Millennium! DAY 9 New Years Eve (Evening) Universal Studios We walked around City Walk amazed and checked all the eateries. Again, a lot of the restaurants had the same set meal as in USF but we eventually decided on NASCAR Café and we had a really good meal, the soup was especially good - and made the most of the rest before setting off, back into the Park. Before we left though, it was 6-30, I decided to ring home and speak to my Mum, Dad, Brother and his family, before the New Year kicked off back home. As it turned out, it was a good idea. I got through straight away, had a few tears with my mum, and felt more settled now to go and have fun! We made our way to the lockers they were right by where the big bank of telephones are and the whole area was swarming with people, mostly Brits, trying to phone home. (Oh, this reminds me, I left out ET I love this ride, and it did not break down, which was a first for us, lads were not over impressed but we girls loved it) Anyway, it was dead on 7 oclock, so we all had a group hug, sang Auld Langs Eyne and had our own little celebration right there with all the other Brits. That was nice and friendly. Right, we get spruced up and head back into the park to see whats happening. We had a quick look around the Stage 54 which has some sets and props from The Mummy which was interesting and we took some fun photographs, and then made our way towards the centre of the park. The music from all the various stages was like a massive party, and the atmosphere was now really building up. We managed to get to a bar and get some drinks and we sat in the park area by Kongfrontation and had a bit of a dance to the music coming from the New York Stage which was just in front. We had a great view and the music was very English Fat Boy Slim and that sort of stuff and we all had a blast. We bought the neon lights that go round the neck, even the lads had them, and we just joined in the fun. We walked around and got a good spot to watch the parade which was called the Millennium Parade. This was good, although no way comparable to Tapestry of Nations, it did have its own qualities. The people on the floats distributed what must have been thousands upon thousands of rows of shiny beads. We accumulated masses I think Katie at one time had about 30 round her neck but as the evening wore on, when we saw little girls without beads, we gave them one. It was just that sort of evening when everyone is happy. I must say at this point that at no time, did we witness any sort of rowdiness, or bad behaviour. Everyone was just there to have fun and we kept remarking wonder if it would be like this at home? The crowds were now amassing in a big way, but we had made our way over to the lagoon and had found a good spot with an uninterrupted view of the whole of the lake. How lucky were we? Right, we were not going to move. The boys went to replenish our drinks, and I must add here that Chris did not have a tipple. First, he was driving and second, he was by now, feeling very ill. But, he did not let it spoil our evening or his for that matter. The girls were entertaining the crowds with their dancing. They love to dance, and I am sure that the crowds around us enjoyed watching 2 young girls, just having fun. Katie even grabbed one of the workers who was sweeping the floor, put his broom and pan to one side, and had a little dance and joke with him. I could not see that happening here in the UK could you? Every now and then, the crowd would break into some applause, and of course, the girls lapped it up. But it was all in good fun and they had a whale of a time. The boys did their fair share of jigging too especially to Will Smith and the likes. The tension is building up now and it is about 11.15, so I decide its time for a restroom visit, as I would! Off I go, making sure that I know exactly where to come back to. So, Im coming out of the restroom and being so intent on getting back to my family, did not notice the crowd which was moving at a snails pace along the road. I sort of walked into the middle and bumped into this gentleman. Well, all of a sudden I felt intimidated by a couple of HUGE, 7 GIANTS, with their hands on their hips. I look straight at this man and say, Oh, I do beg your pardon and turn to walk away, when he takes my hand and shakes it saying, Well, how do you do maam? He gives me the hugest smile and stands aside so that I can get through. What a nice man I thought. As I get just beyond the group, I look around and hear someone in the crowd whisper, Oh, there is O J Simpson Well, knock me down with a feather! And it was the real O J Simpson. He looked too much like him not to be him. The big guys? They were his minders. I mean, come on, imagine it there is me, middle aged wifey, 5 2 and a bit on the tubby side, rounding up to O Js minders! I got back to Chris and pointed the entourage out and he was as shocked as I was and we had a good giggle over this with the kids. Heeeyyy! Dont mess with me! So, we are on the big countdown 10 we are chatting to two lovely American girls at the side of us 9 and then Doc Brown comes out on the speed boat 8 and races round the lake 7 the party blowers are getting to a high pitch 6 the announcer says its only 5 to go. Doc chases to the end of the lake 4 and turns for his final approach 3 the boat leaps in the air 2 the flames rise up 1 he blasts through the flames on the stroke of Midnight! HAPPY NEW YEAR ! The fireworks start and we are all jumping and shouting and hugging and crying, all at once. Oh, it was so wonderful. I cant tell you what was the single most memorable part of that night. I think it must be just being there, with my dear husband, who really should have been tucked up in bed, my children and their partners. I felt privileged that they wanted to share such a special, momentous occasion with us and the memories will live with us forever. The fireworks were unlike anything I have ever seen before only one word could describe them MAGNIFICENT! They lasted a good 20 minutes, with everyone hugging and shouting. Kisses were passed around amongst us all, the American girls included and even people alongside us, just hugged us all and it was brilliant. The colours were so bright, it was like daylight, and as soon as one set of explosions finished, another set in the opposite direction took off. The whole scene was truly amazing and lasted a lot longer that we had expected. James, Katie, Ian & Emma were in a word Gobsmacked! Words failed them and they all had a little cry at one point (may have been an alcoholic influence though). Well, the crowds soon started to disperse and we decided to take the other option of waiting a bit, too let the throng go and then wander at a more leisurely pace. In the meantime, drinks to finish, more dancing to do! As we were mingling and reflecting on what we had just seen, an exclamation from Katie of Oh I dont believe it (in true Victor Meldrew fashion). Well, we all look around and then the same cries from Ian and James. Walking towards them was a family and the son was at school with the boys and the daughter was in Katies class! Would you believe we had bumped into a family from just a few turnings away, here on Canvey Island? We stood and had a chat for about half an hour, but Chris was really feeling quite bad by now, so we made our excuses and started to make our way back to the car. It was while speaking to these other youngsters that James and Ian mentioned that they had been on the Sky Coaster a couple of days previous. Well, the look of horror on their faces made us all ask what was the problem. Apparently, last new years eve (they have their own villa and spend a lot of time in Florida) the son, daughter and her boyfriend had a go on the coaster and the wire frayed and almost snapped. They suffered some injuries and have a court case pending. Needless to say, this made the lads fees quite queasy and vowed that once was enough. We made our way back to the car and as you can see the roads from the walkway we could see all the traffic tons and tons of it. However, we decided to join the throng as I wanted Chris to get home he was freezing now and as I had not driven the car yet, now was not a good time to start. Having seen all the traffic, we thought it would take ages but in fact, within ¾ of an hour, we were home. The traffic moved smoothly and by 2-30 we pulled onto our drive. I had to talk non stop (shame) to Chris on the way home to help him stay awake and I must say, that was the closest I have come to being really frightened in America. Here was I, my husband was obviously ill, all four of the younger generation were out sparko in the back, and I had not driven the vehicle before! Anyway, we got home safe and after a hot bath and some medication before tucking Chris up in bed, we managed to reflect for a moment or two on what had been for us, the most precious of days we have ever spent with our children. I hope that you have managed to stick with me for this marathon report, but I have enjoyed reliving the day and evening, and I hope that you feel that you were there sharing it with us. Tomorrow a well deserved rest and Janice hits the roads!