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Florida 14

Your daily Florida updates for our amazing trip with Park School.


The Mini Bus is loaded ready for the Airport. Florida here we come!!

Everyone arrived safely at The Sofitel Gatwick, this afternoon. The staff at The Sofitel looked after all the children and everyone enjoyed a lovely dinner! Off to bed now, for an early start in morning, ready for our British Airways Flight to Orlando Florida!


Monday 15th September

Stayed overnight at The Sofitel, where we were looked after exceptionally well. Good flight over - 8 Hours 20 minutes. The students were all brilliant on the flight. No problems with Immigration and Customs!
Arrived at the Houses safely. The students all received a goody bag from David Ramsden of Elite Homes & Villas and then all tucked into Pizza, before turning in for some well earned rest.

Off to swim with the Dolphins in the morning!!


Tuesday 16th September
Discovery Cove

After Breakfast at Discovery Cove , the children all did lots of swimming today. Even those who were nervous got in the pool and swam with the dolphins. An amazing experience, to see our children interacting with the dolphins  and their trainers. Then it was on to the coral reef to snorkel with Rays, Sharks and numerous brightly coloured fish. All enjoyed the lazy rver, which took us through the aviary. A busy day was topped off with dinner at Bucca di Beppo Italian Restaurant. Thank you to Mark & all his team at Bucca and Tricia Wong & June and all the team, at Discovery Cove.

Wednesday 17th September

Universal Studios & Harry Potter

Breakfast at the house, was followed by a trip to Universal Studios. We were met by our guides Brian and Alina, who gave us the VIP treatment for the day. We started off in Diagon Alley with a visit to Gringots Bank and a ride into the vaults, which was amazing and the day just got better and better, with a visit to Olivanders Wand shop, being a highlight for some in our group! 
Lunch at the Leaky Caldron was delicious - The children all had the chance to try some Butter Beer & some had the moustache to prove it! The afternoon began with The Simpsons ride & then ET and was topped off with a private meeting with some characters, which the children loved! A few more rides were managed before heading home for dinner at the house!


Thursday 18th September
Disney's Magic Kingdom

After brunch at the house, the students headed off to Disney. The day started with a journey on the Monorail into the Magic Kingdom, followed by a visit to see Mickey Mouse! The children all got his autograph and had some special pictures taken with Mickey. One of the new rides this year, was The Mine, which featured the Seven Dwarfs- all the children enjoyed this one! The more adventurous riders headed for Space Mountain, while the rest visited the Princess for a hug and a picture. After an early dinner at Tonys Restaurant, we all headed back into the park for a ride on Thunder Mountain. The Electric Parade was the highlight of the evening and after this finished, we took the Paddle Steamer across the lake, back to our Minibus. We were all drenched and singing in the rain, as we headed home, thanks to a Floridian downpour!


Friday 19th September
Visit to Dr Phillips School & Universal Studios

This was the first visit for students from The Park, to Dr Phillips School. The children were met by our friend Hannah and given a breakfast of home made cookies and pastries, before being shown around the school. There were some areas that were similar to Park School, but the major difference was the Agricultural Centre. This is a new project at Dr Phillips and had a fish farm, minature pony, goats and sheep. They also had the chance to hold the rabbits and guinea pigs! Amazing to be able to see Hogwarts Castle from the classrooms!
After the visit we headed back into Universal Studios, where we were met again by Brian & Alina. We kicked off with The Hulk Roller coaster, which the braver riders loved! This was followed by Lunch in the Mythos Restaurant, where we were treated to lunch in the VIP area. All the wet rides followed- Popeye, Ripsaw Falls and Jurassic Park! The wetter we got, the more the smiles spread! A meeting with yet more characters proved to be a highlight for many of the children- Autographs and photos with Captain America, Spiderman and The X Men, was  a great hit.
Heading back into Hogwarts, we rode the new Hogwarts Express and Harry Potters Forbidden Journey. An action packed day finished with the Spiderman ride and finally a repeat of The Hulk Roller coaster! We are so grateful to Denise and all our friends at Universal, for making these 2 days a truly magical visit.


