In less than two weeks I shall be in the air heading to Florida for a three week holiday. A bit different to the trip I took to China the same time last year, but one I am looking forward to just as much. The All Knowing I and I are off to celebrate our birthdays and we intend to do it with the same enthusiasm that 14year old boys do (rather than the 40 year olds that we will be, well he is turning 40 while we are there and I will be 41).
People always seem to ask me if we will be going down to the Keys or Miami Beach, let me be very clear about this, NO WE WILL NOT. We shall not have enough time after all there are too many theme parks and water parks to go to and they are generally rather BIG.
Disneyworld itself is circa 27 square miles and has its own motorways and infrastructure separate from rest of Central Florida. It’s made up of 4 main theme parks, 3 water parks, a great big entertainment area called Downtown Disney (shops, restaurants, cinema, shows, etc) and loads of other smaller things with sports facilities, golf courses, and every type of resort you could imagine basically.
We have made sure that we are staying about 15 mins drive away from everything!
And here is a little synopsis of some of the parks we will be visiting:
The Magic Kingdom: This is what people imagine when they think of Disney, it has the castle in the middle. It’s the most like Disneyland in California (but much bigger) and has a lot of the stuff you associate with Disney parks such as Pirates of the Caribbean, Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, and all the fairy-tale rides.
EPCOT: Always a favourite, the name stands for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow and was intended by Walt (as in THE Walt Disney) to be a sort of permanent World’s Fair demonstrating technology, education, and innovation. What it turned into is the biggest of the parks, you need at least 2 days to see it all. It’s divided into 2 distinct halves; there is the Future World and World Showcase.
Future World is a bunch of rides and attractions based around science and it’s a series of huge pavilions devoted to different elements, each containing rides, shows and attractions. Hard to describe, but the pavilions are things like Universe of Energy (all about different energy sources), The Land (all about agriculture), The Living Seas (all about the oceans), The Body (all about the human body), so educational and fun all at the same time. It also includes a big ride where you get to simulate what it would be like to be a crash-test dummy (Test Track) and the big-ticket ride which is a simulation of a space launch (Mission Space).
World Showcase is 11 pavilions arranged around a massive lake. Each pavilion is operated by a different country and contains shops / buildings / architecture / restaurants / shows / film presentations that represent that country. So you get to go through France, Germany, Morocco, Japan, China, Canada, etc, etc all in the same day. Also some of the pavilions have rides so cultural and fun at the same time.
Oh and not forgetting Epcot has a celebrated night-time firework show, called Illuminations which is a must-see.
The Disney Studios: This place is really good fun, it has loads of adult rides here (and seeing as we will be sans kids this is a plus), lots of white-knuckle stuff, all based on movies, such as the beloved Star Wars, Toy Story and Indiana Jones. The one I am most excited about and also most frightened of doing is The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, I get nervous just thinking about it.
There are also loads of shows and interactive stuff and a good studio tour, special FX demos.
The Animal Kingdom: The newest park and it is HUGE. It is a sort of cross between a zoo and a theme park. Amazing state of the art animal exhibits, centrepiece being Kilimanjaro Safari, which is a complete replica of an African safari which you go around in an open-top vehicle through huge savannah, all plants from Africa, like the real thing (honest).
Oh and did I mention there are also some huge rides here, the biggest roller-coaster in Disney which I have yet to go on, getting nervous again.
And all that is just from Disney, outside of Disney, the main competitor is Universal Orland. This theme park is much bigger than Universal in LA. It’s made up of 2 big parks, there is Universal Studios Florida and Universal Islands of Adventure.
Universal is more grown-up than Disney, with wilder rides generally and it’s a bit more savvy and pop-culture-y. There are great rides such as huge coasters (nervous), great 3D simulators and amazing technology.
The studios, instead of being a tour like in LA is a series of separate rides devoted to big Universal movies (Jaws, ET, The Simpsons, The Mummy, Men in Black, Terminator, all the greats) all in a working movie backlot (you never know I might be spotted as the new talent on the block, I have done a spot of acting after all).
The Islands of Adventure park is VERY big (are you getting the idea that things are big there yet?). This park is basically a series of separate islands round a huge lake, each devoted to a different themed world. One being Jurassic Park (and it’s like going to Jurassic Park!) and one is devoted to Marvel Superheros and one is Dr Seuss stuff all with big rides in each. The hot ticket here is The Wizarding World of Harry Potter which will be new to me. It is the most visited park in the USA and apparently astonishing.
We will also be visiting Sea World, Busch Gardens, Aquatica and Busch Gardens. Oh and we might squeeze in a spot of shopping while we are at it, I need some new trainers, jeans and hell why not get some more t-shirts while I am at it…..