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…. excited about getting their Muggles passes

Thirty years later and the monorail was right where I remembered it to be. However there are many more steps between the Monorail and the rides than I recalled. Yes, the monorail does connect the Contemporary Village and Polynesian Village to the Magic Kingdom, however we now have Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom and Epcot Center on the route. Lucky for us there is also a boat that will take us over to the Magic Kingdom and today looks like a good day for a boat ride.

We left our tiki hut and weaved our way through the tropical jungle to the Magic Boat and were soon docked at the entrance the Magic Kingdom. I waved my room key over a box with Mickey’s face on it, stuck my finger into the Magic Finger Reader and the Magic Gates to the Magic Kingdom were opened. [wpvideo JiteN588]

As I stood there looking down Main Street I realized there is a reason it’s called the Magic Kingdom. You become five years old once again.

I loved walking down Main Street toward Cinderella’s Castle feeding the Ducks along the way, chasing Pluto and Goofy, ice cream and hot dogs on every corner and all I have to do is wave my Magic card to get some!

Our first destination was Pirates of the Caribbean – now starring Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow. Pirates singing sea shanties, sunken ships, stolen booty, all in an 8 minute ride. Yo ho ho it’s a pirates life for me.

After a dizzying turn on the Big Thunder roller coaster and a soaking ride on Splash Mountain I decided that perhaps we should split up into two groups.- those who want to hit the thrill rides and continue to get soaked – and me.

I noticed how many families were attending the Kingdom together and realized that this is the perfect place for a Family Reunion … there is so much time to visit with everyone while waiting for your turn on the rides.

After three days of 7 am wakeup calls, blisters on both feet, water-logged shoes, shin splints and falling into bed at midnight we packed up and told the boys that we had to take CB and Mrs. CB to the airport so they could get back to Memphis and go back to work making art.

Of course, this was all just part of the continuing surprises associated with the Nephews Last Great American Road Trip. We went to the airport alright, but not to return Mr. & Mrs. C.B., no, we were instead picking someone up!

Yes, Shane was waiting at the airport gate for us – off we went to two more days of theme park fun! Universal Studios and the final “P.”

Remember the name of this blog, Pirates, Plantations and Potter?  Well, while the nephews enjoy these trips they don’t spend much time reading my stories about their adventures – they didn’t realize there was a third “P”  and were very surprised that there was more to come.

After picking up Shane (that was a trick, getting a seventh person in the mini with all of the accompanying luggage – good thing it was a short ride) we asked if they had figured out where else we were going?  Pensacola? Palm Beach? Philadelphia?

We pulled up to the Universal entrance and in unison from the back seat “Uncle Rusty, Universal doesn’t start with a “P”!

“No” says I. “But Potter does.”  They may not have appreciated my alliteration but they were excited about getting their Muggles passes to see the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and visiting their relative Professor Minerva McGonagall.

Universal Studios may not have the magic of Disneyworld but it has great rides and lots of 3D experiences – roller coasters and roller coasters and roller coasters.

At Disneyworld you get a Fast Pass every few hours which does save time in the lines but at Universal Studios you get unlimited use of the Express Pass if you stay on the property. Oh boy, is that worth it!

Mrs. Chicken Boy and Shane proved to be the most adventurous of all of us – they rode 17 attractions in one day. I was sidelined after getting soaked on Dudley Do-Right’s Rip Saw Falls as Dudley once again saved Nell from Snidely Whiplash. After this ride I had to buy new socks to end the squishing when I walked.

We became Minions for a time, traveled with Shrek and Donkey, were attacked by aliens and were saved by Men in Black, climbed walls with Spiderman and rode a broomstick in a game of Quidditch above the castle grounds at Hogwarts (I had to close my eyes for the last half of the ride).

The day got away from us and we had to make a dash to the airport, this time to really put CB and Mrs. CB and Shane on airplanes home.

We then headed for the Gulf Coast and Destin, Florida – the Jewel of the Emerald Coast, at least that’s what the ad says. Realizing that we were all hungry we sought help for dinner plans from TripAdvisor and found what sounded like the perfect place for dinner – McGuire’s Award Winning Irish Restaurant and Pub. I called ahead for reservations for dinner only to find that they did not accept reservations. When we arrived we found out why. There was a wait for seating, and this was on a Sunday night. While waiting to be seated we checked the place out. The most noticeable thing about the decor was that the entire place was covered by one dollar bills. One million dollar bills, or so they say, and from the looks of the place, I believe them. It seems that everyone who comes to McGuire’s has the urge to staple a dollar bill to the wall. Hmmm…now this is an idea I think could use some exploring.

Well, our trip is coming to a close, one night in New Orleans, dinner at Nola and lunch at Emeril’s rounded out our final Road Trip with the Nephews.

But before I sign off I just want to let you know that we did find the world’s largest ball of twine.  Stay tuned we are headed to Nashville for the Americana Music Awards.

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