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Erik & Smisty's Florida Oddventures

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Aloha! Erik and Smisty here. You may remember us from such threads as Erik & Misty's Smoky Mountain Adventures. Or perhaps some of our other trip reports, from places like Cedar Point, Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Indiana Beach, or Holiday World. I think it's safe to say, however, that this thread is destined to surpass all of those--to become, you might say, the ultimate expression of our Erik & Smisty-ness.


At the beginning of February, 2010--in search of warmer weather and even more touristy stuff to do--we moved from Pigeon Forge, Tennessee to Orlando, Florida.


These are our stories:


Characters In Flight (Downtown Disney) - Page 1

Congo River Mini Golf (East Orlando) - Page 3

The Seas with Nemo & Friends (Epcot) - Page 3

Castillo de San Marcos (St. Augustine) - Page 4

Bistro Gourmet at McDonald's (Orlando) - Page 4

Winter Summerland (Walt Disney World) - Page 6

Africa (Disney's Animal Kingdom) - Page 8

Dinosaur World (Plant City) - Page 9

Grand Prix Mini Golf (Tampa) - Page 11

Gatorland (Orlando) - Page 12


Ripley's Believe It or Not! Museum (St. Augustine) - Page 14

International Flower & Garden Festival (Epcot) - Page 15

"Mantaland" (SeaWorld Orlando) - Page 16

Analog Tweeting @BGT (Busch Gardens Tampa) - Page 18

Hawaiian Rumble Mini Golf (Orlando) - Page 19

Bird Gardens (Busch Gardens Tampa) - Page 19

T-Rex Cafe (Downtown Disney) - Page 20

The Citrus Tower (Clermont) - Page 20

The Presidents Hall of Fame (Clermont) - Page 22

After Dark (SeaWorld Orlando) - Page 24


Seuss Landing (Islands of Adventure) - Page 25

WonderWorks (Orlando) - Page 29

Howl-O-Scream (Busch Gardens Tampa) - Page 32

Halloween Spooktacular (SeaWorld Orlando) - Page 35

Aquatica (Orlando) - Page 36

Scott's Maze Adventures (Zellwood) - Page 38

Congo River Mini Golf (Clearwater) - Page 39

World Expo (Universal Studios Florida) - Page 41

Bargain World (Orlando) - Page 41

The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights (Disney's Hollywood Studios) - Page 43


Macy's Holiday Parade (Universal Studios Florida) - Page 44

Jaxson's Ice Cream Parlor & Restaurant (Dania Beach) - Page 45

Boomers! (Dania Beach) - Page 46

Miami Seaquarium (Miami) - Page 49

Winn-Dixie #2379 (Kissimmee) - Page 52

Monkey Jungle (Miami) - Page 55

The Florida Aquarium (Tampa) - Page 58

The King of Kong Arcade (Orlando International Airport) - Page 60

Gator Golf (Orlando) - Page 61

Asia (Disney's Animal Kingdom) - Page 63


The Florida Keys, Overview (Um...Florida) - Page 65

Uncle Bernie's Amusement Park (Fort Lauderdale) - Page 68

World's Largest Bowling Pin (Tampa) - page 70

Key West Aquarium (Key West) - Page 71

The Great American Pie Festival (Celebration) - Page 72

Boondocks Restaurant & Mini Golf (Ramrod Key) - Page 74

Ripley's Believe It or Not! Museum (Orlando) - Page 75

Hula Dog (Orlando) - Page 78

Jungle Island (Miami) - Page 79

Butterfly World (Coconut Creek) - Page 82


Bonanza Golf & Gifts (Kissimmee) - Page 83

Fork & Screen Dine-In Theater (Downtown Disney) - Page 86

American Victory Ship & Museum (Tampa) - Page 87

Central Florida Zoo (Sanford) - Page 88

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex (Cape Canaveral) - Page 90

Star Trek: The Exhibition (Kennedy Space Center) - Page 91

Kennedy Space Center Tour (Cape Canaveral) - Page 92

US Astronaut Hall of Fame (Titusville) - Page 94

Emeril's Tchoup Chop (Universal Orlando) - Page 94

Anastasia Miniature Golf (St. Augustine) - Page 95


Lego Kingdoms (Legoland Florida) - Page 96

Titanic The Experience (Orlando) - Page 99

Makahiki Luau (SeaWorld Orlando) - Page 102

MegaCon 2012 (Orlando) - Page 103

Hollywood Drive-In Golf (Universal Orlando) - Page 105

The Festival of Chocolate (Orlando) - Page 105

Silver Springs (Ocala) - Page 106

St. Augustine History Museum (Hell) - Page 109

Return to Dinosaur World! (Still in Plant City) - Page 109

Cong River Mini Golf (Kissimmee) - Page 110


In here somewhere we took a vacation from all this vacationing: Southern California & Nevada, with Erik & Smisty


Fantasy of Flight (Polk City) - Page 111

Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens (Jacksonville) - Page 113

Holy Land Experience (Orlando) - Page 114


Hey, it's us!

