So in part 2 I spoke about food mostly, now here in part 3 I want to talk about theme parks, zoos, and the disappointment that was for one the original Mc Donald’s and Virgin Atlantic.
Let’s start with the theme parks.
As we all know looks & size wise there can be not a lot of difference between a child that is nearly 3 and a child that already is 3 years old. Why am I telling you this? Well as it was our very first visit to Disney’s magical kingdom the boys were nearly 3 which meant instead of over $400 dollars we spent over $200 on a day ticket for all of us, it was brilliant though. The first thing was the lovely little tram that took us from the car park to the ticket office. Then there was the monorail that took us from the ticket office to the entrance of the park. Which was all very friendly and all that. So first things first we went on this delightful little train ride around the park.
The boys absolutely loved and adored the dwarfs mine train rollercoaster. It was fabulous! Then there was the flying elephants ( lot of dumbos going round & round and up & down ). Tomorrow land’s people mover was brilliant as well even if it was just a slightly different slow train ride, showcasing all the other rides and attractions. The next ride we went on was the Buzz Lightyear one where you have to shoot the aliens. At one point we stopped off for a bite to eat and wow was that freaking expensive! as I never been to florida let alone disney, I wanted to see the carousel of progress. Horrendously slow and completely outdated in every aspect! the only thing that slightly held the boys attention there was a mechanical dog which barked at appropriate intervals!
We then went to the monsters inc. show and it did hold the boys attention for a minute or 2 until eddie wanted to go and Alex fell asleep. To be fair it did feel and look a little naff. We then sat down somewhere near the people mover and both boys just went to sleep. They slept for about an hour and a half.
You should have seen Alex on the “pirates of the Caribbean” ride now that was a sight to behold.he really enjoyed himself. Eddie wasn’t that sure of what to make of it. Oh yes one more thing we did at the magic kingdom was this lovely little boat ride safari. How hard must it be to keep this Jolly and downright brilliantly funny tone of voice all day?
Now we know there is a lot more to Magic kingdom than what we got to see, we decided not to wait until the evening parade as the boys were so tired all you wanted to do was get them back home!
Even though it was quite an expensive theme park, you pay more for the name than for the attractions & fun you can have there the boys enjoyed the day immensely and as Becky said ( having been there a couple of times as a kid and teenager ) : It does make it fun & new again seeing your child react to it for the first time.
The park of sorts we went to next was the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens. We saw some really quite stunning animals, ranging from Lemurs, monkeys, giraffes to snakes, rhinos, cheetahs & leopards. It was all very interesting, we also saw some creepy crawlers. $3 for a bottle of water or soda where you know you need at least 2 or 3 of them in that hot & humid weather is actually quite pricey.
Ok this zoo might not have had any rides but the boys still very much enjoyed themselves which made a welcome change from that day we spent over $200 for tickets and nearly another 100 on top for food & drink. Disney ain’t cheap!
But the best we did save up until last. Let’s see we flew home Thursday night, so yes it definitely was sort of the last thing. We went to sea world on the Tuesday before heading home. We found a special online deal for SeaWorld which required us to have an US postal address & an US bank account/credit card account. Luckily we do have family over there so Uncle Bob was kind enough to sort it for us.
To start with we saw some protesters at the Gate of SeaWorld waving placards saying the Dolphins are given psychotropic drugs, that it’s unnatural for a dolphin to smile. The orcas are being mistreated etc.
First thing we did was we did rent a buggy this time. And those $6 were very well spent! the amount of walking we did at SeaWorld would either have been spent with winging boys or with very sore arms for us!
We saw some Sting-Rays, some Manatees, some lemon sharks, zebra sharks, lion-fish, Dolphins, sea otters, sea lions, walruses, but the most spectacular thing we saw at SeaWorld had to be the Orca show, now that was amazing.
There were a few rides at SeaWorld as well. A delightful little carousel which the boys loved, a tiny little train where the boys managed to get the front seat in the drivers cabin. Then there was a proper little rollercoaster for the little ones, but the most impressive thing about that area wasn’t the rides or the little water features, no it was this massive obstacle course high up above the seating areas. A maze of netting, rigging, tubes, going up and down, even had a couple of slides with it. It really was more aimed at older kids, but didn’t stop our two trying to get up there. Alex at first wasn’t too sure about it, took a couple more minutes to start climbing the stairs to the first set of ropes. So Uncle Paul followed Alex, where as I followed eddie. The way & speed with which Eddie climbed those ropes was really quite impressive. No wonder he looks tall & in very good shape. He really is quite strong our Eddie. By the time we found the Exit of the ropes and then stairs to go and join the others I was really rather puffed out.
All in all another brilliant day had by all. You might see protesters at the gates to SeaWorld, but really, honestly, how do you get people interested and clued up about the environment & wildlife in general? Only by providing a completely commercialised atmosphere where the harsh facts of the here and now are sugar coated and served to you in easily manageable small quantities. Some people will not give any of that another thought when they leave SeaWorld and some will be inspired to learn more, much more.
