Life Begins at 50 The Dream Tour With Lots of pictures


I've been to Paradise
Dec 18, 2006

Back in May of 2006, it began to dawn on me that I was going to be 50 years old in January 2007, just 7 months away. I was 181/2 stone, totally unfit, and hadn't had a holiday abroad for the last 4 years. We hadn't been to America since 2002. That was the second year running that we had been, and the kids were getting a bit blasé about it all, so we decided then to have a couple of years away from it. We did a year in Spain, then bought a caravan in Whitby, North Yorkshire, so have spent the last 3 summers up there. I truly love the place, but the weather on each of our 3 main holidays was nothing short of abysmal, so we decided that we would make my 50th year special, and go back to Orlando.

We have been three times in total, the first time back in 1991 was the year my DW and I got married. I never dreamed back then that I would ever go to America, but my late father in law & my super human mother in law broke the news to us one Christmas eve that they were paying for not only my wife Lisa and I to go, but would be taking our 3 year old son, and both my older kids from my first marriage. We were also joined by my sister in law and her partner, together with his son. We stayed at a place called Days Inn McCoy and the holiday was almost ruined before it began, when I snapped my Achilles tendon just a month before we left. I finally got permission to go, with my leg in plaster up to my knee. In hindsight, it wasn't such a bad thing, as our party got pushed straight to the front of all the queues due to my disability. I even went water skiing with a plastic bag over my pot.

The highlight of that holiday will always be the first afternoon parade in the Magic Kingdom. I will never forget sitting there in my wheelchair in tears as Mickey went past. I spent much of that holiday hobbling around, trying to get the autographs of all the characters - for the kids of course. And the last night at the Magic Kingdom was heartbreaking, as we looked at the castle for the very last time. I vowed then that I would return one day.

Well it took 10 years, but in 2001, we finally got back to Orlando. This time there were 22 of us, staying in a 9 bedroom mansion on Formosa Gardens. This included all 4 of my kids (yes there was a new edition, now 7 years old) together with the older 2's partners, my 8 year old grandson, the mother in law and sister in law with her son aged 8, and then my brother & sister in law with their two kids and 4 family friends. We had two huge mini-busses to get us all around, and we all had a fabulous time.

A year later, 9 of us returned to Formosa Gardens, in a slightly smaller, but equally beautiful mansion. Again, we had a great time, but it was becoming noticeable that the kids were losing interest in the characters. My grandson has major heart problems, which mean he will soon have to have a heart / lung transplant, and as he has to be pushed around in a wheelchair he was often given special attention by the characters. This produced some wonderful moments, especially during spectromagic. The boys were all around 8 or 9 now though, and perhaps it was not cool to have a cuddle with Mickey any more. I was 45 for Gods sake, and I still needed a cuddle with Mickey. Any way, we decided to give the boys a break from Disney, to re-ignite their enthusiasm.

So back in May 2006, my passion was totally re-ignited, and I needed to get back to Orlando. My Grandsons illness meant that he & my daughter would not be able to make it, and my two other sons were in relationships now, so that just left my DW, my youngest son Ben and myself. A villa on Formosa wasn't quite as appealing for just 3 of us, so we decided to go for the full Disney experience, and stay on site. Never having considered this before, we were total novices, and we initially looked at staying at Fort Wilderness in a cabin. We also looked at All Star Sports, thinking this may attractive to my DS12. But as we began looking through the brochures, we became totally drawn to Animal Kingdom Lodge. This was to be the best decision we ever made. We shopped around and finally got a good deal through Holiday Hypermarket, to travel with First Choice. We opted to upgrade our flights to Star Class Premier, which again, would prove to be a very wise decision.

So having opted for luxury, we decided to really go for it. It was going to be a one off total luxury celebration of my 50th birthday. We immediately decided that we would fulfil our ambition to swim with dolphins, so booked Discovery Cove, with the Busch Gardens and Seaworld option included. We also pre booked the 14 day Ultimate Disney pass and 14 day Universal one too. I also discovered the discussion forums, which were to prove invaluable in our planning. I spent every available minute reading other people's experiences and suggestions. This led to me booking a night in the Hard Rock hotel, so we could have front of line access for 2 days at Universal and also led to us booking other exciting things like the Ultimate Tour at Busch Gardens and the Sharks Deep Dive at Seaworld. It also led us in the right direction for where to eat and how to book our ADR's.

