Four Go Wild In Florida (Mar 2001) 3 - Discovery Cove

Discussion in 'UK Trip Reports Board' started by SpottyDog, Mar 29, 2002.

  1. SpottyDog

    SpottyDog Guest

    Four Go Wild In Florida

    Previous drivel

    The Plan and The Flight
    We get off the plane

    Whilst heartened by the encouraging messages I’ve received , I continue to be saddened by the overwhelming feeling some people are
    actually willing me from one place to the other in the hope some catastrophe will fall in my path. Well, I’m sorry to disappoint the ambulance chasers amongst you , but now I’m with Mickey, nothing else can go wrong, surely! The rest of the holiday was a fairly
    normal family affair. “Show’s over, nothing to see here, move it along, please.”

    Day 2 (Saturday)

    THE ORIGINAL PLAN - Early entry MK. Leave MK for DC to arrive by 10am. Leave DC closing time and head for SW to take in Shamu Rocks (if time).Ponderosa for tea.Reflections of Earth 9pm then home for drinks by the pool.
    CHANGES - Belz for shoes on the way to DC (missed yesterday) Publix for beer on way ‘home’.
    *DRIVEL WARNING* This is the time to play your ‘What a pr*tt’ card if you want to remain reasonably sane and get something worthwhile done with your life today. I warn you now, I got up at 4.40am and didn’t go to sleep until 10.15pm, so the reflections of this day’s events might take me beyond the
    length of human endurance. (if you nod off, I will expect you to go back to the
    beginning and start again as you’ll have lost the pace of the drivel - never mind
    the will to live!)
    So, ‘What a pr*tt’ contingent to the back and my stranger with no life to speak of can continue in peace and solitude.
    I never sleep well in a strange bed, so wasn’t surprised to wake every hour or so
    until I was wide awake at 4.40. My lot need sleep, so I’ve learned not to disturb them until as late as possible if I need to get any sort of discipline out of them on any campaign. I pottered around showering, then unpacking for about an hour, disturbing them gently with my crashing of drawers and general graceful movement noises. This served to bring them to consciousness slowly by constantly waking them and letting them drift back to nodland. 5.45, I popped over to the foodcourt to see if coffee was available yet, which it was. People who know us, are constantly amazed that I’ve taken Valerie coffee in bed every day of our married life. Well it’s not that surprising. V is one of those who would much prefer to spend her life asleep (though having to put up with me, that’s hardly surprising) and once awoken, she will just go back to sleep unless she has some reason to stay awake - hence the coffee. Now, it’s not as easy as it
    seems coz she always does go back to sleep. I drink my coffee, while I continue to potter around. I then drink V’s coffee and make us both our second cup of the day. It’s the second cup that is the one she wakes up for. So I have three cups every morning to her one, she wakes gently and I never stray far from a toilet for the rest of the morning! So we’re up and about as a couple by 6.15 and I go into ‘got to be cruel to be kind mode’. Gary can be left asleep until 5
    minutes before you want to leave coz, once awake, he’ll jump up and get dressed without any complaint or trouble. He only needs 5 minutes coz he doesn’t complicate the process with washing or cleaning teeth as they take so long. Julie is a much harder prospect. Daddy’s little princess she might be, but you wake Julie by gentle prodding and retreat until you see which person she
    wakes up as. Occasionally you get the sweetest little angel you would ever wish
    to cuddle. But most day’s she’s beyond description in a family environment. Like
    a tiger you’ve just prodded with a stick.
    So, working on the assumption today, being our first Disney day and she’s had best part of 9 hours sleep, we should be OK. I shake her feet and recoil out of striking distance. As I retreat I’ve strategically placed the TV remote and switch on the Disney Channel to calm any retaliatory instincts she wakes up with. No need, the princess is amongst us and she smiles while puffing herself up on her pillows eyes glued to a cartoon almost before they’re opened. With the promise of spending loads of money on her if she doesn’t slow us down too much this holiday, I despatch J to the bathroom to get ready. Until I switch the tv off, she
    doesn’t move but once it’s off is prepared to do whatever you want - at a price!
