Saltimbanco to Hit Aussie Soil in 2011

October 12, 2010

If you’ve been following my blog for some time now, you’d be well aware that I spent July 2009 – July 2010 interning with Walt Disney World at Cirque du Soleil’s resident show, La Nouba.

I can still recall the way my eyes lit up while watching the show for the very first time. I was captivated; it was almost trance-like. La Nouba was a world where dreams became reality; a place that allowed me to escape to a land of  make-believe and fantasy, even if only for a short while. La Nouba was the first Cirque du Soleil show I had ever seen and since then, I have had the pleasure of adding Mystère, Zumanity and LOVE to my viewing collection.

From April of 2011, I look forward to revisiting this fantasy world once again. Hot on the heels of its European stint, Cirque du Soleil is bringing the Saltimbanco over for an Australian arena tour.

Saltimbanco explores the urban experience in all its myriad forms: the people who live there, their idiosyncrasies and likenesses, families and groups, the hustle and bustle of the street and the towering heights of skyscrapers. Between whirlwind and lull, prowess and poetry, Saltimbanco takes spectators on an allegorical and acrobatic journey into the heart of the city.

Tickets go on sale to the general public on Monday October 18, 2010 at 9am. If you are a Cirque Club Member you are able to purchase pre-sale tickets from Thursday October 7 at 9am – Sunday October 17 at 11pm. If you would like the opportunity to pre-purchase tickets, it isn’t too late to sign up and become a Cirque Club Member – it’s free!

You don’t want to miss out!

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Tour Dates: Cirque du Soleil – Saltimbanco 2011

Perth: April 21 – May 9, Challenge Stadium
Adelaide:
May 12 – May 22, Adelaide Entertainment Centre

Melbourne:
May 25 – June 11, Rod Laver Arena

Hobart:
June 15 – June 19, Derwent Entertainment Centre

Brisbane: July 8 – July 17, Brisbane Entertainment Centre
Newcastle:
July 20 – July 24, Newcastle Entertainment Centre

Sydney: July 27 – August 14, Acer Arena
Wollongong:
August 17 – August 21, WIN Entertainment Centre

More information: Ticketek

 

 

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Dreams Come True: The Art of Disney’s Classic Fairy Tales

October 10, 2010

With the blockbuster Tim Burton Exhibition coming to a close this weekend at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) here in Melbourne, I was curious as to what came next. After a quick Google search I was beyond ecstatic to discover that as of November 18, 2010, the ACMI will host Dreams Come True: The Art of Disney’s Classic Fairy Tales. This major new exhibit will celebrate over 70 years of Disney animation and comes to us direct from the USA.

Conceived by John Lasseter, Chief Creative Officer, Disney/Pixar Animation Studios, as a cultural gift to the people of post-Katrina New Orleans and originally curated by Lella Smith, Creative Director, Disney Animation Research Library, the exhibition features over 600 original artworks, maquettes and animation cells from Disney’s much-loved adaptations of traditional European fairy tales.

Visitors will be able to go behind the scenes of the on-screen magic and explore the artworks and innovations that gave birth to the animated feature film. The exhibition includes early conceptual and creative artworks from legendary features including Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, The Princess and the Frog, and the yet to be released Tangled.

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Date: Thursday 18th November, 2010 – Tuesday 26th April, 2011
Time:
10:00am
Location:
Australian Centre for the Moving Image – Federation Square
Further Information:
www.acmi.net.au



Longing to go back to Disney

August 19, 2010

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Location: Melbourne, Australia
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It has been five weeks since my Internship came to an end and I stopped working for Walt Disney World.

It has been ten days since I left Orlando, FL for Las Vegas.

It has been five days since I left Las Vegas to fly back home to Melbourne, Australia.

Not a second goes by where I don’t think about my Disney family. I miss them so much. I miss everything; the friends, the freedom, the lifestyle. I wish I could go back to day one and do it all over again.

Before embarking on this journey, I used to think I knew everything about myself, but now I’m not so sure.

There are things I never thought I wanted in life, that now I want; things I thought I wanted, but now I don’t.

My time abroad has been a life-changing and eye-opening experience that I will never take for granted.

I have met so many amazing and wonderful people and am blessed to have them in my life, even if it was only for a short while.

This is the parting gift that Bryan left me with.
I haven’t been able to watch it yet without crying.

Disney College Program
July 2009 – July 2010
Best time of my life.

Part I

Part II


A Final Hurrah in Sin City

August 14, 2010

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Location:
Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
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Vegas in summary:

Airport Hotel Booze Vegas Strip Booze Booze Girls Girls Girls Vegas Strip Pool Booze Hotel Cirque du Soleil Booze Buffet Girls Girls Girls Buffet Vegas Strip Booze Vegas Strip Pool Booze Buffet Thunder from Downunder Vegas Strip Booze Cirque du Soleil Booze Clubbing Vegas Strip Booze Pool Booze Cirque du Soleil Booze Clubbing Booze Airport Tears.

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Phew. What a mouthful. After an amazing 14 month run, my last five days in the USA were to be spent in no place other than Las Vegas. I am by no means a Sin City virgin but on this particular trip, we were going to be popping Ali’s Vegas virginity.

