2001: Cypress Gardens & Universal

Tuesday 8th May, 5:54am

Forgot to write last night.

Yesterday was a more relaxed day. We slept in and didn’t leave the hotel until 9am. We decided to try Perkins for breakfast, as it’s one of my favorites. Katie had pancakes, and I had 3 pancakes, 2 eggs, 2 sausage for $3.99 – Yum. Interestingly, I wasn’t allowed to order for myself of the child’s menu – but when I told the server what I wanted she suggested this, which was similar to the child’s menu. (I think it had an extra sausage).
We head off for Cypress Gardens, which is quite far down I4, and then down 27(?). As we get away from Disney, there are loads of signs for new houses which are amazingly cheap. I am quite jealous, some say fom $40k, – that’s about £25k, and would buy you a very small dump around North Shields. I am quite curious what you would get in Florida.

We get to Cypress Gardens for 11 and head in. It is really really pretty, there are amazing floral sculptures everywhere so we spend a while taking photos in the surroundings.

Then we walk up to the brand new water park. The big rides aren’t open yet, but Katie spends a lovely hour playing in the shallow pool and we wade in to help her on the slides, which is very refreshing. Kid’s really need to bring a swimming costume here, and fortunately we have one, but you could have easily not realised it would be needed.https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-3-ZRN2PWX48/VXSFFGL2YBI/AAAAAAAAfMA/qCXazsgFDCM/s640/2001-may-orlando-006.JPG

After playing in the water, we walk through more of the park, and into a zoo area. We see alligators who look like logs, and never move more than an inch, and then some wallabys.

Wallabys look like small kangaroos, and one of them has a baby in her pouch. We spend quite a while watching the baby hanging out of the pouch and getting food off the ground.

Eventually he pops out, and he is a big baby.
After this we head around and into the restaurant. Crossroads, this is a lovely air-conditioned oasis, as it is very very hot.
We are seated in a small empty room with a wedding cake in the corner… we mention to 2 waitresses that we’d like to move so that we don’t disturb the wedding but are not moved. Eventually a waitress tells us they have 5 weddings in, so it is impossible to avoid one.

The bride and groom arrive, along with 2 parents in tow. They are English, and don’t seem to mind us joining their reception.

I mention to the mother of the bride(?) that I would have dressed up if I had realised we would be attending a wedding reception.
They have photo’s taken, and cut the cake – we sit there in our shorts, hot & sweaty – it’s all a bit surreal.

Meanwhile, we get our food. French dip for me, chicken salad for Phil, nothing for Katie.(We did this a lot). Katie picks off our plates, which seems to work better than ordering her a kids meal as I don’t get annoyed when she doesn’t eat anything. Phil says don’t forget to mention that he had a marshmallow and cheese dip with his salad – we had to ask what it was, it tasted like icing!

We head back in to the park in search of the ‘Southern Belles’ and find one. I try to convince Katie to have her picture taken, but she has gone all shy so we head off. Then she changes her mind and scampers back for a photo.

Just then the water skiing show started, so we watched from the grass, which was nice except for the creepy crawlies.
The show is ok, but the skiers make quite a few falls and a bit too many corny jokes.

After the show, we take a quick walk through the rest of the park, and then head out(3pm).
We head back to I-drive and I decide to do some shopping, so we find a scrapbook store on Orange Blossom Trail.

Traffic is v. heavy and they haven’t got what I wanted, so I buy a few things anyway, and we head for Michaels where I manage to spend a lot of money… Fortunately, Phil stayed in the car with our sleeping beauty.

Back to the hotel and we just get in when the phone rings, it is Detmar. (My sister in law’s boyfriend – he is in Florida on business).

We chat for a while and arrange to meet him Tuesday evening for dinner. By this time it is getting late, so we decide to go to Wendy’s for tea.

I was a bit disappointed in Wendys. My local Wendys in Pittsburgh (where I grew up) had a superb buffet and salad bar, this one is just like McDonalds, but it serves it’s purpose.

On the way back to the room, I spot an internet machine. $1=4minutes which I think is pretty reasonable, so I log on to say hi, and check my mail. My 8 minutes go by very quickly….

Get back to the room and check if my scrapbook paper had dried out, we had an incident in the car with a leaky water bottle. The paper seems to be ok.
Bed – 10pm.

Today it’s Universal Studio’s, we want to get there early after our empty park experience at IOA.

We drop off some film to be developed and are at Universal by 8:30am (to check Phil’s camera is working – it had jammed earlier in the week).

We are at Universal by 8:30am and actually have to wait to enter the park.

