Wednesday, 30 November 2011


Trip Report  Days 1 & 2 continues

As previously mentioned, Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure were so light on crowds that I managed to do each park in only five hours each - which is rather extraordinary in comparison to say, Epcot, which takes 2 days.
E.C.U.  that wait time of 90 minutes! The reason why you are never out of a Disney park by lunchtime.                    (photo source:
I am not a "free fall drop" person so there was no way I was getting on the big roller coasters such as Dragon Challenge, The Hulk or even Dudley DoRight's Rip Saw Falls. But I do love interactivity and simulators. So I loved Men in Black (a moving carriage dark ride where you shoot the aliens - much like Disney's Buzz Lightyear - a moving carriage dark ride where you shoot the aliens).

I laughed all the way through The Simpsons Ride - this is a small simulator ride set to a cartoon film. It had all the wacky wild motion and scenery of the TV show. This is definitely a winner of a ride. I found this POV video on You Tube. When watching remember one is sitting in a simulator which gives the feeling of all the twists, turns and falls.
My favourite bits: "Honey, a theme park will never let you die whilst you have a dime in your pocket" and the Pirates of the Caribbean parody.

Universal also has the Jaws ride. People my age would remember Jaws. I wonder what the kids of today make of it?! So there is a little pretend Amity village and we all boarded little boats for a tour. Suddenly over the radio - there's a giant shark terrorising tourists! Go around the corner and DISASTER! Now we are being chased by a giant rubber white pointer shark with sharp gnashy teeth and splashing water everywhere. And this thing is persistent. No matter how many times the boat driver trys to scare it off with his fake shotgun, it keeps coming, again and again and again.

So did I tell you that late October/early November in a fairly quiet time in the parks? School was in so it was mostly families with four year old kids. In fact, there was at least half a dozen four year olds in my boat. And at the first shark attack the first 4 yr old went off with an ear piercing squeal, and it was like dogs and car alarms - the rest of the boat joined the chorus. This wasn't just crying - this kid (who was sitting directly in front of me) was SCREAMING - that high pitched squeal that bursts your ear drums. In fact, all the people sitting in front of the kid had their fingers in their ears. Now I know why they banned photography and filming.

And the boat driver? He didn't miss a beat - he kept on with his disaster routine - kiddies screaming over him, parents and adults bemused and laughing - who could keep track of what was happening to that danged shark? It kept bursting up out of the water and kids kept screaming their heads off. At the final scene, the shark is lying dead, mangled, bleeding, with huge shotgun holes in its head and that scared the bejesus out of them all more than anything previous.

So no pictures of that then.

Loved the Amazing Adventures of Spider Man. This is a 3D simulator which actually moves along a track - similar technology to HP Forbidden Journey. Among the most technologically advanced rides, worked smoothly, gave a fantastic ride experience, very engaging experience, and I came off, a bit shaken and excited! It's the kind of experience that keeps me going back. 

My least pleasurable experience? Poseidon's Fury. Never before has the external set promised so much and then the experience delivered so little. And worst of all - I had to stand up throughout this whole debarcle!. The acting was the hammiest, cheesiest, lamest attempt at comedy cum drama I've ever seen. The whole set and story was was this weak attempt at Fire vs Water, that bore no resemblence to the actual stories of Poseidon. The wonderous special effects? A few water canon and gas flame bursts. And I had to stand up all the way through this debarcle. Have a look at this entrance set up:

Look at how detailed the entrance is

See that tiny tiny cleaner? This show the scale of the thing:
Poseidon's Fury?? more like Poseidon's Fluffy
Now go to the top of this post and look at the Toy Story Mania wait time, now look back at this picture at the queue waiting to get in. This should have given me a clue. No wonder photography was banned in this thing. Honestly, I couldn't be bothered taking pictures of it - my feet were tired from all the standing.

Anyway - the remainder of my day was spent at the Mall at Millenia - doing lots of shopping in the Lindt shop (hooley fadooley Batman - I haven't seen a range like that before. I did get a lot of halloween Lindor balls which had wrappers that looked like orange carved pumpkins and with cute cartoon ghosts)

Bwah ha ha ha - I shall scare you to death with my chocolatey goodness!
 ...  and basically avoiding the designer label shops on the top floor.

Later in the day, the Mall was full of kids Trick or Treating the shops. I had imagined that T&T was a residential neighbourhood, house to house kind of thing. But apparently the new deal is to do it in shopping malls as it is considered safer for the kiddies and they are probably less likely to be offered fruit instead of candy.

