17 February 2008

Orlando kickoff

Due to the unreliable Internet connection at my cheap extended-stay hotel, I won't be able to upload pictures until I return home.

Today was spent at the newest of Disney parks, the Animal Kingdom, as scheduled, after a sleepless night. I only spent four hours though, since I took most of the popular rides early on, negating a need for a FastPass. The crowd level was below what I had expected; I am suspecting the current economic recession. The African safari was impressive with its variety of real animals, but the rest left a bit to be desired, delivering neither the presentation of other Disney parks nor the authenticity of real zoos. After watching a few shows, I decided to head out, skipping a Yeti-themed roller coaster which did have a long wait even with FastPass.

This unexpected early exit from Disney's Animal Kingdom allowed me to visit Kennedy Space Center today, instead of on the 22nd as originally scheduled. I was able to visit the buildings used for the space shuttle program, explore the space shuttle and Apollo programs, and watch an IMAX movie. Although Endeavour was being prepped for next month's launch, it was hidden inside the vehicle assembly building and couldn't be seen. I stayed until the closing hour of 6PM, though I had no luck buying suitable souvenirs. (I'll head back to Disney parks for souvenirs.)

My rental Prius continued to deliver 48+ MPG even with high-speed freeway cruise. I've never been this engaged with a rental car, since I rented a Citroen Xantia in London 10 years ago. The Citroen was my first right-hand-drive and my first stickshift car; the Prius is my first hybrid and my first CVT car. The Prius will now do duty as my commuter, as I start doing my work duties for the weekdays.

Those duties will be done Friday morning at the latest, however, leaving me with 1 1/2 days to spend on Epcot. I still have high hopes for Epcot, as it is the most unique of Disney's four Orlando theme parks. I'll probably also spare a weekday evening for Downtown Disney and another for a local mall.

It will be very busy, exhausting, yet fun stay here in Orlando, until I return to California.