Orlando November 2012

I was looking forward to returning to Florida for a family holiday. With 2 of my 3 sons, Joe and Danno my daughter and their partners ooh and a set of twins! I have been many times since my first visit 1981 when I went to Daytona with the Randle Armstrong team. That was a mixed do to be honest. It was just 3 riders and their mechanics and our erstwhile Team Manager Ruth. My mrs wasn’t happy about it, she didn’t trust Mrs Randle one bit. I guess she thought she would shag us all! Sue wasn’t too far off the mark, in fact she did shag one of the team, a few hundred times. I wanted it all to be a professional attempt to win a famous race on British bikes. Not a shag fest.

The race didn’t go all that well, we did ok in the heats, after having to ditch our Dunlop Tyres for Goodyears. The Americans didn’t like us using Dunlops they thought it gave us an advantage over their Goodyear shit, they were right. We were not happy with this although the other competitors came over and tried to reassure us they were perfectly ok, Eddy Lawson was one such he was on the works Kawasaki. I remember passing him down one of the straights in qualifying, that pleased me. He came passed me into the hairpin, I remarked to myself he does have faith in those Goodyears!
The technical problem we suffered with the tyre change was the lower profile of the replacement. This exacerbated a ground clearance problem we already had with the Armstrong the tail pipe touched the ground in places. In the race I got flicked off in the chicane because of it. When the dust settled I put my bike on the breakdown truck, returned to the pits we repaired the damage , went back through tech, and returned to the race. It was epic! I finished 40th. In contrast Kenny Roberts pulled out of the 200 miler with a sticking throttle, what a wanker!

The big thing I was looking forward to this time was for a radio station I liked. It was almost perfect, it did play Sonny and Cher a few too many times mind. Cool 105.9.
As soon as we were over the Georgia/Florida boarder I started looking for it. Sadly as you would expect I was rendered disappointed. First, it is no longer Cool 105.9 but Sunny 105.9! What marketing genius thought that was a good idea? Secondly the music it plays is not a shadow of its former self! You have to wonder about the thought process that went into this idea. Some genius discovered a good radio station, took it over and then fucked it up! Why?

Since 1997 The magic Kingdom has changed very little it is still very professionally done, all the details are taken care of. The prices have changed though, the car park is now $14 it used to be just expensive. Those metallic Micky helium balloons are now $15. When Daniel lost his 3 seconds after owning it in in 1984 they were I think $2. I was was still mad about it though!

The thing that did make me cross was they now have to do a bag search if you are carrying one, if not you walk through unmolested. However if you need to carry a Smith and Wesson 38, or a tin of fresh Ricin into Disney make sure it is tucked discreetly into your pocket! What total bullshit this bag search is. Like most things security, it is done to tick a box, nothing at all to do with security. They also take your finger print! What is all that about? What nonsense!

The rides are all a bit steady away, designed for homosexuals on the whole. Very well done and well designed but just a bit menthol. Space Mountain as old as it is , continues to draw a crowd, I was getting ready to leave the queue, the red exit signs were pulling hard and looking more and more attractive. That was after a 1 hour shuffle. Joe convinced me to hang on a bit longer, thanks Joe ! 5 minutes later we were on and ready to launch. Still a brilliant ride, I think if you could see where you are going it would terrify you.

Saturday was Sea world day. What a great park a copy cat reaming but really so much more fulfilling somehow. A couple of rip snorter rides , “Manta ray” and “Kraken” . Which to me, were new to the park.
The Shamu killer whale show was a bit lame compared to our last visit, but since then a trainer has been drowned by Shamu so they no longer have humans in the water with the creatures. There was much sincere video content as part of the presentation, with added sugary American wholesomeness, consequently it lacks sincerity and comes across like a Junior school lecture.

In contrast the sea lion show was super, except for the pirate captain . In a bid for political correctness they have a female lead. When did a pirate captain last have a squeaky voice? Robert Newton . Where are you? Full marks go to the warm up guy, he worked the crowed as they seated themselves for about half an hour. Max effort and max effect, a bit of piss take of the crowd seems to glue everyone together somehow.

The best by far was the Dolphin show, there was once more quite a bit of lame human circus input, again all a bit too sincere for my taste. Nevertheless a good performance and the Dolphins were a thrill.

Sunday we did universal adventure island or something like that first ride was the Incredible Hulk it scored 10 out of 10 a real good ride a steady pull up the high point as they all are, not quite this one. The last 50 feet you are blasted with acceleration out of the green tube whammo! You are off all the change of direction and g force you want, love it. Next was Harry Potter a 45 minute line! We were so lucky here pulled out of line by a guardian Angel. Who was a trainee under supervision she must have thought we were an attractive group of 3 , this took us right to the front! Can you believe it? Then the ride broke down FFS! For 40 minutes. We gained nothing in the end. The ride itself was a combination of simulator and ride, technically wonderful but as a ride only 4out of 10. I can confirm after being escorted by Harry Potter himself, throughout this flight through every type of thrill and monster you could imagine and landing safely. That I hate the irritating little twat! When I see him I want to punch him in the face.