Saturday night I went to dinner with an old (yes I am old enough to say "old") high school friend who emigrated to Florida many years ago and lives with her family about 90mins south of Orlando. I met her entire family and we went to Emeril's main restaurant in Universal City Walk. No photos unfortunately - it would have been a bit strange in front of her whole family - but frankly I thought the restaurant was a bit average. I had grilled salmon, with herbed roasted root veges and a sweet, sticky, black pepper sauce. The servings were HUGE - so many points on the Mr Creasote scale, but average on the Spoonfuls scale of happiness. (I really have to come up with some graphics). Go to the link and check out the menu - and think about the descriptions - it is really not so complex.

So now you know - how I spent those early days.

Sunday, 27 November 2011


In my childhood I rarely had dress ups and I don't really remember attending any costume parties. As Australia doesn't celebrate Halloween, we've not had the annual "dress-up" tradition.

Feel sad for me. I missed out on this. (Photo source: Kaboose crafts - where this costume's difficulty rating is "very easy" - Oh really?)
So it took it me quite a while to come to realisation that going to Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party was a dress-up event. Suddenly two weeks out the penny dropped.

Fortunately, Zontians are a talented lot and a small amount of begging secured me a clever woman who was the proud owner of a sewing machine. Penny dropped everything and the night before I flew out there was a knock on my front door and there was her lovely husband holding one completed halloween costume.

So how did I spend the night?

Check after the jump - and see all the other costumes too!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Whilst I was away ....

All draft blog posts are finished and up now. Normal service shall resume

Despite the limits of the Tab as a blogging tool, I began drafting a bunch a posts whilst I was travelling.

So if you are looking for the new content, scroll down between here and 28 October and watch updates and new posts magically appear.

..... if i don't get distracted by something more interesting

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Happy Birthday!

More Disney Birthdays - this time blow out the candles for our favourite character - Mickey Mouse!

Bet you can whistle the tune - Steamboat Bill - too!
Mickey celebrated 83 on November 18, so enjoy some historic photos of the little mouse from whom a giant multi-national conglomerate was born.

Walt voiced Mickey until 1947

early Mickey from the Disney Family Museum

Permanent Happy Birthday Mickey land at Disneyland - well - until they tore it down.
Earforce One over Disneyland (yes it's really called that)
Who are these strange bobble-headed creatures from another world?
Rather nasty brain injury there, Donald. The Chaps - before Disney got all aware about possibly offending veterans and war historians

Mickey never sold out to crass commercialism. He was part of it from the very start.
"hello?? 1984?? can you please send me a better costume and a more plush hotel room?" (taken at the Contemporary Resort on it's opening in October 1971)
83 years and still shaking that money maker.

All of these images belong to WDW & Disney Family

One of my favourite things

If you've been wondering why the blog has been so quiet over the past 3 weeks it's because I was off doing this.

I am now back in Australia, having bade my farewell to Mrs Banks and my other Florida friends.

Letting the blogging recommence!!

Happy Halloween - with our ghost host

BWHA HA HA HA HA HA........ (insert Disney safe comedic evil laugh here)

I know next to nothing about Halloween. I am completely dependent upon Wikipedia. So I didn't really approach 31 October with any sense of history or warm childhood emotional connection. In fact I didn't really even what was going on until I sat to write this post afterwards.

(And really I think that sums up the whole of quality approach of this blog. Brought to you from my business corporation: Dewey, Cheatem & Howe )

According to wikipedia, Halloween is a combination of pagan, celtic and Christian elements from down through history from ancient Rome. The melting pot of halloween is continually fed including more modern influences such as gothic horror, trick or treating and haunted houses.

Halloween means different things to different people and it pulls in All Hallows Day, Reformation Day, All Saints Day, Celtic Samhain, along with the pagan features.

As it is apparent I could start a religious war on this, I think I will cut my losses now and just say places like Disney with their Christian family values are way comfortable celebrating Halloween because it is so inclusive and almost every feature of the event can be interpreted with either a Christian or pagan perspective. e.g. apparently the carved pumpkins comes from ye olde Christians and All Souls Day - honouring the souls of the recently departed.

So what was my experience of Halloween in Orlando?

First - IT'S HUGE. This thing has to rival Christmas (well - a Christmas in Canberra anyway). Everywhere is decorated, there are special foods, parties, trick or treating, costumes, carved pumpkins. It was in full swing when I arrived and there was no escape.

Disney puts on Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party. Selling tickets at $60 a pop, the party runs from 7pm - midnight in the Magic Kingdom.
And it was REALLY GREAT!! I so enjoyed myself, doing stuff I don't normally do and interacting in the park in a different way. Let me take you through my experience of the night.

Front entrance with a hint of autumn coloured banners and pumpkins. I took this shot from Tallahassee (who knows what I was thinking - probably that I didn't want their ugly family dominating my shot)
Follow me after the jump to actually enter the park

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Food Porn: what you sick people come here for.