As the months passed by, I decided I needed to lose weight, and boy did I lose weight. 41/2 stone dropped off me, leaving me at a sylph like 13 stone 10 lbs in just 4 months.

My actual birthday in January was a tremendous affair, with over 200 guests attending my big bash. The planning that went into that event helped to pass on the time. We eventually drew up our itinerary, and even that became a full Technicolor document, but everything was planned to perfection, to allow us to fit everything in that we ever wanted to do, while allowing us plenty of rest time to recover along the way. Eventually the big day, July 25th 2007 drew close, & we had the excitement of picking up our tickets & making sure everything was packed & ready, as we prepared to set off on the adventure of a lifetime.


I've been to Paradise
Dec 18, 2006
Day 1 The Flight, First Time Driving, AKL & Boma
Wednesday 25th July 2007

The alarm went off at 4-45am, although it needn't have bothered, as I was laid awake, much too excited to sleep. My mother in law, God bless her, had stayed up all night so that she would be ready to take us to East Midlands airport. We set off on time, at 5-30am and arrived at the airport at around 6-20am. The check in desk was already open, so we quickly rid of our cases and got through all the security checks into the departure lounge.

We had a full breakfast, did a bit of shopping and my DW had to inject herself with heparin, as a result of a blood clot she had some years ago. The time soon passed though, and at around 9am we were called to our boarding gate. Being Star Class Premier passengers meant that we were boarded first, which was very nice. The seats were very impressive leather, extremely comfortable & with miles of legroom. No sooner had we sat down than we were given a glass of sparkling Rose wine & crackers, and from that moment on, we were pampered like royalty.

It was an amazing site as we took off at 9-47 to look down and see all the flood water everywhere, and even more amazing to think that we were leaving it all behind. I watched a few things, including the Royal Family & Paddy n Max on the seat back screen, listening through my anti static headphones. None of the films really appealed to me, or I just couldn't be bothered to get into them, as we were constantly served with drinks or food. I eventually became hooked on the game bejewelled, and this passed time on brilliantly.

For our meal, we were served a Greek Feta cheese & olive salad with herb vinaigrette starter, served with warm bread,

followed by beef Diane, served with roast potatoes & vegetables.

There was a choice of chicken or pasta for the main course. This was followed by a lovely sweet, made up of 3 layers of chocolate with a fresh orange topping, and then cheese & biscuits & beautiful Belgium chocolates.

Wine was served with the meal, and it was all served on real pot plates, and we even had individual salt & pepper pots, not just paper sachets!! There was also a plentiful supply of tea & coffee. Further drinks were served, and as we completed the visa waiver forms we got a delicious tub of refreshing ice-cream. Two or three hours later, after getting complimentary newspapers & magazines, we had a selection of sandwiches, with scones & fresh grapes, plus further tea & coffee. Lisa even turned down a further glass of sparkling wine, as she wanted to stay compus-mentus to help me with the driving (that's a first!) Our landing into Sandford airport was superb & just a few minutes early at 1pm local time.

We soon got through all the security checks, and our priority baggage soon came through, so we quickly headed for the Dollar Car Rental stand. Now, somehow, and I don't know how it happened, I got talked into upgrading my pre-booked economy car, to a Chrysler XXX. This, together with the full tank of fuel that you have to pay for, and the optional??? Roadside assistance suddenly cost me over $300. As I was not planning on doing much driving, I felt as though I had been a bit conned, but as the holiday progressed, I did not regret any of the additional costs, especially the roadside assistance, which will become obvious on our last day!! I would eventually use the full tank of fuel, and more besides, and the comfort that the car gave us was well worth the upgrade. So, off we set, on my first ever-driving experience on the other side of the road. I had worried about this for months, but thanks to printing out detailed instructions from the US192 site, it was actually a doddle. I opted for the I4 route, and before I knew it, we were seeing the signs for the Disney exits. I did tend to drift over to the right, but Lisa would quickly put me right, and less than 2 hours after landing, we pulled in to AKL.