Edited by Electerik
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As amusement resorts go, Walt Disney World is big. Really big. Sure, there are the theme parks. But there are also water parks, miniature golf, actual golf, hotels, restaurants, stores, sports complexes, and lots and lots of trees, water, and roads separating them all. WDW even has its own fire station. It also has Downtown Disney, which is a collection of specialty shops, restaurants, theaters, and empty buildings that used to be nightclubs--as well as a strange little attraction that really wouldn't fit into any of the existing theme parks:


Characters In Flight


Is that...a balloon?


It costs $16 per person. And while that might seem fairly expensive for what is, essentially, just a fancy observation tower--it's practically cheap by Disney standards.


We have our boarding passes, Captain!


This is what I look like on a balloon.


Up we go, at the end of a steel cable tether...! (That's supposed to be sung, you see. To the tune of Wild Blue Yonder. Nevermind.)


The E is for Erik. The S is for Smisty. The N is for...um..."Nobody Else."


The "Marketplace" section of Downtown Disney.


And the "West Side" section.


Now then, let's see what we can see from 400 feet in the air. Looks like Typhoon Lagoon and Disney Hollywood Studios! (I think Expedition Everest is actually in this photo, too. Far right.)


And Epcot, too!


Disney timeshares!


And yes, even the Magic Kingdom. Well, if you squint. You can see part of it. Behind the Contemporary Resort. Top middle. It's Space Mountain's foot. Look, shut up.


Not good enough for you? Well, how about SeaWorld? (Top middle-right.)


Time to head back down to the planet. That's a sort of a pun, you see. "Planet Hollywood"? Forget it.


Misty and I took up positions on opposite ends of the balloon, for maximum photo coverage. But you can move around, if you like. We weren't sure, going in. How you doin' over there, Smisty? You look a bit worried.


See? Safe and sound back on the ground.


I enjoyed it. It's as high up as you're gonna get over WDW, short of a far more expensive helicopter ride. And it's quite smooth and pleasant. What did you think, Smisty? Would you do it again??

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Triumphant return, indeed. Welcome back to Florida! (At least, I thought one of you had lived in the Orlando area before?)


Thanks! Yes, we've both lived in Orlando before (just not together), and we both have family here.


Great to see you guys back with a new thread! Looking forward to this one.


Thanks as always for your support!!!


--Robb "Would you like a regular column in our Club TPR publication?" Alvey


Well, since I have almost no idea what that might entail...yes!

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Welcome back to the MCO. I've really wanted to do Characters in Flight but always seem to time it wrong when there is a storm in the area, high winds, etc. Looking forward to more exciting photos! Please visit Dinosaur World - Concrete dinos rock!

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Congo River Golf is a Florida miniature golf chain with nine locations, three of which are in Orlando. They all have the same theme, but all of the courses are unique. Like most of Central Florida's mini golf establishments, they are of the "adventure golf" type, which basically just means that the individual holes lack interactive elements (like, say, windmills) and most of the theming is off to the sides. These courses also generally share the same theme throughout, rather than each hole being something different.


I have to admit that I'm rather fond of Congo River, and consider their 36-hole I-Drive location to be the best mini golf in the area. This was our first time at this location, though, built on the east side of town, far from any other attractions, and consisting of just one 18-hole course.


Congo River Golf, East Orlando


Does your local mini golf establishment have live alligators? No? Well, I guess you don't live in Orlando then.


The price is $10.95 for adults, and $8.95 for children under 10. They also offer a "play all day" option for $2.00 more, which is a bit odd, considering that there's just the one course.


Feed live gators. Feed them children.


The stream through the jeep is a nice touch.


I stood on it. It's not really quicksand.


It's a very pretty course. Rather new, too, I take it.


I am hiding from the hippos.


(I believe) all the Congo Rivers have one of these zebra planes.


That's Misty's mom and sister, by the way. One of the other reasons we moved back to Orlando is that we both have family here.


View from the top.


I pity the real explorers of the Congo, who did not have the luxury of a Chili's next door.


Your ball could come off this ramp either way, allegedly. But somehow we all ended up over there.


As you can see from the parking lot, the slope of this course is entirely artificial. It is Florida, after all.


Something about the theme of this hole just makes me laugh: "Stanley looks in the tomb."


My camera also looked in the tomb. And I'm not laughing now.


"Are you following me, sir?"


I like Congo River's style.


Misty's smiling way too much at the end here. She must have won.


In addition to the mini golf course and the live alligators, there's a "party room"...


...an arcade, and gem mining.


You can even buy souvenir shirts and stuffed monkeys.




Sorry. Anyway, this particular course is a fine addition to the Congo River chain--and is also, by far, the closest mini golf course to Smisty's family's house. So I like it.

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