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What a Carry On! Florida, Aug08 - Part 6, MK, Epcot(!) & Jellyrolls

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by Mike, Jan 12, 2009.

  1. Mike
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    Mike Imagineer

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    What a Carry On! Part 6 – Friday 22nd August 2008.

    Our bedroom is pretty well insulated for sound, but I can hear the rain hammering against the roof above when we wake at 6.00am. I’m enjoying the holiday, and it’s nice to be warm, but I must admit to getting slightly tetchy now about all this pigging rain. I’m probably being naive, but I am starting to wish we’d actually suffered a hurricane, because some locals we’ve talked to offer the opinion that this central area around Orlando doesn’t suffer significantly when Cat Ones pass through, and a hurricane would have been and gone by now, instead of this endless rain while TS Fay tickles up the peninsular at 5 mph.

    Just for variety though we now experience a noisy and extremely visual lightening storm right overhead. The TV advises people in the Orlando area not to travel for the next 45 minutes or so until it passes!

    Usual routine: we go down for breakfast at 6.30. Bethany is already up, and MSNing on the lappy to her mates back in the UK. Mum and dad appear soon afterwards, but we have to wake Adam at 7.00am.

    We watch it get light over coffee on the lanai... it seems very squally today, so perhaps the tempo is changing a little and may indicate an eventual end to Fay.... or not. Today was supposed to have been Busch Gardens, and in truth the forecast for Tampa doesn’t look quite as miserable as for here, but I’m reluctant to drive 60 miles to find that the weather has followed us and they’ve closed all the coasters.

    Plan B then. Time for our least favourite park. Yep, we’re off to Mickey Central.... the Magic Kingdom!

    My/our antipathy to MK harks back 7 years to our (excluding my darling Amanda, who apparently was married to someone else at the time!) first trip to the Mouse. We were in a party of 10, clueless souls, afflicted by ignorance and sisters in law, and we went to a rainy MK first, whilst jet-lagged, too late after opening, and during similar weather to this. The result was a very frustrating day spent in long lines, with only a couple of rides under our belts and 4 very grumpy kids in tow. To add insult to injury, after a 45 minute wait for Splash Mountain, the ride broke down with us stuck on top for 10 minutes in the rain. We were then unceremoniously ejected from the ride and not even offered FastPasses to come back on another occasion.

    I’ve never been able to forgive the place, and even though we pop back for specific rides and evening fireworks, I wouldn’t care much if we never bothered.

    We leave at 8.00, and Sherberth our way to the TTC (Ticket & Transportation Centre) via the Winn Dixie (just in case they were worrying about us not having been in for 14 hours: I purchase a cheap brolly & some batteries for our borrowed walkie-talkies).

    Another grudge against MK for me is the faffing about before you actually get there! Drive to the TTC parking lot, tractor-tram to the Monorail or Ferry, queue for the Monorail or Ferry, walk to the turnstiles.... it’s 8.45 before we arrive at the entrance.

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    Well, to be absolutely accurate, the tunnel under the entrance... no one seems interested in the jolly opening ceremony today, due to the constant rain, and a couple of hundred of us are squeezed under the railway station! There’s a slightly pervy aroma of wet vinyl in the air from all those sweaty ponchos....

    As usual I could do with the loo, but to use the ones outside the entrance plaza would require another round of lining up for security and turnstiles. Instead I ease through the sweaty ponchos and approach the CM standing guard (or rather sitting guard, as he’s actually in a wheelchair) at the rope drop. Please sir, can I go to the toilet? I am grudgingly admitted into Main Street, although the hired help watch me like hawks in case I make a dash for freedom towards the castle!

    I make use of the facilities and return, suitably refreshed, to rejoin my damp and gently steaming family for a couple of minutes until we hear the arrival of Mickey and Co. on the 08.59 and they lower the rope.

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    We do the ‘fast walk’ to Tomorrowland and obtain FastPasses for Buzz before entering the standby line. There is no wait and we are aboard our craft in a couple of ticks. Our first round ends with Amanda trailing Mike 61,000 to 114,000. (The rest of the bunch barely creep into 5 figures between them, so I will not shame them any further by recording their actual and rather dismal scores here.)

