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. 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. 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. 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! Into the Philharmagic Theatre nearby at 10.20. 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.... 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. 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! 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! 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. 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. It’s raining again, so we shelter under cover on benches outside the store. 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. 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! 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. 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! 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.