Day 15: Titanic, CSI and Home

It was our final day. We were being picked up at 13:45 from the hotel so after a relaxed morning and trying to stuff everything into our suitcases we checked out of the hotel.

We went over the road to the World Cafe and had breakfast, just like we had done on our first day in Orlando and afterwards, headed back to the CSI exhibit. When we got there, surprise! School group! We were advised to return in about an hour if we wanted things to be quieter for our visit, so we decided to pop next door to the Titanic exhibit.

Inside they’ve lots of facts and artifacts on the Titanic and her sister ship the Olympic – most artifacts are replicas which is a shame but the room recreations that you can walk through are quite good. The exhibit ends with a big block of ice and the latest underwater recording of the Titanic which is quite spooky viewing. As with everything, you can exit through the gift shop which features a number of tacky gifts, some Titanic crockery and distasteful t-shirts that rather ruin the experience.

We then went back to CSI and mentioned this was our honeymoon so they let us do the other two cases for the price of one! Result. With experience under our belt we knew what to look for and solved both cases with no errors. Top detectives! By the time it was over, it was 13:15 so we decided to head back to the hotel and bid farewell to our honeymoon.

As we’d done all fortnight, we waited for the transfer pickup. Then we were stuck in a packed shuttle bus with the annoying child we’d kept seeing every day. Ugh. At the airport, my bag was 1kg over the weight limit! But the Virgin clerk let it through. Debora’s was 3kg less – how that happened I’ll never know! 😉

Whilst waiting (again) at the airport for the clock to tick to boarding time, none other than WWE Diva in training Eva Marie walked right past us. We couldn’t really believe it, another Diva met on this trip!

The flight was bumpy, but we had a whole row to ourselves which was sort of comfortable. Both of us were unable to sleep – despite giving it a go. When we finally got back and had our breakfast at the airport with the classy clientele of London Gatwick – the guy on the phone next to me whilst I was ordering was telling the person on the other line how he was arrested last night and spent the night in jail at Watford for breaking his parole. It’s good to be home.

The train to Flitwick was rammed, literally, jam packed! Apparently another train was cancelled so everyone was throwing themselves on this train. It was odd to see men standing so close to one another that they could feel their breath on their cheeks. Thankfully, things thinned out at St. Pancras so we could sit and enjoy the rest of the journey back. When we finally made it to Mum’s, I found that my padlock had been cut open and my bag inspected – buggers. Mum had bought us some essential shopping – superb move – and we made the final, long drive back home. To wet and raining Worcester. The honeymoon, was sadly over.

We’ve had an amazing time, lots of memories, lots of waiting too but everything has been worth it. As reality beckons we must return. Time to book us another trip – soon!

Day 14: Final Universal Day

Our last full day in Orlando so we returned to our favourite spot of Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. We were up early and walked to Universal again, it seems other people had the same idea as our lonesome walk was now shared with six other people. Not only did these ruin our final journey but the woman in front of us decided to light up and put us right in the line of second hand smoke. Thanks lady.

Once we got to our destination we headed straight for Hogwarts, but it was only 8:50 and so only early access people were being let through…that was us, once. My mind boggled at the thought of the hoards of people going in through the early access line when there was only 10 minutes until the actual line opened, not really taking full advantage!

When the masses were unleashed it was a sea of bodies all headed in one direction and upon reaching Hogwarts the line was already outside the castle and the line time showed as 45 minutes. We decided to sneak in the back way and boom, we were straight on the ride again. Result. Afterwards, smiles on our faces and the desire to watch the Harry Potter movies again, we splurged and bought Debora a shirt and a fully working Maurders Map! We’re going to need a display cabinet for when we get home.

Then we rode Flight of the Hippogriff, a really short rollercoaster where you get to see a hippogriff but only Hagrid’s house. Harry Potter Land really lacks Hagrid and Snape. It was then onto the water show of Posideon’s Fury which was fun and got us out of the really stifling heat. Finally a final trip on the Spider-Man ride before we headed over to Universal.

At Universal we were met with Bart and Lisa so we posed with them before heading towards Despicable Me. The line was 80 minutes long so we went straight to the shop where we met a minion for another photo op. We had two other ride photos that we needed to get for our photo card so we went on the Mummy ride and Men In Black: Alien Attack before heading to Krusty Burger for lunch.