I dropped all the bags off with the porter at the door, along with Lisa & Ben & then, after getting in to the wrong side of the car (how embarrassing!) I went to self park. We all entered the building together, and even everything that we had read about this place couldn't have prepared us for that wonderful moment. It was like entering another world. The lobby area was just stunning. An African in full costume, greeted us by welcoming us home. We just couldn't stop looking around us and trying to take it all in. It then got even better, as we were checked in, and told that we had a free upgrade to a Savannah view. Our room was on the Zebra trail, on the 4th floor, which is 1 floor up from the lobby. It was quite a treck to the room, but with so many views of the savannahs & all the different artefacts on display it didn't seem too bad. We got to our beautifully decorated and themed room, with 2 king beds, and made our way straight on to our balcony. There they were, 2 giraffes and other, as yet unidentified animals plus flamingos and other birds, all within yards of our room. Amazing!

Lisa was busy unpacking, so Ben & I got straight into our swimwear and headed off down the stairs to the wonderful oasis that is the pool area. We got our towels and set up base on the ample sun loungers, before stepping into the water. As we lazed in the blazing sunshine, I looked around us and I really, genuinely thought I had died and gone to heaven! Everything was just beautiful, whichever way you looked, except upwards, as the expected storm began to move in. Eventually, everyone had to evacuate the pool, as the thunder & lightening began, so we went back to our room to watch it. It did not last long, and by the time it was over, we were ready to go and explore our surroundings. We just became more "gobsmacked" by the minute. The showcases, containing interesting items, the hand carved furnishings, the African art, the river flowing down the stairs from the lobby towards Boma, the wonderful large window and the views outside it, the firepit, the smell, the ambience, it was all too much to take in. We got our re-fillable mugs from Mara, which again, would prove to be excellent value for money & Ben got his points on his card for the amusement arcade and had a couple of games. Before we knew it, it was time for our ADR at Boma.

At this time, I was regretting eating so much on the plane. As we entered the restaurant, the aromas were amazing, and the open fires where the chefs were cooking really added to the feel of the place. As for the food, well, where do you start. The servery areas for the buffet were just laden with different things. The chicken curry stew was just to die for and Ben enjoyed the beef, as it was slightly rare, just how he likes it

I had a salad too, with a mango dressing that was stunning, before moving on to prime rib and other delights. I was totally stuffed and struggled to manage one of the delightful sweets.

At this rate, the 41/2 stone I lost before coming would be back on in the first week!! To top it all, the chef came to our table with a specially prepared sweet, consisting of a thick slice of pineapple, speared with chocolate filled doughnuts & decorated with chocolate sauce. My God, where were we going to put this?? Our waitress kindly said that she would pack it for us to take to our room, it was far too good to waste.

Ben & I had another quick swim before we had another wander around to see the place by night, and were astounded to look through the night vision binoculars onto the savannahs. It was just like daylight, and all the giraffes, bongo's gazelles & vultures were right up by the fence. This was a truly wonderful end to an unforgettable but very tiring first day, so we slid into our beds at 10-15 ready for our extra magic hour in the morning at MK.


I've been to Paradise
Dec 18, 2006
Day 2 Magic Kingdom & Epcot

I woke up at 7am and sat on the balcony for 10 minutes, just listening to the African music gently playing in the background. I woke Ben & Lisa up and we quickly got ready for our first trip to MK. We filled up our re-fillable mugs on our way to the bus, and we got more or less straight on to one, arriving at MK at 8-10am.

After our first photopass pictures, we made our way straight to Buzz Lightyear & Ben was devastated when I beat him with my very last shot. We headed off to Space Mountain with virtually no wait, and then rode the Indianapolis race track, which we have never managed to get on in our previous visits.

Lilo & stitch came next, but I'm afraid none of us were too impressed with this one, it promised a lot but delivered a little. Ben really enjoyed Monster Inc, and then we did one of my new favourites, Mickeys Philarmagic. This is probably the best of all the 3D shows. Small world drove Ben insane & continued to do so as I sang the tune for the rest of the day!

We had burgers with all the wonderful trimmings in the Starlight before getting on the steamboat. It was incredibly hot by now & the queues were really building up, so we caught the steam train back round to the entrance & got a bus straight away back to AKL for a rest. We enjoyed a lovely relaxing bathe in the pool, enjoying the glorious sunshine, before heading off to Epcot.

