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Lily's Golden Jubilee in Florida

A wonderful week-long adventure to celebrate Lily's Golden Jubilee!

In the past we had gone down to Orlando in November every year or two, finding the weather nice and the parks uncrowded, and fully decorated for Christmas, but we hadn't been down since '07. Ride counts on this trip were lower than in the past, but due in part to a nice relaxed pace; more strolling and looking around, and shopping, and longer meals. But luckily all our new coaster credits were operating.

We left early on a Saturday. Uneventful flight - no real problem with car, a Toyota Yaris, except no cruise control on compact/economy models any more!.

Since we arrived in Orlando at about 9:30 a.m., and weren't allowed to check-in at the Disney's All Star Movie Resort until after 2, we decide to do a couple parks before collecting our lodging.

We had breakfast at an I-Hop on International Drive (not too bad, but my eggs were undercooked and the portions were small), then zipped over to FunSpot first, since it has free parking, and pay-as-you-go. We rode the re-located spinning mouse (Rockstar Coaster, moved from Cypress Gardens), and our new credit, their Kiddie Coaster. Longest wait was at the ticket booth. We walked around a little, reminiscing about our 300 foot Sky Coaster ride way back in 2005, then headed out.

Since it was still early, we decided to hit SeaWorld. Typical cluster f' at the gate - worst turn-stile system EVER! - but not too crowded. Got our first ride on Manta, liking it better than all the other B&M flyers, as well as a ride each on Kraken (McKracken!) and little Shamu. Since the hospitality house is no more, we made one slow stroll around the park, admiring the Christmas decorations, taking our rides along the way. Stayed until about 5:30 (half hour before closing).

Checked into the All Star Movie Resort around 6 with no problems. We had dinner at the resort, in the food court. Sliced turkey, mashed potatoes, etc. - pretty good, actually.

We decided to do LegoLand on a Sunday, thinking the crowds might be lower than any other day. We had breakfast at a Denny's in Kissimmee - again, small portions, but more filling than the I-Hop, then got to the park around opening. Park was busy, but not crowded. We got our coaster rides, with both new and old credits, and enjoyed both the Gardens (unchanged, except for the occasional Lego gnome), and finished with a ride on the Island In The Sky. But unfortunately I had a bad allergy day - took an out-of-date allergy pill the night before - so I was pretty miserable by the end of the day. We ate dinner at a sort of sports bar on West 192 - Millers Ale House. I don't remember much about it.

We have always heard that Disney is extra-busy on Monday's, so we choose to do Universal. It was busy, but not over crowded.

Had Danish and coffee at a place on City Walk. Started in IOA, since they were closing an hour before the Studios. We went right on the way in, starting in the Marvel section (We like to save Seuss Landing for last), and found that Hulk's opening was delayed. Rode Spidy twice, since there was no real line. Strode through Toon Lagoon, checking out the scenery, but weren't interested in getting wet. Nothing if real interest in Jurassic Park, so found ourselves in the new (and crowded) Wizarding World of Harry. Still relatively early, our wait for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey wasn't bad -- line continued to move the entire time, and there was plenty to look at in the queue.

We quite enjoyed our first ride, so went around again. A mistake. Lily tweaked her neck on it the second time. It is a cool ride, but not as good as Spidy, maybe because we are not as familiar with the story, or maybe because it hurt Lil.

Got our first coaster ride of the day on the newly renamed Flight of the Hippogriff (formerly Flying Unicorn). Then we really got a look at the new Harry World. The new architecture, complete with snow on the roofs, was pretty cool, but we were very sad to see the Big Tree gone, especially since Lily used to hang in the bar in the Tree while I rode Dueling Dragons. Since we could find a bark in Harry's World, I skipped Dragon Challenge.

Walked through the Lost Continent, reminiscing about our Lunch at the Mythos Restaurant With Tony R. on Lily's birthday back in '05. Then Seuss Landing. Love this curvy land, especially when it's decked out for Christmas. Rode Cat in the Hat, and thought that would be it. But we saw Hulk was running , so decided to get a ride for old time sake.

Glad we did, because as we started heading over to The Studios, we ran into Bruce and Ellen from Massachusetts. Hey now! Today was an ATRA event!!

Walked over to Universal Studios, with our first goal being our new credit, Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit. We were about 2 dozen riders away from our turn when it went down. So we headed over to Mummy.