It was tough saying farewell to Bryan at the airport on Tuesday morning; probably the toughest of them all. This was the one good bye I was least looking forward to. We had pretty much spent every single day of the entire last year together; grocery shopping, working, drinking, cooking, cleaning, hanging out, going to the Disney parks, vacationing together; literally everything. He pulled up curb side at the Southwest Terminal and helped remove our luggage from the car. After it was all out there was a hesitant pause. Ali and Kellen would be seeing Bryan again so it was all up to me. I took a step towards him and leaned in for a hug. I failed at trying not to cry. I didn’t wear any make up for this particular reason; it was inevitable. We said our good byes while I cried all over his shoulder. I didn’t want to let go of him. Bryan handed me a letter and told me to read it a little later on. He hopped back into the car and like that, he was gone. I’m going to miss him so much.

I check all 130lbs of my luggage in. It’s hard to believe how much crap I’ve accumulated over the last 14 months. Thank God for Southwest Airlines two free checked pieces of luggage policy. While sitting at our gate waiting to board, I decide to read the letter Bryan left me with. I’m not even two lines in before I start to cry again. I’m an emotional mess. His words are so sweet and it pains me to imagine my days without him. My sleeve becomes my tissue; good thing I didn’t wear any eye liner. I get a grip of myself right before it is time to board the plane.

We touch down in Vegas at 10am with hopes The Mirage will let us check in this early and sure enough, it does. Score. Our room is gorgeous and we’ve conveniently been given a room with a strip view at no extra cost! Double score.

Twenty minutes is by far too much time to spend in a hotel room in Vegas so off we go to introduce Ali to the strip. We are only walking for

maybe five minutes before Ali realises you can legally roam the streets with booze in hand. This is way to exciting for Ali to handle so we make our way into the nearest hotel to purchase ourselves our first drink. Never mind that it is only 11am, it is 5pm somewhere, right? I’m glad you agree. Our first drink is down the hatch within minutes. There’s nothing like an ice cold Bud Light in 108°F heat while walking down the Las Vegas strip. As we make out way towards the Paris Hotel our taste buds are tingling for another alcoholic beverage. Ali suggest a beverage of the frothy kind and Kellen and I agree. We come across a little place called Evening Call and purchase a cup each that has refills available for only $5; insane. The cup is white, but when a freezing cold substance is poured into it, it turns red! Pretty cool. I order a coffee slushy with baileys in it. As I bring the straw up to my mouth for my first sip, I start to wonder if I should have ordered this; My stomach doesn’t usually have a great reaction to milk-based products. This is quickly forgotten upon having my first sip. The drink is heavenly; absolutely bloody delicious.

More drinks are consumed as we walk the Vegas strip. Kellen and Ali decide it is fun to collect the cards of nakey girls that the GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS guys are handing out on the side of the road (if you’ve ever been to Vegas you know exactly what I’m talking about). It is not even 2pm and we are already best friend with intoxication. We head back to the hotel to sober up and get ready for tonight.

We have tickets to the 7:30pm session of Cirque du Soleil’s Mystere at Treasure Island. After having seen La Nouba 1047982 times while working there on the Disney College Program, I decided it was time to venture out into the world of Cirque du Soleil and see as many resident shows as possible while in Vegas. I lost my Cirque virginity to La Nouba, so in a sense, I felt like I was cheating on it tonight with Mystere. I tried to convince myself this was probably for the best; after all, I was on a mission to find bigger and better… than La Nouba, of course. Get your mind out of the gutter! Mystere had many similarities to La Nouba in that it was the imaginable being brought to life on stage to provide the ultimate discovery that life itself is a mystery. I thoroughly enjoyed the show probably a little bit more than La Nouba, although the first time I ever saw La Nouba, I was blown away by it all too. After Mystere we eat dinner at the Paris buffet which is absolutely delicious.

Day two is just another day of drinking down the strip only today we are rather excited because we find a place by the name of Bill’s that serves 99c margaritas and beer. Needless to say we make out way on it and indulge in a few. I must take advantage of as much cheap booze as possible now because God knows, once I get back to Australia, I’ll be paying insane prices for it. We lay out by the pool while drinking more beer and frothy beverages before it is time to go in and gussy up for tonight’s adventure.

We head to Planet Hollywood for dinner which is insanely crowded due to The Expendables movie premier going on there. It was a nice surprise to see Sylvester Stallone standing around just before we went into eat. The buffets was amazing and had food from many different countries. One of the better buffets I’ve been to in Vegas for sure. We only have a small time frame which to consume as much food as possible because tonight we are heading to… drum roll please…

Thunder from Downunder

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at The Excalibur hotel. We have been waiting patiently for this day for a few weeks now and are beyond excited to see my home boys represent. The show was absolutely insanely amazing! The boys were hotter than I can even explain. At one point, the MC asked if anyone had ever touched anything Australian before. Of course, Ali and Kellen start screaming at the top of their lungs and pointing to me. I  may have slightly blushed. The show they put on really is phenomenal and I highly recommend it to any one who’s in Vegas for a bachelorette party or just to have a good time like we were.

Best. Photo. Ever.