    By now, Gary’s up and goes to get their pop while his sister gets ready and I put my trunks and our towels into a carrier bag ready for DC when we come back from MK (Gary’s brought about 4 pairs of trunks so I leave him to choose a pair when he’s ready). Swapping them from bedroom to bathroom to get ready and dressed becomes the most efficient way to get them ready in reasonable
    time for the duration of the holiday.
    By 7am we’re getting on the bus to MK for 7.30 early entry and I’m feeling really pleased with meself. Well oiled machine and all that.
    Outside the gates at 7.15 there weren’t as many there as I’d expected. We’d not done early entries in 99 coz I didn’t have a strategic gameplan and let them get up whenever they wanted. Because they got up late (8-9ish),we tended to stay up later which had a knock on effect. This time we plan to make the most of early starts even if it means cutting back on the drinks by the pool - drastic times mean drastic measures. A bit disappointed we didn’t get the “ Good morning boys and girls...” I was so looking forward to , we did manage a childish 10,9,8,.... countdown which made Gary and Julie squirm with embarrassment -
    which was nice.
    Through the gates ,and side-stepping the line for buggy hire, we were soon on our way up Main St. Just a nice pace , I’m not that obsessive to run (might be if I was a different shape, but there you go). The music adds to the charm and I’ve never seen the park so quiet. We walked , fairly slowly towards and through the castle into Fantasyland and the whole atmosphere of that time of day made the getting up early worth the effort. We resolved to do every early entry we qualified for even if it meant wrestling with the tiger our Julie was bound to become as the holiday progresses.
    Now at this point, dear Stranger, I’ll promise not to describe every ride etc. coz
    we’ll make you miss you holiday! Those that have been don’t need me to tell them what happens on rides , and those who haven’t, won’t want any magic taking away from their first time. I will try to indicate the ‘mood’ of a ride and any observations / occurrences that I think might help - “I did like..” or “ I didn’t like..” or “ I fell out of ...”. As my only listener, I’ll leave it to you to tell me if you want more or less information (subject to my right to totally ignore any pleas for less).
    7.40am and we walked straight onto The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh. This is a new one to us,being under construction in 99. As a kiddies ride, we went on for Julie and ‘knew’ it wouldn’t have the meaning to us of Snow White or Peter Pan coz they’re from OUR childhood and Pooh’s from hers. What an impact it made. Words aren’t enough. What a way to start me holiday,proper. And by fluke. Traditionally, we’d have started with our magical trio -IASW,SW’sSA then PP’sF, but warned by the board that Winnie was the most popular ride, we thought we’d better do that straight away in case a queue built up. Never a particular Pooh fan, I do love the dream scene in Blustery Day. What
    I got ‘blew me away’ on that ride. It’s sooo true to the film it’s uncanny. From WP we did Snow White twice, coz I wasn’t sure if the video would come out (new VC and not used to the settings for different lighting conditions) and it’s one of me favourites. Waved to Dopey and got sentimental again. Next, Peter Pan’s Flight and still finding the walking straight on hard to comprehend. Soon it was time for IASW and the kids were looking very uncomfortable - not their idea
    of a way to waste holiday time. ” Do you two want to go on the Speedway?” I think they said yes, but were out of earshot before I realised they’d gone! Me and V entered IASW (only spoiled by the boarding covering the entrance facade for some works) for OUR ‘now we know we’re back’ moment. No queue and we
    could have got straight on the boat that was there. “Can I get the front of the next one, please ?” - “Course, Sir,Straight to line One please”. Front row seats for a near perfect video of IASW (which is well worn already) -perfect. Don't know whether it was the front seats or coz we were not in a boat full of other people, but we saw loads more than 99. We only saw it once due to the horrendous queues there always were then - another vote for get there as early as you can and already beginning to form our “why’s it worth that little bit extra to stay in WDW” arguments for the boards when we return. Whenever you ride IASW, suggest you ask to wait for the front row,it’ll make the journey so much more worthwhile. Went to drag the kids off the Speedway and me and Gary headed for Space Mountain while V & J headed for their particular favourite - Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin.By now there was a small line for SM but we were soon back to earth following our successful mission to outer space. We rode BLSPS and waited at the exit for V&J who must still be on the ride. When they came off, they told us that had been their 5th turn and it wasn’t 9 o clock yet! We headed for Frontierland to ‘do’ BTMR before heading for DC and got there just as the rope dropped - well oiled machine ,see.
