Lisa and Bob
Orlando, Florida
April, 1998

Wednesday, April 1st
Wednesday at 3pm we gathered ourselves in Bob's truck and headed into Logan. We boarded our flight no problem and smoothly flew down through the clouds to Memphis, TN. I gathered my thimble, shotglass and magnet, and we had a discussion with the check-out lady about the approrpiateness of children touching rifles (a la the recent Arkansas killings). Then we were on another plane to Orlando!

This flight was not as smooth. I was reminded why I disliked going to malls / amusement centers / parks that had kids: the parents. Case in point. In front of us on this flight was a young boy, maybe 8, with his mom and his mom's boyfriend. Both 'parents' had been drinking. They alternately demanded the boy say he loved them or scolded him for whatever he was doing at the time. The boyfriend was fond of saying, "If I was your father, you'd be beaten black and blue by now!". The mother talked to anyone she could get to listen about her entire life. The mom got into fights with the boy about what his father did, and how she compared to his father's new girlfriend.

She ordered two beers when the stewardess came along and I hoped that would calm them. Then the boyfriend ordered himself two screwdrivers. I knew I was in for trouble and ordered a glass of wine for myself to put me to sleep.

Off the plane finally! We got our car, drove out to Days Inn Lakeside, and promptly fell asleep.

Thursday, April 2nd
We were supposed to go on our condo tour today, but the agency screwed it up. (after telling them 8 times to put it in my name, since all reservations were in my name, they still insisted in putting it in Bob's name "because he was the male". Arrrggghhh) We spent the morning roaming around town at various stores and outlets. We got some great fatigues and shorts. Even two great boonie hats! Saw the Citrus Bowl, too. We tried to get in for some great Jamaican jerk food but decided to grab something fast.

After lunch we went in to Sea World with our discount tickets, what a deal! $6 off with a coupon. Plus, you get the 2nd day free. We went straight to the Key West area for sting rays, feeding them little shrimp which Bob cut up into bite-sized pieces. So cuddly. Even baby sting rays to one side. Then to the dolphin tank where you can feed dolphins. We saw a otter-sea lion show which was really funny, where the lead woman kept laughing at the hijinx of her actors. We saw penguins and puffins!!! Yes, little happy puffins swimming like little bats in the water, and sitting by their puffiny holes. There were both "good" Atlantic puffins and "evil" Pacific puffins.

Sharks were really neat - you could walk in a tube beneath them and see them all around you. The tube made it seem like you were in the water with them, it was so clear. The Water Skiing show was pretty neat. The ribs for dinner were yummy, and the whole park had stone-speakers that played happy music. Shamu was huge, and then they had fireworks and we headed home.

Wandering birds at Seaworld

Friday, April 3rd
Friday morning at 7:15 we went on the condo tour. It was horrendous, 3 hours of disaster. In any case, we escaped finally with 2 free Epcot tickets and headed right over.

We went in and, since it was "only" 10:30 the lands were not open yet. We went back to the "going up" waterfall and the jumping happy water demon droplets (my favorite part). We went into "the land" but the lines were long yet. So we wandered back to the Worlds.

We started in Canada, and worked around counterclockwise. It was almost disappointing - most worlds only had a restaurant and shops! Nothing cultural at all. Bob took a picture of me at each land anyway (except Canada, which as we all know is the Evil Country).

England, France, Morocco, Japan

Japan was almost at the middle and they did have a great netsuke exhibit that I really enjoyed. We got superb food from them - great fresh ginger dressing, delicious food, plum wine - and ate it outside by the garden, listening to the Taiko drummers. That was probably the best part. I didn't find anything in the shops I wanted! Amazing.

On to "America" where we did see "The American Adventure" - a robot history of America. Some other people were talking amongst themselves that it was the best exhibit in Epcot (according to the Christian Science Monitor) but we were disappointed. They talked about the Civil War without really discussing why it happened or who won! Which I thought was funny since the woman I was coming to see, Caroline, grew up in the south and thought the South had won. It also briefly mentioned the Indians, almost belligerantly, and then never spoke of them again. It was very much a "feel good" patriotic brainwashing instead of a real history tour.

Anyway, the "second half" of the world had more real cultural stuff. China had a really nice surround-vision movie, but again it was funny. They showed a lot of Tiennaman Square but never mentioned its name! Probably because of the reaction we have to that name. They went on about the 10% of the world that lived on the Yangtzee River but never mentioned they were all being forceably moved for the new dam.

