Well, here we are, back in Florida. Don’t worry; this won’t entirely be a pointless retread of previously done topics. Although there will be some of that. Sorry. Almost all of it has been discussed before, so it will definitely be overlooked, save for some changes and new additions to the parks.
The first day was one of the most hardcore of all. This trip, there were time constraints deluxe, so we didn’t have the luxury of having one day dedicated to traveling down. So day one involved going to the airport at 5:00 AM and heading directly from the Orlando airport to Universal Studios. Luckily, we had previously arranged transportation, thanks to Adam (of Florida I fame.) Not that this made traveling at five in the morning much better, but it was better than taking public transportation. I don’t really know how Floridians without cars get around, besides Rollerblades, but I think that’s more of a Miami thing.
So, somewhat surreally, we had gone from Long Island to Universal Studios in about five hours. Amy and I had purchased all of our tickets online, and Adam was buying an annual pass, which is where we ran into our first major problem. Last year, we learned that the lines at Halloween Horror Nights are ridiculous, so we planned ahead and bought an Express Pass (that is the first and only time I will capitalize that term) online with the rest of the park tickets. I repeatedly reminded Adam to get his, since a lot of days had sold out of them. However, since he is a failure at life, he never bought it. Then at Universal, we were told that the Horror Nights express passes were sold out.
We decided to not let that ruin the rest of the day, and that we would worry about it tomorrow. Besides that stumbling block, I must say that this year’s visit to Universal was about seven thousand times better than last year’s, for a few reasons. First, Jaws was open. It still isn’t a great ride, but it was open and as mildly entertaining as always. Second, the lines were tolerable all day, nothing too bad, so even when we went on a ride that wasn’t that great, at least we didn’t wait that long for it. Finally, this year was the first time that I got to go on the Revenge of the Mummy ride. And, just to clarify…
“THE REVENGE OF THE
MUMMY” IS THE
GREATEST THING THAT
ANY HUMAN BEING
HAS EVER CREATED.
It is still very close to Spider Man in terms of my favorite ride, but it is very possible that the Mummy has taken over the number one spot. It might be partially due to the fact that it was a new ride for me, so I guess I will see next year if it remains just as good. I can’t even be bothered to try to make these paragraphs interesting or amusing, I just need to express my undying love for this ride. And if you have been on this ride, and you didn’t like it that much, I hate you. Seriously.
And that was Universal Studios. I don’t think anything else very memorable happened; there wasn’t even a single picture taken there.
Not much was different at Islands of Adventure this year. Popeye said that Adam and I were a pain in the ass, the Triceratops Encounter was still closed, and everything else was still awesome.
Halloween Horror Nights was somewhat different this year. Instead of taking place entirely in Islands of Adventure or in Universal Studios, as it had been in past years, it spanned both parks. Now, you might think, “That sounds good, two parks means twice the terror.” And you would be wrong. Twice the terror, no. Twice the walking, yes.
The “twice the terror” argument went right out the window right upon reentering the park for Horror Nights. Walking around, the costumed characters and scenery were thinned out; there were much less than last year. Entering Marvel Island, which was done very well last year with the “toxic foam party” motif, really cemented the fact that things had taken a turn. There was basically no Halloween scenery, and almost no characters. The only characters in Marvel Island, inexplicably, were all wearing stilts. And they weren’t even good costumes on stilts; they were mostly costumes that you would buy at Party City, including trampy vampire and slutty witch. The oddest character, without a doubt, was the gay cowboy. How we knew he was a gay cowboy was simple; he was wearing a cowboy hat and chaps… and a tight pink shirt. Now normally, gay cowboys on stilts are a recipe for success, but not here, and not now.
The haunted houses, by the way, were very good. Not “waiting for eleven hours to go in all seven” good, but we didn’t have to worry about that. At the start of the day, we managed to convince customer service to let us buy an express pass, which they took from group sales. Excellent.
We had assumed that while haunted houses should be entertaining enough, they would be even more entertaining while inebriated. This had been working well so far, until we added something else into the mix. Fried Oreos.
I have had fried Twinkies before at Six Flags, and they were terrible. Despite that, I still felt that fried Oreos needed to be tried. And I made the right decision. They were awesome. They tasted pretty much like you would expect them to; hot, mushy chocolate covered in a zeppole like shell. Oh, and about four pounds of powdered sugar.
