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Indiana Jones; OF 4TH JULY SPECIAL beachLawrence mile 27 the and Goldsmith heads to Florida for his Disney debut before chilling out at an up-and-coming Gulf resort.

Byline: Goldsmith

* ne of the great mysteries of my life has been solved - alligator does taste a lot like chicken. The last night of our Florida adventure was spent in Pineapple Willy's beachfront restaurant in Panama City Beach watching the sun set over the Gulf of Mexico.

Mexico.

I decided to try a local speciality, fried alligator tail, and it was really nice.

My wife Linda chose a bucket of ribs cooked in Jack Daniels. A fitting way to round off our stay.

We'd kicked off our Florida trip by trying something new on a two-night stay in Orlando... doing Disney after never having ng gone to the famous theme parks when our kids were little. arks Our base was the luxurious Waldorf Astoria by the gates to the Walt Disney World Resort. We started our theme park odyssey at Disney's Hollywood Studios, taking in the amazing Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, which looked like it cost more to make than the films. Exploding cars, huge sets, daring high-wire fights and chases, gunfire, trails of fire and an aeroplane - one for the boys you might think, but Linda loved it too.

Next up was queueing to have our photo taken with Mike and Sulley from Monsters Inc and on to a backstage tour to find out the secrets behind making movies.

Our second day was spent at Disney's vast Epcot park. It is divided into Future Epcot park World Wor paa World (full of great rides) and World Showcase (11 international pavilions with shops, attractions and dining).

We particularly loved the Soarin' ride where you really feel as if you are swooping and diving over California's amazing sights. Three goes really wasn't enough!

a r After two action-packed Disney days, we wanted to see Disn Florida So we j Florida off the beaten track. So we jumped on to a Southwest flight for the 40-minute hop north to Panama City Beach. Twenty-seven miles of white sandy beach and 320 days of sunshine a year deserved some investigation.

We stayed at the Emerald Isle Beach Resort in a condo with a huge balcony overlooking the beach. Each morning we'd sit drinking coffee and watching dolphins swim by.

m by.

Panama City Beach is investing heavily in ty Beach eavily in w airport was tourism. A new airport was opened a year ago and this year a major beach replenishment was carried out. The historic 1,500ft pier has also been renovated.

We checked out the Gulf World Marine Park (www.gulfworldmarinepark.com, EUR22.25 plus local tax) to see the local critters such as iguana, sharks, alligators and more and watched a surprisingly impressive sealion and dolphin show.

We ate at the Firefly restaurant where President Obama was once a customer. He ordered the New York strip steak and so did I. Good call, Mr President.

Then it was off to St Andrews State Park (www.floridastateparks.org/standrews/, EUR6.50 per vehicle) where hiking, kayaking, snorkelling, boat hire, camping and fishing are available.

Halfw Linda d needed booked treatm Spain t Halfway through our trip Linda decided she needed pampering and booked herself a treatment at the Serenity Spain the plush Wyndham Bay Point Resort. I took myself off to the Edgewater Beach Resort where I had arranged a tennis lesson.

With Linda suitably glowing and me glowering over my lousy backhand, we hooked up again at Wyndham Bay where we had lunch at Lime's beach bar. We spotted some tourist boats heading out to the bay and decided to take try a trip ourselves that evening. We chose a dolphin sunset cruise on a sailboat with Island Time Sailing (www.islandtimesailing.com, EUR22.75). And we saw lots of dolphins and their babies (aah), turtles and rays.

One of our most intriguing visits was to the bizarre exterior of the WonderWorks (www.wonderworksonline.com, EUR19.50) attraction in an upside-down building packed with 100 amazing interactive exhibits It was a Oin amazing interactive exhibits. It was a must for kids of all ages (even us middle-aged ones). As the temperature began to rise, we cooled off at Shipwreck Island Water Park (www.shipwreckisland.com, EUR26.99) with some serious water-slide action.

There's a laid-back Southern attitude to life in Panama City Beach. and it's easy to slip into that mindset. We lived like kings... and ate like presidents.

Vo America As You Like It has Florida trips in October from EUR1,574pp, inc Virgin Atlantic flights from London to Orlando, 2nts at the Waldorf Astoria, internal flight to Panama City Beach on Southwest, 7 days car hire, 3nts at the Emerald Isle Beach Resort and 4nts at Origin at Seahaven, based on 2 sharing. www.americaasyoulikeit.com, 0044 20 8742 8299. One day entry to Disney EUR72.99, saver deals for longer visits. www.disneyworld.co.uk.

time zone GMT -5hrs currency US$ EUR1 = 1.26 best time to go..Year-round funshine break At Tourism: www.discoveramerica.com www.visitflorida.com.

In 2011, 62 million international visitors arrived in the US, 2.5 million up on 2010.

CAPTION(S):

WHITE HOT: Panama City Beach resort * UP FUR FUN: With Monsters Inc FLAMIN' GOOD: Indiana Spectacular TOPSY-TURVY: WonderWorks
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:1U5FL
Date:Jun 30, 2012
Words:868
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