Day 5 Thursday 20th December Surprise Surprise! More dolphins, a margerita and those lights! (especially for you mapman) So worried I wont wake up in time for this mornings little expedition I wake up at 2.15 and every half hour afterwards! (yes I know thats what they invented alarm clocks for, but I didnt want Vince to cotton on to my cunning plan .). Anyway at 6.15 our hotel neighbours seemed to be holding a convention right outside our door, so we all had to be awake anyway (how nice of them).. Had a lovely bath (this is a treat for me, we only have a shower at home you see) Made coffee, but used spring water this time (thanks for the tip Caroley) so it tasted a bit better (but not much) Really excited now, I dont know how Becky and I managed to keep this secret for so long. I have booked The Dolphins in Depth Encounter at EPCOT for Vince as a Christmas present for today, and he knows nothing about it .he doesnt even know there is such a thing! He so wanted to do Discovery bay, but funds would nt run to it for all of us this time, plus we werent sure the weather would be that great so decided against it. He didnt make a fuss poor dear, and I know its his dream to have some sort of dolphin interaction, or swim so when I read about Hilary organising this for her daughter I thought Yea! or something like that! Becky is primed and knows she has to be up and ready early today, taking 2 hours in the bathroom (youll be pleased to know Shaun) By 8.30 we are actually all ready, probably for the only time the whole holiday! I manage to sneak Vinces swim stuff into my bag, along with his passport as he has to have ID proof, and off we go. By 9 am we are in line for EPCOTs car park as Ive been told we must be at Guest Services to check in by 9.45 .Bit early arent we? says an unsuspecting Vince (Told him EPCOT opens at 9 you see) Its not even open yet so we wait a while and then are able to park really close to the front of the park .that must be a first too! Head off to the park entrance and then as we near it I veer off to Guest Services and nonchalantly say to Vince that we are meeting someone here .he has a very bemused expression on his face at that point (yes I know thats his usual expression) and DD and I then tell him what hes actually going to be doing that morning. Hell be spending the next 3 hours in a group of 6 people with 2 dolphin trainers, watching a video, listening to a talk and then actually in the water with the dolphins. The emphasis is on the educational side of things, which I know DH will prefer, and he even gets his own video and tshirt of the encounter! I dont have much time as a CM is calling out Vinces name as we arrive, and I realise how shocked he is when I tell Ill need some money for the morning and he hands over his whole wallet!!! Oh Vince .you fool! He is actually absolutely gob smacked and as we walk away giggling, telling him well meet him in Mexico (!) I see him shaking his head and telling the CM he is really shocked tee hee, good surprise eh? I am a bit worried as I do hope its a good shock, but Becky says shes sure hell love it so I feel a bit better and we go into EPCOT, past the bag search and up to the rope drop area .see were still too early! By 10 loads of people are waiting and the sun is really strong, I am amazed that some people see the crowd, and the rope and still try and push past everyone and duck under the rope why do they think were standing there??!!! When we are allowed in we go straight to Innoventions west first, but are disappointed to see no Internet facilities here, but we do sens several silly ecards to friends and family including one to work, which sadly was enlarged to poster size and now sits on our staff notice board .thanks so much guys!!! Added to this you should be aware that the postcards you are sending are on a big screen above the booths so everyone can see them in Innoventions ..nice! We have a play on a lot of the machines and games and then we look around the shop and I buy lots of goodies (well, I did have Vinces wallet after all, and that doesnt happen often!) then we are ready for breakfast at the Fountain View. This is a lovely little places where you can sit outside and watch the fountains but has one drawback we found, people can smoke there. We didnt realise it when we sat down and had to move twice. Muffin, fruit and coffee/juice later we are ready for Test Track. The wait is posted as 25 mins so we get FP for later so that DD and DH can ride, then decide as we have so much time well wait in line BIG mistake! We actually queued for almost 50 minutes, and with the ride we were here for almost an hour!! We should know better, as this has happened many times before. Still, its still a good ride, I love the turns and the really fast ride outside .not worth waiting this long for though! By this time its almost time for the rope drop at World Showcase so we walk over and have our first look at the enormous Christmas Tree, which is lovely, especially with the walk way up to it all decorated too, bet its lovely at night too. The boats arent running yet it seems so Becky drags me at 90 miles an hour shes a girl with a mission ..round the countries at breakneck speed oh look, that was Canada & its totem pole, the UK and its pub, France & the Eiffel Tower, Morocco ..phew, are we in Japan? Im exhausted! Round the world in 80 seconds!!! Straight to the Hello Kitty stuff in the big store here, and we spend ages, its such a lovely shop! Unfortunately, the Manga book Becky saw earlier in the year is nt there now after all, and they dont have any more Sailor Moon tshirts, but we still enjoy browsing and buy a couple of little bits and pieces. After this we wander much more slowly (thank goodness) round the rest of the world. Its amazingly quiet and at one point I can see only 3 other people apart from us!! Its a beautiful day, very warm and I really enjoy just wandering round WS, its one of my fave Disney places. The EPCOT sign over Spaceship Earth looks lovely, all glittery for