Orlando With Kerri - August 2011

Bravely hoping for a cold wave, Sandy and Mike took Great Grand-daughter Kerri to Florida in mid August for her birthday. They stayed at the Orlando Sheraton resort. Of course Disney World was on the agenda, as was Sea World, Universal Studios, and other nearby attractions (of which there seems to be thousands).

One unusual thing noticed right away is the mix of tourists -- lots of Europeans, and lots of Spanish- speaking tourists. But these tourists were quite light complexioned, mainly from Spain, Argentina, etc.

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This is the Sheraton Vistana Resort, with 7 swimming pools, an in-house magic show (where Kerri volunteered), and some amazingly trained resident ducks that only cross the street in the crosswalks.

The first day in Orlando was all about getting organized, buying the various tickets, and learning the local transportation routes and options. Of course they found time for a little swimming.

The weather was awfully hot - 94 this afternoon, with much higher humidity than Californians are used to, so activities were done in spurts, between breaks any where it was air conditioned.

The second day was all about Sea World -- but not the dolphins, whales, etc. that one might think. Kerri had researched the parks here, and knew that Sea World had two huge "turn you upside down-type" roller coasters she wanted to ride -- so she did that, over and over again. Sandy went on one of them with her, and vowed "never again," while Mike stayed on the sidelines and held their belongings. (With these roller coasters, you are upside down a lot, so you can't have anything in your pockets. Mike did finally go on a tamer one -- the kind that drops you into a big pool of water at the end -- that was fun, not too thrilling, and the water at the end was cooling !

The second day saw us sleep in a bit - the all-day activity in the heat and humidity are rather tiring -- and then we were off to the Islands of Adventure at Universal Studios. While there was a roller coaster ride there that Kerri liked, overall, we weren't impressed -- this park is practically all concrete, with very few trees or shady spots to rest.

The next park we visited was Disney's Animal Kingdom, where we saw one show, and Kerri again found several wild roller coasters to try out.

For the next two days, our pattern was the same: go to one of the Disney Parks first thing in the morning, enjoy the park until around mid-day, return to the Sheraton for some rest and swimming, and then go back to the park at night, which is cooler and offers big fireworks shows.

Disney Hollywood Studios has a star attraction that does not turn you upside down or hurtle you around corners at 80 miles per hour -- no, this one takes you a couple of hundred feet straight up, and then drops you -- sort of like being in an elevator whose cables suddenly break. Of course Kerri liked that, too.

But arguably the best was the Magic Kingdom.

Next up was the Typhoon Lagoon Water Park, where Kerri enjoyed one of the big slides that goes through dark pipes so you can't see that you are about to hit the water. This day was cut short, as a huge thunderstorm showed up, and they chased everyone out of the water. (That night we learned on TV that lightning had actually hit ground at Sea World, with 6 people hospitalized with burns.)

Our last adventure day was spent at Epcot where we saw a garbage can-playing band, an ecological exhibit that included an incubator for baby alligators, and took a ride on Spaceship Earth. Since Mike hadn't been on the big roller coasters, he got a thrill riding about 30 miles per hour on the Monorail. And of course Epcot is famous for its evening fireworks over the big lake.

Finally the big day came, and we packed up, and heading home. We met some former California neighbors for lunch, and then headed to the airport "cheat gravity" one more time. Surprise! Mike got upgraded to first class, which he enjoyed the first half of the trip, and then let Sandy have it the second half.