Ali and I wake up early on day three to head to the Cirque du Soleil ‘LOVE box office which is located inside The Mirage. This particular Cirque show was coming off a seven day dark week which meant it was more than likely going to be sold out but thought we’d try our luck. The lady selling tickets at the box office tells us the same thing we tell all the guests “We are coming back from a short break, we are sold out, only single seats left, we’re not releasing any more, yada yada yada”. I knew she was lying because this is what we use to tell everyone too even when we had seats on hold. Conveniently, as we are standing there, two seats magically appear. The only catch, they are $172.40 each. Ouch. I wasn’t planning on spending this much on a ticket but tonight is the only night we can see this show. I tell Ali I’m fine with paying it as long as she is too. We both hand over our credit cards and slightly cringe as they get swiped. This better be a good show!

So after watching LOVE I don’t feel bad about dropping the $172.40 on my ticket. It was, hands down, the best show I’ve ever seen. LOVE celebrates the musical legacy of The Beatles. Drawn from the poetry of  their lyrics, LOVE explores the content of the songs in a series of scenes inhabited by real and imaginary people. There was always so much happening I didn’t know where to look which is why I think I’ll have to see this show for a second time on my next visit back to Vegas. Incredible! While still high on energy from LOVE, we head to Jet Nightclub at The Mirage. Being Mirage guests, we get free entry; excellent, more to spend on alcohol. We drink and dance the night away.

Day four is our last full day in Vegas and also my last night in the USA before heading home. Sadness bestows me which means it is time for a drink. We make our way back to the Evening Call in Paris and refill our cups. Kellen doesn’t feel the best so I decide to take advantage of this situation and double fist. I get the Bacardi flavoured rum mixed with tropical flavoured slushy. Delicious. The best part is, I can’t even taste any alcohol so I’m just slurping these babies down as if they’re a regular 7/11 slushy. We head back to the pool for our last day of sunshine and tanning. For me, this will probably be the last time I see sun for the next few months. I have a horrible, cold winter to look forward to after tomorrow.

Tonight we have tickets to see Cirque du Soleil’s Zumanity at New York New York. Zumanity has claimed to be the sensual side of Cirque du Soleil. It is a seductive twist on reality, making the provocative playful and the forbidden electrifying. You are asked to leave all inhibitions at the door and let loose as this Cirque production takes you on a sexy thrill ride full of sensational acrobatics and naughty fun. The show is part burlesque and part cabaret and only viewable to those 18 years and over. Again, another amazing show.

We head to Studio 54 at the MGM. There is a huge line up at the door. Tonight Lady Gaga performed at the MGM and Studio 54 is home to her official after party so the crowds are insane. It doesn’t help that she is due to walk out any minute to do a press conference and pose for the paparazzi right by the front of the club and admissions line. The security guard calls Kellen and I in right before she comes out. Bummer.

Kellen has never been to Studio 54 before but I had told him several times how it is my favourite club in Vegas because the music they play is amazing. After a few drinks, he was quick to agree. We buy each other round after round after round and after a while, I lose count as to how much we’ve consumed. We’re having such an amazing time just dancing the night away. It reaches 3am and we agree that if the next song is crappy, we will leave. Lucky for us, it isn’t, so we continue dancing like it’s nobodies business. Everywhere we look, there are girls dressed up as Lady Gaga. Once Kellen reaches his height of intoxication, he starts asking them all for photos and they kindly pose with him. Too funny. We stumble out of Studio 54 sometime after 4am and make it back to the room exactly at 5am. What a night.

The next morning is like a depressive blur. Ali and Kellen help me carry my bags out to catch a cab. I have an earlier flight out than they do so of course, I have to say my good byes to them. The cab driver finishes loading my bags into his trunk. I turn to Ali, before I even reach out to hug her I’m already crying. She starts crying too. I look over to Kellen to give him a hug and I start crying even more. I know I will be seeing them again so this makes it a little easier. I say good bye one last time then hop into the cab and cry all the way to the airport.

Good bye Las Vegas, until next time…


Bahama-Rama I

August 1, 2010

Location: Somewhere in the North Atlantic Ocean
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~ DAY ONE ~

The day started out different to the one before. Today there was a particular sense of excitement buzzing around through out the air. The countdown had finally reached its end and the next exhilarating saga was about to begin. Yes, today was the day we board Royal Caribbean’s Monarch of the Seas and embark on our journey to The Bahamas.

Royal Caribbean’s terminal at Port Canaveral is swarming with people; all as eager and bright-eyed as I to board the ship. The check in line is long and some of the younger guests begin to get irritated by this. As I patiently wait I wonder how many of these guests are first-time cruise-goers like myself.

Check in goes as smoothly as one could hope. The ship is money-less so we are given SeaPass cards which act as our room key as well as a debit/credit card. Once swiped the crew on board can detect our age and verify that the card is ours via a hideous photo that is taken upon entry. Now, let me tell you, this is no ordinary photo. This photo is taken from roughly stomach height looking up toward your face. This is not only the worst angle ever imaginable, but now in my photo, I look like a repulsive, three-chined, sweaty dragon lady; an eager one none the less. Can’t wait to flash that one to my bar-tenders later on tonight when I’m all gussied up. Dragon lady who?