About fifteen minutes after eating them, I discovered that they are not the best food to eat when you have been drinking. At the same time, the only time you would eat a food like this is when you have been drinking, so it’s a vicious cycle. They began to make me cripplingly ill, so I was forced to stop buying the $6 refills of booze for a while.
Overall, having the event spread across both parks made it not nearly as good as when it was just in Islands of Adventure. If they need more room to accommodate more people, that’s fine. However, then they need to spend the extra money to fill every part of the park with characters and scenery, since the areas without it detract from the mood. On the plus side, it still is a lot of fun, Jaws is much better at night, and we got to go on the Mummy again.
Day three was Disney World. And yes, technically all the parks encompass Disney World and the park we went to is actually referred to as The Magic Kingdom. Forget it; that’s stupid. When I say Disney World, you know what I’m talking about.
Disney World was as it always is, not that great, but definitely good enough to make you want to go back. This park definitely brings up more mixed emotions than any other. At certain points you are ready to either kill yourself or someone else, whichever is easier, but then something totally awesome happens and all the bad stuff momentarily evacuates your mind.
In order to get the day started right, we didn’t head towards a ride. Instead, we went right to the adventure area of the park, to partake in some magical Disney delights. Pineapple floats. I mentioned these when I wrote about Disney last time, but I really don’t think I gave them their proper due. I can tell I didn’t write enough about them because the paragraph they were mentioned in was less than five hundred words. Again, for the sake of brevity, I can not go as far into detail as I would like.
The biggest difference this year was that the Alien Encounter ride was closed. In its place was a new ride, with Stitch as the central character. Stitch’s Great Escape is basically the same exact ride as Alien Encounter, except with Stitch replacing the original alien. Apparently, Disney was getting a lot of complaints that the original version was too frightening, so they had to tone it down. So it went from lame ride to lame ride with a licensed character. Well, at least the sign is better looking now.
The other thing that was different this year was arguably the worst thing to ever happen to me. Due to reasons that were never explained, “it’s a small world” was closed. I can’t even go into further detail, there were no clues given as to why this ride was not open. I need to change the subject; it’s too hard to talk about this.
Uh, well that’s pretty much it for Disney World. Besides “it’s a small world” being closed, nothing too out of the ordinary happened.
While getting ready the next morning, I noticed that we neglected to remember daylight savings time, and were therefore an hour ahead of schedule. What this meant was that we had time to get breakfast before going to Epcot, our final park. We got breakfast at Shoney’s. If you are not familiar with this restaurant, the best way I have thought to describe it is like Denny’s without the class. It was basically a breakfast buffet, although it almost turned out disastrous for me.
At the buffet, I came across a section that contained bacon, sausages, and Canadian bacon. I added a few pieces of Canadian bacon to my plate, and sat back down. When Amy saw it, she asked why I had gotten it. I answered simply, saying because I like Canadian bacon. However, after looking at Adam’s facial expression, and his plate that contained partially eaten Canadian bacon, I knew something was amiss. It turned out that it was, in fact, not Canadian bacon. It was baked bologna. What??? Why does this exist, let alone being served to the public? I could see this being served, maybe, in Alabama. But not in Orlando; Orlando is only somewhat white trash. So, thanks to their warning, I narrowly avoided eating the baked bologna. Which, they realized right after, was a mistake on their part.
After Shoney’s, it was on to Epcot. I haven’t been here since I was a kid, and I remembered it as being boring. And I was right. Although since I was there last, they did add some new rides. In fact, Krissa declared one of the rides at Epcot to be number one in the “Top Seven Must See Attractions in Walt Disney World.” Although as I would later find out, eating at Shoney’s then going on simulation rides is one of the “Top Seven Things to Never, Ever Do.”
The day at Epcot got off to a great start, but it was for a very odd reason. While we were heading into the park, I saw Mickey standing out in the open, posing with kids. Granted, that might not seem rare; that is an image that they show in every single advertisement for the Disney parks. However, think of the last time you actually saw this. It was probably in 1987, or somewhere around there. Now at Disney World, they have a schedule, where you can meet Mickey at certain times, in his house in Toontown. Instead of that crap, this Mickey is hardcore, just hanging out with kids. This Mickey was OG.