    V&J are not into rides (J is really, but very nervous of anything until she’s tried it
    and needs serious coaxing “Daddy’ll buy you..” for some faster/noisier rides.
    Expecting we’d be about half an hour, told them where to sit and suggested they take in Country Bear Jamboree while they wait for us. Got almost straight onto BTMR and got good video footage,if I say so meself. This is one of G’s favourites and we were to ride many times again in the fortnight. Back to the ‘meeting place’ by 9.15 we weren’t surprised that the girls weren’t there. Had a quick wander about, taking in the walk along the river from SM to HM and soaking in
    the atmosphere. Sun was up so it was getting warmer. We took a drink on one of the porches with rocking chairs and tapped our feet (well I did, Gary’s didn’t reach the floor) to the hillbilly soundtrack. 9.30 and no sign. Maybe they’d not gone straight into CBJ and were just now in the current show. The CM said the last show finished 15 minutes ago and this one would be out shortly. We moved to the exact bench we’d agreed to meet and paced up and down - you know, the way you do when someone’s disrupting your plan. Another 10 minutes and the holiday was ruined - plan’s out of sync now, it’s not worth carrying on! We started walking up and down the area surrounding the ‘officially recognised and agreed by all parties’ meeting place. Trouble was the area was starting to get busy now and there was a danger we might pass them and not see each other. “I need to get to Discovery Cove - I’ve paid £600 and need time to get me
    moneysworth!” I decided to reschedule Belz coz they’d used up the 30 minutes I’d allocated. We went back to the bench and thought it better to stay here coz they’ll have to turn up eventually. Then it dawned, there’s no ‘have to’ in Valerie’s vocabulary. To her, all these green benches will look the same. The fact that this one was chosen coz it was beside a stall and opposite The Diamond Horseshoe Saloon will have been totally lost on Valerie who has absolutely no sense of direction or awareness of any part of the world around her. She’ll be sitting on a bench somewhere, oblivious to it’s colour, surrounding or even which side of the street she’s on. She’s lost and it’s all my fault !I normally only send her out in the world without me, with our Gary coz he’s got my sense of direction and bearings. But she’s only got me lovely Princess , and she had her lovely head on today , as well! I should have taken the time and trouble to point out the landmarks for her - green bench,lovely ice cream stall (they’d have remembered that) and opposite TDHSS. But no, I was too much in a hurry to beat the queue at BTMR. Oh, the remorse. ‘What a pr*tt’
    Oops, sorry. Skipped to the end. It’s nice there, you’ll like it.
    So, where to start. She’ll have sat a while. Then realised she might be in the wrong place. Oh. no! I hoped she hadn’t started wandering. She could be anywhere by now. We went back towards the Haunted Mansion - no sign. We’ll head for the bridge at Splash Mntn. There they are! Sitting outside the cafe at the wrong end of the street, on the wrong side of the road and sitting on a wall
    not even a bench! “ I think we came out of a different door than the one we went into and didn’t know where we were !” Words (well, printable ones) failed me. I hardly said a word to them as I marched them out of MK at double quick time. Luckily we got a bus straight away (or there WOULD have been trouble) and we got back to our room to pick up our swimming gear by 10.20.