Upon stepping foot onto the ship, we are welcomed by many of the ships crew and an array of alcoholic beverages, all chargeable to our SeaPass card, of course. We decide it would be best to find our cabin, throw our luggage in there and then make our way to the pool deck for a swim before dinner. We are in stateroom 5009 which is down an extremely long hall, away from all the noise and commotion. The room is, well, tiny, to say the least; tiny yet extremely cute. We have two single beds and another set of two beds which fold down from the walls to make bunk beds. There is a small closet, a TV, a full length mirror and another half body mirror on the dresser as well as a small bedside table between the two bottom beds. The bathroom is, well, again, tiny. If you were slightly on the larger side I’m not exactly sure you’d have the most pleasing of times trying to fit not only into the shower, but into the bathroom itself. Despite the size of the room, it really is pretty much all we need. After all, who goes on a cruise to The Bahamas and does nothing more than stay in their cabin? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

Before we can go and enjoy the pool, everyone is to meet on deck for a compulsory safety briefing. I hate this part, just like I hate it when I’m on a plane flying over the ocean. What to do if the ship sinks in the middle of no where and you’re stranded with no land or human life (except those on the ship) for thousands of miles out; ugh, it gives me the heeby geebyz. A life jacket, a whistle and a flash light is not going to protect me from a hungry great white shark that sees me helplessly kicking around in the water and thinks I’m a stranded seal, or worse, the dessert that accompanies the seal. It is at this safety briefing that we meet Mike. Mike is conveniently standing by us with his family when he hears is talking about Disney. He turns around and starts talking to us. Coincidentally he is also a Disney Cast Member on the College Program and lives right across from my old apartment at Chatham Square. Coincidence? I think not! The never ending safety briefing finally ends. Imagine that.

By now, the ship has departed Port Canaveral, en route to the island of Coco Cay in The Bahamas. We get our bathing suits on and head to Deck 11 which is where the pool is situated. It is crazy hot out and the pool water looks so wonderfully inviting minus the horde of children floating around in it. My feet are burning on the hot floor. I can’t wait any longer. Without even thinking, I jump right in. AHHHHHHH! It burns! Upon surfacing I scurry around like a crazy dragon lady to find the pool ledge. My eye balls are burning in their sockets and my throat is stinging as if I’d just downed ten shots of straight up Limoncello. This is not chlorinated water; it’s the saltiest water ever to roam the earth. If I dumped 50 kilograms of salt into my bathtub and then some, this pool water would still be saltier! Gross!

After adjusting to the unhealthy levels of salt in the pool, I later find subtle enjoyment from this. While resting on the ledge, I see completely dry pool-goers, eager to find peace from the fierce heat jumping on it. Little do they know the water is salt city until it is too late. I find happiness while watching them scurry on over to the ledge while screaming out in a salty panic. Call me evil, but I’m sure someone did the same thing to me when I jumped in only minutes before. The next victim is our new friend, Mike. He walks up to the ledge and jumps on in. Poor Mike.

After spending several hours in the pool and looking wrinkly beyond belief, we head back to our cabin to prepare for dinner. Our dinner seating is at 8:30pm in Vincent’s Dining Room on Deck 3. Tonight is just a casual seating so we dress neatly and appropriately. The dining room is rather large. Upon estimation, I’d think it could seat maybe 500 people. There is also another dining room above us called Claude’s Dining Room which too has an 8:30pm seating. Both rooms also have an earlier seating of 5:45pm. Since this is our first dinner, we are escorted to table 91; this will remain our dining table for the next four nights. We are at the back of the room right by the kitchen which means super fast service. We are greeted by our waiters who introduce themselves at Ning, our waitress, and Jonathan, our assistant waiter. Both are very lovely and go out of their way to attend to our needs which they soon become very accustom to: a glass of hot water for Jessica upon arrival, no veggies for myself and Mike, plenty of sour dough bread rolls for us all and never ending glasses of lemonade. They are extremely accommodating and apologetic for the tiniest of things. Tonight I order myself a caesar salad for the appetizer and a flat iron steak with garlic butter sauce and a baked potato for my main, which, by the way was super delicious. Dessert is something similar to a chocolate molten lava cake, just without the lava. The inside is deliciously rich and moist. I also enjoy a side of lemon gelato which goes down a treat. Before leaving, Ning tells us that there is breakfast served in the dining room every morning until 9:30am, but since we are youngens she doesn’t expect to see us there. Between you and me, I think ‘young’ is her nice was of saying ‘drunks’.

We have some time to kill before tonight’s planned activities so we head to what soon becomes one of Jessica’s favourite places on board the ship, yes, that’s right, the Casino Royale. To be honest, neither of us really have any clue what we are doing but we each decide to gamble a few harmless dollars. I sit at a slot machine, put in a dollar bill, press the 20 lines by 3 button, and just like that, the machine howls at me and I’ve won $4.27; I am excited beyond belief… that is, until, I play my winnings and lose it all. Ah, such is life. I can’t let this steep loss get to me though, because tonight is 70’s night and we are ready to boogie the night away!