Florida definitely is a wonderful place to come and spend your holiday at. Be under no illusion that it won’t be setting you back about 3 to 5 thousand pounds. It definitely will, but what you get for that amount of money is absolutely priceless!
And as my wonderful wife said: Florida grows with you.
See this was our very first visit ( ok not for my wife, but in a way it was her first visit all over again as she got to experience it through the eyes of our kids ). The boys are at an age where a day spent in & around the pool, watching TV & then going out for dinner is a great day, same as going to a theme park is a great day for them. Now once they get a bit older they will be able to appreciate things like Epcot, Animal Kingdom, Universal & Hollywood Studios and a few more years they’ll absolutely love Bush Gardens and going out in Downtown Disney, going to Daytona Beach, going to Miami and the Keys. There is something to be found for every age group in Florida.
I definitely want to go back there!! We absolutely bloody loved it! It was fantastic! I would go again tomorrow if I could!! All this was made possible by my wonderful wife & her sister and brother in law. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart, you truly are amazing!
If you read holiday pt 2 you are probably wondering where the bits about chuck e cheese & MC Donald’s are I was talking about?!
Well one day we went off to do our own thing with the boys and let kathy & Paul do their own thing and we thought hey why don’t we see if we can find a chuck e cheese somewhere close by. Which we did. It does have a certain charm about it I give you that. The good thing also is the person at the door giving you and your kids a uv light stamp. So that the it is definitely the same group going out that came in. But the rest was quite disappointing. The were lots of games and tiny rides you had to pay for, a minuscule play area for babies & toddlers and a very short overhead tube labyrinth. Most definitely geared towards the slightly older kids who the pester mommy & daddy for quarters & dollars. So we decided to give it a miss and head over to Mc D’s.
At arrival at Mc D’s it said it was the worlds biggest Mc Donald’s! There were all those billboards at the side of the road advertising a brilliant deal on MC D food upon inquiry I was just told that it was not available in this store. We went upstairs as I heard so many stories about Mc D’s having these amazing play areas attached to them.
What i found were loads more of these money hungry machines/games and a series of very small tubes. Which weren’t even padded or anything. But the boys still went and wanted to check them out. Now I went back downstairs to get the food and it was ridiculous the amount of choice you had. Some people ( me included ) have the occasional blank and think what do I actually fancy here?
So I got our usual: Big box of Nuggets, happy meals, burgers, fries, drinks. All that came to around about $23 the only thing that vaguely tasted anything like the mc D’s you get over here were the fries. The rest all tasted, well I don’t really want to use the word taste. There hardly was any to speak off. when people slag Mc Donald’s off for doing rubbish food and it tasting of nothing then they clearly have eaten at an American Mc Donald’s and were not referring to the British Mc D’s. The British Mc D’s is utterly different. The burgers actually taste of beef and the nuggets taste of chicken and weirdly enough they are friendlier, oh and a lot cleaner!
I had to pry myself into one of those tubes the boys were playing in as eddie got his foot stuck somewhere and if I known what the state of those tubes were like beforehand I would never have let them in there. Thankfully my boys, despite being very premature have quite a decent immune system, which you needed crawling around those tubes!
So all in all I have a bit more respect now for the British Mc Donald’s than I had before and was left utterly disappointed with my visit at allegedly ” the biggest Mc Donald’s in the world ” in Kissimmee/Orlando.
So the thing about Virgin Atlantic was the flight to Orlando was perfect, couldn’t fault them whatsoever. But for the return trip we, in all our holiday happiness forgot to check in online early enough and thought “should be fine, we were told as we are a family of four we will be seated together” and we were assured that as we reserved seats together ( 4 in a row ) we would get them. They however forgot to mention that rather then this “reserved” meaning that it is a definite, it is a request at best and therefore can be easily ignored if you have a mind to. So when we got to the airport we were told that we had be allocated seats as we did not book in online. Those seats were 3 in a row and 1 behind that 3 in a row. The best thing still was that one of our boys was officially put on his own. We tried our best to ask if we could change it, to no avail. All we got was “no cant do anything about that.” At one point I got the feeling that someone was seriously trying to suggest we should be grateful we got the 3 in a row and 1 behind.
So let this be a lesson to everyone! if you think you have seats reserved in Economy do not believe a word they say, check in as soon as you possibly can to guarantee you get the seats you want/need! luckily it was an over-night flight so for a lot of the flight the boys were actually asleep, imagine it hadn’t been an overnight flight? On the outbound trek we “bookended” the boys which worked fabulously well, hardly any tantrums at all!
I tried to get in touch with Virgin Atlantic via Twitter and I was told that we never should have gotten any kind of statement that seats would be guaranteed, it would be a request at best! To which I thought of two letters that sums this up brilliantly: B & S