As with any mathematical equation, with every peak there must be a valley. Despite the fact that Epcot isn’t a mathematical equation, and despite the fact that the first sentence is a lie, what this means is that the first ride we went on sucked. Got it? Cool.
Spaceship Earth takes place in Epcot’s trademark globe/sphere/golf ball/whatever. This ride is equivalent to biting into a Ferrero Rocher, and having it filled with feces. There is a sign posted in the line area, specifically stating that it is a “SLOW MOVING” ride. This might be because people are expecting a Space Mountain ride, or maybe they just assume that a ride that takes place in one of the most recognizable symbols in America will be exciting. And they would be wrong.
You sit in cars that are similar to the blue trams that take you around Tomorrowland. The ride takes you on a journey through history, and I must honestly say I’m not even sure of the central theme. I think it has to do with inventions, or the progress of mankind. If this is the case, it pales in comparison to the infinitely superior Carousel of Progress. Now I know what you’re thinking, it isn’t fair to compare things to the Carousel of Progress, and that is a good point. Unfortunately, that’s what Spaceship Earth seems to be, a Carousel of Progress spin off that follows the progress since “the dawn of time,” rather than “the turn of the century,” as it did in the Carousel. Also, Spaceship Earth lacks an amazing theme song. I could be wrong about the whole theme of the ride, though, I wasn’t actually paying too much attention. I don’t even know what the name of the ride means.
After this, we walked (but still moved faster than Spaceship Earth) over to Mission: Space. I had originally planned for us to get a fast pass for the ride, and go do something else while we waited. We assumed the line would be long because this is the most hyped ride in the park. This was the ride that Krissa picked as the best ride in all of Walt Disney World, and I trusted her. Although it did seem that Test Track was a much more popular ride, judging solely by the lines.
The line turned out to be pretty short, so we went in instead of getting a pass. You will notice that there are no pictures of the ride, or many pictures at all, and this is because I did not take many pictures. So that makes sense. I wasn’t really planning on writing about Epcot or Florida in general, since I didn’t want this site to be typecast as “Idiot goes to Florida.” But then I realized that was better than having the site typecast as never updated, so I figured a combined article of the trip was a decent compromise.
While waiting on line, some people walked by us, dressed in costumes, including a Jedi complete with light saber. The odd thing was, our first reaction was, “Look at those jackasses.” It wasn’t until later that we remembered that it was Halloween. Although I guess our initial reaction actually wasn’t that far off.
The sole purpose of the interim between waiting on line and being on the ride seems to be doing everything they can to make you not go on the ride. Words like “intense,” “high velocity,” and “violent spinning” are thrown around in the warning / information video. Amy really didn’t want to go on a spinning ride, and I tried explaining that the ride didn’t spin, but it was hard to make my point because the video kept talking about how the ride spun at high speeds. So, she decided to drop out, and our space crew was left one man short. It was Adam, myself, and some middle aged woman. The right stuff, indeed.
The ride itself was really good. Four people go into a small compartment where they are strapped in, in front of video monitors and lots of useless buttons and switches. Just by sitting down, you know the ride is going to be good; there are vomit bags in front of each seat. The effects are done well, you really feel like you are taking off, you feel like you are flying, and you feel like Gary Sinise is talking only to you.
We then went to go on Body Wars, but that was closed, because it is a “seasonal ride.” I guess it wasn’t flu season in Florida like it is in New York. We then decided to skip the section on electricity, since it involved a forty five minute movie with Ellen DeGeneres. I feel violated by paying for a park that includes that.
Eventually, we went somewhere that was open and seemed enjoyable, The Living Seas. This was the place where Joey and Jesse almost got eaten by sharks on Full House. Besides that, it really wasn’t that interesting. It was like an aquarium, but not as good. Even worse, we could see sharks in a far off window, but couldn’t find out how to get there to see them, if there even was a way. Bah.
We skipped The Land, which involved a ride through a green house. I think you can understand why.
Desperate for actual rides, we went on an imagination ride hosted by some guy from Monty Python. He is trying to take you on a tour of a lab about the five senses (I think,) but is unable to because of all the interference from Figment, a flying purple dinosaur. It seems that Disney really tried to push Figment onto kids, since he is all over the place in Epcot, but no one really seems to care about him. As for the ride, it is absolutely terrible.