70’s night kicks off at 10:30pm sharp on Deck 3 right out side Vincent’s Dining Room. The entertainment crew come out wearing crazy big afro’s and florescent, vibrant costumes and start dancing away to some Saturday Night Fever. Not before too long, they are pulling guests out onto the dance floor and we’re all getting down. I’m not one to dance while sober, but the music was too good to refuse. The dancing crew jumped into the transparent elevators in front of the dance floor and started riding them up and down while getting their disco dance on inside. Every time a new guest would step foot into the elevator, they’d make them dance around like crazy; it was hilarious. A massive conga line was formed and travelled around Deck 3 and the Village People even made a surprise visit.  If this was the outlook for the next three days then this cruise was going to be amazing!

After 70’s night we made our way over to one of the 18+ clubs on the ship, The Circuit. We head straight to the bar and order ourselves a Bud Light. Beer after beer after beer was consumed. We drank so much that the bar tenders even learned our names and knew what we wanted before we even ordered. Tonight we made many friends while drinking and dancing that, despite knowing yet, we’d bump into many a time throughout the duration of our cruise. We wound down at Sorreno’s Pizza Bar at 3am and somehow made it back to our cabins some time after that and passed out.

Despite only being 12 hours long, day one was nothing short of amazing!

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~ To be continued ~


Bienvenidos a Miami

July 20, 2010


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Location:
Miami, Florida, USA
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There was quite the last minute hustle and bustle early Friday morning.

I woke bright and early to the chiming of my cell phone alarm. My eyes were puffy from crying the night before and my eyeliner had smudged a good 1cm radius around my eyes. I looked like a sleep-deprived Panda. I took a quick shower, packed the remainder of my things, stripped my bed down and took out the last of my trash.

Bryan would be pulling up by my apartment any minute now. I grab my things and walk towards my front door. Before flicking off the light switch on my way out I turn around and take one last look at what is now a completely empty apartment; just like the day I moved into it. The walls are stripped bare; apartment 4102 now lacks any character I had added to it to make me feel at home. So many great memories, so many smiles, so much fun; gone. I feel my eyes begin to water. I take a deep breath, turn around, and shut the door behind me. There’s no turning back now.

I place my gear in Bryan’s trunk and hop into the front seat. We make a quick stop by Housing. I reluctantly hand in my Chatham Square Housing ID and my apartment key to the front desk. Just like that, after a full twelve months of working for Disney, I am no longer a Disney Cast Member, no longer on the Disney College Program and I no longer live at Chatham Square. Good bye, Disney, it’s been a blast.

Sadness is quickly over turned. Today a bunch of my Disney friend and I are road-tripping to South Beach, Miami for a few days to have one last big group outing together. Before departure though, we have one thing left to do. What could possibly be better than Maccas for a pre-roadtrip breakfast!?! Mmmm, hash browns and a bacon, egg and cheese bagel! I’m lovin’ it.

We get into Miami Beach at around 4pm. We are staying at the Viscay Hotel on Collins Ave. Everything seemed to be completely booked out for the dates we required, and it didn’t make it any easier since we were a party of ten. This hotel is by far no where as elegant and luxurious as where we stayed a few weeks ago at The Bentley Hotel on Ocean Drive, but they had vacancy, the price was decent and it was ranked highly on trip advisor. Despite this, we are still only a three minute walk from the beach and we are right in the heart of the exuberant nightlife that South Beach offers.  We have two suites booked. The plan is to fit five in each. Upon arrival and first inspection, the rooms seem sufficient; big, spacious area, bathroom is do-able and we have a nice small kitchen space. I think we are more excited about the fact that our kitchen table is big enough to play beer pong on. The king bed is huge and able to accommodate three people, the fold out couch can accommodate another two; perfect… Or was it?

We get our luggage into the hotel. By now it is pushing 6pm and we are bloody hungry but we have to wait for Mike and Jessica to get back before we can head out for dinner. While waiting around, I get a text from Mike saying that he thinks he is standing next to LeBron James at The Bentley Hotel. Bryan tells me to text back and tell Mike to take either a photo or video. Bryan is from LeBron’s hometown so if he sees a photo, he’d definitely know if it was him or not. Mike texts back saying he is too scared because he has four big body guard-looking guys standing around him. Booo, Mike, boooo!

Mike and Jessica finally get back to our hotel and we  all decide to walk down Ocean Drive and go to  TGIFriday’s for dinner. Worst decision ever. Ocean Drive was absolutely packed with a swarm of people; not the most friendliest looking crowd you’d want to come across either. We held hands and made a human chain to get through it all together; it was tough, but we survived and in the end, we were rewarded with the deliciousness that is TGIFriday’s. I ask the waitress if she knows why Ocean Drive is insanely busy and she tells us that LeBron James is in town and everyone is trying to find him. Turns out it was him that Mike had seen after all!

We headed back to the hotel for en epic night of pre-gaming and beer pong. I can’t really tell you what happened because not even I’m too sure, but judging by the photos, lots of booze was consumed, beer pong was played, and there was some sort of weird, drunken photo shoot on our bed… I can recall bits and pieces of Bryan somersaulting across the bed a few times, one time almost crashing into a wall only to have Ali come to his rescue… the words ‘spread eagle‘ being yelled across the room… Dawin getting his drink spilled all over his jeans and then somehow everyone piling up on top of each other for a very close, lovingly group photo shoot.