    There doesn’t seem to be any line yet, and we walk straight back in again for round 2. Amanda wakes up somewhat this time and manages 190,000, but Mikey has his eye in now and wipes the floor with her: 409,000! (I’m a gracious winner, have you noticed?)

    Guess what? It’s raining hard as we leave. We wade over to Space Mountain, where my dad surprises us all by agreeing to accompany the Coaster Crew on this dangerous mission! Adam, as always, refuses to be persuaded and waits outside.

    There’s only a modest wait (after the lengthy walk on... it’s almost as bad as Duelling Dragons at Islands of Adventure!) and we are back off again in less than 15 minutes. It’s fun, if a little dated now, and although he seems to be suffering from a mild concussion, my dad looks more or less happy! (mind you, yesterday he was searching for trash cans in the rain, and today he’s doing coasters?… I suggest that Mum gets an appointment at the docs when we return!)

    We cross the plaza to restroom (didn’t know it was a verb, did you?), before picking our next adventure. Having absolutely no idea what to expect, but feeling daring, I shepherd the, er, sheep, into Stitch’s Great Escape.

    It makes us laugh, a little, and is cleverly done, but I don’t think we’ll rush back to repeat it. We leave Tomorrowland and pass through to Fantasyland, ostensibly heading for Mickey’s Philharmagic. We do, however, get distracted by the Tea Cups, which five of us decide to ride (that’d be Dad not bothering then?).. and we will, if we can find the entrance! It’s either a bit discreet or some large person was standing in the way, but we end up walking all the way round the damn thing before arriving back where we were and going through the gate, there being no lines.

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    This is a laugh, and I try to take some ‘action’ pics along the way, but they don’t come out too well. The only disappointment is that it only lasts about a minute, even though there are no lines!

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    Into the Philharmagic Theatre nearby at 10.20.

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    We walk straight through the queuing area to the pre-show foyer, and then wait around 5 minutes for the previous showing to finish. We reminisce about previous visits, and Adam recalls us seeing the “Bear in The Big Blue Blouse” when he was 6.... I prefer his version!

    We enter the theatre with about half a full crowd and I think of Craig W as we trudge past and, where possible over, the morons who have stopped halfway down the row. Idiots.

    This is a first viewing for mum and dad, and we all enjoy the performance.

    Out into vaguely better weather conditions: Beth wants to ride the Carousel, and (my usual yard stick) there being no line, we climb aboard! Beth, no doubt recalling the challenging ride at Blackpool Pleasure Beach over the years, straps herself in (in an inside row, too.) Off we go....

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    It’s rubbish. Offensively short, and so slow a crawling baby could lap us. Pathetic! We’re glad to get off. Beth is moderately embarrassed about tying herself on to the horsey!

    I attempt to steer Amanda into It’s A Small World but she spots the tackle and legs it. After a restroom interlude (Amanda and the kids, I seem to recall, definitely not Mike this time, and I’m the author so can recall what I want) we continue out of Fantasyland, and head for the Haunted Mansion, one of my All Time Favourite rides here at MK, my very raison d’etre.... and of course, it’s broken. Poo.

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    Definitely brighter weather now, although I remain pessimistic about the chances of a dry afternoon. We walk through Liberty Square (where I point out, TourGuide-like, the very spot, where, in 2004, Mike tipped a stranger’s baby out of a stroller during the afternoon parade: see the BBB Tour Trippie for further details!) and onwards into Frontierland. The kids want to do Big Thunder Mountain Railroad one of the only vaguely coaster-ish rides Adam will do) and, leaving Mum and Dad outside, the rest of us join the (posted 20 minute) StandBy line.

    Disney are overstating times a lot this week; we are on the loading platform after only 5 minutes. While waiting, I text Maggie & Julie about tonight’s plans.

    A good, if clanky ride ensues, and we exit, satisfied. I’d like to do Splash next, but the wait time discourages me, and we continue on into Adventureland to ride through Pirates of The Caribbean. This is also a walk on, and we are delighted to see the updated sections – this was closed for refurb 2 years ago on our last trip.