After lunch it was a ride on the Simpson’s ride again – they really need to put the safety instructions in Spanish as the annoying people in front of us decided to use flash photography, but the ride was shaking them so much the pictures looked awful. Then we headed to more photo ops with Optimus Prime, Shrek and Donkey – who talks to you – and Doc. Brown! We had a fun little chat about him building time machines and where I was from, as I said goodbye, he pulled me aside and whispered “Hail Hydra” having obviously noticed my Captain America shirt. I then went on the Hollywood Rip, Ride and Rocket. This was really good but I didn’t get the video package of it – no one needs to see that.

Finally it was time to bid farewell to Universal. We had done everything, enjoyed our day, enjoyed our stay but will be happy not to have to use our feet again for a while…

Day 13: Final Disney Day

Up early to race to Epcot and be one of the first people on Soarin’. When we got there, it was still showing as a 20 minute wait, crazy. The ride was a bit of an anti-climax after all the build up, the fact we could see the edge of the screen and people’s feet above us took away from the immersion but it was still kinda fun.

We then bought some more souvenirs and another t-shirt for Neil (hope they all fit in the luggage!) before heading around the World Showcase only to find it closed. We managed to get to France however and enjoy a pain aux chocolate in the boulangerie. What is good about the World Showcase is they employ people from each of those countries, however Debora wasn’t impressed by my constant French accent impersonations.

After this we headed to the Magic Kingdom to try and get on Space Mountain but once again, it was heaving. We spent 35 minutes queuing for Buzz Lightyear’s Star Command and whilst waiting for it to be fixed after a breakdown, I googled for the fast pass tickets at Disney. It turns out every park ticket comes with 3 free daily fast passes. Typical.

Once we’d saved the galaxy with Buzz we enquired about the Fast Pass, but as we had to leave at 6 (which later turned out to be 6:45) we couldn’t get Fast Pass tickets until after this time. They managed to get us onto Space Mountain at 4pm so whilst we had lunch we browsed other attractions we could visit on the rather spiffy Disney App. We were able to get Fast Pass access to the Haunted Mansion which was lots of fun…but it broke down whilst we were on it!

Then it was Space Mountain but Debora and I were split on the two cars so our ride photo doesn’t show us together. Space Mountain also broke down whilst we were queuing for it and when riding it, it really doesn’t feel safe. Everything looks so incredibly close to you that it could take off your limbs or head if you’re a little big too big for the car.

Finally it was back to Epcot for our pickup, but we were too early! So we went back into Epcot for another go on Spaceship Earth and a quick walk around a bit of the World Showcase. Once we got back to the hotel, hungry, we decided to order a Chili’s to go…when we picked it up the bag was huge! Nice little feast of a Margarita flatbread and veggie fajitas, topped off with a brownie with ice cream. Giving us a nice early night ready for our last day tomorrow. 🙁

Day 12: Universal in IMAX

We made plans yesterday to see a movie at the AMC IMAX cinema and have a posh meal at one of the more fancier restaurants at City Walk. But we hadn’t planned on spending the whole day at Universal. We walked to the park and had some breakfast at Cinnabon, a large cinnamon bun which was very cinnamony, before heading into Islands of Adventure where we went on the Hulk coaster again. Debora conquered the Hulk for the second time! The ride photo was quite good so we inquired about buying it but were talked into buying the photocard. All ride and character photos for $50. This then sparked a panic of getting as many photos as we could before the day was out.

Tired out from photo snapping, we stopped for a drink at the Three Broomsticks. Lemonade for me, frozen butterbeer for Debora. The menu at the Three Broomsticks is traditionally British with cottage pie and fish and chips, but it’s still a mass fast food hall which is a shame, as that’s not British.

In Super Hero Square Debora was accosted by the Green Goblin and I bowed down to Doctor Doom. We then posed with Spider-Man – YAY – who we told about the Green Goblin outside so he ran off to fight them. We were able to get photos with all the other Marvel heroes in the park before heading down to the cinema where we saw Godzilla in 3D on an IMAX screen. The screen really wasn’t that huge and the chairs, despite being leather and reclining, weren’t that comfy. The film was OK although ended pretty strangely but we got to experience the American movie with people cheering at parts and applauding at others.

We made the mistake of buying a large popcorn/drink combo deal. The popcorn bucket was HUGE and you could get free refills on it which would have been great if the popcorn wasn’t horrible salty/cheese combo. Ugh.

Then we went to our reserved dinner date, our first meal without fries and the first with a tablecloth. I did a fine job of getting sauce on said tablecloth and my napkin. I did feel the meal was overpriced, but still tasty. As is tradition in America, all service was really quick, far too quick that you don’t really get a chance for your meal to settle.

