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Florida 18 - T2 - Day 14 - Gatorland & Orlando Magic


Another day in paradise. The sun was up early and so was I for another constitutional stroll around the estate. All days should start like this.

The rest of the house awoke more slowly in particularly Barry who was still suffering from his heavy cold. We sat by the pool until just after 11am when we drove to Gatorland. It was a short 25 minute trip.

At home I had purchased 3 tickets from eBay for $11 each and so only had to pay for one more. I pleased to discover that I qualified for an over 55 discount and so the extra ticket only cost another $13. Not bad as the full price is $29.99, so I had made a decent saving overall for us.

This is a quaint old place that still survives mainly because it is something different and is still actually very interesting. It is an antidote to the bigger theme parks. Basically it is just boardwalks with gators everywhere, although to everyone's annoyance Karen kept referring them to crocodiles. The only time she used the gator term was when we happened to looking at the only 2 crocodiles in the place!

We watched the Gator jumparoo which was mildly amusing but the Gators didn't jump as high as they probably could. Then afterwards we walked around seeing the Gators separated into age groups from baby to flipping enormous. We also watched the giant tortoises for a bit which were surprisingly active.

At the cafe we stopped for lunch. Neil choose the Gator nuggets whilst the rest of us had more traditional fare of chicken in different formats. Then we walked to the Gator Wrestling. This was very entertaining and the chap doing the wrestling kept the whole crowd interested. I'm sure that it looks worse than it is, but still rather him than me. We then wandered along the various trails. The gift shop also amused us for a few minutes before we set off back to the Villa.

After another chill by the pool we set off again at 5pm this time to drive to the Amway Centre to watch Orlando Magic play against the Cleveland Cavaliers. We had seen Magic play before but not at their new stadium. The drive was busy due to rush hour but not too bad. We headed to the stadium and then pulled into the first parking lot we found. This was the parking for an office block and they were only charging $10 which seemed reasonable. It was only a short walk from here to the Amway Centre.

The Center itself was ringed by security and staff, all of whom without exception were very happy and helpful. Our tickets were on my phone and they were eager to assist to get us into the building. Stadiums and staff like these put ours in the UK to shame. They are just so well designed and organised. We soon found the correct level and entry for our seats. Although we were behind one of the baskets, the view was terrific as was the build up to the game itself. We settled down after getting some snacks and drinks. The stadium was less than half full as the Magic have not had the best start to the season and the Cavs even worse.

It was entirely accidental that I managed to take a photo of Karen as we went in with some of the scantily clad cheerleaders in the background....

Nevertheless the game was terrific and each quarter one team pulled ahead and then gradually lost the lead. The entertainment during the breaks was great fun and Carrow Road could learn a lot. My two favourites were Oblivious Cam, where the camera put someone in the crowd on the jumbo screens and started a clock to see how long before they noticed. Tonight they broke the record with it taking over 2 minutes for this guy to realise what was happening. All the time they are giving a commentary on what he is doing or supposedly thinking and was very funny. The other thing I liked was the human skittles where people were catapulted on a round disk with wheels into large skittles. All good fun.

The game was eventually tied at 100 - 100 each with only 1.8 seconds left when there was a dispute over who put the ball out. Magic were given the decision and with the best shot of the night scored just as the buzzer went for the end of time. It was a terrific ending to a great game and we left buzzing. It was easy to get out of the stadium and back to the car. It was also an easy easy exit out of the car park and onto the I4 for the drive back.

Unsurprisingly as they both had another park day planned tomorrow the boys went straight to bed. As we were planning to have a rest day, Karen & I had a drink before retiring for the night. Another really good day.


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