The Adults Only Tour 2015 – Day Twelve

Day Twelve – 7th September

There’s a very good reason you probably won’t find too many trip reports of beach holidays. The material for such is a little monotonous and uninteresting as I shall now demonstrate.

We were awake around 8am and of course had to pack, ready to check out. With that unpleasantness done, we went down to the free breakfast. It was very nice and buffet style, so I shall let you draw your own conclusions about how that went.

Nicely full, we took our luggage out to the car before making our way down to the beach and more expensive sunbeds.

I can summarise the next few hours in two photos.

As the second one demonstrates, it was very, very hot and few of us were suffering from a little too much sun yesterday.

The rest of the morning meandered away with little or no activity to report, which of course is the sign of a good beach day. Rebecca, Grandad and I ventured into the very rough sea for a little bit, followed by some more lying around. Riveting this isn’t it?

Around lunch time we experienced a very strange rain shower. There were absolutely no clouds and yet we were sprinkled with not unpleasant drizzle. As this rain was persisting a little longer than we wanted it to, Louise suggested that we drive out somewhere for a lunch a little more varied than the burger van fare available on the beach. With that decision made we packed up and decided we’d head back to Orlando after lunch and so we said our goodbyes to Daytona.

We love Daytona and of course Vero. I do find it a bit odd that we have always done beaches on the East coast of Florida rather than the more traditional destinations such as Clearwater and St Pete’s. One of these years we will put that right I expect, but there is always that dilemma of trying something new or sticking with that you know you will enjoy.

We drove aimlessly around Daytona for a bit learning that the eateries featured in our sat nav were now sadly out of date, with many of them now closed. This should not have been too surprising as it hadn’t been updated since we bought it in 2011 (I think).

We ended up on the road out of Daytona back towards Orlando and spotted a large mall, which was called Volussia. As unappealing as that sounded to me, being a mall, it had an Applebees attached to it and so that made our decision to stop an easy one.

As we waited to be seated, perusing the menu, our decision to leave the beach proved to be a good one, as the heavens opened and stayed open for a good few hours.

We had –

Grandad – Shrimp Starter and then Won Ton Tacos

Me – Appetiser Sampler as my entrée, which was made up of Nachos, Mozzarella Sticks and Boneless Wings. I didn’t have a starter as I’m not an animal.

Louise – Same as me, but with Quesadillas instead of wings

Rebecca – Same as me

Sarah – Mozzarella Sticks and then a Fajita Wrap

Nana – Fish and Chips

I must have been hungry as those two photos were all I could manage.

With some Margaritas and a wine or two the bill came to $130 including a tip.

We left and drove west toward Orlando, through the rain, arriving back at 4.50. The plan had been to collect Emily on our way out to Hollywood Studios, but she told us she was knackered after work and just wanted to sleep, so we changed our plans to leave a little later, taking the chance to nip to Publix for more bits, which essentially consisted of wine and high sugar goods.

We left the villa at 7.30, arriving to see the Studios looking glorious in the dark.

Tonight was the final Frozen Firework party thing of the summer and so we made our way up to DJ Chill who was expertly playing other people’s records in front of the Great Movie Ride.

My ability to take a blurred photo knows no bounds.

The girls got their groove on to the “banging tunes” for a bit, whilst Nana and Grandad wandered off to the shops and to get a drink.

After battling their way right to front for more throwing of shapes they returned to us to watch the fireworks.

We enjoyed the fireworks so much I took another blurred photo.

We then battled our way down Sunset Boulevard for the 10pm Fantasmic, stopping in the villains shop on the way for drinks, souvenirs and more crowd battling.

Once inside a very full and busy stadium we took our seats.

Clearly not feeling myself, I agreed to buy Louise some lighty up ear things and after fighting my way to a vendor and all the way back to my seat, imagine my delight when they didn’t work. The joy continued when the show started, as after about a minute it stopped again due to the increasing rain. Our history of rain and Fantasmic is surely now legendary?

We waited a few minutes and the show started up again…..only to stop once more after not long at all. With our patience at full stretch, we stuck it out a little longer and we were rewarded with the rest of the show without interruption.

Here is my traditional eulogy about Disney’s ability to disperse thousands of people via seemingly a couple of trams without fuss, queue or complication. Within minutes of leaving the stadium (after swapping out Louise’s defective ears) we found a tram waiting for us, with no queue at all and we were whisked away to our car and we are on our way on amazingly uncongested roads. In the UK, if you dare to attempt the Trafford Centre at any time other than 2am on a weekday you sit on the car park for forty minutes waiting to get off.