Norway had a water ride that took 45 minutes to get to and was hardly anything at all. Mexico had a little plaza set up that Bob said looked just like Tiajuana. The guitarists there were very good. But in general, they could have done more to make each world a cultural example instead of a shopping expedition.

Back to The Land. It was really neat - a water ride through where they actually did growing experiments of things growing in water, or in air, or sideways, or whatever. Aquaculture was there too. Much of what they grew there was served in the restaurants. We had some ice cream, then into Spaceship Earth (the huge sphere thing). That was also very intriguing. A history of technology, and then an exhibit with technology-games. We did a decorate-the-Lisa-face, and then I played a concentration-type game where you had to work with another player through the video camera. Bob found a "foreign language idiom" thing that was pretty funny.

That was about it for what Epcot had that wasn't kiddie-mentality, and plus it was play-time, so we left.

On to A Midsummers Night's Dream, at Lake Eola in Orlando. This was part of the UCF Shakespeare Festival, opening night, that I happened to find on the net. The concert shell was beautiful - open air by the lake. It was gorgeous out, too. The play was set in India!! The fairies were all painted purple. It was great!! Puck would start singing "I am the very model of a modern major general", and during the fairy dance they were doing Irish Riverdancing and "YMCA" stuff. The loud commoner was great too. They were having mike problems, so during his 'death' scene during his little play he "sacrificed himself to the Gods of Acoustics". I had tears in my eyes, I was laughing so hard. We got out at 11 and headed home.

Saturday, April 4th
We went by a dive shop in the morning to look around (someday I'll finish my SCUBA cert!) and then back to Sea World. We saw the Circ de la Mar, which was really neat. Tumblers and a fun mime who got a boxing match going. Another laughing bout there! Back of course to the sting rays, who today were eating little fishies. The pet show showed us cats can heel and climb ropes and much more. We also saw the otter show again.

We got to go to the Beer Master class put on by Budweiser there. It was really neat, talking about how hops are grown, and the various types of grains used. I learned more there than I did at the real brewery tour I took in St Louis. Then we tasted 5 different kinds. There's a huge difference between fresh beer and old beer! I'd never have guessed.

We went on the arctic helicopter ride and saw polar bears and beluga whales. We were told that Atlantis was having some pre-opening tests and if we ran by there we could try out the new ride. We made it in and it was great! A big water flume. Then back for the puffins one more time, and in to see the sharks all alone. They're amazing when it's quiet. Back home to sleep.

Sunday, April 5th
Wedding day! It occurred to me that I hadn't gotten Caroline a gift yet! We went out to Disney and rode both monorails around to see what we could see, and then went to the outlet stores to get her a present. Then in to the wedding! It was at a gorgeous B&B right in Orlando and they had the 5 minute ceremony in its courtyard. Caroline was beautiful in her great-grandmother's handmade dress. Then delicious foods and such. Caroline wanted to go out to dinner with us and two friends, so we went home for a nap and to pack, then went back to meet her and went to Pebbles on Church Street. The food was great, and we chatted a while. Then we dropped them off at the B&B and went home for some sleep.

Monday, April 6th
We woke at 4:00, and Bob dropped me off at the airport at 5:00am. He went back to sit at the car rental agency, so when they opened at 6am, they could race him to the airport. he got there barely by 6:30, for our 6:35 flight. What timing. We slept the whole way into Memphis, and then the whole way back to Boston, where our trip ended!

I'd been sort of disappointed when Caroline said in Feb that she'd be getting married in Orlando, since we'd just been to Florida and Orlando is of course a tourist trap. I'd much rather have roamed around Arkansas for a weekend and seen things there. But I did enjoy Sea World a great deal, and even Epcot had some things to offer. I don't think I'd go back for a long while, but it was entertaining. The play was probably the highlight of the weekend. That was really good! And really we only paid for one discount day at Sea World and got three days of park in, so it worked out well in that sense.

Well, this is tough. Many birds seemed to be brought in by Seaworld. But some look like true natives. We only saw gulls outside of the parks. Sad city.

In any case, in Seaworld we saw flamingoes (which we think were imported), white and rose ibis (natural?), lots of friendly ducks, lots of sparrows, boat-tailed grackles and one hawk on a wire that we never did identify.

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