    No time to lose, we quickly (too quickly) grab our bags and rush to the car to recover what’s left of this ruined day. On the way to DC, I tell V of my change in plan re shoes. I’ve got two nasty blisters already - lack of foot care and preparation in the pre hol week coupled with her ridiculous refusal to try shoes on yesterday just because her feet were swollen! With a captive audience in the car they were treated to my ‘you’re all too selfish for your own good, and this is MY holiday’ seminar. So it’s Valerie’s fault that I hobble for the rest of the
    holiday. We won’t need shoes at DC, so calling after SW will suffice. On the way
    we notice a new Mall just onto International Drive and recognise it as one me and Gary had spotted a Nike store at as we passed on the i4 yesterday. Quickly switched the plan to call there instead of Belz coz it was on the way home and would get back about 18 minutes (approximately) in driving time alone. Arrived DC just before 11am.
    We’d seen DC via a video Mike had kindly copied for us so knew what to expect re architecture and lay out of the place but were still ‘stop right there’ impressed by the overall feel and atmosphere as soon as we walked into the reception area. ID photos taken and checked in to book our dolphin swims we waited to be led into the DC kingdom - very Jurassic Parky in build up, waiting at overlarge wooden doors to be let in. We’d booked two separate swims (3.15 for V&J and 4.05 for D&G) so we could video each other and selected late swims to make the
    most of the facilities in the meantime. Got the quick guided tour from the pretty lady who wanted to take my picture as a reminder of my physique for herself, but V,J & G muscled in so she told them they could have the pic for the family album - she looked really disappointed though. She took us along a path pointing out the pools etc on the way and (too) quickly explained where to go to change etc before leaving us at the equipment store where we were allocated
    our masks,snorkels,towels and wetsuits,if required. “ The snorkels are your’s to
    keep as a momento with our compliments but PLEASE do bring back the masks and wetsuits as they are not gifts). G & J chose to get wetsuits and me and V decided the jackets we’d seen on Mike’s video would be adequate. Julie had to be poured into her suit and poor Gary gave up after 5 minutes of trying to rearrange his limbs had only allowed us to get the thing up to his shins! A combination of them already being damp from other use coupled with G’s attempts to emulate his father in the ‘some girls go for this flabby look’ body sculpting routine. More time was wasted trying to tear the suit back off the boy and he looked in fear of losing his ankle skin as I pulled mercilessly in an attempt to get at least near a dolphin before the bloomin place closed! Finally ready to move to the next place - we’d forgotten where it was or why we
    were going there due to the delay and the rather hurried instructions we’d received. This was one minor criticism of DC - it certainly wasn’t Disney in terms of attention to detail or customer needs. To be left, fairly unsure of ourselves or where to go at the start of a £600 outing seemed a little ‘below expectations’.
    Maybe I expect too much but it wouldn’t have happened in Disney. We asked where to get the wet jackets and were pointed in the right direction. Once there, we asked where to change and off we went. At last, I’m going to get some value for me money.
    Me and Gary went into the boys, and I was quickly into me trunks and raring to go. Gary was looking somewhat unready in his shorts and ‘head in the carrier bag looking for something’ pose. Oh my gawd! I’d left him to pick a pair of favoured trunks but forgotten to tell him in the hurry to get them on the bus this morning. (of course, it’s really V’s fault coz it was her getting lost that made me forget the contingency plan of actually telling him this when we got back to the room!). What to do? Well, obviously he’ll have to stay on the beach. But I have paid for him - could I go twice? “ We could buy a pair here, Dad” Stupid boy, there’s four perfectly good pairs at ‘home’ why waste money on a new pair? Such is my logic and tightness of international quality that for a split second I even weighed up the option of wasting a little more time but saving money by driving back to ASMo to get a pair!“Maybe I can just go in in me shorts then, Dad” the little lad said in the angelic way they do when they really want to do something but don’t want to be a bother. I crumpled and folded at the ‘whatever works for you is fine by me’ look in his eyes and almost thought “ b*gger the cost” but wasn’t quite that far gone! “ Howay, Son. We’ll get you a cheap pair”.