We did witness some truly scary driving from some folks on the way home, with last minute lane switching and the cutting up of other folks, but thankfully my experience, excellent road sense and The Force saw us home safely. I was so busy keeping us safe that I did miss a junction so we took a lovely scenic route home, which was nice. We were home by 11.40 and I managed about a page and a half of my book before my eyes closed.

Till the next time…..

The Adults Only Tour 2015 – Day Eleven

Day Eleven – 6th September

Well, theme park fans, once again I must apologise up front for what will be a ride free day. Such is married life!

Today we set off for our overnight mini-break in Daytona. Just at the point when an early start would have been very useful we all slept in until 8am. Of course, we hadn’t done anything clever like pack the night before. Frankly, we are always so tired by the time it comes to bed time that it’s a bonus if we manage to get undressed.

I have written in my notes that we were out by 9am. I can’t now remember the start to today in great detail but based upon our track record thus far, I think I was lying.

We were soon on the I4 which was lovely and clear with it being a Sunday, albeit Labor (spelt the US way as it is a US holiday) Day weekend.

Having spent all the journey watching my petrol gauge stressing about whether we would make it or not, with thirty miles to go my bottle went and I came off the I4 in search of gas. The sat nav helped me a little but it took a stupidly route, including a trip through a “swap meet” in a weird car park, to come to the BP station the sat nav promised us.

This gas station was in a place which if you look in the dictionary for the term “back woods” you will see a picture. I was served by a chap, who was so stereotypical, if I told you about him you would think I was being racist, bigoted and shallow. Let’s just say there was a hint of the red neck about him.

There was a sign at the counter telling me that they did not accept any bills larger than $20 so I gave one of those and a ten to get the tank pretty much full. That’s another reason I love the US.

As I left he said “Have a great day, and a better one tomorrow!” which I thought was lovely and reminded me a little of Forrest Gump and the Truman Show.

Back on the road we completed the last thirty miles.

The coast was in sight soon enough.

We arrived in Daytona just after ten which, even as I write it now sounds impressively early. We parked up and undertook a delightfully swift check in at the Hyatt. One of our three rooms was ready so we dumped our bags there, changed and headed for the beach. It was a slightly shocking $80 for six sunbeds and three umbrellas. I think Grandad passed out.

My toes were, I believe the phrase is, on fleek?

We had a very healthy lunch of burgers from one of the vans serving on the beach and I spent most of the day reading. I had picked up one of the books from the villa, a Jack Reacher novel, which somehow I had never come across before. Perfect sunbed reading material.

As we were heading out at around 5pm tonight Rebecca and Sarah went up to the room to get ready at 2.30pm!! The rest of us stayed in the sun until about 4pm.

After taking my usual ten minutes to get ready, I took some photos from our balcony.

After showers and stuff we all met in reception at around 5pm. The girls, despite their, early start were late, but for once with good reason.

Rebecca’s boyfriend, who was staying at our house helping to encourage the cats to go missing before our return (I am no fan of our cats!) had been in touch to say that someone had just tried to break into our house. It was night time at home of course, and he had been upstairs. Having heard a noise he went down to see a couple of men at the back of our house, one stood at the back door.

As he opened the door to ask them politely, what they were doing, they left. As you can imagine, we all felt a bit sick and shaken, but probably not as much as Tom did! We set off for the baseball stadium. It may not surprise you to hear that as we got there I realised I had forgotten the tickets I ordered, printed and stored away safely some six months ago. The box office sorted things without any fuss.

I called my brother back home and asked him to meet the police at our house to have a look around. With nothing else untoward to report, we tried to concentrate on having a nice night in one of our favourite places.

We ordered food. That’s quite a simple statement, but we somehow managed to make it a more complex operation than the D Day landings. With everyone a little bit all over the place with worry about events back home as we stood at the window placing our order, nobody, especially me, was concentrating too well, and we managed to confuse our poor server at every stage, no doubt not helped by her not being able to understand our strange accents either.

Somehow, we all ended up with a drink and something to eat and we settled into the bleachers.

Here, you may be able to get some appreciation for just how red and sore Sarah’s legs were.