From there it was on to Honey, I Shrunk the Audience. This was a 3-D movie that was pretty good, although the fact that it is prefaced by a ten minute commercial for Kodak was fairly irritating. This commercial really made us wonder why we even need to pay to get into Epcot. Everything in the park is “brought to you by” so and so, with logos plastered all over the place. And yet here we are, paying fifty dollars for the privilege of walking around and looking at advertisements. There are plenty of things in every park that can cause all sorts of levels of irritation, but the constant bombardment of logos in Epcot was one of the rare things that bordered on harassment. With all of these logos and ads all over the park, why do we even have to pay to get in?
And as soon as that question was asked, it was answered. I now understood why I paid so much to get in. This was because Disney knew that like MGM, they needed something special to compensate for the parks’ flaws. Chocolate covered frozen bananas. Ah yes, a year later and I still love and lust for you.
Now, in a much happier mind state, we headed over to Test Track. This ride was definitely the biggest ride in the park. It might not be; actually, there is a good chance it isn’t. But it was also loud. The wait time for the ride was seventy five minutes, which is also known as an hour and fifteen minutes. Luckily, we had gotten fast passes for the ride, and only had to wait, uh, about a half hour. The fast pass line was ridiculously long, but at least waiting on line felt like we were actually doing something constructive in the park.
As for the ride, it really wasn’t that good. You are strapped into a car, and it performs all sorts of road tests, like anti lock brakes, bumpy roads, and crashing into walls. You don’t actually drive into a wall, although if you had actually waited the full seventy five minutes for the ride, you probably wouldn’t have minded driving into a few walls. Finally, you do a few laps where they clock you at about fifty or so miles per hour. At some point in the ride, they take your picture. This is a great souvenir, because there is no smarter buying decision than paying $20 for a picture of you in a car.
After we had gone on all of Epcot’s many rides, we headed into the international area. This is one of the parts that Epcot is most well known for. It gives you a taste of other countries, as long as you don’t question why those other countries are made up exclusively of restaurants and gift shops.
The first stop was Mexico. I was wondering what else was in Mexico, since my experiences with Mexico have been going to those run down border towns, and Taco Bell. And, according to Epcot, this is exactly what Mexico is like. This country did offer a ride, which was a journey into the history of Mexico. The ride is boring at first; you float around while ancient Mexicans juggle. Then, out of nowhere, it gets completely awesome.
Apparently, they either had leftover props from a long time ago, or maybe they had extra because of the current construction, but the Mexico ride turns into the Mexican area of “it’s a small world.” Excellent. Unfortunately, there was no song, but I forgave them for that. It was enough just to see the shoddy, stereotyped puppets spinning around with their maracas and sombreros.
The next country was Norway. Probably the most interesting part about the country was that I didn’t realize that each country was going to be so small, and wasn’t really paying attention when we hopped the border. Needless to say, expecting Mexicans and getting Norwegians is unsettling.
Norway has one of the rides that I most vividly remember from the last time I was here. I don’t vividly remember the ride, or even remember it at all, but I do remember one part. You are on a boat, going through the history of the country. Then, you stop in front of three creatures in front of a cauldron, and are sent flying backwards. Like you read about in history books. Other than that, the ride is actually pretty lame.
China, Germany, and Italy… I don’t remember much about these countries. We did notice that it was nice of them to move Japan, so the Axis of Evil was broken up.
Then, we came to… the US. Despite the fact that, surprising as it may be, the US is located all around, Epcot felt the need to include an American pavilion. However, it isn’t the current United States, it is colonial times. I guess I can understand the idea behind using this time period, but that makes me wonder if the other countries are supposed to be representing current times, or random historical periods. In which case, it isn’t like visiting other countries at all; it’s more like walking through some sort of faux Carmen Sandiego type nonsense.
Unfortunately, I was unable to get into the colonial spirit, because it was at around this time that I became violently ill. Shoney’s had reared its ugly head. Despite the fact that I didn’t actually eat it, I blame the baked bologna. Simply being in its vicinity was enough to turn my stomach. That and the violent spinning on Mission: Space, I assume.