    Now I did think to go straight to the shop to save time but then Valerie would be left on her own and would inevitably get lost in her own shadow. So we waited outside the girls room for ages while they did exactly what we’d done (well I’d done and Gary would have done if he’d had his trunks, but he didn’t , so I had to reverse the changing that I’d done and get unchanged so we could go shopping - happy now, Janice?) but for some reason girls take ages to do. When they came out I told her the story in as honest a manner as I could, in the circumstances, it
    was all the boy’s fault and it’s 11.30 and we’re still not in the water and do they
    know how much this has cost! I showed her some seats on the beach which I would find again, but she wouldn’t if she moved, so they had to sit down and wait for us to come back with the cheapest pair of trunks I could find. Off we went to the beach shop we’d passed on the way in. Some very nice boxers on display but they were all the wrong size - $48!!!! “Have you got any in a better size, say $10?”
    “No everything’s so expensive it’ll ruin your holiday,Sir.” Luckily, I remembered
    a gift shop in Mike’s video more like a sea-side shop. Clutching at straws, and me credit card, we set off in search of a place not as expensive as this. To cut a long story short (!!!!) We found some perfectly acceptable ,if not more than I would pay if I wasn’t desperate, trunks at $28 and the deal was soon struck.
    Back to the changing rooms and let’s get this mission ‘to get something for me £600 before they close’ on the road.
    Nearly 12 by now, we went straight to the lazy river type pools, Mike had told me about, to familiarise ourselves with the masks and snorkels and get used to swimming with our faces in the water before we headed for the tropical fish lagoon. Quickly sorted like a NavySEAL (Our Gary had a Diving Action Man I used to play with in the bath) , we were ready to dive. NO. hold it! Julie’s mask’s so big it covers her top lip as well and because they’re designed to be so tight to stop any water getting in she is panicking with it on as she can’t breathe
    properly. “But you’ve got to do it. I’ve paid for it” isn’t cutting any ice with me
    little angel and she’s getting in a right tizz . Don’t know where she gets the dramatic overreaction to any little set back from ! We agree she should forget the mask and snorkel and just enjoy swimming/floating around the pools.
    The sun hadn’t got as hot as we’d hoped and while it wasn’t overcast, it wasn’t the sort of hot day in the water we’d hoped for. As the water has to be kept to a temperature to suit the fish (why? how much have they paid?) it was a little chilly to be honest. We went round the lazy river bit once and got out for lunch.
    On a hotter day , with more time, this would have been idyllic. but, because of the lack of time , with so much more to do, coupled with the chilly water effect we didn’t appreciate it as much as we maybe should have done.
    For those with phobias there are two waterfalls you float through (V doesn’t like
    them) which are there as a natural curtain for the aviary (and I know some are wary of birds) which you float through. If you want to avoid that area, the river doesn’t flow so fast you can’t turn back (like the waterparks which carry you along) get out and walk passed that section. Just thought some might appreciate that detail.
    Out of the lazy river to the restaurant, we were well impressed with the layout and all things in general there. The kids chose the Beach Burgers and fries and V & I (posh coz we’re eating out!) selected the chicken stirfry with side dish of your choice (caesars salad for me and pasta for V). 4 Mountain Dews - dad didn’t want to be drunk in charge of a dolphin - and the most enormous pieces of carrot cake we’ve ever seen , completed our banquet. The food was beyond compare, and I can’t speak highly enough of that part of the day. We sat outside the
    restaurant under the trees with soft music playing and soaked up the overall atmosphere. It started to dawn on me what the special magic of this place was. Why do suckers like me get talked into paying £600 for a day out? It wasn’t about what you did , it was about the way we lived for those few hours - paradise. (I’m cloudy eyed again, now, so we’ll move on)
    After lunch, we headed back into the pools to enjoy the tropical fish and ray lagoons. V & J didn’t fancy it, so me a Gary had a good look around and ,never having been snorkelling before, was amazed at how easy it is plus just how much you can see underwater.
    One to the ‘DC is worth every penny lobby’.
    You pay something like $12/15 to swim slowly passed some fish at Typhoon Lagoon and aren’t allowed to stop or go again.
    Julie didn’t seem bothered to have missed out and I took her and V to the edges of the pools so they could at least see the fish close up.