Our day ended with more photo opportunities in Universal Studios and when we went to confirm all the photos – disaster! It appears that another families photos had been attached to my card. They were using my email address, somehow?! We managed to recover all our snaps and got them associated to another card, but we were a little worried for a moment there and moreso, who’s using my e-mail address?

We’re not playing the “how many comments can you get on your shirt” game anymore, as today Debora wore her new Doctor Who tardis dress. Everyone, and I mean, EVERYONE, commented on how awesome her dress was. People stopped her to ask where she got it, guess where – IN THIS VERY PARK! It got Debora rather embarrassed and me, really jealous.

Two days left, we’re Disneying tomorrow for more rides and photos and back at Universal on Tuesday. Our feet are still ruined.

Day 11: Premium Outlets, Mini Golf and Mardi Gras

After yesterday’s late night, we were both surprised to find we slept in until around nine am! We woke up leisurely and dropped down to Ihop for breakfast. It was rammed in there but we weren’t waiting long for some strawberry and banana pancakes and a garden omelette. Debora couldn’t finish her iced coffee so we asked for it to go and the server gave her a whole new one at no extra charge.

We then walked down I-Drive looking for the Florida Mall but must have taken the wrong turn somewhere so backtracked our way to the nearest I-Ride stop. When we finally got to the shops, they were a little too pretentious for our liking. We’re not brand name or label people, so instead of shopping at Tommy Hilfiger or Lacoste, we spent most of our time in the Disney store. All these are “outlet” shops, which means they’re trying to get rid of damaged, defaced and old stock. There were ranges from 2012 in there and this really defective Animal from The Muppets.


Bored of shopping, we headed back to the hotel for a quick refresh before heading down to Universal Studios again. We booked our usual cab but it didn’t turn up, so I went into the hotel to ask them to call the company. They said “we have our own car company and you can hop in one just outside”, so we did. This was a ‘Town and Country’ cab, it didn’t have a meter inside so whilst we’ve been paying around $6 in every usual cab, this guy decided to charge us $10 when we got to the destination. Although, he asked us how much we were going to give him, when I said six, he then told us it was ten. Why the hell ask then?

First of all we booked our Sunday. Tickets to Godzilla in 3D IMAX and a meal at a posh restaurant. Then we went into Universal and ate at Krusty Burger, both opting for the Garden Burger which we were told (or warned) was vegetarian…yeah, we know. Inside the Simpsons food hall there are Simpsons clips playing on a loop, not long enough of a loop. We heard the same clips about five times!

We watched the Horror Make Up Show which could have featured more horror make up than just jokes and video clips before heading back out and going on the haunted mini golf course. Both Debora and I got hole in ones in this ghostly themed course which featured ghouls spitting water at you on one course.

Finally, we went back into Universal to watch their Mardi Gras parade, lots of floats and people on stilts throwing beads into the crowd. People went mental for those beads. We were able to get a couple but I nearly lost my sunglasses in the process! When we got back to the hotel we popped out for a twisty treat – soft ice cream – and then waited at the crossing for about five minutes before finally getting to bed.

Day 10: Hollywood Studios & Epcot

It’s Star Wars Day! No, not May 4th, but the start of Disney’s Star War Weekends at Hollywood Studios. This is the day we had been waiting for as it was the day that we’d get our faces scanned and digitally printed onto a Star Wars collectible figurine. The elation cannot be described.

But before we could get to that, after readying ourselves this morning we opened our hotel room door to find the strangest of feelings. It was cold. Where was this wall of heat we’d been used to? It was now 18 degrees outside, were we back home? Debora had to go back for a cardigan!

It was another terrible journey to Disney. The shuttle bus was over capacity, we were lucky to get on when we did, then, once arriving at the Magic Kingdom (the default drop off location), the crowds were heaving. Literally, there were queues for the monorail stretching back to the parking lot. So we stumped up the cash and got a taxi over to Hollywood Studios. This was less busy but still full of people, all lined up along the streets in preparation for the parade.

We went straight to Muppet Vision 3D which was great, but there was hardly any merchandise, really disappointing. There could have been a Muppet Whatnot workstation at least! Then it was The Great Movie Ride and after that time for our face scanning. Because we booked a time slot many months ago we were able to get straight into ‘Darths Mall’, skipping the huge line outside. We got our faced scanned and then were able to do some shopping.