Luckily, Shoney’s Revenge (which was much less enjoyable than The Mummy’s Revenge) didn’t last too long, and we were back on our journey. Unfortunately, there was nothing of interest in Japan, Morocco, or France. We couldn’t even figure out how to get to the Eiffel Tower; it was blocked off. We might have been able to ask one of the park attendants, but he scurried off in his Segway.
Finally, we went through England and Canada, and if you think I made a separate paragraph because we did something there, you are wrong. There was nothing there either. I did, however, almost buy a hockey jersey, but one of my fleeting moments of fiscal responsibility kicked in.
Then, after a day that seemed about forty five minutes long, we left unfulfilled. Epcot had let us down. The day, however, was not yet over.
Since our day at Epcot was over so early, that meant we had plenty of time at night. More importantly, it gave us time to go back to the hotel to pump ourselves up, because we were about to meet our makers. Well, not exactly meet our makers, more like meet a giant skull. Were we about to correct our sins of the past, and finally visit Castle Greyskull?
Even though they refer to it as Skull Kingdom, we all know what it really is. Despite the fact that they had their own fairly elaborately designed building, and had been operating for many years, we weren’t expecting anything very good. Again, Amy opted out of this one, which probably was for the best. The haunted house was surprisingly very well done, and dare I say it, better than any of the haunted houses at Islands of Adventure.
Making the haunted house even better was our group. It was Adam, me, and a group of three black (and that’s not a racial remark; they actually were black) people who had apparently been sitting in their car for the past week and a half getting high. They spent the duration of the haunted house running around screaming, in true horror movie stereotype fashion. Luckily, we were able to get a picture of them outside, which makes for the most awesome / awkward photo I have ever been part of, and possibly the most awesome picture ever taken.
At this point, the disappointment of Epcot was forgotten. It was all about the here and now. The Castle Greyskull and… now. This would have been enough to end the night on a good note, but we had another destination.
WonderWorks was another spot that we pondered going to a few years ago, but never went. But, since we had time, we decided to check it out. From the outside, the building looks like it could be a Ripley’s museum, since the building is an upside down house. We didn’t know exactly what it was; maybe it was a museum like Ripley’s, although there was an actual Ripley’s museum right down the block, so that couldn’t be it. We figured it was a big arcade / laser tag / amusement center type place. Nevertheless, we had extra time, so in we went.
It turned out that it was a huge science fair. Now, that probably doesn’t sound very interesting, but it was. It was hundreds of little exhibits, games, and random stuff. One of the coolest exhibits was the bed of nails. It actually was a legitimate bed of nails, not some sort of gimmick.
The way it works is that in order for a nail to puncture your skin, there needs to be a certain amount of force behind it. Since there are so many nails so close together, your body is too evenly distributed, and the nails can’t get through.
Other exhibits included a hurricane simulator, which was really just a giant fan, but it was very cool. Ha ha. A pun. Many of the exhibits totally screwed with your head, causing disbelief in what just happened. In one instance, there was a basketball hoop placed literally about a foot and a half away. When you put on corrective lenses, it basically became impossible to get the ball through the hoop. Then, eventually, you are able to. However, as soon as the glasses come off, you can’t get the ball in normally.
And, if you are wondering what I will look like in twenty years, apparently this is it. Hot.
One thing definitely worth noting is the terrible laser tag game they had there. We wound up playing twice, because during the first game, Amy and Adam had to keep leaving to get different vests, because theirs kept breaking. During the second game, I thought we were playing in a different room. The room’s pillars were rearranged, some thrown on the floor. I realized, during the game, that we were in the same room. The reason for the change was that employees were inexplicably knocking the pillars to the ground. One missed me by about three feet. Although I must say, this did add some sort of survival / war games element, with all of the shrapnel and collapsing surroundings.
WonderWorks gets the big thumbs up.
And that’s it. Overall, this trip was very successful. The weather help up perfectly; it was actually a little too hot and sunny, but I’m not going to complain about that. Well I am, and I was, but I mean I shouldn’t. Sun is much better than the alternative. (Rain.) Epcot was disappointing, but it still needed to be visited. The Universal parks were as good as always, even better in the case of Universal Studios.
In fact, if you are planning a trip to Florida, I have a recommended itinerary. Buy a three day park hopper pass to Universal. Spend the first two days visiting the two parks. Then spend the third day going on The Mummy.