    One regret, in the heat of the moment, I never thought to ask if they had children’s masks for Julie as her’s was too big for her. As the girl had to choose sizes for the kids’ wetsuits, I assumed she would have allocated smaller masks if they had them. But I don’t think J feels she missed out in any way.(I’ve since sent an E Mail to DC asking them if child size masks were available and intend to post the subject ASAP as a warning to others)
    Me and V walked round the paths videoing everything ( I like to have something
    handy to bore people who can’t read) while the kids kept on exploring. Another word of warning for those who need it. The paths are particularly rough and I had to go back to the locker to put me trainers on to help protect me poor blistered (thanks to Valerie) feet. The lagoons and pools are not smooth bottomed as you might expect in a waterpark (I’m not sure if DC is natural or
    manmade, but think it’s the latter) but quite rocky in places and the bottom is
    fine but coarse shingle. I’d recommend anyone to invest in those pool shoes you
    see in the waterparks before you visit DC ($4.99 at WalMart ;they are $15 in all the parks including DC). It was so peaceful and relaxing we could have stayed there for hours if V & J weren’t booked to do their Dolphin swim in 20 minutes.
    20 MINUTES !!! Panic set right in, just as if it had been there before and knew just which way to go to get to me heart rate fastest.
    “ I’ve paid £600 and these two are going to miss it! I wonder if I can get refund? Should I go twice?”
    We’ll have to find them, but where to start. Trouble is DC is a collection of little pools. Although the ‘lazy river’ bit goes right round, they might choose to get out
    and pop into a lagoon or may just stay in one particular area. If we just stand here they might never come passed but ,if we move, they might. Right, one of us will have to go round the pools etc., looking for them and one will have to stand still, not get lost, and look out for them coming by. Now which one? With no time to lose, I chose me to go and prayed I’d made the right choice. Could she get lost,standing still? Probably, but I’d cross that irrational trauma when I got there. And I would get there. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but you just know it’s going to happen, don’t you. Like I
    said, just call me lucky!
    So off I went, rushing around as best as me little blistered feet could go, while Valerie tried her best, God Bless her, not to get lost in the meantime. Hurrah, there they are.Now I’ve just got to attract their attention. Bearing in mind the peaceful , sophisticated surroundings and tranquil atmosphere I didn’t want to spoil the mood for others. So I just shouted, nonchalantly
    Knowing the sound of their master’s voice they got out like Jaws was behind them and we went on our second march of the day to throw them into the already assembled 3.15 group with a “Sorry, lost one of them,you know how it is” apology and hasty retreat.
    Video Director and key grip now headed for the beach to watch the current group getting their £600’s worth and to plot the lay of the land for best angles etc.. There are three lagoons with two groups of 8 people at a time in each session. We knew which lagoon we were to be (coz we’d asked,if the pretty lady had said, it went over me head as I tried to fight off her visual advances) & the lagoon printed on our ID cards was a bit of a help to the person we asked. But we didn’t know which side they’d be on so we quickly staked out two chairs in the middle of the deserted beach to hedge our bets for splitting as soon as the decision was made- we ‘knew’ that that would be the crucial jostling for position moment with all the other photographers. After about 15 minutes or so, the group in came out and our £300’s worth, who were out, went in. As the trainers
    went through the drill etc. we moved to one corner of the lagoon. The final place would depend on which side of the group my two stood at and where, in relation to them, the dolphin would go - all this gleaned from several midnight team briefings as we sat huddled in a smoke filled room (she’s not a good cook) dissecting every moment of Mike’s reconnaisance film. Positions secured I knew
    the girls would fight with catlike viciousness to keep them, as we agreed in the
    planning stages. I went right, to stake out another camera angle, leaving Gary on sentry duty at Base 1 to allow for swift pincer manoeuvring should things get out of hand. We eventually made a very nice film and the girls were very glad they came.
    Our turn next and the boys strutted into the briefing room knowing that we were probably the only ones there that understood the importance of such undercover (there was a grass roof on the hut) preparations. The lady trainer (we’re always in luck) came in and we shot to attention! The others looked bemused - civvies,huh? We watched a very nice training film with some dolphins in it and marched out to the beachhead (the others were sluggish but everyone around stared at me and the boy. They were so impressed their mouths fell open!). Into the pool and we had a very nice time too, thank you. We got out, dried ourselves and headed home.
