ALYSSA IN THE U.S.A. (Part 4): Orlando

Merry Christmas everybody!

I’ve been in such extreme holiday-mode lately that it’s taken me how long to tell this seven-part American tale?! Hey, at least it’s making the trip drag out in my mind, even though in reality there’s been a whole semester between then and now.

Get ready to read about 92% Disney World, 3% candied almonds, 1% outer-space and 4% blackout-inducing roller-coasters at Universal.

The first day:

The Orlando airport almost deserves its own fan-club. It’s got a monorail with lights to take you to baggage claim, a fountain, a hotel, and Disney staff to point you towards the Disney Magical Express. We were staying at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort– a magical place that plays mariachi music in the lobby 24/7, looks like it could be the setting for a Disney cartoon or maybe Camp Rock 3, and has MEXICAN FOOD EVERYWHERE! There’s an amazing lake in the middle of the resort, pools, “casas” and “ranchos”. We spent the afternoon loading our FastPasses that act as room keys and let you skip the queues for the rides, and getting lessons from the concierge about the complimentary buses and parks and FastPass and basically HOW EVERYTHING WORKS. It’s a lot to take in.

The second day:

Magic Kingdom. You know, the park with the castle and Main Street U.S.A. and that statue of Walt Disney? We started with two rides of Space Mountain, which turned out to be the favourite. It’s a retro, fast journey-through-space ride in the DARK. I’d like to install one in the basement of my mansion one day, thank you.

Took the train from different ends of the park, went on those famous Mad Tea Party tea cups, took a raft across to Tom Sawyer Island, even the Winnie the Pooh ride. But the best part – better than the singing quartet dressed in pastels – was the parade! I grinned like a child the whole time, waving ecstatically at Cinderella, Ariel and Elsa.

I promised you 3% candied almonds, didn’t I? Well, they’re sugary and warm and served up daily at Disney World. I was obsessed with them. So much so that I’ve found a recipe on Pinterest, and I predict my quality of life will improve dramatically once I perfect the art of baking sugary cashews and almonds. P1090541

The third day:

All I have written in my diary about this day is “Kennedy Space Center.” Guess I was going to come back to it later? We took a bus out to the Space Center, with a Jack Black -esque bus driver/tour guide who was about 1000x more interested in rockets than I’ll ever be. While visiting the exhibits and launch pad was interesting, the day was off to a bad start when the driver left the group stranded for about 45 minutes once we’d arrived and a museum guide never showed up. When the group finally found the driver he was trying to ditch us – we were “free to explore” for six hours while he went out taking photos of the launch pad. Then he treated us to a slideshow on the ride home…

The fourth day:

Back to Magic Kingdom in the morning, where we lined up for the new Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train, then to Hollywood Studios for the afternoon. My sister got the perfect shot of the big finale in the car stunts show, and saw some kids getting Jedi-training outside the StarTours simulated flight. The Aerosmith roller-coaster was the first upside-down roller-coaster I’d ever been on, and it wasn’t until I found myself zooming through the dark with my ears pressed against the headrest that I realised that it was going to happen.

The fifth day:

This was the day I walked through Canada, England, Japan, Marrakesh, China, U.S.A., Norway, Italy and Mexico. Thanks to the World Showcase at Epcot. Some seriously awesome photo opportunities. Top memories: the Ellen Degeneres/Bill Nye Energy Adventure (it felt like it was 2002 and I was getting a really cool energy lesson on a school excursion ft. dinosaurs and moving chairs) and ‘Soarin,’ a simulated hang-glider ride over California. Also wanted in my mansion. P1090636

The sixth day:

Universal Studios. Two cool simulators: Despicable Me and The Simpsons. Two huge roller-coasters: Rock’n…something, and Dragon Challenge. Fairly sure I semi-fainted on the first one due to high heat, gravity, speed, loud music and being hurled upside-down. All I know is that I did not remember parts of it and I needed red Gatorade to recover. But it was fun!

Everything was going swimmingly – we’d seen Hogsmeade and a Seuss village and shot aliens in the Men In Black ride – until our last ride… Thought we’d finish the day with a river rapids ride. It was fun, but we got SOAKED and then it started POURING sans cesse and we were squelchy and had to buy a plastic poncho so the taxi driver would let us sit on his seats for the trip back to the hotel!

The seventh day:

Breakfast with elephants, gorillas and various aquarium fish? Check. Last Disney day started at Animal Kingdom (and then we went back…to Magic Kingdom…and Space Mountain, again). It was a bit too young for us, but had a beautiful rainforest theme and a giant tree of life in the middle of the park. Oh, and Mount Everest. Roller-coaster edition. Yeti included.

Only three stops left in this series! Aiming to finish before this time next year.. New Years resolution? 

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