After our glamor shots we ended up sitting out on Miami Beach in the pitch blackness of the night. It was so pleasant and relaxing until security came by and told us we had to get off the beach because it was closed. Boooo, way to ruin our night; party poopers! Once again, we headed back to our hotel. Everything was all well and good until we discovered a cockroach in our kitchen. I almost vomit a little in my mouth; gross. Not sure who, but someone killed it. Phew. We all regained our composure until not before too long, we discovered another cockroach by the closet. Mike freaked out, grabbed my shoe and squished it before I even realized it was my shoe in his hand. When I finally realizing my shoe had touched that thing, I may have vomit a little again in my mouth. A creepy shiver ran down my spine as I thought about a cockroach flying into my ear and laying babies in it while I tried to sleep at night. Ahhhhh! As soon as morning came, Mike and Bryan went to the front desk to complain but there was nothing they could do.

Cockroaches weren’t enough to bring us down. The next morning we get up and head to Fresh on Fifth to get  freshly made baguettes to order; delicious. From here we walk across the road and find ourselves a spot on the sand. While some wait for their lunch to settle in their belly, Ali, myself and Mike already have our clothes off and are running towards the welcoming, emerald greeny blue waters. Without even thinking, I jump right in. The water is beautiful. We form a triangle and throw the ball out to each other. Ali is terrible at aiming so I am forced to swim after the ball several times. This proves to be quite complicated as the water is extremely choppy today and the waves keep pushing the ball further towards the shore. When I eventually get out of the water, my legs feel like jelly and I can’t seem to walk in a straight line on the sand. I collapse on my towel and soak up the suns rays. Not a worry in the world; this is the definition of perfection.

I head back to the hotel a half an hour before the others do. I want to get a shower and wash my hair so it has enough time to dry before I straighten it. As I hop out of the shower, I hear it start to bucket down rain outside. I worry about the rest of the gang getting caught up in the rain storm but they make it back just in time. Everyone starts taking turns showering. While Ali is in the shower, Bryan, myself, Susan and Leila are laying out on the bed watching T.V. We hear a disturbing crunching sound coming from the air conditioning unit; similar to that of a blender blade trying to chop up thick ice cubes. Out of no where, the AC unit starts spitting out balls of ice; how wonderful! Just what we needed, a broken AC unit when it’s stinking hot outside. Bryan makes his way to front desk to complain, only this time, they relocate us to a new room.

Our new hotel room is much nicer, it’s on the corner so we have windows right around letting in plenty of light and the kitchen and bathroom are newer and nicer than the previous room. This room also proves to be cockroach free! Hooray! We settle in and head out to a Burger King Lounge for a quick dinner. Tonight’s plan is to pre-game at the hotel, then for those of us who are 21+, the night will be spent at Mansion nightclub. We’ve heard only good things about this place so we are rather excited to go there.

Entry to club Mansion is $25 which is a little steep, but at the same time, the clubs back home in Melbourne usually charge $20-$30 club entry so I can’t complain. The wait to get in isn’t all too bad. The club is separated into three parts; there is a small bar and dance floor upon entry which leads into a larger room with more bars, a roped off VIP section and the most awesome music to party to ever and then this room leads into an even bigger room that plays house and dance music. We wait here forever to get a drink then head back to the awesome music room to get our groove on until the early morning.

Sunday is check out morning. We gather our things and head towards Fort Lauderdale to grab a late breakfast at Arby’s. After Arby’s we decide to spend some time at Fort Lauderdale beach like we did last time. Fort Lauderdale beach is extremely beautiful and much more peaceful than Miami Beach. I decide to not swim this time; I don’t feel like having sand in unwanted places for the three hour drive back to Orlando.

On the drive home Bryan and I notice that Mike’s right back tire is looking a little flat. I text him to let him know he needs some air in it and he texts back saying he’s going to pull into the next rest stop to inflate it. Unfortunately, the next rest stop seems to be quite the distance away, and only two miles out from it, Bryan and I smell burned rubber, and, sure enough, Mike’s tire blows out so we all pull over. It takes a call to AAA, the State Troopers and Dawin to fix this hot mess. The jack that Mike had in his car wasn’t all that great, so once the wheel was off, the jack gave way and the car tilted and rolled backwards. Once the State Trooper arrived and lent Dawin a better jack, it went smoothly from here. Finally, after what seems like forever, we are ready to continue our journey back to Orlando.

Due to unforeseen circumstances, we get in a lot later than expected. Despite this small obstacle, the trip was great fun and I’m glad we could all do this once last time before we all go our separate ways.

Next up, our cruise to the Bahamas in t-minus six days and counting!


Thunder from Downunder III

June 18, 2010

Location: Orlando, Florida, USA
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CHAPTER 7
~May The Force Be With You ~

Star Wars Weekends is an annual special event held at Disney’s Hollywood Studios that celebrates the legendary Star Wars Saga and the animated television series, The Clone Wars. Little did we know that this year marked the 30th anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back which meant Hollywood Studios would be infested with Star Wars nerds lurking at each and every corner.

