Saturday 8th September, 2007


A magical holiday

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David Wears at Toon Lagoon, Islands of Adventure

Story and photos David Wears (as told to LISA Allen-Agostini)

My wife and I promised ourselves that we would do something different for our vacation this year. When a relative gave us a week in a time-share there, we decided to do the theme park circuit in Orlando.

We found an online special which gave us incredibly affordable tickets to Disneyworld and Universal Studios, and coupled with another offer through the time-share, the Inn at Oak Plantation, we got more free tickets to parks.

We drove from Fort Lauderdale to Orlando to the time-share. It was on a 50-unit compound with a small water park on site—but the main attraction was definitely the big parks we planned to visit.

We started with Typhoon Lagoon. It’s still my six-year-old daughter’s “best day on earth.” It features water slides that I would never go on, or even look at again. The highest is 214 feet, about 14 floors high. She went on the mid-sized one, a twisting tube about 300 feet long.

The Surf Pool, which holds 1,000 people, features a six-foot wave every 90 seconds. The thrill about it was to see big men squeal like little children every 90 seconds as the roar of the wave built up.

Magical expenses

On the second day we went to Universal Studios’ Islands of Adventure. We discovered how expensive the holiday could be: a soft drink, one of the cheapest things in the park, was US $2.59 and a bottle of water was $2.99. Food started at about $4. Even parking was $12 a day. That’s not to mention the extras: the Donald Duck Pirates of the Caribbean hat, Spongebob Squarepants underwear and all the rest.

Islands of Adventures was a bit more thrilling and the rides had more warnings at their entrances. They were scary! My daughter came out of one Jurassic Park ride crying. She thought she was going to be eaten by the dinosaur. I found the Amazing Adventures of Spider Man ride the best. It’s a 200 mph ride—but it’s anchored to the ground. Everything is in 3-D. You are Peter Parker tracking Doc Ock through New York.

Break from the rides

At SeaWorld the next day, we took a break from rides. I don’t think there’s a human being who walked out of SeaWorld without a Shamu toy under their arm. Shamu is the world-famous orca who performs in the shows in the huge pool at the park. Animals are the main attraction: there are sharks, sting rays, birds, dolphins, whales, seals, manatees, penguins and polar bears, different shows and petting areas.

Donning the official ears…!

The next day we went to the Magic Kingdom. My daughter woke up that morning bawling, “Daddy! Magic Kingdom! Disney!” Secretly my wife and I were just as excited as she was at the prospect of seeing Mickey Mouse for the first time, hugging him, donning the official ears…!

We followed the map and did everything in order. Magic Kingdom is made up of seven areas: Main Street, USA; Adventureland; Frontierland; Liberty Square; Fantasyland; Mickey’s Toontown Fair; and Tomorrowland. You take a monorail from the car park to the park. At the centre of it all is Cinderella’s Castle, a fairytale image from my own childhood. In reality it seems only two storeys high but the power that it holds is bigger than that. The memory is what carries you.

This park was all for my daughter. She did every ride in Fantasyland. Her favourite had to have been Mickey’s PhilharMagic 3-D show. Donald Duck is conducting an orchestra and it comes alive and gives him a lot of trouble. The 3-D was amazing; you could almost reach out and grab the flying objects.

A four-eared pirate!

In the Monsters, Inc Laugh Floor, the famous movie monster Mike Wazowski does 20-minutes of stand up comedy, interacting with the audience. Guess who ended up as one of the people on screen? My daughter! She was wearing the Pirates of the Caribbean Mickey Mouse hat and he said, “Hey, look at this! A four-eared pirate!”

Among the other things we did was go to the Universal Studios park, which features rides about every big movie hit from the studio—from Shrek to Men in Black, Jaws to Jimmy Neutron, Terminator to ET. We went to this park twice, it was so much fun.

All in all it was ten days of fun, thrills and spending plenty money. We came back home on Sunday night and promptly put our daughter to sleep, unpacked one suitcase and started to check our bills.



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