Grandad was sat behind a local character who he befriended. You can see him in the photo above. He helpfully explained the finer details of the game throughout and they chatted about all sorts. It’s funny I think, how two people with such different life experiences can be thrown together and find common stuff to chat about for about four hours. This local chap had a tattoo on his arm which read “I’m F**cked” without the asterixes. He looked like a member of the Grateful Dead and was a thoroughly lovely chap.

The game went on with most of it being sort of understood, interspersed with all the usual fun and games between innings.

The stresses of earlier events drifted away and we started to relax in the perfect late evening weather and I certainly, as I always do, wondered what it would be like to live in such a climate. Surely, it makes for a happier, healthier, less stressful time?

Tonight was the final game of the season. Thankfully, the home team, the Daytona Tortugas won in a low scoring game and the night ended with a fireworks display, which frankly went on much longer than anyone expected. It was surprisingly impressive for a small minor league baseball stadium. My photos, as ever failed to capture any of it with any degree of accuracy.


The night, as usual included lots of local sponsors giving stuff away and we were only mildly shocked to be given a $10 off Dicks voucher as we left. Each to their own.

We left the stadium and we were back at the hotel not longer after. The girls went up to their room but the hardcore oldies sat out by the pool for an hour or so enjoying wine and coffee (not in the same glass) and chatting. Bed was then a welcome sight. As much as the bleachers are the best place to watch the game from, they really play havoc with our behind!

Till the next time…..

The Adults Only Tour 2015 – Day Ten

Day Ten – 5th September

I know that we have a track record over the years of declaring a day a rest day and then spending it doing things not even close to resting. However, today was to be one of those rest days and frankly we needed it. The two days at Universal had been hard on the legs (and stomach) and we were all feeling it.

You can tell this was a real rest day as there’s no sign of a photograph until this evening when food appears. All of this is trip report writer’s code to suggest that today may be short and a bit unexciting, in sharp contrast to all the other days which require a seat belt and a Diazpam to survive.

Now, having said all that, with you all prepared for tales of us lounging around doing not a lot, I found myself awake at 4am. This was solely due to my illness and it was probably my body’s way of protecting me from drifting away into a cold related coma in my sleep, such was the level of my maladay. Looking back at this day now, from some months away, it is hard to remember how I felt but judging by the unrepeatable description of my state in my trip report notes, I was one poorly boy.

What is even more indescribable is whatever madness took me at this time to attack my work emails on the villa’s PC. Having deleted a few thousand emails that I didn’t need to get in the first place I staggered back to bed for a couple of hours, waking again around 9am.

Despite being at death’s door we did a trip to the supermarket to restock the fridge and cupboards with high sugar foods and vein clogging fare. You have to feed a cold you know.

On the way back we called in at the local CVS Pharmacy to see if anyone had found a cure for the cold recently. They hadn’t but I spent a silly amount on various treatments to make me feel like I was at least putting up a decent fight.

Back at the villa we all swam, read and relaxed in varying degrees. It was hot of course, which felt great when like me you had a fever not seen since a Saturday Night in 1977.

Have I mentioned my illness enough yet?

For lunch we feasted upon sandwiches from Publix which I’m sure were very tasty for those with a working sense of taste, or smell.

Readying began around 3pm and we made our way to The Commons to get Emily no doubt many, many hours later. Today she was on Traditions, the renowned “sheep dipping” into Disney culture for all new Cast Members. Anyway, she wasn’t back yet, so we went over to Premium Outlet Malls which is literally a few minutes away from her apartment.

We shopped for a bit. Yes that’s right, I am ill and we’re shopping. What fresh hell is this?

Something happened which occurs about as regularly as Halley’s Comet. I bought, or should I say, I was bought a pair of jeans. It was my birthday present from Mum and Dad. They were even “a label” which all my jeans are, however normally that label is George.

We browsed about four thousand other shops before Emily was ready so we went to pick her up and brought her across to the Mall. She needed some stuff for upcoming training so after a quick Starbucks we split off into three groups, Louise, Emily and I were one, Nana and Grandad another and Rebecca and Sarah the last. We shopped at great speed trying to pin point very precise items of clothing in the vast open spaces of the huge department stores. Having secured the work related stuff Emily needed we got her a new pair of converse too as her existing ones were held together by hope and spit.