We had lunch at Pizza Planet, simple cheese pizza was a welcomed refreshment after we had missed breakfast on account of the diner not being open over the road. We then spent the rest of the afternoon queuing for photo’s with Darth Vader and then got on the Studio Backlot tour and Star Tours before headed over to Epcot.

It was now quite late in the day so we got ourselves some chips from the Chippy in the British part of the World Showcase and settled in for the fireworks. These were much better than the Magic Kingdom fireworks although the central section featured a globe circling the lagoon with images projected on it which reminded me a lot of the old BBC One Title Cards.

After, we began to head back but would you believe it, the monorail wasn’t working so everyone was crammed into buses. We made it back to the Ticket Center with minutes to spare and were able to get onto our ride back – although again, squashed in. Ridiculous.

Day 9: Sea World & Universal

Last Thursday was our first full day in Orlando and we visited Sea World. One week later, we did the same. The last time ‘Journey To Atlantis’ was closed whilst we were queuing and this time it was down for maintenance. Another sign this was not the ride for us. We then were going to go on the Manta Ray ride but a pending thunder storm saw them close the attraction. Typical.

We watched the Shamu show again, from a safer distance this time, which was still just as good. Then we went to the Arctic section and saw some Beluga whales and then a really shabby and sad looking polar bear. He kept pacing the same route over and over, it was really sad to watch. We then saw the walrus who again looked really sad and was swimming in the same pattern. Not nice.

Then we went to the ‘Pets Ahoy’ which featured cats, dogs and other farm yard animals performing tricks. This was really fun and all the animals used in the show are rescue animals – hurrah! After, we got to pet the puppies which is always good.

Having spent a long time waiting and driving down to Sea World we took the I-Trolley back up to the hotel in the middle of the afternoon. Halfway through the journey, the driver had to change shifts so we were stuck in the bus station for ten minutes waiting for them to sort the next driver out.

After a recharge we went down to Islands of Adventure. It was due to close in an hour so we thought the lines would be quiet. It had just rained too and we were able to get on the Harry Potter and Spider-Man rides again with no wait times. I’m really loving Universal. We then hopped over to Universal Studios as the heavens opened and drenched us. We joined the queue for Despicable Me, a thirty minute wait but it dried us off. This ride was really violent, it bumped and shook you around in the car vigorously and I’m not sure it’s really suitable for little ones. Both Debora and I came off with sore necks.

We then walked around the park again as dusk settled, Universal by night really is beautiful. We went straight onto the Transformers ride again and saw a photo op with Optimus Prime. This isn’t a man in a silly costume, it’s an actual robot. Impressive! But the most important photo stop of the day was still to come. I think I might Gosling/Culkin this for years to come.


Then it was straight onto The Simpsons again, this time we were front row and it was a much better experience. Although it still needs some extra’s like a splash of water and some smells. We then picked up some Lard Lad Donuts and marvelled at the food court. It’s not just Krusty Burger but Luigi’s Pizza, Moes, a Lisa’s Healthy stop, Frying Dutchman and BumbleBee Man’s Tacos. Excellent.

We skipped by the Men In Black ride and pined a little over the Diagon Alley attraction that’s behind the fences. Finally bought some merch and headed back to the hotel. Tomorrow is Star Wars Friday and we need our rest!

Day 8: On The Buses

It was a long, long day which consisted mostly of travelling.

First we waited for a shuttle to take us to Animal Kingdom, it was late. The journey was long and slow and when we finally got to Animal Kingdom, it was packed. On a Wednesday?! We wandered around trying to avoid all the strollers being aimed at us but were left less than impressed.

On every Disney brochure it tells you how to get around their parks and makes it sound so easy. Get a bus to any resort and then another bus to the park. But if you don’t know which resort is close to you or where you want to go you’re scuppered. We got on a bus to the Contemporary Resort and then another to Downtown Disney. This took us over an hour.

Downton Disney is having a makeover and so there are lots of boarding up blocking views. We went in some shops including the Lego one but were left disappointed again. Lunch at Planet Hollywood was just as bad. It was freezing inside and the vegetarian options were terrible. The decor also is really rather dated and it just looks dilapidated.

After the last bus fiasco we were apprehensive about another. The plan was to go to Hollywood Studios and then to Magic Kingdom but after another bus to another resort (a nearby one thankfully), we just jumped on the first bus that came – luckily it was going to Epcot where you can get a much quicker and easier monorail to Magic Kingdom.

Epcot was just as busy, the queue for Soarin’ was 75 minutes. So we turned around and headed back to Magic Kingdom. It was now getting quite late so we hoped the crowds would have thinned. They hadn’t.

