Sunday 18th April 1999
Despite the previous days travelling I woke early at 5am, expecting a bright dawn only to find it was still dark! At 6.30am both Abby and Matthew were both awake and annoying each other in their bed.
By 7am we were all awake and so decided to get up, get showered and find somewhere to have breakfast. We had been informed by one of the Virgin reps last night that there was a guest meeting at 9.30am at Downtown Disney which we were advised to attend. As we had woken up in time we decided to go. Firstly breakfast. We thought we’d try out the hotel to see what they had to offer.
The choice was everything for $4.95 each plus kids get free continental (extra $1.95 if they want pancakes/bacon/sausages etc) They could choose from: Cereal, toast, blueberry muffins (rock solid cake things), peaches, pineapple, pears, water melon and jelly (yes jelly, or jello) which Matthew had first! We could have endless coffee. The quality wasn’t brilliant but started the day well.
Our hotel is situated on a highway called the 192, a very popular and busy road, with many shops and restaurants located along its route. The Disney theme parks are all west of our hotel approximately 10 miles away, but highways are well sign posted to each area. I was very impressed by the roads around Disney, obviously all new and wide (2-3 lanes mostly).
We parked close to the 24 screen AMC cinema, where the Virgin reps were waiting. After a short intro by a rep and a film introduced by Richard Branson about the Orlando attractions, we were asked to book our excursions. Having pre-booked ours already, we did not both to queue for any others.
Back to the car we decided to visit Disney’s Magic Kingdom and headed off following the large signs. At this point I forgot that the Americans drive on the right side and started down a road the wrong way. After a few screams from Tina, I managed to correct my error without anyone noticing, or hitting us, and we proceeded onwards.
We parked in the massive car park and then boarded a mono rail to the theme park entrance. Once inside, and after one of the familiar restroom stops, we got a train ride to Frontierland and Abby immediately spotted ‘Splash Mountain’ . The queues didn’t take too long to get to the start and the ride certainly lived up to its name and we got wet. Next Matthew saw the ‘Big Thunder Mountain Rail’ ride which was very fast and again a good ride.
When queuing, the areas you move along are themed to the ride, and I immediately noticed the attention to detail the Disney engineers had gone to. Brilliant! We then moved onto Fantasyland where we saw at close hand Cinderella’s castle, the focal point of the whole park.
At 3pm we watched the Disney magical Moment Parade from the Main Street, which was very entertaining. All the cast members (as they’re known) continued to smile despite the warm temperatures (mid 70’s).
After buying up half up the Disney store, we then went to Tomorrowland, which I think was our favourite part of the day. We had a ride on ‘Buzz Lightyears Space Ranger’, an interactive ride where you shoot targets using a laser gun. I got 200,000 points (space cadet rating) the kids got 0. This ride was so good we had another go and I improved my score even more.
Abby and me then decided to go on the ‘ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter’. Oh dear. Abby was scared and hated it, but I thought it was excellent. Tina and Matthew meanwhile went back on the ‘Astro Orbiter’, which we had all been on earlier. After having dinner at a pizza outlet and went on a couple more rides, we then waited for the ‘Fantasy in the Sky’ fireworks display that started at 8pm.
We then realised that it may get a little chilly in T-shirts and so headed for the shops to buy some sweatshirts. Problem was that so did everyone else!
Eventually, Tina Abby and Matthew bought some tops, but unfortunately by this time the fireworks had started on the other side of the park and we rushed over there and caught the end of the show.
We then decided to follow the crowds out of the park and made our way back to the hotel exhausted.