Day 2 – on route to Orlando

Up early for a refreshing swim in my own pool, at least while everyone else is asleep. The sky is clear but for a few wispy clouds, the heated pool feels great as I lie back and stare up at nothing.

Breakfast is cheap but expensive (I almost throw up when I open some out of date milk). And then it’s time to pack everything up and our first major drive, this time northward towards Orlando.

We decide to ignore the satnav and drive along the coast and maybe spend a little time on the beach. We aimed for West Palm Beach which sits on it’s own island, home of the extremely rich. There is a municipal beach along the Atlantic side which looked nice but unfortunately, not having bought anything yet, we didn’t have any change for the meters (two dollars an hour).

We weren’t ready to give up just yet so we followed the island north, passing many privately owned stretches of beach but a few random roads later we came across a near empty stretch of beach with free parking, (only two or three miles away). Always worth exploring.

The sea and sky are some of the bluest and they contrast nicely with the white sands. It’s extremely hot but the sea breeze lessens it just a touch and it feels very relaxing.

A small bird with a long yellow beak scuttles across the sand looking like he’s lost something. The sea gently breaks onto the shore, where a couple of people attempt to body surf. Just a short distance from shore you can make out a small reef through the exceptionally clear waters, someone’s snorkeling with a large harpoon and a dagger tied to their leg. Further out again there’s a group on jet skis creating “doughnuts” in their wake. And then further still, fast jet-boats and beautiful yachts play together and on the distant horizon massive cargo ships. It’s a good day.

West Palm Beach

But too soon we had to leave. We passed by the mansions on the way back to the mainland and it appeared like all but square trees had been banned. All the hedges and trees of the gardens look like they had been cut with set squares. Many are even shaped into grand arches framed the gate entrances.

We finally find the bridge to take us back and start to head north. Much of the scenery looks like the British countryside but much wilder. But every so often you get glimpse of the true nature, much is water logged swamped area and probably largely unexplored.

The car has performed well, the compass is set and we even found the cruise control, – much less stressful driving – still can’t figure out the trip counter though.

We arrive at Disney at around 5.00, there’s an arch over the road “Welcome to Disney World”. You know that bit in “Who framed Roger Rabbit” where the detective enters the cartoon world? Well,  where were Mickey, Minnie and company to great us?

Entering Disney World

Perhaps I was expecting to much, even the restrooms disappointed, surely it should be Mickey / Minnie not Men / Women and why isn’t the urinal more “cartoon-ie”, it could have at least thanked me in a happy little voice (letter of complaint in post).

Turned out we had more to think about when arrived at the lobby – they didn’t have our park tickets. We had the accommodation but no way of visiting the theme parks. We waited for about 45 minutes to get it fixed and it looked like the biggest problem was, in the whole entire history of Disney, no one had ever purchased a 14 day ticket but only stopped in the hotel for 6 days…

Disney "Bathroom" character

Room was nice and had a few nice touches like the towels being arranged in a mickey mouse logo effect and the bathroom soap looked like a robot. I particularly like the bed which looks like it was just put together with some branches, probably by deer, squirrels and birds. No wifi though, in any of the Disney resorts or parks. No harm in being offline for a while.

It was now about 6pm and we were feeling pretty tired so we decided to spend the next 6 hours at Disney Magic Kingdom – it was late night closing – that should be relaxing. We caught the Disney bus and arrived within 20 minutes, trumpets sound as we pull up out front. Still no “Roger Rabbit”.

Disney's Princess Palace

First thing we see is main street leading up to the fairytale castle, there’s various Halloween themed displays but we try too ignore them until our upcoming Halloween show (Tuesday, D4). The castle seems to glow against the darkened sky, lit up and smoothly changing colour from red to green to blue to polka-dot.

We decide on “tomorrow land” for our first zone. It’s quite busy but the ride queues look mostly small. We first go on a ride that tours the zone, a neat idea to quickly tour the area.

Space Mountain is our first choice, i don’t know what’s supposed to look like but to me it looks more like a giant cupcake. Turns out to be one of the busier rides and has about a 40 minute wait. It’s a roller-coaster ride in the dark, I was at the front thinking I was about to lose my head… good ride though.

The clear sky was approaching dusk when we entered space mountain but now it was dark and cloudy. The clouds started to flash brightly as we moved towards a spot to watch the upcoming fireworks display. But suddenly a lightning bolt shot out of a near cloud and stayed visible for several seconds, the thunder came within seconds. Then the show really started.

The rain came slowly at first and some of the smart ones went for shelter straight away. We lingered for too long and the storm hit as lightning erupted from seemingly all directions. We ran for cover as the rain became torrential but still got drenched. We sheltered next to a ride in Tomorrowland – a decision I wasn’t too pleased with as it was nearly entirely metal. The lightning continued to flash and roar for at least half an hour, the centre of the street was about three inches deep and it started to approach our position.

Night time at Magic Kingdom in the rain

It was a particularly good storm, even for Florida but they must have been prepared for it as the rain water quickly drained away and the postponed display started. Was OK but didn’t really stand up to nature’s previous display.

Quick bite and back home on the bus (via souvenir shop…).

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