On the way we ran into ACE friend's Leo and Leo. Talked with them a bit and found out they were going to Busch the next day, so we made plans to meet them.

Rode Mummy, then saw Rockit was open. We got our credit - not nearly as rough as we had anticipated. But, given our experience on Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, we opted not to ride again.

Did lunch/dinner (Linner) at our favorite spot in the Studios, Finnegan's Bar and Grill. Duke had the stew and Lily the Shepard's pie, with pints of stout for all.

Rode the Simpson's ride and E.T., and I rode Men In Black, then we headed out. Another fine, relaxed day. (As I said at the beginning, we spent a lot of time in each park just strolling and people watching.)

Except...when we got to the car, both the maintenance and check engine lights were on. Consequently we postponed the trip to Busch so I could deal with switching out the car for a functioning one, which had to be completed in the morning.

So Tuesday saw me getting up early to swap our under-whelming Yaris for a very nice Dodge Avenger, we did breakfast at Bob Evans on the 192 strip. Did not make that mistake again - worst breakfast EVER! :^) And the coffee was horrid.

Then it was off to Hollywood Studios. Much more crowded than we expected -- hour wait for Toy Story. Rode the Tower of Terror and Rock'n'Roller, and beat our retreat. We cruised over to Epcot for Spaceship Earth and dinner at the Rose and Crown.

Wednesday tried breakfast at the food court. Did not make that mistake again - worst breakfast EVER! And the coffee was horrid. (Did I say that already?)

Started our park day at Animal Kingdom early to catch the animals when they are more active. Missed early opening, but still got on Kilimanjaro Safaris quickly, and saw some good animal activity, including some antelope and Rhino's running across our path. Everest was down, so rode Primeval Whirl.

While waiting for Everest to reopen, we met Kat and James in the smoking area. Interesting local couple.

After riding Everest, we drove over to Epcot to park, then monorailed, to Magic Kingdom. Rode Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Haunted Mansion, both sides of Space Mountain, and Pirates of the Caribbean. The park wasn't too crowded, so we did quite a bit for the pace we were taking.

Lily had had some minor surgery before the trip, and wasn't feeling up to full speed, so we went back to the room rather early. I decided to go back out to the Magic Kingdom alone in the evening. Took the Disney bus -- 15 minute ride that dropped me off right at the Magic Kingdom (no monorail or ferry to take). Walked around seeing the park at night, with Christmas decorations, snapping lots of photos. Took another ride on Rode Big Thunder Mountain, and a night ride on Jungle Cruise, then bused back. But not before procuring a Happy Birthday button for Lily!

Thursday was Lily's Happy Day!

And our timing turned out to be good, because our next coasted credit would be Lily's 700th coaster! And that next credit was Cheetah Hunt at Busch Tampa!

We had breakfast at Perkins on the 192 strip. Best breakfast of the week. Then hit the road for Tampa. No real traffic issues in either direction.

Went right to Cheetah Hunt, and it was walk on! Took 3 quick rides, and even bought a photo. We found that Gwazi was down for major rehab, but we got our additional credit on Air Grover. Got a ride on SheiKra before she broke-down (and built up a line), I rode Kumba, and got 2 rides on Montu, and we both took a spin on Uncle Anton's Scorpion. With strolling and shopping, and lunch at the Crown Colony Cafe, we had a pretty full day, so headed back to Orlando a touch early for a birthday dinner. I don't remember exactly where - some chain with beer...

Friday was our last day before flying North. We drove to Epcot, parked the car, and took the monorail to the Magic Kingdom. We hit all the rides we love there, including the Railroad, had lunch, then headed back to Epcot in the late afternoon. We stopped at the car, and met another local couple, Goldie and Vince. Wish we had met them early in the week, as we felt we could have been great friends. Hung with them a bit, including taking a ride on Sum of all Thrills, a very cool robo-arm simulator (we tried to build copies of Nitro), and hoped to meet for dinner, but unfortunately that never happened. Rode Mission Space, met a couple guys from Massachusetts, (again, if only we had met earlier in the week), walked, drank beer in Germany, watched the closing fireworks, and our trip was over.

No problems checking out or traveling home. Tired and sad our trip was over, we went back to real life and hunkered down for another Vermont winter.

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Lily's Golden Jubilee in Florida
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