    We exit at 11.30 to another round of drizzle (bright drizzle this time, but precipitation all the same). It’s closing in on lunchtime and we don’t like the food choices at MK, so obviously it’s (drumroll pulleezzz...) Epcot time!.

    11.40 as we leave the park, to reverse our journey. We get the Monorail to the TTC, and then another one to Epcot – I can’t face doing the whole un-journey again at the moment, and we can collect the car later when I’m fed!

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    12.10 sees us at the hallowed portals once more. It feels busy around the entrance plaza, but I imagine that this is caused by other guests hopping from their first park (or just the Williams Clan getting there ‘early’? )

    We stroll straight over Futureworld, without any sort of restroom stop for Mike, honest, and into the World Showcase.


    The crowds are left behind, tinkering with crappy games at Innoventions and drinking nasty Coke products no doubt, and it is much more peaceful as we wander through Canada, and into the UK pavilion, where we abandon Mum, Dad & Beth at the Ye Olde Fish ‘n Chippe Shoppe. It’s very warm, too, and (shhh!) dry!

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    Amanda and I stop at Japan for our lunch. Adam carries on next door to the US where he intends to buy a burger.

    We both choose Tonosama Combos ($15 the pair) and take them into the courtyard garden at the back.

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    A couple of newly-weds are ignoring each other in the corner, obviously having had a tiff of some sort. The body language is great!

    Adam soon returns with his catch and we finish our food together.

    12.45 now, and a few spots of rain are felt. Sigh. Just one afternoon without rain, please?

    We continue round the WS to the US, looking for caffeine. My dad ‘calls’ on the walkie-talkie, but apparently turns his off before confirming if he’s heard us. He must have done though, as they appear a few minutes later. All the adults get coffees from the kiosk nearby and we take them to Italy to drink.

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    It’s raining again, so we shelter under cover on benches outside the store.

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    A near miracle happens, and a bright, disc-shaped object appears in the heavens. Amanda and I dash out onto the piazza to worship this strange deity, leaving the others cowering in fear under the veranda.

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    The sunshine only lasts a few minutes, and heavy spots of rain start to fall once more, so we leave Italy and continue round the World Showcase. We only reach China before the heavens open again, and we leg it inside the temple to shelter.

    I would like to see the 360 Vision show, and, explaining to my delightful offspring, in answer to groans and queries, that ‘No’, they don’t ‘have’ to do the show, but I’d LIKE to! I’m not fussed if they wait outside or not, but in the end they do accompany us into the next showing.

    I find these things delightful. Unlike the Canada show, this one doesn’t appear to have been updated, but it has some dramatic scenery and footage all the same.

    We exit into the shop, and Bethany buys a slender, ginger, monkey puppet as a present for her slender, ginger boyfriend…. Bet he loves that!

    The weather outside continues its sunshine and (tropical) showers them as we wander out of the WS and back into Futureworld. Innoventions is somewhere we don’t spend much time, so we tour both wings, east and west to see what’s on offer.

    There’s little to hold our attention for long in the western part (although I am amused by the irony of large numbers of visitors queuing for an attraction (‘Stormstruck’, I think) claiming to be a ‘Severe Weather Replicator’!! Just pop outside folks, there’s absolutely no line!

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    The other wing hosts an interesting attraction that we enjoyed on previous visits, the House of Innovention.

    This comprises a guided, walk-through tour of a mock-up dwelling, incorporating (supposedly) the latest in domestic and social engineering and technology. We wait for a few minutes until a host is free, and divert ourselves by playing with an interactive, video fishpond.

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    Carrie is our guide, and she welcomes us and takes us and a few other visitors inside. I won’t spoil things by listing all the contents, but I would heartily recommend it to you.

    It’s nearly 3.00pm and we have pretty well done for the day. Wishing I’d not been lazy earlier, by recovering the car as we left MK, we set off on the marathon journey. Walk to the Monorail, wait for 5 minutes before we can get on a train to the TTC, board and transfer to the TTC (7 minutes), walk (thankfully) to the car, and drive home. It’s almost 4pm by the time we get to the villa!