We had arranged to meet up with everyone at 8.30 as we would need to leave at that time to get across to Beaches and Cream for our reservation. How we were all looking forward to our Kitchen Sink or whatever else we may decide to have.

Once in the car, I set up the Sat Nav, typed in Beach Club and off we went, in the dark, in a foreign country. Those last two things are an excuse for me not thinking anything was odd about the back streets and dodgy areas we were being taken through. By the time we reached our destination it was very clear that we weren’t in Disney anymore and our chances of getting to our reservation in time were slim. I never did figure out how the Sat Nav which had been so reliable for years had decided that the Beach Club was on some residential street about forty minutes from Lake Buena Vista. I put it in the glove box for a while to think about what it had done.

We found our way to Crossroads at around the time of our reservation and being about ten minutes from Beaches and Cream we may have had a chance of still making it. However, there was gridlock, no doubt with folks heading to Downtown Disney so we abandoned all hope and made a Plan B. With us being where we were we decided upon Olive Garden.

Surprisingly we were seated immediately and, oh look, some photos….

That was worth waiting for I think you will agree.

We perused the menus and spirits were high despite the crap journey, horrible traffic, my impending death from a blocked nose and having been shopping.

I cannot explain this photo.

We opted for the salad and bread sticks with Sarah going for the soup option instead.

We ordered –

Me – Gorgonzola Steak Thingy

Louise – Some sort of Cheese Ziti

Emily & Sarah – Lasgane

Rebecca – Stuffed Something (I am King of Trip Report note making)

Grandad – Chicken and Shrimp

Nana – Rosemary Chicken

Desserts were not possible and with wines, beers, special lemonades and my expensive Diet Cokes we paid $175 including a generous tip.

We dropped Emily off home and headed for the villa getting back at around 11. I was still ill.

Till the next time…..

The Adults Only Tour 2016 – Day Nine

Day Nine – 4th September

The fact that I continued to wake up naturally, at times before I need to when back at home and going to work struck me as a weird combination of irksome and pleasing in equal measure. My pleasure was again dampened by the fact that it took two hours from me waking up to us being on our way.

Louise and Emily were very hard to rouse this morning, which was an unsurprising consequence of what was a very tiring day yesterday. I was impressively energetic considering I had spent the night in a hotel room with two women. At just after nine we dropped the cases off in the car…

and then we headed to the water taxi to get us over to Islands of Adventure.

I took the photo that everybody takes…

and made the long walk through the park towards Hogwarts.

The theming was as impressive as I remembered from our one and only previous visit.

There was a fifteen minute wait posted for Forbidden Journey but nobody said this was just to get a locker. To be fair Grandad did struggle to understand the instructions but still, it’s a right faff.

It soon became apparent that I had remembered very little about this ride from our previous visit. This was a good thing and maybe one of the advantages of my fading memory as I get older. I got to enjoy it for the first time all over again.

We went straight on to Flight of The Hypogrif, Hippogryph, Hypogryf…..the next ride.

Quite brief, fast paced and leaving you short of breath. You can put your own version of the usual joke there.

Having only had the two hours between waking and leaving the hotel, clearly breakfast had just not been an option, so now, food was on our minds. The Three Broomsticks satisfied our essential criteria of being open and right in front of us. It is a counter service affair, with your order placed at a till and then you pick the food up.

As we proved at Be Our Guest, co-ordinating an order for a party of seven in this manner is clearly a task beyond me.  Our order taker was in her tenth decade on earth which didn’t help her understand seven idiots from Bolton shouting orders at her randomly. Sarah almost pushed her over the edge as she ordered one of the standard dishes, but wanted it without about half of the items. This took much longer than you would believe.

With our order locked and loaded we filled up our trays and found a table. Guess what? My food was missing again. With only a minor sense of humour failure and a decent flounce I went back to the food counter to claim my pancakes.

It was 11am when we left and most of us then rode the old Duelling Dragons ride, which may not have been the best time to do it, with bellies full of food.

With our special passes we walked right to the boarding area, arriving just in time to see the ride break down and spend the next ten minutes awaiting a fix. This was really good fun.

After a brief stop for photos…

Next, Grandad, Sarah, Rebecca, Emily and I decided to do Poseidon’s thingy. This was a grave mistake.

We walked in, but were held behind a rope for almost half an hour waiting for the “tour guide”. Then, with the tour itself taking a similar amount of time Louise and Nana had been sat outside in the burning sun for almost an hour and Grandad and I had all the money, so they couldn’t get a drink!