    Oh, I didn’t want to bore you with the details of the dolphin encounter coz you
    know how I like to keep me little reports pacey and brief.
    For any who would like to know some details read on. Those who don’t have an eye for detail it’s ‘What a pr*tt’ time.
    V & J had a man dolphin called Hutch. Me and Gary didn’t ask what ours was called coz we don’t bother about telling you every little thing, like the girls do and do and do... Anyway, we didn’t think we’d meet the dolphin again so the name seemed unnecessary. So Hutch and his trainers went through an introduction to things - this is a flipper, this is a dolphin on his back, this is a dolphin’s fin, this is when you all kiss the bloomin thing! Julie’s eyes sparkled and I knew I’d never be able to buy her one of them!
    V & J were led out to the deeper water to have their dolphin encounter. They did some simple training manoeuvres with Hutch which Julie hasn’t stopped going on about since. Valerie, not a strong swimmer, was treading water like billyo while Julie stayed perfectly still without a ripple. Their trainer showed them how they get the dolphins to dance - by turning around in the water themselves and Hutch copied standing up out of the water and spinning around. Valerie nearly went under twice! Next the trainer said they were going to get Hutch to sing and to do this they held their hands out of the water and wagged their fingers in
    time. “Ma’am, you’d maybe be better watching this bit or you might drown!” So Julie conducted and Hutch sang to her - it was beautiful to see, but I’m a tad biased. They stroked Hutch’s tummy and he wagged his flippers ( something else happened coz Valerie had her hand a little south of his tummy - but this is a family show! You just can’t take her anywhere!). The trainer decided to hurry them back to shore and decided the sooner he got V out of there the better. He showed her how to hold on just behind Hutch’s fin and sent him on his way. “We don’t have another one Ma’am, you’ll have to go with him” She’d fallen off ! Next time she hung on and got back to the group with an embarrassed smile and a
    colour that made me think she’s caught too much sun already. Julie came back and others had their go’s. While they were waiting for the swims to be done another baby dolphin came to say hello. This was Coral and Julie’s favourite person in the whole wide world , better than all of S Club 7 and even more Super than Kevin Phillips. Coral is 4 months old and, as a baby, is allowed to
    swim around the lagoons exploring and playing all day long. The trainers the
    girls were with are the two that are responsible for Coral’s associanship training
    so, obviously, were the two that Coral paid particular attention to. The special interaction between dolphins and trainers in this,almost natural, setting is another ‘that’s how can it be worth £600’ experience. So Julie and her group got to be up close (and Valerie,too personal) with two dolphins for the price of one. This all went to make one little girl’s day so special and her Dad so tearfully proud of her that we’ll be going back ASAP no matter what they charge.
    Me and Gary had our turn but, although V videod it, and I enjoyed the whole experience, I don’t remember a great deal about it, you’ll be glad to hear. We did the same routiney things and we had our photos taken. We didn’t fall off though I did ship a lot of water in me mouth as it took me by surprise just how fast they swim back for all it’s only a matter of a few feet. Thrashing around like mad to keep afloat while our Gary just stayed on the spot was another memory as I kept drifting away from the dolphin and trainer and had to swim back a couple of strokes every 10 seconds or so.
    The dolphin encounter over, we quickly dried and dressed as it was nearly 5 o clock and V wanted to look round the shop - more shopping, Janice. We looked round but thought most was either way out of our taste/price range (very nice but too upmarket,if you know what I mean) or not nice enough for a souvy though. We lingered around the entrance/exit taking some last footage of our DC experience and the Robinson’s left the building. Or at least Dave did. Now, I’m always about 15 yards ahead of V wherever we go, so I wasn’t surprised to turn at the main door and find she wasn’t there. She and the kids were talking to this nice DC man, so I just stood at the door with me holdall in me hand. Me
    and Gary took the bag to put the VC in and keep our tapes and batteries dry etc.. Some conversation took place and they all headed towards the door , VJ&G with the nice man who only spoke pigeon Ingleesh - it’s the one thing that really irritates me in Orlando. They employ so many foreigners, partly cheap labour and partly to be multi lingual, but I always get the ones that don’t have Ingleesh as a common language! V asks “ have you handed everything in?” .