    I telephone Maggie to make sure they’ll be ready in time, order us a cab for 7.30pm, and then Amanda & I take a quick shower before lounging in the Jacuzzi for the next hour with a beer. The weather keeps trying to improve and we wonder (hope!) whether this is the start of the end of Fay!

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    At 5.00 we drag our protesting bodies from the 104 degree heat of the spa to clean up and make a meal, which we eat outside around 5.45. The sun is winning the battle, and warm starts to become hot in the welcome sunshine.

    After dressing, Amanda and I left the troops at their various pursuits (Adam watching (car) racing on the 50” TV, Beth on the computer, MSN’ing her mates, and mum and dad sitting out with a glass of wine) to go and fetch our friends.

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  2. Mike
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    Mike Imagineer

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    They were staying at a rented villa on the Grand Reserve community, well down the bottom of the Old Lake Wilson Road, some miles south of us. The plan was that we would bring them back here and then the four of us would take a taxi to the Boardwalk.

    The brief improvement in the weather is over, and the rain stats again as we drive south. I last travelled this way in 2001, when we were staying in our first holiday villa at Bridgewater Crossing. I remember almost endless construction and road widening operations underway at that time, and now the route feels very different, with retail parks, residential communities and smart new roads.

    The journey takes around 25 minutes, and we find them without difficulty. Their villa is pleasant enough, comprising a large, L-shaped bungalow wrapped around a lanai and pool. Margaret is on holiday with her twin 13 year old daughters, Sammy and Hannah (who has multiple disabilities), and Hannah’s carer, Gemma. She is sharing the villa with a mutual friend and former colleague of mine, Julie, and her (nearly) 13 year old daughter, Olivia. Sammy & Livvy are bedded down on sofas in the living room, watching TV, and we wait with them for a few minutes while the ladies finish getting ready. I’ve known Julie and Maggie for years, but Amanda hasn’t met them previously.

    We are delayed at the door while a heavy cloudburst plays itself out, and it’s almost 7.30 when we arrive back at our villa, just as the cab appears (same vehicle and driver that we hired the other night for the Coronado meet). I ask him to wait while we give our friends a whistle-stop tour of our much larger home, and Julie says hi to my dad – they worked together 20 years ago at a bank.

    After braving the rain again to board the ‘taxi’ (a 15 seater bus, to be honest!) our driver negotiates the wet roads without incident and drops us at the Boardwalk just before 8.00pm. Although Maggie has been to Florida many times, and ‘done’ Disney, she’s never seen the Boardwalk area, and it’s Julie’s first time on any Disney property.

    We walk through the lovely lobby and take a lift down to the Boardwalk itself. After showing them the Luna Pool, and pointing out ‘our’ room above from 2 years ago, we linger under the arcade area, hoping that the rain will stop and let us progress to Jellyrolls. Julie, an instinctive and enthusiastic shopper, spots the Wyland Gallery and bolts inside.

    Of course we follow, and enjoy a few minutes browsing and chatting to Jim, a director, who is very friendly, even though it’s obvious we aren’t going to buy a thing!

    Well, at 8.15 I’m itching to get to Jellyrolls before the floor tables are taken (although in all probability the weather will thin the crowds a bit tonight) and I shepherd the girls out of the store. There’s only a modest amount of cover left before we have to leg it for the club: quite an interesting and unstable exercise, given that all three girls are wearing heels, and I suspect only Amanda wears them on a daily basis. We slide and stagger across the boards, and reach the entrance without too much drama.

    The entry fee has risen to $10 each now. We pay, have our inky hand stamps and walk inside. There are several floor tables still available and we choose one directly in front of the stage, close to the right hand piano.

    For those who don’t know the venue, it is one, large room on two levels, with two ‘wings’, each housing a bar and raised seating area, to either side of the sunken floor in front of a stage. The stage is just large enough for the two grand (mini-grand?) style pianos that look like they’ve taken a few knocks and a large, tilted mirror behind, allowing a good view of the pianists from most parts of the room. The floor in front holds perhaps 15 tables plus a line of stools around the edges.