Again we had hardly any wait for a bus and after the customary photopass pictures, headed off to Nemo which was nice & then turtle talk which was very good. Next came Honey I shrunk the audience, before a walk around the world showcase.

We had an ADR at the Rose & Crown especially for Illuminations, & when Lisa explained that I was here celebrating my 50th birthday, they ensured that we had the best seats on the patio, in prime position.

The food and service were excellent. Lisa had a cheese & fruit starter, while I had chicken Satay.

Ben didn't fancy any of the starters, but he joined Lisa in having the Steak & Fish main course. I had a very large lamb joint in a beautiful sauce, which I forgot to photograph until I had finished it, so here's the bone!!

I enjoyed a pint of Boddingtons,

while Lisa & Ben had cocktails with flashing ice cubes & a light up peter pan.

Just before Illuminations, our lovely waitress brought out a special sweet for my birthday treat, made up of fresh cream cake in a brandy snap basket & covered in strawberries, together with a card signed by all the staff - yet another bit of pixie dust landing on our table.

The show was everything I remembered it to be, with just a perfect view, which made it all the more enjoyable. We stayed for extra magic hours and had quite a lengthy wait for the stunning Soarin, and a slightly shorter wait for the equally brilliant trip to Mars, before our feet could take no more, so we headed off back to AKL for a quick paddle in the pool, before dropping in to bed to dream about yet another wonderful day.
  • kevg1889

    I've been to Paradise
    Dec 18, 2006
    Day 3 MGM, Whisperin Canyon, Magic Kingdom

    Up early again, but slightly later at 7-30am. Noticeable that Lisa & Ben are less keen to get out of bed now, but I am happy to sit on the balcony for five minutes, taking in the amazing views while they come round. We are soon up & running though, and manage to get through the normal mug filling, ciggy smoking, bus catching routine and still get to MGM at 8-30am, so catching the last half hour of the EMH.

    Again we take advantage of the photopass opportunities as we race towards the Tower Of Terror.

    I quickly run off to fastpass Ben's favourite ride from our previous visit, Rock n Roller Coaster. It was his first ever real rollercoaster, so he was looking forward to re-living the moment. We got straight on to TOT & it was every bit as hairy as I remembered.

    The thing that always impresses me with Disney is everything around the ride, the build up, the surroundings and how everything is themed to perfection. Anyway, we had an hour to pass on before our RRC fastpass time, so we headed up to do the Back lot Tour. I love catastrophe canyon, and it never ceases to amaze me how they get the whole thing re-set before the next tour bus arrives. Time to fit in Muppets 3D before heading back to RRC. Ben loved it again & we posed for the old air guitar shot in front of the ride before crossing back over to the Lights, cars Action show.

    This was very impressive, although one of the main scenes had to be cut when there was a problem with the car. It was very hot again & we were getting hungry, so we had lunch in the ABC Commisary. Ben had his usual burger, while Lisa & I had a bowl of curry, which to be fair, was average at the very best. We decided we had had enough for now, so headed back to AKL for a much needed dip in the pool.

    It was really nice to be able to take an afternoon break, as our previous trips had involved long days in the parks, so just laying back and soaking up the sun for a couple of hours seemed to take much of the stress out of it all. Ben & I spent hours just throwing his American football to each other in the pool. Eventually, it was time to leisurely get ourselves ready for our ADR at Whisperin Canyon, which I was really looking forward to after all the good reports on the boards about how much fun it was.

    We took the bus to MK and then the boat out to Wilderness Lodge, arriving at around 6-10pm for our 6-40pm ADR. This gave us time to look around the place, as we knew the same person who had designed AKL had designed WL. This was soon obvious, as the place was magnificent & very impressive. Before our ressie, we got talking to the Disney Vacation Club representative, & ended up booking a tour for Sunday afternoon. A colleague of my wife's was already a DVC member & we were keen to find out more. So, on to our table at WC. This was undoubtedly the first (and possibly only) disappointment of the holiday.

    We got stuck right out in the back room, out of the way of all the activity and our server just wasn't into the fun side of things. We even tried asking for ketchup, as we had been told to do on the boards, and got a bottle of ketchup!! The girl serving on the next table was trying hard, but the fun factor just wasn't there, which was immensely disappointing. As for the food, we had wings & cheesy nachos for starters, with loads of salad, cornbread & coleslaw. This was all really nice.

