The NASA tour we booked included an airboat ride and we met back at the bus for the 45 minute trip inland to a location that would make a great stereotype for “the south”. After a quick safety lesson (don’t stick your hand out over the water or you could lose it) we were herded into the airboat. The group was ten people and once the guide spread us out to balance the boat he started the engine and we headed off.
It was loud; they use a big block V8 with no muffler to drive the giant propeller. He pointed out the ear protectors, told to sit down when in motion, and off we went. The guide had been doing this type of thing his whole life so he knew just how to approach the alligators letting us see about a dozen, some of them so close you could reach out and poke them. There were also cows all over the place, which was a bit of a surprise, and I asked the guide how they could be there. Apparently they escape from local farms and alligators will not go after anything larger than they are. It was definitely odd to see.
We headed back with the sun setting over the wetlands, bird’s flying, cows grazing, alligators umm, alligatoring. It was a the best way to end an excellent, and to me, emotional day. The tour bus took us back to Kennedy to get the rest of the group and we made our way back into Orlando.
It was on this return that I noticed how Disney has created an oasis of emptiness in a huge urban landscape. We were dropping off people who were not staying at Disney resorts and you could see this straight line of untouched trees and wildlife right beside businesses, hotels, and urban sprawl. Disney left a border of untouched land between itself and the rest of the city and as you cross into that land you do not know that a huge city was just minutes away.
The next day my cold was making its presence known when we woke up and we had a slow start but the plan was finishing off Epcot so slow was fine. It was about 30°C and I’m pretty sure I had a bit of a fever as I was light headed all morning so we darted from one air conditioned spot to another until I felt good enough to roam through all the country pavilions. We walked through each one, snacking on food when we felt hungry, hitting up each little event and enjoyed a nice easy afternoon. Early in the evening we were back near the entrance for the last couple of rides of the trip.
This is kind of gross. I eventually became so stuffed up that I just wanted to lie down somewhere and suffer but I soldiered on, knowing we were almost done. At the Mission Space area there is a ride that’s basically a special gravitron giving a simulated trip to Mars. I was a little leery about doing this; being stuffed up and dizzy I didn’t think I wanted to get sick under 3g of fake gravity. But I went along anyway and we were loaded into “spaceships”, given some instructions on what not to do (move your head), and off we went. With the first rush of the fake launch we hit max G and all of the gunk and muck in my sinuses sloshed right out and down my throat. It was the grossest thing I have had happen, but after it was done I felt amazing. Everything was cleared.
We slept in the next morning for our only day with no plans. We hit up the pool for the first time, made our way to Downtown Disney and then Hollywood Studios to pick up a t-shirt for me and made our way to the Animal Kingdom Lodge for dinner. I was shocked at the difference between this resort, a premium one, and our budget place. There was nothing wrong with where we were staying at all, everything was clean, everyone was nice, but after seeing the Lodge you could just tell how much of a budget place ours was. There are no frills, no gimmicks, nothing that really makes it stand out.
The Lodge had all the little details, just like you get in the actual parks. It was finished in such a way that it made you think you really were in a 5 star resort on the African plains, an amazing contrast to where we were. They’ve built it on the edge of the safari area in Animal Kingdom so the animals are allowed to roam into the resort and at night the viewing spots have night vision goggles so you can look out and see what they are doing.
We ate at a specialty restaurant, Sanna. It’s a really nice fusion of African and Indian dishes which we shared together so we would get the most of what we picked. I’m guessing this is how Iris caught my cold.
It was early to bed as we needed to be up at 2am est to catch our shuttle bus to the airport and we got about 2 hours sleep that night. My cold made the flights and the wait in Toronto the worst, I barely remember anything and I’m glad Iris was there to keep me going. We arrived back in Kelowna and made our way home by 11pm pst. A crazy long day to end an almost perfect vacation.
While recovering at home, trying to get rid of that cold, I had a lot of time to mull over the trip and sort things out in my mind as I jotted down notes for these posts. One thing was apparent that I feel I have to pass on.
Go to Disney.
That’s it, just find a way and go. It doesn’t matter if you have kids or not. If you are young or old. A Disney fan or not. You are going to find something you will enjoy and have a Magical Time.