I am, by no means a Star Wars nerd, but, having grown up with a brother who’s childhood dream was for mum and dad to buy him the Millennium Falcon and a father who absolutely loved the original Star Wars Trilogy, it was hard not being a teeny tiny bit excited. I don’t think the Aussies had the slightest bit interest in Star Wars though, and I can’t really say that I blame them.

I was amazed with the detail and depth that went into all the Star Wars costumes. While admiring a few, it was a delightful surprise to see that one of our College Program Alumni friends, Jason, had scored the face-role of Mace Windu. We ditched the Aussies on a street corner somewhere and jumped in line to grab a photo with him. While waiting, I was astounded with how excited grown men were to be having their photo taken with ‘Mace Windu’. I can’t say I’ve ever seen anything quite like it. We were up next.

Me: Hi Mace!
Mace Windu: Greetings. And which strange planet are you from milady?
Me: Australia.
Mace Windu: Ah, I was wondering where that beautiful accent was from.
Me: *giggles*
Mace Windu:
(To Bryan as we were walking away) Keep an eye on her. The force is especially strong within this one.
Mace Windu: (To me) May the force be with you.

Here’s a few more photos I was able to snap displaying the spectacular costuming and make-up efforts that went into Star Wars Weekends.

It saddens me to say that there wasn’t anything terribly embarrassing to report back on from today’s events. I’d love to tell you that Nicole slipped and fell down in front of hundreds of people, or that Gavin lost his shit again when we watched the Beauty and the Beast musical, but unfortunately I can’t. Despite the lack of incidents, though, a fun time was had by all. It was starting to get dark. The Aussies headed towards the amphitheater to get seats for Fantasmic and Bryan and I headed back home in time to catch the Lost finale. There are simply some things in life that just get put ahead of friendship.
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CHAPTER 8
~Hats What I’m Talking About ~

Epcot; the last of the four Disney parks left on our agenda. This saddens me because I know the time I have left with my Aussies is coming to an end. I try not to think about it despite the lingering thought at the back of my mind.

The World Showcase does not open up until 11am so we decide to tackle Test Track and Soarin’ first. We have a fast pass for Test Track so we get through the line with ease and are assigned to our vehicle. We are set for Concourse A. Our vehicle clears the heat and ice condition testing and  leads us out into a dark room; we are driving blindly at a rough yet steady pace. We are still in pitch darkness. Out of no where, the overbearing horn of a semi-trailer can be heard as its headlights turn on and shine directly onto our vehicle. The semi-trailer is heading straight toward us. Nicole is startled by the sudden appearance of the semi and starts screaming at the top of her lungs. Our vehicle abruptly swerves, merely missing the semi. I’m pretty sure Nicole shits her pants as she panics and continues to frantically scream. I begin to uncontrollably laugh. I’ve been on test track a few dozen times and I have never seen anyone scream so much at the semi part. I continue to laugh all the way through but stop just in time to pose before we smash into the wall.

We make our way toward Space Ship Earth. Nicole is eager to ride the big ball. Too bad Minnie isn’t here to ride with her, they would have made a great, frisky team. Carlos offers himself and Nicole willingly accepts. We board the ride in pairs. Gavin and Bryan; Nicole and Carlos; Brendon and myself. We take our seats and face forward as the ride begins. We must be maybe three or so minutes into the ride when I notice that Carlos is no longer facing forward, but instead, facing Brendon’s and my direction. I ponder this awkward positioning for a moment until I realize that Carlos is mounting Nicole. Their love continues to blossom.

Our World Showcase adventure is ready to begin. Today, our reason for living is to try on as many different hats in as many different countries as possible. Nicole, however, had an alternative motive; to get drunk. I feel as though this ‘alternative motive’ was a cover to shag Carlos around the world and then to just blame the alcohol. I guess we will never know the real truth. Hey, he’s not complaining, he got to ride Nicole’s magic carpet in Morocco and show her a dazzling place she never knew. It really was a whole new world but unfortunately for Nicole, she closed her eyes. Perhaps to say she was only dreaming? Sound familiar? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

Hola! Our first hat country on the list is Mexico. Nothing screams Mexico more than giant sombreros and maracas. Muy bien senor o senorita!


We make our way to the Tequila Bar. Nicole and Bryan order margaritas. Lucky for Bryan he can hold his liquor a lot better than Nicole can. She is already drunk after only one drink; oh, the joys!

Next up is Norway. I do admit I lack extensive Norwegian knowledge, but judging by the hats and props they had in their gift store, I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume they thrive on violence and seek joy from stabbing one another with swords while giant trolls watch on. They are also rather horny; that’s just my visual take. We make use of the props on display and give our best Norwegian pose. Unfortunately we couldn’t find any real trolls lurking around. I was rather disappointed and saddened that we had to use a fake one. Using what limited resources we had, I think we depict a rather accurate photo of Norwegian life today.

