What a Carry On! Part 2 – Monday 18th August 2008 A combination of unfamiliar surroundings, jet lag, excitement and dehydration after the flight generally conspire to make my first night’s sleep in Florida both short and unsettled. I wake at 2.00 and again at 3.00 for the loo, but manage to get off again. However, when I waken again at 4.00, my confused body clock insists that enough is enough, and I remain stubbornly awake. I give up at 4.30 and creep off downstairs to make coffee, leaving Amanda snoozing gently in the enormous bed. Linda and Rob, our landlords, have hidden some coffee filter papers for me, as I’d remarked that I’d never found any over the years renting villas, and yet we always left a couple of hundred behind us each time. They had also informed me that they had bought a new coffee machine, but as of yet it had not been used. I therefore flushed it through with water a couple of times before making a first brew. Whilst waiting for the coffee I followed their instructions for linking to the WiFi network and had a look at the boards and weather forecasts. It looks like we might be ok for most of today, but Fay is making the rest of the week look decidedly iffy. Amanda joins me around 5.00am, followed by Mum and Dad at 5.30 or so. We make enough communal clatter that Adam appears before 6.00am, but Bethany requires a wake-up visit at 6.15. We watch the progress of Fay on the various weather and local news channels. Obsessed would be a mild understatement (the networks, not us) (although we are, too!) After breakfast and a quick reccie of the pool deck in the increasing daylight, …we shower and prepare for the day ahead. The girls discover that their UK straighteners don’t work on US voltage, but discover a US set in one of the bathrooms. Conscious of the numerous singe marks on my daughter’s bedroom carpet, I take a pan lid from the kitchen for her to use as a rest! There’s no safe as far as we can tell, so we stash less valuable items in dark corners and take our valuables and docs out with us. As it gets fully light, I take the opportunity of recording the villa before our clutter swallows up the clean lines… Everyone except Beth is ready by 7.30, so we chat about the day and organise our bags for the parks. It’s 8.00am by the time she appears, approximately 30 seconds before I start giving ultimatums, and we head off into a sunny morning, with the car thermometer showing 80 degrees. Wonderful. It doesn’t take long to remember the Sherberth Road shortcut and we are soon approaching my spiritual home…. Well, be honest, where else did you think we’d be going to today? (Amanda catches me on trippie duty already, walking to the gate!) Crowds and lines are fairly light, as the local kids are back in school today. Good! There are a few more barriers up than on our last visit, and the security points look more substantial, but the check is still a joke. After a cursory poke into each bag, totally ignoring secondary pockets and compartments, we are in line for the gates at 8.30. I’m a happy bunny. Spotted these guys in the next line.. does anyone else admit to doing the matching T-shirt thing? It starts to feel quite hot by the time they admit us, at 8.45, allowing access to a rope drop in Innoventions Plaza. There is a pointless, character parade opening ceremony (this just seems wrong at Epcot) and we are admitted spot on 9.00, although we have to do the fast stroll behind Cast Members as we head right, towards The Land pavilion and our first objective, Soarin’. We are among the first groups into the building and are soon standing in the pre-show pen. We get row 3, which means we are subjected to the distraction of dangling feet above us, but everyone enjoys the ride immensely. Out at 9.25, into wonderful heat, we cross back over the Plaza to Mission Space, while my dad heads to Test Track with the park tickets to get FastPasses for everyone. Mum and Adam are going to do the Green (non-spinning) training while Amanda, Beth and I do the Orange, full Monty version. Posted wait times are 5 minutes for them and 15 for us. Both prove to be fairly accurate. Good fun, and we meet up outside at 10.05. Still very warm, increasingly humid, and the suspicion of cloud building up. After a restroom stop we walk into Test Track for our 10.15 FP slot. After 15 minutes we realise that the ride has broken down, as people start to head out past us. We join them, unwilling to waste more time on this somewhat dated ride. Before leaving the area completely we walk round the corner to Inside Track, the shop and GM show facility, to view the current cars on display. Across to the Plaza once more, this time passing through Mousegear, … (what do you mean, I look like my dad?) …we enter Club Cool to sample the Coke products on offer. Some aren’t bad, although one of my favourites, the melon one (from China?) is out of stock. Suitably gassed up, we belch our way back into the plaza just in time (10.45) to catch the fountains playing to music. It’s good, but a heck of a site more impressive at night. We mooch our way towards the World Showcase in anticipation of the 11.00am opening, stopping at a new (to us) kiosk close to the entrance for coffees. By the time we’ve finished them, in front of Cantina San Angel, the pavilions are open for business. This is just a familiarisation browse, so it’s on to Norway next door. Maelstrom is open, with no wait time so we venture aboard for a ride: Adam is a little nervous, as he doesn’t do ‘drops’ but we persuade him to risk it and he doesn’t come to any harm! No one stops for the film at the end, which makes me feel a little shallow (but in my defence, we’ve seen it on two or three occasions, and it