    Lisa & I then had the skillet, which was generally disappointing. The pork, ribs, sweetcorn mashed potatoes & beans were good, but the chicken & shrimps were just OK.

    There was plenty of it, and it wasn't a bad meal, but I guess the night just didn't turn out to be the fun affair I wanted it to be for Ben, although he did enjoy his Prime Rib.

    We were soon on the boat back to MK, and Main Street was already crowded with people waiting for Spectro Magic to start. We knew we had another night planned to watch the parade & fireworks, so thought that we would get smaller lines on the rides while they were happening - wrong!! We waited over an hour to get on Splash Mountain, but did manage to get on Pirates of the Caribbean & the Jungle Cruise much quicker.

    POC was much improved, with the animatronic Jonny Depp looking very realistic. We were all really tired by now, so we decided to give EMH a miss, and headed back home to prepare ourselves for the day we were all looking forward to - Discovery Cove.


    I've been to Paradise
    Dec 18, 2006
    Day 4 Discovery Cove & Seaworld Part 1

    All through our trip planning, I had decided that we were going to take the Lynx bus to DC, as I wanted to drive as little as possible, and also, I thought it would be nice to advantage of the free beer on offer throughout the day. However, it was definitely getting harder to get up in the morning, and we would have needed to set off really early to get there before 8-30am. I was also much more confident about driving now, and the beer / sun combination wasn't so appealing, so got in the car at 7-45am with a relaxing mug of coffee, and arrived at DC at 8-15am. From the moment we arrived, it was like we had been transported to a tropical paradise. We had photo's taken for our passes, then were taken by our guide to look around & get our wet suits on. We had our complimentary photo taken as we made our way to the changing room.

    We all chose the vests, as opposed to the full suits, as it was so hot & we didn't want to waste tanning opportunities. Next came breakfast. A lovely selection of cereals, croissants, pastries, coffee etc, as much as you wanted to eat. We went off to set up our base, next to the ray pool, alongside one of the snack bars. We waded with the rays first, which was a wonderful experience.

    When I first visited Seaworld in 1991, my late father in law had to hold my hand under the water to feed the rays, while I screamed in fear, which was filmed at the time, and is a source of great amusement to my family. Now, here I am in the pool with them, hundreds of them all-swimming around me, stroking them and loving every minute of it. We then moved into the coral reef, with our masks and snorkels in place, for an absolutely amazing experience, swimming with the tropical fish. We just could not get Ben out of there. He was taking hundreds of pictures with his underwater camera & just kept saying "this is the best day of my life" The variety of different fish and the size of some of them was astounding, especially the really big rays in there, some of which were bigger than me!!

    Just taking in the sheer beauty and tranquility of the place was wonderful, & so relaxing. Everywhere you looked, it just felt like we had been marooned on a tropical island.

    To be continued below.
  • kevg1889

    I've been to Paradise
    Dec 18, 2006
    Day 4 Discovery Cove Part 2 - The Dolphin Swim

    Before we knew it, it was time for our 10-30am dolphin swim. We grabbed a free drink from the snack bar & made our way to the meeting point. The next hour or so will live with all of us for as long as we live. We had a short film about the dolphins, before making our way to the lagoon. There we were all split off into groups of 7 or 8, all going to separate areas of the lagoon. We had two trainers with us, whose names I can't remember. Our dolphin was called Rose, she was absolutely beautiful and she performed everything for us to perfection. The three of us had a family of four children with us. The water was quite cold as we got in, & we were all shivering, but I think that was a mixture of the cold & the excitement. We got to stroke Rose as she gently swam past us, she felt so silky smoothe. The trainer got her to do a few little tricks, making different noises etc, then we all got to give her a kiss.

    I do not know if this is Bens first real kiss, but I do know it is one he will never forget!!

    I must admit to being really emotionalat this point, as this was something I have always dreamed of, but never thought I would get to do it. The photographers were in the water with us, taking both still & video pictures of it all.

    We got pulled along by her next, which involved smimming out a short distance & waiting for Rose to come by. We then held on to her fins and away we went, zipping through the water.

    We then got to pose for pictures with her, I tickled her underside & her fins were really flapping, as the trainer explained that she was very ticklish.

