a central bar).

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    This is a very pleasant spot. A few people are sitting at the bar, watching the footy, but most are dining at the surrounding tables. We order drinks (Sam Adams and Sauv Blanc, as per!) and I catch up on my trippie notes – here’s my good lady checking my work!

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    Amanda orders grilled salmon, veggies and fries; I choose New York Strip steak, veggies and fries. They are lovely, if a little on the generous side!

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    Now, a dilemma. We both fancy dessert, but, a tad full from finishing the mains (and our morning snack at the park), we have no idea how large they will be, and so far haven’t seen anyone eating ‘afters’. Oh well, in for a cent etc… we select Strawberry Shortcake (Amanda) and Chocolate Fudge Brownie Sundae (Mike.)

    Oops!

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  3. Mike
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    Mike Imagineer

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    They are scrummy, but I have to help Amanda finish hers! We pay the $75 check and wobble carefully across to Starbucks.

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    Amanda only has room for an espresso, but I go for my usual black eye. We would, of course, prefer to enjoy them on the rocking chairs, but it's a lovely afternoon and all the lakeside chairs are taken. Not to worry, at least I managed to bag one yesterday! An acceptable alternative is found by walking across to the benches overlooking the lake, Front Street and the Hotel. Very pleasant. We sit and relax for a while.

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    At 3:20 we take our leave of this lovely, if slightly surreal town, and head back to the 192. We need a few bits from the supermarket, and for the sake of variety we forsake the nearest Publix this time, and head instead for the 'Marketplace' Winn Dixie near the former Splendid China.

    The only remaining elements from this long-demolished minor theme park are actually inside the store, which has ornate, pseudo Chinese mouldings and decor. I notice this warning sign in the car lot, and tag my mate Paul, whose profession I suspect you can guess, in a Facebook post!

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    Back in the car, and with the thermometer showing 97 C, we set off 'home' to the Boardwalk. For nostalgic reasons I drive down Sherberth Road, the lesser known back-door to WDW that we used often when renting villas in this area. In a pointless but (to my pedantic mind) mildly interesting exercise, I discover that, having self-parked as close to the hotel as possible (allowing for the 1000 or so valet spaces taking all the prime spots!) at 4:08 exactly, we pass the valet desk at 4:14 and enter our room a further 3 minutes later at 4:17. So, assuming you ring down for your car and actually have it waiting, you will save a grand total of 6 minutes for your $20 (+ tip!) But of course you won't get hot or possibly wet walking back for it!!

    Talking of getting hot and wet, we decide to have a soak, so change into swimwear and head down to the quiet pool area. It is fairly quiet, just a few people in the water and around the deck. We knock off a few duty lengths and then enjoy a soak in the hot tub, chatting to a middle-aged guy and his son already in situ. They are from Pennsylvania, and he uses the one of the same US based Disney forums that we are familiar with. When we tell him we are off to New York in a few days, he gives a visible shudder and says that we couldn't pay him enough to vacation there!!

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    They leave at 5:30 to get ready for a dinner reservation and, sufficiently pruned, we lie on the poolside until 6:00pm. The clouds are getting thicker, although it's still red hot, and we decide to head for our room. The first heavy drops start to splat down around us as we walk through the Luna Pool area, and within seconds the rain is tropical! As the pool empties rapidly and people grab their belongings from the loungers we make an impulse decision to stop for a drink at the Leaping Horse bar, and just manage to bag the last two bar stools.

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    Skinny Coconut Mojito for Amanda, Banana Cabana for me. We enjoy them whilst watching the thunder and lightning show right above our heads.

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    At 6:35 we pay up ($18.64) and dash back into the hotel. No major plans for tonight, but we'll probably pop back to Epcot (for a change, ha!) if it stops raining: a local forecast suggests it should do in about an hour. We shower, and get dressed, but it's still raining hard at 7:45.

    Catriona messages us from downstairs and, as Epcot seems less appealing in such heavy rain, she invites us down to their suite for a drink. We pop down to the 3rd floor at 8:15 and spend a very pleasant evening nattering with Cat, Colin and Michael whilst drinking a bottle or two of their wine stocks!

    We say our good nights at 12:00, and after a short wander round the Boardwalk (it has finally stopped raining, and the lights are lovely) head to bed at 12:30am.

    Goodnight once again.

    Mike and Amanda x

    TOMORROW - Blizzard Beach, Sweet Tomatoes, Hollywood Studios, Epcot drinks and Illuminations with friends
     
  4. Dawn
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    Dawn carpe diem-ing Forum Host

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    When you do those 6am strolls round the lake is there anyone else doing the same or do you get the lake to yourselves?
     
  5. Mike
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    Mike Imagineer

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    Pretty much to ourselves, Dawn, apart from a few joggers and the occasional cleaning crew, particularly around the Y & B area. Very peaceful!
     
  6. uscwest
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    uscwest Senior Cast Member

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    Another fantastic episode. Love those early morning photos.
     
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  7. Watchinherskip
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    Watchinherskip Better known as "That Guy"

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    You have a knack for trippies Mike. Well done. Love the first shots of the BW sunrise!
     
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  8. BUTTERHEAD1
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    BUTTERHEAD1 Addicted to Mickey

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    Thanks for another great report
     
  9. Mags
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    Mags Serious Forum Regular

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    Fabulous report Mike. You certainly know how to time manage with your early starts and fitting so much in to the day. AK I must say has grown on me over the years and we too love the bird show. Still haven't been to Celebration yet but it seems such a nice spot to visit. Final few words - those drinks look delicious! :yes:

    Mags
     
  10. Mike
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    Mike Imagineer

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    They were rather tasty Mags! And you MUST go to Celebration next time!!!!
     
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  11. Mags
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    Mags Serious Forum Regular

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    BTW Mike, was there a Father's Day card from Adam? No mention made I see. :eek:

    Mags
     

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