We make mistake number two and go to the Hanna Barbabara ride. I ask the CM if it is scary and am told ‘No, it’s just cartoon characters’ Needless to say, ‘Katie is terrified’ We are in the Stationary seats at the front, and leave during the show. I go back to have words with this CM who still denies it is scary, even though I am carrying a hysterical child. ‘I can’t help it if your child is…’ (she never finished, just gave a withering look)

We are now very nervous of anything remotely scary, we decide to do ET and as there are no queues, Phil & Katie wait outside while I go in. I am grateful we decided to do this, as I don’t think at that point Katie would have made it through the queue area. It’s a dark forested area, and while it’s very pretty she was feeling very timid.
I really enjoyed ET, it’s not really scary, although too much for Katie at this point (and probably even later on she wouldn’t have enjoyed it, with the police etc) I love the flight above the city at the end. ET mumbled ‘Goodbye x,jchakhf’ It certainly wasn’t Bev.

I exit, and Phil takes his turn while Katie and I browse the shops. We aren’t too sure what to do next, but decide to do Back to the Future while the lines are so short. This time I quiz the CM about scary queue areas, and he assures me the queue is fine, so we do a baby swap. The queue area was fine.

Just a word on baby swapping. Universal are excellent at this, they have designated air conditioned rooms with seats, and places for kids to play near the exit to each attraction.

This time Phil waits and I enter the Delorean. All that research before our trip, and I have absolutely no idea what sort of ride this will be. It is very clever, you don’t actually more anywhere, just rise up above your garage, but it feels very fast, and I feel a bit sick, I close my eyes for part of the ride, which is a bit of a shame. The theming of this ride is excellent. The whole building is like a lab, and all the technicians wear lab coats and hard hats.
I return to Phil and Katie, but we can’t find a CM/technician anywhere, and aren’t sure where Phil should go, at the last minute a CM appears, opens a door and tells Phil to get in the car. He has the entire car to himself – very scary.

We leave and contemplate Men In Black, but I am feeling a little queasy, so we head back to the Boulengerie for breakfast. After breakfast it’s nearly time for Barney (11am), so we line up and go in.
A tip – it doesn’t matter if you are at the front of back of the queuing area, just try and be near the doors. We found it was better to be in the back row, near the doors, then we got better seats for the actual show.

We wait for quite a while, and then Mrs Peek-a-boo appears, and Katie get’s nervous (do you sense a theme here), I try not to get annoyed with her. Eventually, we go into Barney’s park. The setting is really lovely, and Barney, BJ, and Baby Bop have us all singing along. Katie is dancing, clapping and having a great time. Until
‘I love you, you love me’ this is the close of all of Barney’s shows, and as soon as she hears it, she bursts into tears, heartbroken sobbing because it is over.
We wait to greet Barney, which is a waste of time as she is crying so hard she can’t see what is going on. As we leave the show, we find ourselves in a superb play-area, which is packed with kids leaving the show. Katie plays for a while but it is much too busy, so we leave to find a loo. We return about 15 minutes later and the play area is empty.

Katie plays for ages, and basically has the place to herself, which she loves. We realise Barney will be back on again soon, so decide to go in and see it again, this time we know to stand in the back row and get front row seats.

She manages to enjoy the show, and only sheds a few tears at the end. We greet again, and get some hopefully better photo’s and an autograph or two.

It’s now nearly one, we’ve been Barney’ng for nearly 2 hours, but a good time was had by all (other than a few tears..)

We walk around the lake, past Jaws (maybe next time) and into an Italian restaurant. The food was ok, but the portions very small, and no kids menu at all! I was not impressed, the difference to Circus McGurcus was noticeable, we had ordered basically the same meal, but the quality was not here.

Next we staked out a spot to Boogie on down with the Blues Brothers, which we all really enjoyed.

We decided to do one last ride, with the baby swap (I didn’t think it was fair to swap her too often) and choose Earthquake. We had to wait in a reasonable queue, 15-20 minutes, but we had pleasant company, chatting to the folks around us. I didn’t enter the building, as I was waiting with Katie, so I missed all the pre-shows stuff (the baby-room was right around the back at the exit – I can’t see what stopped anyone from just walking in here and saying they had been sent from the queue as there were a number of people in here, some with front of line passes, some who couldn’t stand through the pre-show etc.)
I really enjoyed this ride, I just laughed at all the screaming people, because although the effects were cool, they didn’t really scare me, until millions of gallons of water came crashing down the stairs, and onto me. I actually didn’t get that wet, but I thought I was going to get soaked.

We head for the exit, and it’s nearly 4pm – our longest day yet. Why does it take so long to get back to the car.

Back to the hotel for a snooze, and we’re out tonight for Dinner with Detmar. Where is he?

Thursday, 9pm. – Oh dear, haven’t written for a while.

Let’s see – Detmar arrived, and I suggested Tony Roma’s as we had heard good things, and had a 10% discount coupon. Detmar agreed, but chuckled – it turn’s out they have a Tony Roma’s in Berlin. (Detmar’s home).

We had a really lovely meal, Starters, Ribs, and pudding with beer and wine, and the bill was $90 for 4 which was our most expensive meal yet but very nice, and felt like good value.

We retired to the hotel bar for a few drinks afterwards, and had a really lovely evening

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