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Published: April 29th 2016
As our two weeks draw to a close it's time for the inevitable reflections on our experience. It's been great to return to Orlando after a long absence and to take in all of the changes that have occurred in The past 10 years. I've already spoken of the technology in the parks now and we've had great fun making full use of the photo pass facility which has provided us with more group photos of us than we've had taken collectively over the past 21 years!
Security at all parks is much more in evidence now with extensive bag searches of every guest entering the parks. One really great thing, in my opinion, is the blanket banning of selfie sticks. On audio announcements this is accompanied with the phrase "and any other object which may appear to be a weapon". The mind boggles at what events may have led to this rule being enforced, but certainly the morning stampede for an early ride on the popular attractions seems to bring out the worst in people. On our latest visit to The Animal Kingdom we split forces to start with, three of us heading for a coaster while Bill chose the wildlife safari. He returned to us with tales of stampeding mothers with strollers forging forwards. An American chap in the queue next to him commented that the scene had resembled sale day at Walmart - a very apt description.
All parks have rental areas for kiddie strollers and adult scooters. Whilst I'm sure at least some of these are commandeered by those in genuine need, the sprightly manner in which many of their drivers can be seen to be alighting at their destination would suggest that this is not always the case. As one couple sped off in theirs at the start of one of our days Ben commented that they were moving like Daleks. One could only hope that a staircase was waiting for them at the end of their journey. I'm aware that may sound uncharitable, but we all have scarred ankles to show for our efforts at crossing various parks.
I mentioned earlier that I was disappointed about the introduction of alcohol into the parks. I've also been surprised to notice that Starbucks have several outlets - at least one in each park. Call me old fashioned but I don't think Walt would approve of that. The food outlets may be dubious but it would be a great shame to find MacDonald's or Burger King rearing their corporate heads into the picture also.
Whilst over here I've taken advantage of he situation and tuned our car radio into the local country music station. Anyone who recalls our trip to Nashville last year will appreciate the pleasure this has given me. We've been located quite centrally, with few journeys taking in excess of 20 minutes, but I've nevertheless enjoyed being introduced to a plethora of new songs who's titles have included "Real Men Love Jesus" and "I'm Getting Drunk on a Plane". Ben thinks there must be a shortage of horses over here as every country star claims to come from a town which only has the one to it's name.
Orlando has continued to be immersed in it's own bubble. On packed roads I've seen only one each of a Sanders and Trump bumper sticker. I've tried but failed miserably to overhear any political discussions amongst others and have bowed to hedonism by choosing to sit outside and watch and listen to the wildlife in preference to watching the T.V. I fear I shall have to rely upon Fox News on my return in order to follow my growing interest in the political situation over here, sadly aware that the network is probably more partisan than most of our own dreaded red tops.
We have filled our time here to the full, with theme parks, water parks and mini golf (the latter barely worth a mention because Bill wins every time!). I was interested to note, however, on one of our drives down the main highway that, should we run out of entertainment, a visit to Machine Gun America may be in order. Apparently you can enhance your entertainment levels by purchasing the opportunity to let rip with an automatic - they have their own website and everything. Tempting, but we decided to give it a miss this time.
And so the sun sets on our trip down memory lane. Easily the most intense period of time the 4 of us have spent together in many years and mostly very successful. We've shared a lot of laughs and have some fabulous memories to bring home with us from return visits to our favourite rides to new experiences altogether, including what was easily THE wettest water ride any of us have ever been on. My Fitbit tells me we've covered approximately 110km in total over 13 days - my feet think it might have missed a bit somewhere! Back to reality next week, with work for some, studies for others and all that those things entail, but all good things must come to an end and , in the spirit of Disney, I have to say that we really have had "a magical time", however cheesy that may sound.
Before I let himself have the very last word I have to conclude with noting what, for me, was the best bit of the whole trip. Not an easy choice amongst so many great memories but if I don't commit it to text now the memory will fade. So, my best memory by far will be the expression on Claire's face as we walked in between two plain brick walls to turn a corner and find ourselves in Diagon Allley - priceless.
And, without further ado, a final word from our sponsor.....
So, here we are at the end of another trip to the USA. Whilst Florida is a rather unique slice of apple pie it is clearly very American, great fun and unashamedly brash. Tiring it may be but we have packed it in as usual.
A final thought, we saw a sign on Thursday thanking tourists for the total spend in Orlando so far this week, $59,668,000. Glad to have helped!!
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