What a Carry On! Part 3 – Tuesday 19th August 2008 After a reasonably settled night, we both wake at about 5.00am. I turn on the tv to check the weather, and find virtually every Florida station and several national ones are sifting through the twists and turns of TS Fay in excruciating detail. It has apparently made landfall overnight, (still as a Tropical Storm, having failed to achieve Hurricane status over the water,) somewhere near Naples to the south and west of Orlando. We get our trainers on and head out into the dark at 6.00am for a run around the community. It’s very warm, and for the first time I can remember, I go jogging without wearing a shirt! (and may I extend my sincere apologies to anyone happening to glance out of their windows that may have been traumatised by this!). Exiting the community, we turn left and follow the road for a distance, but the sidewalk ends after a couple of hundred metres and we turn back. The full circuit of the estate, including the two or three cul-de-sacs contained within it takes about 15 minutes, and we do two laps. Returning, sweaty but smug at having done some exercise on holiday, we find mum and dad up and about, preparing breakfast. We get showered and then sort our own breakfast, taking coffee out onto the lanai. The wind has risen and it has started to rain softly through the pool mesh. The kids are roused with a poke to the ribs, and I have to insist that Adam takes a shower – he was trying to resist on the basis that he had one last night, the little scum-bag! My friend Maggie rang me: she and her two twin daughters, Sammie and Hannah (who has severe disabilities) are sharing a villa down the road at Grand Reserve, off the Old Lake Wilson Rd, with Hannah’s carer, Gemma, and another friend (and former colleague of mine,) Julie, and her daughter, Olivia. We had said before the holiday (they’ve been out a couple of days longer than us) that we’d try and meet up and have an adult night out. I suggest Jellyrolls on Friday night, and we agree to talk later in the week to sort the details. There’s a funny but familiar ‘peeping’ noise from somewhere – I track it down to a smoke alarm battery warning on the landing outside the master bedroom. As I can reach this, and the cell is a standard one, we don’t bother alerting the Man Co to the crisis, but simply stick the battery make on our shopping list for later. Everyone’s up and ready by 8.15, and off we go. The skies remain grey, and rain threatens, but, on the bright side, it’s already 81 degrees F! Today’s agenda is (and it will always be, to me!) Disney’s MGM Studios. Same old route off Sherberth Road, leads us to the ‘back door’ entrance to MGM. We are parked in Stage by 8.35, within walking distance of the turnstiles, ..and are inside by 8.45. Unusually for Disney, the park is already open for business (it’s not an Extra Magic Hour day either) so we are spared the cheesy opening ceremony. The four thrill riders (me, mum, Amanda and Beth) march smartly down to Tower of Terror, which is a walk-on. Dad and Adam are sent to Rock n’ Roller Coaster to obtain FastPasses for us. The ride is terrific, as always. We are back outside just after 9.00, so we chance another ride before meeting the wimps, sorry, boys. Although we are back in front of the elevator doors inside 5 minutes, there’s a minor technical delay and it’s 9.25 before we are out to meet them. Two cracking rides in less than 30 minutes! Still dry, but feeling damp, and we are anticipating rain before long. Adam and Dad are waiting patiently, with our FPs. The slot opens in 5 minutes, so we send our assistants off to get Toy Story Mania FPs while we gatecrash Aerosmith’s concert once more. Although I’ve done this sooooo many times that I’m bored by the pre-show, it’s a million times better than the Paris one we experienced last year. Once through into the garage though, this is still an exciting ride! We are out by 9.45. Dad and Adam are waiting once more, bless them! They’ve obtained FPs for TSM, but for 2.30 this afternoon! This must be one popular new attraction! We stroll down the former Mickey Avenue to find it has been (attractively) re-modelled and renamed Pixar Studios. It flows much better than it used to in the character greeting-caravan days. I note that the TSM standby time is already 50 minutes! Ah well, it’s certainly taken some pressure off Tower of Terror and RnRC! Passing the giant Coke (or is it Pepsi?) cool-mister at the end, we decide to venture into the Backlot Tour. There is no wait and a show starts almost immediately. It’s 9.55. The volunteers for the mini Pearl Harbour scene have already been picked, and give a reasonable account of themselves. Soon enough we are moving onto the tram tour section, and I am pleased to find that many of the film props on display have changed since the last time I did this. The Catastrophe Canyon conclusion is great fun, although we do get a bit wet on the back row (mum, Amanda and I) – not from the flood, but from drips leaking out of the tram’s ceiling! Adam, seated in front of us, is quite annoyed that he remains dry! 