    All the dolphins in the pool performed a few tricks, with us being encouraged to shout out the commands & then it was all over. It was a really good session, of course it wasn't long enough because you just wanted to stay in there with them, but even typing this now brings tears to my eyes, as these were moments I will cherish forever.

    We had frozen drinks and snacks back at base, then Ben couldn't wait to get back in with the fish, so we snorkelled down to look at the sharks, behind glass in the old shipwreck.

    To Be Continued Below


    <font color= CC0066>I need books, and wine and Ian
    May 4, 2006
    this is wonderful, congratulations on your weight loss, you look like you had a great time on the photos


    I've been to Paradise
    Dec 18, 2006
    Day 4 Discovery Cove Part 3 The Aviary & On To Seaworld

    Next came a very, very nice lunch, with an excellent selection & certainly very plentiful. As we ate our lunch it was incredibly hot, but we could see the storm clouds building in the distance. We let our lunch settle by going to look at our photographs from the dolphin swim. It didn't really matter what the price was, we knew we had to have them. They had also taken some pictures of us in the ray pool, and we also went for the DVD & CD containing all the pictures. The full package cost us $197, which, while expensive, is a small price to pay for the memories they contain.

    We had no sooner got back in the coral reef than we had to get out again, as the lightening began to get closer. Everyone had to make their way to the covered areas around the restaurant as the most amazing storm I have ever seen commenced. One particular clap of thunder shook the foundations, and all caught on my video camera. It took around an hour to pass over, and the life guards & water safety team wouldn't let us back over the bridge until it was well out of the way. We eventually got back in the water though, and took a swim around the wading pool, which is definitely not a lazy river & quite hazardous in places, but very picturesque.

    We visited the aviary next, which was another amazing experience on a truly wonderful day. Loads of different varieties and sizes of birds sitting on our arms and shoulders, again Ben was totally amazed.

    Of course it didn't worry me having loads of birds flocking around me, I have no fear??

    Just time for another session with the fish before our time was up, so we went off to get showered & changed before waving a sad goodbye to this tropical paradise, but I swear I will return one day.

    We were on such a high that we decided to finish the day off in Seaworld. Reception organised a parking pass for us so we crossed over the road ready to see Shamu. Ben has always said he would not do the really big roller coasters, but after riding Journey to Atlantis, and after a bit of gentle persuasion I talked him in to riding Kraken. His first words after getting off were "Can we do it again" he was now hooked on the large coasters!

    Unfortunately, we did not have time to do it again, as we wanted to see Shamu Rocks, so made our way there. We really enjoyed the show, but were disappointed to stay dry, having sat ourselves well & truly in the soak zone - unlucky!! The night show was cancelled due to inclement weather, so we had a delightful ice-cream sundae before driving home to reflect on one of the best days of all our lives, as we sat in our room, eating pizza from Mara and watching Grease on TV, Happy days!
  • CustardTart

    <img src=
    DIS Lifetime Sponsor
    Oct 19, 2004
    What a wonderful, wonderful trip report and photos! Your enthusiasm is contagious and I can't wait to read more... :goodvibes

    Congratulations of your 50th and your impressive weight-loss... :cool1: :banana: :yay: :woohoo: :cheer2: :dance3: :cheer2: :woohoo: :yay: :banana: :cool1:


    <font color=blue><marquee>Am I the only one who lo
    Nov 3, 2006
    What a great holiday:thumbsup2

    well done you for losing the weight, what an achievement :banana:


    <font color=red>A penguin with mouse ears & wooden
    Sep 26, 1999
    Great report, really looking forward to reading more.


    DIS Veteran
    Nov 15, 2004
    I am loving this report!

    Thanks for sharing!

    The holiday must have meant so much to you and from what I read so far it was magical.

    Congrats on the weight loss too, you look great!


    <font color=deeppink><marquee behavior=alternate>H
    Mar 31, 2005
    Loving your report. Many congratulations on the weight loss, back to sensible eating now.:) Could you put the dates on your next reports? I especially like reading the reports from people who were there at the same time as us (1 to 15th August), just to see what you were doing whilst knowing what we were doing.:) Thanks.


    I've been to Paradise
    Dec 18, 2006
    Thanks for reading my report Wicket, we were there from the 25th July through to the 9th August, so we will soon be getting into the reports from the days when you were there. Keep reading, cos there are many more amazing adventures still to come!!