Ni hao. Wo ai Zhongguo! It’s China time. Now, having studied and learned Chinese back in high school for four years, I had the whole conical straw hat thing down pat and was quite confident with where my Chinese knowledge level was at. I was, however, unaware that Chinese people spray-pained themselves gold on a daily basis and ran around with their shirts unbuttoned. It’s amazing how much a statue can teach you. Immediately upon realizing this, I tried to find gold body paint, but to no avail. I was also quite mad at myself for not wearing a button-up shirt today. I think I speak on behalf of all the Aussies when I say we failed at being Chinese.

Zaijian China and hello U.S.A. Having lived in the U.S.A. for a year now I encourage my Aussies to pretend to be American by doing what Yank’s do best; patriotism. Americans LOVE being American so we try to adopt this same adoration for our pretend country. We deck ourselves out in ginormous star spangled banner hats and hold our hand to our heart just long enough for the camera to snap. Woah, that’s enough chauvinism for one day, kids. In between frolicking from this hat journey to our next, Nicole fits in another beer; oh my.

We’re cruising in style to our next destination. I snap my fingers. Within second a magic carpet arrives; ‘Carpet, take us to a fez-filled country.‘ We disembark the carpet to find ourselves in a whole new world where every turns a surprise. Nicole walks ahead, eager to explore this foreign land. I hear her bellow from a far; ‘Hold your breath it gets better!‘ I group with my remaining Aussies as we link arms and tip toe around the corner of what seems to be a strange market place. Brendon leans closer and whispers; ‘Hey guys I think we’re in…’ ‘Morocco! We’re in Morocco,’ screams an excited Nicole. Way to ruin Brendon’s blog appearance, Nic!

We browse through the backstreet markets of Morocco until we stumble upon the Fez House. We each put one on. I suddenly feel the much needed urge to move my hips in ways they have never been moved before. I want to jump on top of a table and do some serious belly dancing. I immediately take my fez off. I glance over at Nicole. She is serenading Carlos by belly dancing laps around him. I run over to her and take a giant leap into the air (this is all happening in slow motion by the way) knocking her fez off her head before hitting the ground. We place our fez’ back on our heads, but only long enough for a single snap of the camera.

Bonjour! Upon stepping foot in France I feel the constant urge to make love to any man in my path. Well, not any, but some. After all, Paris is the city of love and who can deny one wearing nothing more than a seductive beret? Since we are at Disney though, we must keep it clean, so, unfortunately for you guys reading this, we are wearing more than just a beret. I have a sneaking suspicion that if you friend request Nicole on Facebook, she’d be more than willing to send you the private photos her and Carlos took in just their berets.

We journey off to the United Kingdom to sip some tea and meet the Queen. Just like Norway, judging by the props available to us in the gift store, I get the feeling that people in the UK enjoy promoting violence via daily heroic sword battles (minus the giant troll watching on). I try to fathom how much had changed since my last visit to London in 2008; the Brits seemed civil and harmless back then. I guess it goes to show that anything can happen.

I was somewhat sad that our hat journey was about to come to an end, and of all countries, Canada had to be the last. Canada, eh? Canadians are completely in denial about their extensive use of the word ‘eh‘. The problem is, they say it so often, they don’t even realize that they’re doing it. It’s similar to the usage of the word ‘like’ by a tween girl; she will say it at least five times within a sentence without even realizing; it’s kind of a second nature. Oh well, at least us non-Canadians know the truth and the truth is all that matters.

We each grab one of Davy Crockett’s hats for our Canadian pose. Nicole grabs a beaver and, without even thinking, gets down on her knees in front of Carlos. Typical of her. We transform into our Canadian selves in preparation for our final photo. Instead of yelling out cheese, we yell out eh? I don’t think the Canadian store attendant taking our photo is too impressed but the jokes on him because I heard him say eh prior to taking our photo.

Our hat-tastic journey around the world is over. How sad. No more parks and only one day left with my Aussies. I want to bathe in a pool filled with my own tears of misery. Attractive, I know.

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CHAPTER 9
~ End It With A Bang ~

Tonight marked the final night out with my Aussies. We had plans for another messy night at club Rain. Again, I’d love to report back on the nights events, but I have limited memory of our time there. Strangely enough, there were also no photos taken. Either Gavin was too drunk to operate his camera or he was being kept occupied. Hmmm; my monies on the later of the two.

Speaking of being kept occupied, tonight was the night Nicole and Carlos finally consummated their love for one another by swapping spit. It was a gruesome sight watched on by all. Cheering and applauds could be heard from miles on out. Finally, after nine days, Nicole and Carlos had accepted what we had realized from the beginning; true love.

We drunkenly stumbled our way out of the club to attend to the dire needs of Kellen who had passed out in the back of Ali’s car. Right there, in the parking lot of Rain, we exchanged our good byes and farewells. Much to my surprise, this was a tear-free event. This is an odd occurrence for Gavin and myself as we usually dribble and drool on each others shoulder while sharing a farewell embrace. I jump into one car, my Aussies in another and we drive our separate ways; Gavin driving an entirely separate way altogether (re. chapter title).

The last nine days with my Aussies was way too much fun; an epic hot mess, if you will. I am so happy that they took the time to come over to Disney for a visit. We made magical memories that will last a life time in my heart. See you guys back home in Australia!
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~ The End ~