was crap the first time!) as we march past the earnest looking CMs without making eye contact. Dad wants to check out the store (after cheap Helly Hanson wear I believe) so in (or out? – you can’t actually exit the ride without passing through the gift shop – shocking, eh?) we troop. In all honesty, I think some of the crazily-priced knitwear has actually come down in price over the last couple of years, but even with our $2 = £1 exchange rate, we’re not tempted to actually buy anything! Instead we do the tourist thing and take silly pics of each other wearing daft headgear! (and when did they move the giant troll?) This is what Epcot is all about for me.. I like Future world, as much as the other parks, but WS is the real focus. I could live here! Everyone’s peckish now, so we amble slowly around the lake, to Japan, to check the menu at Yakitori House. Although Amanda and I would happily eat anything on the menu, some of the others (that’d be Dad and Adam then?) are a bit more cautious, and we venture on to Morocco to see what’s on at the Tangerine Café. This gets the thumbs up all round and in we troop. We order: 3 x Lamb & Chicken Platters (Dad, Adam and me), 1 x Lamb Platter (Amanda) a Veggie Platter (for me mam) and a Falafael Wrap for Bethany-babe. $76. We sit in the courtyard just in front of the café and the archway. All the dishes are all declared lovely. We get the impression that Adam might be feeling the effects of the journey yesterday… Slightly less sunny now (12.15) but still bright and very hot. After finishing the food, we (ok, ‘I’) pay a visit to the restroom and then we all browse the Soukh area. We continue clockwise through France, the UK and Canada, where I suggest watching ‘O’ Canada’. When the rest of them stop laughing and hooting in derision, I sulk, and insist that we watch ‘O’ Canada’. When that fails, I threaten to leave them all at the park, and eventually they see sense. We descend into the bowels of the pavilion to await the next showing. I am vindicated as we leave the theatre, following an amusing, updated film (now starring Martin Short) that leaves everyone (except Beth and Adam, but whaddya expect, miracles?) happy. It’s 1.30pm as we leave, and still very hot. We stop nearby to cream up again, but sense that the kids are nearing the end of their (my!) tolerance. The sensible thing would be to repair back to the villa.. so we cart on to Germany instead! Only kidding.. we have some Test Track FPs to use (assuming it’s been fixed yet) after which we will head back to Chez Nous for a serious relax and a beer or three. Test Track goes according to the plan (I must admit to being a tad underwhelmed by this now, after 7 years and countless ‘oh no, Bill, not number 7!!’ encounters, but Adam and my dad like it, it being one of the few ‘thrill’ rides they’ll do, so we keep coming back.) It’s 2.05 as we head away from Test track and towards the exit. The skies are still bright, if overcast, and we sense that it will probably rain before long. After restrooming once again, it’s out and back to the car. The short journey back along the Osceola Parkway and Sherberth Rd sees the skies darken and about 10 minutes of rain falls on us. We stop at the Winn-Dixie at Formosa Gardens to collect a few bits we forgot yesterday (y’know, more beer, wine etc) and are ‘home’ for 3.00pm. There’s a moderately worrying letter from the Management Company giving advice about what we should do in the event that TS Fay becomes a full-fledged hurricane, and asking us to secure all patio equipment and furniture before we retire tonight. Beth can’t wait to try out the villa’s best feature (the WiFi broadband!) and the rest of us shower and head into the pool. (Quick note: how many of you require your families to shower before using the small, private pools at a villa? Well, you should: the body excretes a mild uric acid solution (that’s wee-wee to the under 5s among you) as a component of sweat, obviously a common enough side effect of the Florida theme-park scene, so within a few days the pool is actually a weak urine solution! That’s why it can get rather smelly before Jose comes to clean it….nice!) It does drizzle a bit, but as it remains warm/hot and we’re in swimming cozzies, we don’t mind. We test the pool, the pool toys and the Jacuzzi (all fit for purpose!) before deciding to stay in tonight, at which point we make friends with the beer. I love the fact that the American Buds have a screw – crown cap! No wasted, drinking time, searching for the church key! Adam and I spend a happy half-hour or so leaping into the pool singly and together, so that Amanda and my dad can snap ‘action’ shots of the, er.. action! I dry off at 5.15 and head indoors to start tea. I make a vegetable and tuna pasta with mushrooms and olives and mild interference from my mum, who doesn’t stand easily by while other people cook… as I am exactly the same at home, where I do most of the cooking, I completely fail to understand this and growl at her to keep away! It’s 6.00ish as we tuck in on the lanai. And around 6.15 when we finish. The evening is uncomplicated and pleasant – basically we sprawl outside, in and out of the water, drinking alcohol and chatting, and occasionally trying to find a channel on cable that ISN’T reporting on Fay! By 9.00pm we are all goosed and everyone heads off to bed, after we’ve piled up all the patio stuff under cover. Amanda and I are also blessed with a furnished balcony off our room, so we cart the (new) double lounger and patio set inside and leave them in the ensuite (where we can fall over them for the next three nights!) Good night, dear reader. Mike & Amanda. Tomorrow: MGM (never DHS in my brain!) and Epcot.