    I've been to Paradise
    Dec 18, 2006
    Day 5 Rest Day, DVC, Hoop-de-Doo Revue Sunday 29th July 2007

    I suppose that this was a day we were all ready for - a rest day! I was still up at 7am, sat on the balcony listening & watching. To be fair, we did not see too many giraffes at this time from our balcony, they tended to be there later in the day & at night. I got connected to the internet & put a message on the boards to let everyone know that AKL was definitely not closed. I then decided to take my re-fillable mug & sit by the pool with a coffee or two.

    It was a beautiful day & I just lounged and swum until around 10-00, when I went to get my team up. We decided to drive to the Golden Corral on the 192 for a spot of breakfast. I was getting really brave with the driving now, but it brought back memories, as this is only a couple of minutes from Formosa Gardens, where we had stayed on our two previous visits. The menu was just changing from breakfast to lunch, so we had the best of both worlds - bacon & steak!!

    We headed straight back to the pool & there we stayed, until the daily storm clouds started to gather. This was an excellent opportunity for us to have a really good look all around the Lodge & take in all the different viewing points etc. We were still every bit as in awe of the place as we were when we first walked in. Ben went off to the arcade for a while, so Lisa & I sat in the Uzima Springs pool bar and had a couple of cocktails. We then got ready to be picked up by our host from the DVC, who was taking us to Sarratoga Springs for our meeting.

    I do not want to say too much about the DVC meeting, because I think everyone should go along and listen to what they have to say. The concept is excellent, and it was very tempting to buy into it there and then, but we needed more time to think about it. We will be buying points eventually though, and there was absolutely no pressure put on us whatsoever. They served us with ice cream & took a nice picture of us, before the DVC minibus delivered us right to the doorstep of Fort Wilderness, ready for the Hoop-de-Doo Revue.

    We had just enough time for a quick look around before the show began, as this was the place we had contemplated coming to, before opting for AKL. To be honest, we were so thankful that we had decided on AKL, as this place really didn't appeal to us that much. Having to ride everywhere in a golf cart might seem like fun at first, but I can imagine it becoming a bit of a pain.

    Anyway, on to the HDDR, this was a night that worried me slightly, as I didn't really know how Ben would react to it, as a very mature 12 year old. I needn't have worried, this was his favourite night of the holiday, and one he kept asking if we could do again. Our seats were right at the centre of the stage, just 2 rows back. We got a big bucket of salad and large loaf of corn bread and were quickly served with our choice of drinks.

    I had beer, while Lisa had red wine & Ben had coke all served in jam jars.

    Then the entertainment started & Ben chuckled his way through it all, especially Six Bit, the large guy with a hint of Peter Kay about him.

    The main course of ribs & chicken served in buckets & accompanied by beans and mash was really nice and again, very plentiful and Ben had a second bucket of chicken all to himself.

    The entertainment kept coming, intermingled with the food and drink, and the strawberry shortcake was absolutely delicious, but I was too stuffed from what had gone before it to do it real justice.

    I became part of the show as they took the mick out of my Yorkshire accent (Toot Toot) and there was a rousing finish with washboards a plenty. It had been a truly enjoyable night, and Ben & I would spend the next few days blurting out the theme song, all together now "Hoop de Doo, Hoop de Doooo"

    We made a quick getaway to get on the boat back to MK, and saw the water pageant going by as we crossed the lake. We took up our position for Wishes, right in front of the castle. This is the first time we have watched it from here, and I don't know if it was the positional change or whether it has improved since our previous visit, but it seemed even more spectacular than ever before. I really loved it, and yet again felt quite emotional about it (I really am turning into a soppy old so & so!!)

    We shot off to try & get on Buzz before Spectro Magic, but the line was too long so we re-visited an old favourite, The Carousel of Progress. This turned out to be one of the funniest moments of the holiday, as it went drastically wrong, and the animatronic father in the last scene was shaking violently before it started re-playing & all sorts of amusing things. It was sad really to see this old classic going wrong, but it really was funny - and I always thought they were real actors!! We giggled our way back into position for the much less crowded second showing of Spectro Magic, which was as spectacular as ever before doing Thunder Mountain. It had been a less hectic, but equally tiring day, so we headed back home at 12-30am & fell straight into bed.