    “Of course we did. Towels in the bins in the changing rooms and masks to equipment with the wet suits/jackets. What’s the matter?”
    Seems the guy’s been goin on and on about handing in the equipment and because of the language barrier, V was going nowhere with the matter. Now a scowl is a scowl in any language. I explained that we’d handed everything in and was there a problem? Thinking it might be the holdall that was bothering him as you didn’t need anything but your trunks (GARY!) I offered the bag to him and went as if to open the zip. He shook his hands, I shook me head and we left.
    What a pollaver!
    Still it had been a better day than I’d expected. Nothing spectacular, though
    Julie and Hutch together with Coral had been special. Just the overall ambience of the place. Now since we don’t do ambience in County Durham, that had been a pleasant surprise. It could have been warmer; if we’d got there sooner; if we’d got Julie a mask. It would have been so perfect I’d probably have gone on and on about it in a much too long report. All in all it was a good part of the day. But it’s not yet 6pm!
    Homeward bound (in the words of that immortal song - you wish I was) and we headed for the new Mall, (who’s name escapes me) between the 14 and the 536 end of I Drive. Hurrying into Nike, coz they’d been told to select shoes and not look at anything else unless me and the boy approved it, we fairly quickly selected our shoes. Fairly quickly coz Gary got 2 pairs (coz I play football Dad) but was cautious to look for bargains so got them both for $29.95. Valerie was quickly kitted out at $49,95 and Julie decided not to get any cause she couldn’t decide and knew I’d get cross if she was still choosing after 15 minutes. I took longer than the allotted time, mainly due to discomfort caused by pushing shoes over the increasingly tender blisters on both heels and not getting any comfort out of ordinary Airs went for Maxi Airs at a whopping (for me) $69.95. Got Gary a new Nike hat coz he gets nowt compared to Julie and we headed for Ponderosa for tea.
    Ponderosa usually costs us about $60 all in for dinner for those who like to know these things. It’ll be a feature of the report to try to give an idea of costs wherever I can. When we were new, our biggest fear before going to America was would we have enough? Would we run out and starve? I know it’ll make the reports a little longer and I like a short succinct account as much as the next
    man! but I intend to put in ‘minor’ details for me lonesome stranger if that’s OK.
    Ponderosa is Julie’s 2nd favourite place on earth, now that DC is the first. You should see her put it away. Normally, she eats like a sparrow, but put her in an 'all you can eat' restaurant and she sets off trying to ‘do’ them under the Trade Descriptions Act! An hour and a bit later we have to drag her from the buffet to give them a chance to restock. We call in at Publix to get me beer and whatever else we got, and we were back in the room by 9.45. Telly set on Disney, coz
    that’s the law in WDW ,the others were asleep in seconds. Sitting up with me cans of Icehouse, I scribbled some notes in case I wanted to do a report when I got home. Falling asleep in me second beer, I settled down and looked forward to tomorrow.
    Night Night, dear Stranger.
    Couldn’t sleep so got up early and unpacked.
    Had the gang outside MK for 7.15 and were on Pooh by 7.38.
    Did loads and had a great time thanks to my meticulous planning.
    Back to ASMo to get the car and were in DC for 11ish.
    Has a great day, according to plan and came home.
    Popped into Ponderosa for tea and bought some beer at Publix.
    Early night to pick up some zzzds.
    Tomorrow, MGM.
    Dave (SD)
  2. ThumperThistle

    ThumperThistle Flower of Scotland

    Apr 28, 2001
    These trip reports are brilliant.
  3. Minniespal

    Minniespal <img src="

    Jan 14, 2003
    Thanks for sharing - Wonderful reviews!!!!

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