Now I know why they call it Poseidon’s Fury.

Once we had a drink we wandered through Seuss Landing.

We rode One Fish, Two Fish.

Emily there, regretting forgetting her sunglasses, that I had purchased for her earlier in the trip at vast expense.

Next, Cat in the Hat, which I’m sure has much less spinning than it used to.

We completed the holy trinity of Suess rides with the Carousel thing. I know, somewhere in the world, somebody exists who has heard and understood the spiel the ride operator says before the ride starts, but it isn’t me.

Once the ride was over Louise struggled to dismount. Other less chivalrous chaps may have laughed and watched her struggle. I did too. I do have photographic evidence but obviously I am not stupid enough to post it here.

We continued our journey around the park, with The Hulk next. We had heard that there was to be a major refurb starting a few days later so this would be the last time we would ride it in its current form.

Nana and Grandad didn’t ride and with our Express passes it took the rest of us about ten minutes to do so. As we came back to the loading area we were held in our seats as the attendants dealt with someone’s lunch which was all over the carriage in front.

Sarah, Grandad and Rebecca did Dr Doom’s Fear Fall next. I’ve never ridden that one and don’t intend to. Instead the rest of us browsed some shops before all riding Spiderman once we were all back together.

Somehow, we got the impression that there may be some rain on the way.

With that in mind, it made absolutely no sense to do the water rides now, so we did. Well, most of us did. Dudley Do Right was first and it was as awesome as it always has been. The most impressive log I had seen all holiday.

Everyone leaves that ride thinking they are wet, until that is they then go on the Bilge Rats ride and experience whole new levels of wetness. We did just that. As we left that ride I blew many dollars on the human drier. It made no difference at all to our clothes but crucially we were able to dry out our paper express photo ID things.

I don’t know what it is, but yet again we entered and left the Jurassic Park bit without stopping. The Jurassic River Ride was down due to the incoming storm and without that is there anything else to do here?

This brought us full circle back to Hogsmeade.

We headed for the train station, hopeful of keeping dry.

I captured the natural beauty of my two daughters whilst in the queue.

It was our longest queue of the day at over half an hour and everyone but especially Grandad was feeling the two long theme park days in our legs.

It is safe to say that capturing the ride’s effects on camera is not easy, so please don’t judge the attraction by these poor efforts.

Why that Weasley is giving Rebecca the middle finger I don’t know.

By the time we arrived at our destination the rain had also arrived. We left the station and found shelter in what I think was the exit of Disaster.

It rained a lot for quite some time. Not quite long enough to persuade me to buy any ponchos or anything daft like that.

After about half an hour the rain died away and we made our way to the same Starbucks we went to yesterday for refreshments. Whilst everyone ordered I took Emily to a nearby shop to get her a hoody as she was freezing in all the air conditioned rides etc. Filled nicely with coffee of various types we once again rode The Mummy, this time without Nana and Grandad.

Next, we undertook a first for everyone by riding Transformers. Honestly, now, I can’t really remember much about it but I think it was very similar to another ride.

After the ride we stumbled upon Megatron.

We rode Minions again, ending our Universal experience as we started it.

It was time to leave and we made our way to The Cowfish for tea (dinner).

No appetisers here as we were saving ourselves for the huge burgers we had been looking forward to experiencing here.

I had…

The Cowfish Has Offically Left The Building (A.K.A. The Hunka, Hunka), which is, Full-pound beef burger, creamy peanut butter, fried bananas, applewood bacon, brioche bun. Choice of side.

It was awesome. I was so busy indulging in that awesomeness that I didn’t write down what anyone else had.

This was Louise’s (I recongise her boobs in the photo).

This must be someone’s burger. I know it isn’t Emily’s as that is her new hoody on the next seat.

I think this is another view of mine.

It made me happy, fat and blurred.

Astonishingly Emily and Rebecca ordered a dessert. I was close to hospitalisation I was that full so I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

Rebecca shared this with Sarah.

Emily had cheesecake. As my organs were shutting down due to the enormous calorie intake, my photographic skills were poor.

Somehow I dragged my body around some shops for a little while looking for things for people other than me. Before too long sense prevailed and we ambled on to the water taxi and made it back to the car.

Somehow I managed to operate it and get us back to the villa and our welcoming beds.

Till he next time…..