    On previous trips, we’ve been asked not to take photographs of the venue and performers, but, after a cautious start, observing other guests, I suspect this mandate has been pretty much abandoned (probably due to the increasing use of phone cameras?) and we don’t hold back. (Quick caveat – the combination of the low light levels and the not insignificant alcohol factor ensure that few of them are free from camera shake or over/under exposure! Sorry! They help with the tale though, especially the later ones!)

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    I recognise one of the two pianists from previous visits. As we settle down and wait for a server, they are doing justice to a Billy Joel number. A waiter appears, and I give him a credit card so we can just order drinks as we need them. The girls all ask for wine, and I have an Amber Bock.

    I explain to Julie and Maggie how the club operates; you make requests by writing your choices on a napkin, and then wrap a couple of $$ in it before tossing it or placing it on the pianos.

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    It’s early yet, and the songs reflect the easy pace: “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”, “Every Rose Has Its Thorn”… a party from Boston to our left are already quite merry, and the pianists interact with them wonderfully! Don’t imagine these guys are just musicians, although they are first class; they are true entertainers, singing, larking around, bantering with the guests.

    One of the guys responds to a request for “Yellow” by Coldplay: “Songs to take your medication to!” he reckons, but plays it anyway!

    Another round of drinks has come and gone by this time, and we sing-along-a to “Mustang Sally” and “Obla Di, Obla Da”. Julie, who isn’t over tall, tries to put a request on the stage, but can’t make the climb in her heels: instead, she throws the napkin at the piano, misses, and it bounces off the performers head and falls behind the piano! He stops playing, mid-song and stands up, glaring at Julie in mock outrage, causing great merriment, before retrieving it and continuing to play.

    It’s 9.00pm and time for the next pair of players to take over. The first players remain at their stools, if you’ll pardon the expression, and the newcomers bring microphone stands from the back of the stage. We are treated to an absolutely knockout rendition of Queen’s “Fat Bottomed Girls!” Superb!

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    The new chaps cart on with their set, which includes a few songs we don’t recognise. The club has filled up nicely now, and the atmosphere is changing as people get a few drinks down their necks!

    “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” follows “Summer of 69”. Julie manages to assault the pianist AGAIN! She has apparently thrown a lengthy message at him, demanding an explanation for her earlier request not being played yet! I explain that this is not how things work, that essentially you are bribing the players, not paying for services! The drinks are definitely taking effect, as, when he reads her request, not one of us know the song she’s asking for!

    After a smooth version of “Under The Boardwalk”, one of the performers asks “What Time Is It?” … the old hands in the audience yell back: “ I don’t know – what time IS it?” He explains the ritual and asks again, until everyone is paying attention. Apparently, it’s time for a little audience participation, and we all end up standing, trying to do the “Hand Jive” – ok slow, but at the end….? not a cat’s!!

    “The Power Of Love” is belted out to much appreciation from the floor. It’s 9.20 now, and I think more drinks have appeared and been consumed. Another round of audience participation ensues, with the introduction of the Beer Song. Every time he sings ‘beer’ we scream ‘BEER!’ – only he keeps chucking ‘gear’ etc in to trip us up! Wonderful fun!

    Paul Simon’s “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard” is followed by one of them reading a request for my favourite Jellyrolls song “Paradise by The Dashboard Light”.. from my darling wife, for, quote, “her gorgeous, tattooed husband”. Thanks, dear. I am ritually humiliated by being made to rise and show said tattoos.

    As I scream out the song, (and it’s a cracking version: he even knows the baseball commentary bit in the middle!), I am aware that a couple of things are happening: firstly, my voice is already starting to go, and second, I’m pretty sure that I might be more than a little tipsy….

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    “California Dreaming” and The Proclaimers’ “Thousand Miles” take us to 10.00pm and the next changeover. This time, the quartet hit us with Bob Seger’s “I Wanna Get Lost In Your Rock n Roll”. It’s fantastic, and brings the whole crowd to their feet!
    From past experience, my Jellyrolls notes tend to get a bit sketchy and progressively unreadable as the night wears on… I’m still ok at the moment, and can report that over the next half-hour we enjoy Van the Man’s “Brown Eyed Girl”, “Yellow Submarine”, “Crocodile Rock” and, another personal favourite, and requested by me, the US’s unofficial national anthem “Proud To Be An American”. This is one heck of a song, and whips the crowd up into a passionate and patriotic fever! Here’s some of the lyrics: (why can’t we have a song like this?)