The major thing that ticks me off about these parks is when you eventually reach the ticket seller they insist in trying to sell you all manner of add ons, an extra day in the park ? A fast pass to get you through the queues swifter, what about another park ? A plastic holder for you ticket then so you can hang it round your neck. No! I want 2 tickets that are the cheapest possible to get me in you park for today only! She got the message and we were the fastest served at that desk. One bloke must have been standing there for 5 minutes or more. No wonder the lines are so slow. Just like Disney though everything is so well done. We did one more roller coaster in The Harry potter section and that was also a good n 9 out of 10.
As we weave our way around these parks we are often pushing the twins in a double buggy. These wide devices do take a fair bit of torque to change direction so avoiding the adolescents and twenty something’s that are gazing longingly into there phones, not looking where they are going can be a bit of a drain on resources and build up the shoulder muscles quite well.

Monday was Discovery cove day, the weather wasn’t all that inspiring to start but we hoped it would at least be a replica of the previous one. Overcast then improving with the sun visible from noon on. Not a bit of it, the temperature maxed out at 59f the water was warmer. The Dolphin lake was 75, the others were 80 so if you stayed in the water it was quite tolerable. We kept fully clothed whilst we explored the park and got our bearings. Then it was on with the wet suits and snorkels. Brrr! Florida? There were patio heaters dotted here and there thank goodness so it was possible to soak up a little warmth. The food served here was of the finest quality and something they should be proud of, it puts all the other parks to total shame.

Our appointment with the Dolphin was at 2 pm, we met in our allotted cabana (Hawaiian garden shed) to sign waivers and all that modern stuff, slightly disconcerting when one of the administrators turned up in a wooly hat looking dressed for the ski slopes, I kid you not. Our Dolphin Lotoyah performed admirably, we got to touch it ,kiss it and get towed by it, what a performer! What a creature! By the end of this we were done for and shivering cold, so we got dressed, a wet suit takes some peeling off Ill tell you.
Discovery Cove is expensive and unmissable I would advise anyone to leave out any other park to save the money and experience this. You have to book so far in advance though it is impossible to predict the weather conditions particularly in a Floridian winter as we were.
The only downside was the photographs of your experience were horrifically expensive, a video of it eye wateringly so. Like the photos off the rides wherever you go what is the point of not selling a photograph that has cost the company about 50 cents to produce it makes no sense to me. Sell it successfully for a fair price to 90 percent of your customers instead of asking $20 selling only to 10 percent. I never even look at the photos , I know I’m not going to buy them at that price, but I would at say $5.

Tuesday saw us at Busch Gardens, a great theme park, with super roller coasters and safari park what a combo, something for every member of any family. The Orang u tans entertained us, we were only inches from a Lions Goolies, and a couple of feet away from a Bengal Tiger or two. Hippos, giraffes, zebras and buffaloes. All this as we wondered between rides and sections of the park. The newest ride “cheetah hunt”had a queue of 60 minutes at times. We hit it at 25 minutes very lucky! It is excellent though. A top speed of 60 mph, 3 1/2 minutes, along 4000 feet of track, a good thrill. Montu is all you need in a roller coaster, negative and positiveG, acceleration loop the loop, you name it and you hang from the rails. We also tried an old fashioned 1950s wooden coaster, there is no fun here though its a real rustic ride , your teeth are shaken loose and it is jolly hard work, every muscle in my body was in dynamic tension from the start to finish, I was exhausted afterwards. Not bad though for a pile of pallets and some rails.
Finally there is Shie kra , that is 200 feet high , once there and tipping over the vertical drop it holds you for a few seconds before letting you loose. A great concept a long ride and beautifully engineered.
I am thinking , Get your kicks in Busch Gardens and your experience at discovery cove and you have had a good couple of days in Florida. Done!
We experienced the same useless and jolly inconvenient security check again. I removed my explosive vest though, when the sun came out it was just too hot to wear and stored it in a locker.
Some of our party tried a giant turkey leg for lunch it looked a bargain at $7 but after a couple of mouthfuls they all said it was nicer to look at than to eat. I would think an athlete would fail a drugs test quite comprehensively after eating one of those massive thighs. They must be shot up with hormones to get that big.
Before leaving Busch we tried one of their lovely ice creams. I chose a single scoop, some had a double scoop with extras, the thing we didn’t understand was a scoop is not a scoop, each scoop consists of 4 scoops so a 2 scoop is actually 8 scoops. My single scoop ( 4 scoops) was huge so double that was utterly crackers impossible to finish the lot, utter madness no wonder Americans are fat, they are presented with portions suitable only for pigs and hippos. The criteria for this is to do with perceived value. It is, in reality about the number of dollars one can take in a single transaction. Instead of a $2 ice cream at a sensible portion you have to take a $6 one that is massive, the product cost is little to do with value the important thing is the dollar take. A lunatic philosophy in a country full of fat fuckers.

Wednesday was Dan and Dee’s return home, what a quick week! So we had a rest day a game of mini golf and it was all over. Sue won the golf. A late lunch at Bubba Gumps, I Like a menu that gives a ” bucket of boat trash” as a choice.
Chunky Money though we saw off $100 , Between 4!

I enjoyed our trip and I enjoyed my family ( how many folk ever say that?)

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