10.30 as we exit. Restroom stop for the slack-bladdered (that’s me then!) and off on foot down the Streets of America (still seems like a clumsy rebranding this, that fails to slip off the tongue). The false perspective at the top of the streets still impresses, although, whilst admitting that I like the effect, I can’t help feeling sorry that San Francisco Street has bumped the London UK bit off the map. It’s raining on and off now. The kids are getting fixated with the idea of ice creams, but we distract them with Star Tours, which is showing a standby time of 20 minutes. My mum and dad are adamant that they’ve never done this ride before, and are mightily impressed by the pre-show exhibits and robot cameos. The line moves smoothly and we are seated in only 10 minutes. After experiencing the bumpy flight to the Moons of Endor, ma and pa admit that possibly they have done this in the past! Sadly, it’s raining steadily when we exit. We find some cover so the kids can ring their mum back in the UK. The kids recommence their Bart & Lisa-esque demands for ice cream, so we do what all committed carers should do, and give in! After discovering that the dinosaur kiosk on the lake doesn’t open until later, we let Adam guide us right back to the Tower of Terror, as he is convinced there’s a cart selling ices there. There isn’t, of course, so we have turkey legs and salads instead (as you do!) Beth’s taco salad turns out to be meaty, although there was no mention of this on the board, but they happily give her a tuna sarnie as a replacement – and I get a free salad to accompany my bird leg! Result! We’re potentially running a little late now for the 11.50 ‘Lights, Motors, Action!’ show, but we make it to the theatre by 11.45 and, as the weather’s a bit damp, there are plenty of seats left. Initially taking bleachers midway up on the left side, we decide to move further up due to rain blowing in on us. I’m wondering whether the inclement weather will affect the drivers, as the wet tarmac looks very slippery. It appears not! They give a first class performance and we all enjoy the show, particularly my parents who haven’t seen either version (US or French) of the attraction. Out by 12.20, restroom (everyone else this time, honest) and off towards the exit. The brats continue their “can we have an ice cream? can we have an ice cream? can we have an ice cream? can we have an ice cream? can we have an ice cream?” nonsense, so we stop off at the (now open) dinosaur kiosk and everyone except mum chooses something: me and the kids have been obsessing about the ice cream cookie sandwiches. Unfortunately, they’ve been on a diet, and the new version comprises a couple of skinny, Oreo-style biscuits (Mickey shaped) around a slimmer ice cream centre: the originals weighed in at around 900 calories, and I guess some do-gooder nutritionist has been sticking their oar in – these are a piffling 280 kcals! We’ve pretty well done here now, and apart from browsing the stores on the way out, it’s time for Epcot. We exit the park at 1.00pm and are walking through the hallowed portals of my favourite place 30 minutes later. The day has settled into grey humidity, interspersed with drizzle. Epcot doesn’t seem busy today, as we pass through Futureworld and enter the World Showcase at Canada. Heading anti-clockwise, we wander through the UK and over the (channel!) bridge into France. I always enjoy the heady scent of the perfumery here and pop inside for a fix. The assistants pounce, but Amanda and I are experts, smiling sweetly and ignoring their polished pitch. Mum and Bethany are trapped, however, and it takes them 10 minutes and several tester sprays before they can escape! Raining harder now – mum dad and Beth poncho up, but Amanda, Adam and I don’t bother, as it’s comfortably warm. Each of the main stores gets a look-in as we progress around the World: we browse through Japan, Italy and the US before sheltering for some time in the larger Chinese outlet. It’s 2.45pm. Adam buys a fabric shoulder bag with a dragon motif. We carry on to Mexico, one of my favourite stage sets: I love the starlit village theme here. The ‘old’ and extremely dated boat ride has been refurbished and renamed ‘the Gran Fiesta Tour’ with ‘The Three Caballeros’ (one of whom is Donald!).. it would be rude not to check it out, so I guide the team aboard. It’s fun, and a distinct improvement on the earlier offering. It’s raining harder as we leave Mexico, and we agree that it’s time to head home. Look how quiet it is here today! Stopping at Winn Dixie for a few bits, we land back at the villa around 5.00pm. I seem to have an allergic reaction to something (I suspect a spray sun lotion) and have developed an angry rash under my right arm. Mum provides an anti-histamine (how would we ever manage without our mums, eh?) Mum and I make tea (dinner?).. bacon risotto, which we eat on the lanai. The evening is spent outside, in and out of the pool and Jacuzzi, drinking and chatting. By 9.00pm we are all shattered, (again) and it’s off to bed. Goodnight, fair reader. Mike & co. Tomorrow: Seaworld.