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Florida Honeymoonette

Around the middle of May or thereabouts, ToniAnne saw some cheap JetBlue flights to Orlando. It seemed like an ideal opportunity to take a quick "official" honeymoon trip, so we made the arrangements.


Pics and juicy details behind the cut - but not the kind of juicy details you were hoping for, though!


ToniAnne's daughter Katie drove us to the DC airport (hug hug!), and we flew out Saturday afternoon. We stayed at a cozy motel on International Drive - after waiting an hour to pick up our car from Thrifty rental. It was a nice little car, and came equipped with Sirius satellite radio. They pushed really hard for us to buy their extra insurance package, which would have doubled the price of the car - no, thank you. And, as it turned out, we didn't need it. Thptbth, Thrifty! We sent out for pizza which was late coming - the driver got confused, and the front desk didn't tell us that they were here. But it was still somewhat warm, and filling if average in other ways.

Sunday morning we drove down to the Clearwater/Tampa area where we hoped to be able to meet with ToniAnne's brother Daniel, but couldn't track him down. We did, however, meet with a forum friend - the delightful MoonsingerFan - and had lunch at Frenchy's Rockaway Grill in Clearwater Beach. We dined inside, where it was air-conditioned - after working about 15 minutes to find a parking slot. The dinner and the company were unbeatable, and the view spectacular - blazing white sand, blue expanse of ocean, acres and acres of slowly roasting bodies...

Lunch with MoonsingerFan

The next morning we met our dear friends the Kidwells for breakfast at Perkins, and then spent the better part of the day at Epcot. The lovely Jean works for the Animal Kingdom, and was able to get us a day pass to all parks, bless her. We started at Guest Relations, where we made a reservation for the 9 Dragons restaurant in the China pavilion - and because we were newlyweds, they honored us with a complimentary FastPass to any attraction. We promptly used it on Soaring - what an experience. And that saved us at least an hour. I had been on most of the Epcot rides before, and this is definitely my favorite.

Getting ready to soar

After this exhilarating experience, we simply wandered from locale to locale, taking in whatever happened to be in front of us at the time.

I found myself a Tardis to try out in the London exhibit:


There had recently been a topiary exhibit going on, most of which was being taken down, but we got to see some things:

Dance of the Hours


Peter Pan - with my own Wonderful Wendy

I like Epcot. The country displays are quite authentic, and they are staffed by natives brought in by Disney for a one-year cultural exchange. I had fun talking to people at the various pavilions in the scraps of language that I have at my disposal. I liked the feel of Morocco - although I've never been there, the back alleys of the exhibit were very reminiscent of the bazaars in Egypt and Turkey that I have visited.


Morocco

Occasionally we'd bump into costumed characters. I noted with interest that each one has a "handler" that accompanies them, a change from earlier years. I can see why it's necessary. The Aladdin characters were greeting children, and I was surprised that they were allowed to speak, whereas the more traditional ones or the furries never do. They looked very authentic.


Aladdin and Jasmine

Notice the duck family behind them, who seemed totally unfazed by people so close, and just went on about their frenzied feeding in the bushes.

Mama duck with babies

Wandering further down we came to the Japanese pavilion - I could stay a full day in a lot of these places, just absorbing the culture and eating in each restaurant (if I were as wealthy as Croesus). We caught a presentation of the Taiko drummers:


I enjoy Taiko. There are any number of YouTube vids out there of the presentation, and of the art in general. My little phone video didn't do it justice. But for no apparent reason, I'll give you a gratuitous link to this, which is one of my favorite flash animations.

After Japan, it was time to wander down to China for our lunch - Scudder and Jean treated us to a sumptuous meal at the 9 Dragons restaurant.




Dioa Yu Tai Cucumber Salad


Nine Dragons Lunchbox Set with Canton Pepper Beef

Yum!

Coming out of the restaurant it was time to watch the rubber children:





It was an impressive routine; pretty amazing what these little bodies can do. There was a glowering mama-san watching over them all, and I hope they got praise instead of a scolding after the show - all of them were superb.

More wandering:

ToniAnne with our hosts in the Italy pavilion


More Italy

Having been to Venice, I can confirm that this is a very impressive reproduction, even at scale and false perspective. I can say the same thing for all of the pavilions. The Imagineers took great pains to make things look as authentic as possible within the limits of a theme park.