Saturday 20th September

After a delayed start to our day ( due to the Floridian weather!)- we headed off to SeaWorld with Rain Ponchos on! We began with a ride on The Manta roller coaster and went on to see the Shamu show, which all the children loved. Before lunch we managed to go on a Helicopter ride to the Arctic, where we visited Beluga Whales and some very large Walrus! Lunch at The Underwater Grill gave the children the opportunity to eat with  the Sharks and Barracudas, all swimming past at close quarters!!
After lunch we split into 2 groups, so that the braver riders could go to the Kraken Roller Coaster and Journey to Atlantis water ride, while the rest of the children visited the Turtles, Manatees and Sea Lions.
SeaWorld was topped off with The Blue Horizons Show, featuring Dolphins, Parrots and some amazing acrobats. Finally a trip on The High Tower, gave all on board, a panoramic view of the SeaWorld Park.
The team enjoyed a delicious lunch in the Shark Underwater Grill and we would like to thank, Lisa Larson, Darrel and Mike for looking after us and helping to make this a memorable day!


Sunday 21st September

This morning we set off on an hours journey to Winterhaven, the home of Legoland. We were greeted by Kylie from Merlin. The first part of the day was spent going around the rides in the park - numerous Rollercoasters and  Boat rides. Then the children enjoyed a Chicken lunch with french fries, in a typical American diner. It was then off to the Water park! Here at Legoland the waterpark is a brilliant one- with slides, a hugewave machine and a lazy river. The children had 2 1/2 hours of pure magic there, as did the grown ups! The group also enjoyed a visit to the Legoland studio, where all the Legoland exhibits are made. This was a real VIP treat! It was then time to say good bye to the last theme park on our tour. At the exit gate we were met by Kylie again, who gave the children some Lego goodies. 
In the evening we took our sponsors out to dinner, at Seasons 52 to say Thank You for the brilliant job they do to support us and especially our children. 
Its now 11.30pm and its about time we had a night cap, before starting another day tomorrow, with a trip on the Airboat over the Everglades - Then some final shopping before our last day on Tuesday! 
Sorry forgot to mention it was 90' here today! 


Monday 22nd September
Boggy Creek Airboat Ride

There was time for a lie in this morning, as we didnt have to leave the house until 9am!
Our first event today, was an Airboat Ride on the Everglades. We spotted 3 Alligators and an American Bald Eagle! The children also saw a number of other large birds and wildlife on the lake. When we returned to the dock, the children all had the chance to hold an alligator and have their photos taken! Some were braver than others and Gordon did not even try!!
Then it was back to the houses for some lunch. The charity gave each student $50 and this was the chance for them to go and spend it, with a trip to the Shoppping Mall.


At 6.45pm we all left for Downtown Disney to have our last nights celebration at Planet Hollywood. Even the adults are big kids at heart! 
We were welcomed by Mo and taken to the 4th Floor, where Frank Nuspal (Assistant General Manager) greeted our group and welcomed us all to Planet Hollywood. Our server Shaun, then took our orders for a sumptuous dinner. We had sharing platters to start, followed by Ribs, Steaks & Burgers. After our first course we were also welcomed by Jimmy Carroll - The General Manager, to whom we are really grateful for all the support that he and his team give to the charity. 
The food was so delicious that we chose a huge Chocolate Ice cream Sundae for dessert, which was shared by all, with 14 spoons!!
Julien Pouzet- Merchandise Manager, then kitted the group out with a goody bag containing Planet Hollywood T Shirts!
Finally it was time to say goodbye after celebrating our last night in Florida, with a photograph with Frank, before leaving for home. Bed was now calling as it was 11.35pm.

Tomorrow we will report on our journey home, back to the UK.

We hope you have enjoyed reading about our trip, as much as Tom, Gordon & Pauline have enjoyed giving 8 students from Park School a dream holiday and learning experience.