05.09.14 — Travel


So this was the sight that first greeted us as we set off on our Florida adventure – SeaWorld’s beautiful entrance! In case you hadn’t gathered, this summer saw the Briggs family jet off to Orlando for a fortnight in the (what I’m told is enjoyable but I find to be oppressive) sun!

SeaWorld's lagoon

We arrived and set straight out to find a WalMart (which is a bit like Tesco, B&Q, Primark & PC World Combined) to fill up our trolley with suspiciously neon food, all of which was saturated in high fructose corn syrup. Yum.

Anyway – after that, we found our way to our first theme park, SeaWorld, and I had some fun taking photos around the park…

The parents don't look too interested
Journey To Atlantis

My sister demanded that we try some “Dippin’ Dots”, which take the form of either sorbet or ice-cream formed into small balls – a bit like those Calippo Shots but without the faff of trying to remove the solid ice block of balls from their stupid container…

Neither of those facial expressions are necessary

We also managed to sneak in three rides on one of my favourite coasters out there in Florida, Manta! After two rides though, my mum fell victim to the high-G pretzel loop and decided she’d had her fill.

Flying over the water

Towards the end of the afternoon, however, the American weather did a decidedly English thing – and it began to rain. But I’m talking monsoon-style rain here, so much so that we decided to make tracks and head back to our condo. Ellie decided to go for a paddle in the road…

Put your shoes on

After that, we made our way to The Magic Kingdom, a family favourite of course! Ellie seemed to really enjoy carrying the backpack…

Cheer up, it's The Magic Kingdom

The day started out beautiful as ever, but sure as hell descended into a downpour by mid afternoon! We made a second visit, highlighted by Ellie’s change of clothes…

Ellie magically changes outfit
Wandering selfies

We managed to get on all the rides thanks to Disney’s FastPass+ system which worked a dream – including, of course, Big Thunder Mountain. Here’s my parents enjoying one of it’s many lift hills!

Give us a wave!

We did, of course, stay around for the nighttime parade – but before that, there was a marching band from a local school/high school/college/university! (My grasp on the American Educational System is poor, even after a lifetime of exposure to American Films..)

I want a fluffy hat

Then as the day turned to night, it was time for SpectroMagic! But wait – it was not to be. Turns out Disney have decided to eschew SpectroMagic in favour of the parade which preceded it – Disney’s Electrical Parade. Although the music was catchy (click here and play it for the rest of this blog post) and it was breathtaking, I did prefer SpectroMagic.

Main Street at dusk

As for the rest of Disney, I made sure we hung around at Hollywood Studios to catch the Frozen Fireworks display – which was totally worth it, as it was more of a sing-along accompanied by fireworks! But then came the finale – and it snowed!

Snow in the height of summer

It was truly beautiful, especially after cast members had been dropping subtle hints all day, such as “I hear it’s forecast to snow for tonight!”. Which beats their excuse for the rain: “I hear Elsa was practicing her snow powers but it’s so hot that the snow melted!” I just thought that one was pushing the cheesiness a bit too far.

At Animal Kingdom, I made a new friend.


We also made reservations to see the Lion King show, which from our front row seats (courtesy of FastPass+) was particularly breathtaking.

Nants ingonyama bagithi baba!

Now away from Disney and towards Universal – we made a true weekend of the Universal resort by staying for a night at the Hard Rock Hotel! This meant we had two days worth of free Express Passes for all the rides at Universal Studios and Island Of Adventure. We also had a free boat ride in to the heart of the action! Needless to say we made good and proper use of these perks!

Sailing in to Universal

We headed straight to the Harry Potter areas of both theme parks, and I had my first ButterBeer – then a second, then a third… But the best thing was the ButterBeer flavoured ice cream we managed to get in Diagon Alley! I’d post photos of all the Harry Potter stuff, but it’d take up so much room, so here’s just a teaser of Hogwarts…

I spy through the trees...

I leave you with two anecdotes from the trip.

Firstly, after leaving the Hard Rock Hotel, we rolled back up at our condo and we were soon called into the living room by my mother, livid that in our rush to leave someone (no names mentioned) (my dad) had accidentally put the Hard Rock Hotel’s hairdryer in the suitcase. Twenty minutes later I was walking up the Hard Rock Hotel’s lavish driveway in my Crocs with a hairdryer in my hand, left to explain to the hotel receptionist why I had it in my possession. Mortifying.

Then, at Islands Of Adventure, we went on the Jurassic Park ride, during which I thought it would be a good idea to store my sunglasses up the leg of my shorts. This was effective throughout the duration of the ride, even keeping them secure during the 84ft drop, that was until I stood up to exit the boat at the end. My sunglasses then suddenly managed to skimp across the entire boat only to fall down the only hole in it and become trapped in the restraint mechanism somewhere. I pointed this out to a ride operator and then moaned and groaned about having sensitive eyes, until the guy said “I may have some spare sunglasses that have been found on the ride hanging around”… He rolled up with these beauties, saying “I don’t think they are what you’d go for, but I think you can rock them!”

I hope I sure as hell did.

My beautiful new sunglasses