The terrifying Viking chieftain Grossebaf, with one of his friends (who appears to be getting a bit fresh!) Time for some escalope à la crème...

In here somewhere ToniAnne stopped by the face-painting booth. She didn't see what she wanted on the list of available choices, and asked the girls if they could do a Na'vi. They said they would be willing to try, and so I pulled up a picture of Neytiri on my phone, and using that as a guide the young lady did a very passable piece of work. They even asked if they could take a picture of it - apparently it was one they wanted to start offering on a regular basis.


I see you...

We explored the Mexico pavilion, which is one of my favorites. The visual impact of being in an open courtyard at night is quite convincing - and the diners in the restaurant get to eat in front of an ancient pyramid, with a fiery volcano in the distance:



The boat ride is pleasant and entertaining, even though I did have momentary flashbacks to "It's a Small World"! We explored the pavilion and looked at some of the artisans:

Glassblower making sea turtles

While we were in there, the sky uncorked with one of its signature Florida thunderstorms, and it came down in sheets for about 30 minutes, and was gone again just as quickly:



Hard to see in the picture, but it was very wet out there for a while. When the storm had passed, we headed back to the car and our hosts dropped us back at our hotel.

Thank you so much, Scudder & Jean!

We cleaned up a bit and headed back to the Magic Kingdom, which was open until 9 - we had about 3 hours to play.



The parking attendant let us in for nothing (whee!) because it was so late, and just as we were walking into Tomorrowland, ToniAnne struck up a conversation with a little cast member who, like her in times past, was attending Emerson College.


She was so tickled that she gave us another FastPass, which we used to get onto Space Mountain, saving us another hour's wait.


The rest of the time we used going on the Buzz Lightyear adventure:


as well as the Lilo and Stitch thingie, and the Monsters Inc. standup comedy routine. The latter was terribly clever and amusing - I'd recommend it if you have never been. What they do in the way of combining live audience interaction with animated characters is pretty impressive, and uproariously funny.

Then, alas, the rides closed and it was time for the fireworks display - probably one of the nicest ones I've ever seen. And they do that every night... breathtaking! Must cost them a bloody fortune. No wonder the admission is 80 bucks...

We followed the mass of people out the gate, stopping at the ice cream parlor for a snack and to let the crowds dissipate. Huge respect to Disney for the way they can move huge groups of people around with amazing efficiency.

It was a delightful day, in spades, and to the Nth power.

The next day we spent puttering in the silly gift shops along International Drive, picked up a couple of matching spinner rings and a few other oddities, and had lunch at the Shalimar Tandoor & Grill - the proprietor offered us the lunch specials which were eminently satisfactory - filling, tasty and delicious. We started with vegetable smosa, ToniAnne had the lamb curry shahi and I enjoyed a lamb Balti style, with Naan bread on the side.


With that, our stay in Orlando, as delightful as it was, had to come to a close, and we flew home to Dulles where Katie-bug picked us up. We stopped only once at a Wendy's for some late-night sustenance, and arrived home tired but happy.


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Comments

r_caton
Jun. 6th, 2010 11:08 pm (UTC)
Magic!

Blessings on you all!
secoh
Jun. 7th, 2010 01:20 am (UTC)
Awesome :D

kvetch71
Jun. 7th, 2010 01:35 am (UTC)
Good to hear you all had such a wonderful time . I really enjoyed the flash animated , drumming video , BTW .
torakiyoshi
Jun. 7th, 2010 04:51 am (UTC)
Awk! You were in Clearwater!

The Bunny that I love lives in Clearwater. I wish I'd have known... I'd have had you deliver a hug for me. =;.;=

-=TK
alaskawolf
Jun. 7th, 2010 06:30 am (UTC)
what a wonderful trip :)
oceansedge
Jun. 7th, 2010 10:54 am (UTC)
sounds perfecctly lovely.

Pony looks to have put on some weight - looks good on him :)
tiger_t
Jun. 8th, 2010 07:44 pm (UTC)
It's good to see you've had a splendid time! :)

My Congrats again to the both of you!

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