Most people when they think of theme parks think junk food and Orlando certainly has plenty, some of which I have previously covered. 

WDW is driven by an underlying principle of being a destination for anyone, and they also want to keep improving and keep pace as one of the world's most frequented tourist destination. ( with more than 47 million tourists going to Orlando each year they are valid competition against Paris).

Ohh - the decisions! Do I go to France and eat at the Paul Bocuse restaurant? Or do I go to Epcot and eat at the Paul Bocuse restaurant (Bistro de Paris)?
On this trip I went to WDW to eat and certainly did consume vast amounts of delicious comestibles representing most areas of the globe (allegedly). ( I say 'allegedly' because the travesty of the Disney version of a lamington leaves me wondering a bit about the other nations represented.).
"I'll have the meercat - not raw, a few chips, bit of broccoli"

Two major elements were in play:
  1. I was on free dining at Disney (which, frankly, only sets up the temptation to pretend that I am taking Disney for a ride, by jamming as much as possible in my cake hole) and 
  2. the Epcot Food and Wine Festival was underway for my entire stay.

With some strange belief that you, my sole reader from Poland, may be vaguely interested, I have photographed every dish, every drink and have chronicled the festival and my restaurant visits.It will take me several - numerous - posts to get it all out and through these coming posts I will lay out the culinary offerings awaiting you for your trip to the World.

So let's not waste any time and get started. Join me after the jump for my first dining report.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Mrs Banks HATES blogging on the tab

Arrgghh..... the tab is so tedious for blogging. It is slow, it crashes, it freezes, it just straight up ignores commands. It is not variable voltage so I am having trouble keeping up the juice supply. It takes 24 hours to charge.

Trip reports are not going to be as frequent as I envisaged.

Day 1 - Harry Potter Land

After not sleeping, I was up in plenty of time to get to gate opening for early entry to Harryworld. There must have been only 60 of us at most but we were all going to the same place!

oh - and it was pouring rain - but doen't that just add to the atmosphere?
First stop was Olivander's wand shop. I got into the first group of about 20 (no queuing for me!). Ollie picked a delightful young woman of about 12 and she went through the motions of waving twigs around until (insert angelic music) she found her wand ! Very quick and nicely done with everyone in role.

 Then I was first customer of the day in the store with a wand for my niece according to her birthday. She scored an ivy wand. And none of the characters in the book used ivy (I suppose we can't all be holly like Harry!). Don't worry - she's 16 - she couldn't be bothered reading this.

brussellus sproutus extinctium!

Then it was straight to Forbidden Journey , which was fantastic from the gates all the waythrough. A showstopper of a ride, so technically wonderful and exhilarating! Again - no queue, the ride was a walk on. This ride would have to be one of the most advanced available. It looks great, has incredible range of movement  - think of it like a moving simulator - and of course the theming from the Hogworts Castle through the 'flying a broom' effects were excellent.

Next up was brekkie at the 3 Broomsticks. I had the Trad English bfast - which wasn't completely trad - wrong beans and potatoes?? A nod in the right direction though with blood pudding and english bacon (a strange thing, of which Disney has no experience)

What??? just tilt the screen. Geez you people are demanding.

"Trad English Breakfast"contains: sauteed potatoes, sauceless baked beans and a croissant. The English have obviously been holding out on the rest of us.
 BTW: I had a 'Darth Vader in the Deathstar canteen' moment

I like it so much. I had to use it again.
"This tray is wet, this tray is wet, this tray is wet - what is this? a traditional english canteen breakfast experience?"

Honeydukes sweet shop and Zonko's joke shop contained lots of referred items, like every flavour beans, fanged frisbee,  exploding bon bons and chocolate frogs. The butterbeer is good fun somewhat reminiscent of a creaming soda float without the scoop of icecream.

Continuous Puking Pastilles - replicate the emotional experience of a life in middle management

Honeydukes amazing supply

More Disney than Hogsmead

Shelves and shelves of sugary goodness

Ahhh - the miracle of modern chemical engineering
Oak brewed for precision baterial develoment and fine beading

Ill thought through games that actually cannot be played - and questionable aerodynamics

Embiggen to look at all the fireworks! YEAH! EXPLOSIONS! (Unlike Canberra where we've had fireworks available forever)

After that thre was lots of wandering around enjoying the space and shopping. The fake snow works in photos but looks very fake in real life. The shops and the whole design look fantastic. easily one of the most well done pieces of theme parkery I've seen.

Given the very low crowds I did WWoHP in only a couple of hours, and the whole park by 1pm! I don't think many others have the same luck.

Many of the shop fronts had animatronic displays in them - this one had moving and squeeling plants

The famous castle - and location of the Forbidden Journey ride

Embiggen to see the owls in the owlery - with real fake owl poo and everything