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    The Boston Crew next door request “Gangsta’s Paradise”, and the boys follow up with “Sweet Home Alabama”. My voice has almost gone now! A brief respite, while I catch up on my notes during Wham’s “Jitterbug”, and then, at 10.35, to celebrate Lacey from Boston’s birthday, we all participate in “The Tree Song”.. Lacey has to do hers on the stage!

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    “Bohemian Rhapsody” puts me in the mood for whiskey, and I move onto Jack Daniels from this point…. it shows in my notes! They skilfully soften the mood with a hilarious medley of songs including extracts from “Is’ A Small World” and “Zippedy Doo Da!” The descent to the 11.00pm changeover takes in “Oh What A Night” and “Sweet Caroline” followed by a request from me, for my Bon Jovi fanatic darling Amanda, “Living On A Prayer”.

    The 11.00pm foursome comprises a raucous rendition of “The Devil Came Down To Georgia” loudly applauded by Georgians in the crowd! A couple of songs we don’t know (or I can’t recall, in my mildly inebriated condition) are interspersed with “Up Town Girl” and “Hey Jude”.

    At some point the ladies start dancing – I don’t recall this too clearly, but there is photographic evidence!

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    “The End Of The World As We Know It”, “Duelling Banjos” (quite outstanding, especially without a stringed instrument in sight!), “Boy Named Sue” (How do you DO?!) and Amy’s “Rehab” (No, no, NO!) send us on to midnight….

    The first two songs of the new set are, according to my all but illegible notes, “Summer Nights” and “With A Little Help From My Friends” – something I could now do with, to be honest! After this, apart from some rambling graffiti recorded by a very drunk Julie, the last notes in my trippie book suggest that, at 12.15 we were singing joyfully along to Abba’s “Dancing Queen”!

    From looking at the photos afterwards, and talking to Amanda, it seems that we carried on for another hour or so.. there was a further onstage celebration of a girl’s birthday, whereupon a selection of blokes (including, if you can believe it, yours truly) were invited up to serenade her…

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    Amanda: We carried on, having a whale of a time until around 1.00am. Mike was very merry, although he doesn’t remember a thing after 12.15, and Julie and Margaret were still functioning, although obviously sloshed!

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    I settled the bar bill ($200! Eek!) and we staggered out onto the wet Boardwalk – Mike and Julie were clinging on to each other for support, but at one stage they collapsed on top of one another!

    We eventually managed to navigate back to the hotel, and secured a cab back to the villa, leaving the ladies to snooze the rest of the way back to their home. As always after alcohol, Mike was complaining about being hungry, and, in the absence of a kebab house, we made toast before collapsing into bed around 2.00am.

    Goodnight all (and it was!)

    Amanda & Mike

    Tomorrow: We abort the proposed water park trip (sorry, Adam!) and go to Boggy Creek Airboats. Oh, and it finallygets sunny again!
     
  3. foreverducky
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    foreverducky Addicted to Mickey

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    What a great night! Lee Greenwood did a version of the American song you spoke of. I have yet to visit Jellyrolls and after your night I will most definitely put it on the list!

    Off to read the next part. :D
     
  4. Tink
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    Tink Cead Mille Failte! Staff Member Administrator

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    Goodness! That was some evening, eh? :D We've not been to Jellyrolls, but you sure do make it sound interesting. :yes: Do they still allow smoking in there? :unsure:

    Fay took forever to clear the area, didn't it? :sigh: We had to take our pool down a couple of times during that entire TS. Not a great weather event, at all. :(
     
  5. Mike
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    Mike Imagineer

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    They do still allow smoking, Tink, and as we've both given up smoking since our last visit, we noticed it, but weren't bothered by it. The air-con/extraction system is very good. Bit of an anacronysm though, and should really be stopped everywhere indoors IMO.
     
  6. Britchick
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    Britchick Cast Member

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    Jellyrolls sounds really good, might give it a whirl!
     

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