    I've been to Paradise
    Dec 18, 2006
    Day 6 Animal Kingdom & Rainforest Café,
    Monday 30th July 2007

    We had planned to get up early and do EMH at Blizzard Beach, but I couldn't wake my team up, so I decided to go and relax by the pool and drink coffee while they surfaced. They finally came down at around 10am, so we went and had a bit of breakfast in Mara and then continued to sunbathe and soak in the pool until around 1pm.

    We got ourselves organised & then set off to Animal Kingdom. We took advantage again of the Photopass photographers, as I was determined to get at least 100 photo's on my pre-paid CD!!

    We headed straight for the Tree of Life to do It's Tough to Be a Bug, which we all enjoyed

    For the third visit running, it was throwing it down with rain by the time we surfaced. We took shelter for a very short time while it passed over, then fastpassed the Kilimanjairo safari before catching the steam train to Raffikis Planet Watch. I was a bit disappointed with this, so we quickly caught the train back again.

    We headed off to look at the queue for Everest which was massive, but this was our first look at the ride & it certainly looked impressive, the ice cream wasn't bad either.

    We decided to try again later, so went & did Dinosaur, but Ben was desperate to give Everest a go now that he was a coaster addict, so we joined the line, and actually only waited half an hour before boarding what is easily the best ride at Disney. We loved it, and it certainly holds a few surprises!!

    Next we had to shoot off for our fastpass on Safari and this again turned out to be a totally unforgettable experience. When we had done it on our 2 previous visits, we saw plenty of animals, but only from a distance. This time was totally different. Our transport had to stop twice, firstly because giraffes were crossing our path, and I hadn't been this close to a giraffe even at the lodge. Then we had to wait as two rhino's, a mother & baby played around our truck, within touching distance. This was truly amazing & yet another unforgettable moment.

    We had to quickly make our way to Rainforest Café for our 6pm ADR. I loved the setting, but Lisa got a bit fed up after the third or fourth time that the gorillas next to our table went through their routine.

    I must admit, it did become a bit irritating after a while, but the food was good, if a little on the expensive side. We had chicken wings & quessadillas for starters which were very good. Lisa & Ben had their usual cocktails, with Lisa's being served in a multi coloured light show of a glass, which was so impressive that we brought one home with us.

    We all enjoyed a very tender steak with all the trimmings, but we were too full to attempt the volcano, so we had a good look around on our way out. Lisa was just glad to get away from those damn annoying gorrillas!!

    By the time we got out of the Rainforest, it was time to get our EMH wristbands for AK, so we did this & made straight for the Khali River Rapids. We all got well & truly soaked on the ride, but unfortunately, so did both our cameras, both of which packed up on us. We wanted to get back on Everest, but the line was huge, so we went & did Primal Whirl, which was much better than I remembered it from our previous visit. It was made all the more amusing by a couple of Japanese girls that shared our car, as they screamed & shouted in a very high pitched Japanese accent all the way round, bringing tears of laughter to both Ben and my faces. We decided that we had to do Everest again, and it really was worth waiting for.

    We were all still a bit wet from the rapids, so we decided to get back to AKL for a dip in the pool & to pack our bags in preparation for our night in the Hard Rock Hotel tomorrow night. The news on the cameras was not good, as neither of them would work, & we still had 9 days of memories to record. Still, we were not going to allow this mishap to spoil our holiday. We made sure everything was packed and ready, so we could get an early start in the morning, to take full advantage of the front of line benefit at Universal.


    <font color=deeppink><marquee behavior=alternate>H
    Mar 31, 2005
    Thanks for the report and the date, I enjoyed reading it. Those meals were huge. We had a lovely meal in Mythos in Islands and all though the holiday I had been trying to try different things so we ordered raspberry and key lime pie. I thought I would get the kids to share mine and get extra spoons when it arrived. I wish someone could have taken a picture of me when it did arrive because it was absolutely tiny and I was so thankful I hadn't asked for extra spoons. It was a shot of pudding so was served in about an inch diameter by 3 inch thin tumbler of glass. I had expected a pudding of American standards, big enough to share.:rotfl: As it turned out it was just right, felt okay after it.


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