Christmas too. Reach China where Becky decides it must be lunch time now and has the combo meal of sweet & sour chicken, rice and pancake roll which is quite big so she wraps the pancake roll up for later .strange child! She says its all lovely anyway. Then its off to mexico to meet up with Vince, so I get a frozen margerita while we sit and wait in the café by the lake how lovely this is .mmmmmm. When Vince arrives Im really hoping the surprise was a success, and I can relax as he declares I could nt have arranged anything better for him, its the best present hes ever had. Ah, bless! Hes not a demonstrative sort, but we can see hes had a wonderful time, and he doesnt stop talking about it for hours, well days, afterwards. He liked the fact that it was very educational and as it was such a small group, with 2 trainers there was a lot of time spent on each person. He came back with all sorts of information, and especially loved the time in the water with the dolphins, Toby & Bob. They got to try and get them to do things for them .wonderful. Give it a go! He was very proud of his tshirt and was still wearing the sticker with his name on (again, bless him). The video we have since found was very good quality too, with some general info on as well as the experience. All in all a great success and to be recommended! We celebrate with my favourite here, Mexican chicken salad and sit and enjoy tales of dolphins while drinking my margerita ..mmmmmmm again. Onto maelstrom in Norway, as this is really a family tradition You are not the first to pass this way .nor shall you be the last! see, we even know the words (sad) Then back round to Germany as I noticed on our whistle stop tour how Christmassy it looked. Took lots of photos and saw St Nicholas and the 3 wise men (I presume) telling the Christmas story. I thought the decorations here were particularly lovely, something lacking in some of the other countries, especially UK. One funny thing in the shop in Germany was one of the Xmas tree decorations they sold ..green pickles!!! (ornaments, not the real ones silly!) imagine having them on your tree!! (And there was a small tree covered with them!) Wandered a bit more then got the boat over to the other side of the lake and thought wed try Ice Station Cool as weve never done this before how did we miss it? I like the real snow .seemed strange when its so warm outside! It has lots of different flavour coke drinks inside to try, have a go some are great and some arent yuk!!!!! My own fave was from Mozambique lovely!! Ride on Spaceship Earth, which as always is wonderful and very restful, there is no wait for this, and even though there are more people about now, its still very quiet everywhere. Except for TT of course, we missed our FP times and could nt be bothered to queue (45 mins yeah right) and didnt want to wait for another FP time (DH never did get back to this on this trip) so we said our goodbyes to EPCOT fort hat day and returned to our car .off to MGM for The Osborne Lights ..yippee! Arrive about 4pm and its much busier here than at EPCOT, we just walk around. The tree before you go in is lovely, and the entrance area (before the turnstiles) seems to have changed a lot. We go and have a look at the famous Sorcerers Hat and it is lovely, but it looks sort of squashed in that area to me, and I do like to see the Chinese Theatre. Ice cream time, from the place behind the kids playground, they are lovely from here and enormous! Then its time for the queue at Who wants to be a millionaire. Ive heard so much about this, it wasnt around in Feb so Im really excited about it ..and we werent disappointed either. What fun! The set is just like the real one, and you all have consoles to give your own answers on. The questions can be very hard as some are so US orientated obviously, (I know nothing about Baseball stadiums for instance) but its still great fun! Never made the leader board, but maybe next trip! Would nt mind that trip to New York for the prize! You have to try this its really good. As we walk round the streets a CM is leading a tiny little white pony along, a little Shetland by the look of it, its pure white and absolutely beautiful. Becky predictably wants to take it home with us, but I manage to persuade her it would mean less clothes in her suitcase! On to our millionth go on Star Tours, no wait here, think it needs a bit of updating now, then walk down the film set streets to wait for the lighting up ceremony. Collect our 3D glasses on the way as instructed by Janice (thanks), this Christmas tree looks lovely! Its darkish now and with our glasses on you can see all the 3D angels flying everywhere above you, all glittery in the trees, on the buildings so clever! The lights around the buildings and the decorations are wonderful, the snow starts to fall, and the lighting ceremony is funny and clever, but NOTHING prepares you for the Osborne Lights!! Ive heard so much about them, from Janice and others, and seen pics, but you just cant do justice to these amazing lights. There are literally millions of them, all around the houses (where you go for the Backlot Tour) all colours, all shapes. Giant snowmen, Father Christmass, reindeer, all covered in lights..even the childs bike in the garden is covered in lights .amazing wow!! The little angels are still flying around .I just cant describe how incredible it all is, you MUST see it for yourself! Its like being in the middle of fairyland, aladdins cave of wonders and The Grizwalds all at once! One word, it was very crowded because we wanted to see it early as it was first lit up, but I wish we could have had time to return later on when it was quieter. Took one last look around then it was time to leave as we were all really tired, and wed packed a lot in to the day. We were back at the hotel by 7.30 and just chilled out in the room, watching TV and stuffing M & Ms, which go remarkably well with Smirnoff Ice, luckily ..tomorrow we get to use our Annual Passes at Universal, for the first time .yippee!