We queued for 35 minutes for Peter Pan’s Flight. 35 minutes! Jumped straight into Mickey’s PhillarMagic and then queued again for the Thunder Mountain Railroad which was really fun in the dark.

Then it was the light show, quite impressive as the castle was lit up with lots of Disney themes and music. Then there was the fireworks, the reason we had gone in the first place. These were good but not as incredible as I remember them. Finally, we waited again for the trip back. We got back to the hotel just after midnight. Long day. Again.

Day 7: Ripley’s & Sleuths

With a busy day planned for tomorrow, a tiresome day yesterday and tickets booked for a dinner show tonight, we decided to keep it slow today and take a trip up and down International Drive.

Firstly, we had breakfast at Dunkin’ Donuts where I had a 100% fresh orange juice with my vege-egg sandwich, Debora claimed this was probably the only thing we’d had so far that didn’t contain anything artificial. We then went to the CSI Experience where we put on our detective hats and solved a crime. This was good fun but there are three cases and if you can’t do them all in one day, you have to pay full price for each.

We then stopped by Wonderworks, standing out by looking like the building is upside down. Neither of us knew exactly what this was so we were disappointed to learn upon arrival it was a rope course. We decided to skip it and headed back up to Ripley’s Believe It Or Not museum. Lots of strange artifacts inside and it ends with a disco tunnel that will make you lose your bearings – just thinking about it now makes me feel woozy.

Stopping for some lunch at the Uno bar and grill, what I thought would be a light snack of vegetables and pasta turned out to be a mammoth task as it was practically a whole bag of pasta in this bowl. We walked off our lunch on the way back to the hotel where we dusted down and dressed for a dinner show at Sleuths.

This meal was pre-booked as we do like a mystery and we arrived in ample time and so tried to have a drink in the bar. Sadly, we didn’t bring Debora’s ID with her so she was refused service on an alcoholic beverage. We were then ushered into the theater where a stage show takes place, ending in a murder. Over dinner it is up to your table to figure out who did it. We had quite a good table, everyone was pleasant although they all nominated me to be the talker and ask the questions. I’d already been picked on several times by the cast – it didn’t help I was sitting front row center I guess.

When the show was over, both Debora and I had correctly identified the murderer and the suspect so got to pick out a lucky chip from a pot to claim a prize. I got a white chip and a little tin badge, Debora got the red chip, the grand prize, a magnifying glass!

It was a fun night and I’d recommend this if you’re after some dinner theater. We’ve now been here a week and there is still so much to do! I’m just glad there’s a bank holiday waiting for us when we get back, we’ll need a lot of time to recover!

Day 6: Kennedy Space Center

Originally we wanted to go to the Kennedy Space Center on Saturday as there was a rocket launch planned – but we were unable to get tickets for that date. Fortunately, we were told that the proposed launch was delayed so we didn’t miss anything it seems.

It was quite a drive out to KSC, we were kept entertained on the bus by a documentary about the space shuttle narrated by William Shatner and our driver, Mike, who tried a little too hard to be funny.

When we got to the KSC we were shepherded into the Atlantis museum where we watched a short film which opened up into the museum, the first thing you see is the actual shuttle Atlantis. It was quite spectacular. The photographs we took don’t really do it justice, it’s a huge beast, suspended 23 foot off the floor and at an angle of 43.21 degrees.

After visiting the other sights and interactive exhibits – one of which told Debora she could have a career at NASA thanks to her great result in detaching a solar panel. We then went on the “most realistic” launch simulator which really wasn’t. The ride at Epcot was more entertaining – remember we only went on the timid version! The KSC sim just turns you 90 degrees and shakes a bit. If that’s realistic, I could be an astronaut.

Then we took a 40 minute bus tour of the launch pads and into another exhibit that was about the Apollo missions. Here we had a lunch of an egg mayo roll – way overpriced! Then we touched a bit of the moon and headed back to the main center where we watched a 3D IMAX movie about the hubble telescope narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio. The 3D effects weren’t very good and the sound was terrible.

After a trip to the gift shop it was time for a the excruciatingly long bus ride home. When we finally arrived we went for dinner at Chilli’s where Debora had a black bean burger and warm cookie and I had a four cheese enchilada and molten cinnamon cake. Feeling sick and stuffed, we came back to the hotel where I’m writing this whilst watching WWE Raw (I even watched Total Divas last night too). It’s rather odd seeing these in “real time”.