23/04/13. We decided to have a down day yesterday because we have a two day pass at Universal Studios which has to be used concurrently so we knew a couple of full days were ahead. Oh the pressure. While I don't think it quite has the polish of Disney there was a different and not unwelcome feeling about this new "wonderland". Gone were the childish images of your favourite Disney kiddie winkle characters prancing and skipping here and there. Gone was the promise of the happiest place on earth or the place where memories are made. Here, there was not a set of big black ears, a chipmonk or a twirling princess skirt to be seen. This was serious stuff. This was where, "The Adventure Begins". We're talking Super Heroes and Wizards saving the world from destruction. Harry vs Voldemort, Spiderman vs Doctor Octopus, Doctor Doom and The Hulk vs Everyone.
|No friendly dwarfs here|
|You gotta love a kick arse roller coaster, that's us third from the back|
Once again, getting there early meant we walked straight on, twice. YES, YES, YES, best roller coaster yet, ever! For a start it was all outdoors so get a good felling for how far you can drop if the car falls off the rails. There are corkscrews, twists and big arching loops. I'm actually swaying in my seat as I write this. It was very cool. How could it get better? Well, let me tell you how. We wandered over to Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. Now, being one of the more recent attractions we all had high expectations for this one. NOT LET DOWN!
|All aboard, next stop, Texas.|
|hhmmm Butterbeer, just missing the hops|
Once again pretty well much a walk on but you wouldn't of minded if you did have to wait a while because the preambling walk to the ride was through the mystical halls of Hogwarts with all manner of talking pictures, plots being hatched and intrigues being played out. Entertainment in itself. But the ride, whoa. We hadn't seen this level of techno wizardry before. You were flying, I mean you seriously felt like you were flying behind Harry being chased by dragons, dodging thumping trees and Dementors and chasing the snitch in a game of Quidditch. The surround screen and the graphics, the twists and turns were beyond what any of us were expecting. You could almost feel the broomstick between your legs. I'm boggled to think what the future will bring to this sort of entertainment.
The poor Dragon Challenge, our next ride, didn't really stand a chance after this.
|Ho hum, another gut swirling 360|
Sure there were the gut wrenching turns, yawn, and the double corkscrew, snore, and your feet were hanging loose and getting wrapped around your ears by the G force, yippee, but at the end of the day it was a roller coaster ride. We had been severely entertained and simply throwing the contents of our stomach from one side to the other was just not going to do it. Where do we go from here? Well, seeing as you asked. You go to.... The Amazing Adventures of Spider- Man. What could possibly have made Harry Potter better, I ask myself. Well only one thing, in fact two things. And Spider-Man had them both. Add, to all the high tech magic of Harry Potter, not just 3D but a sprinkle of 4D and you have perfection. You have Spidey sitting on the bonnet of our car poking his webbed finger right into our faces. You have the spray of water in your face as he fights with "aqua guy" and then your hands are up protecting yourself from the glowing heat of Doctor Ocs furnace gun scolding you as he aims it at us, point blank, and tries to roast us all to a crisp. There was really nothing to do after this except go home and lament the fact that from now on no other ride will ever be good enough. Big sigh!
Oh a nice little ending to the day. We stopped into an arcade to play Doodle Jump. We've all played it on our I-phones before but never as a big arcade game before. Callum won 37 tickets, I won 40 and Christina around 30. Charlie gets on and hits the jackpot, 1000 tickets. For ten minutes this machine just spat out metre after metre of these bloody tickets. It was amazing. So, a whoopy cushion, some pencils and a showbag full of lollies later we finally leave for home. Thanks Harry, thanks Spidey, thanks Doodle.
24/04/13. Universal Studios part II. Well lets see. I got my picture taken with Marilyn Monroe, Christina got hers taken with Scooby Doo, Callum and Charlie with the MIB and then just Charlie got his taken with Bart Simpson.
The photos say it all really
Callum made a movie with Dwayne Johnson, aka, The Rock and I gave two autographs. We ate very average burgers at Mel's Diner and washed it down with a Root Beer Float. What's a Root Beer Float? It was originally made back in the 18th century primarily from sassafras and other roots, bark, leaves and berries then sweetened and used as an everyday drink because back in the "old days" a lot of the water wasn't potable. But, it tastes like cough medicine which is probably why they dump a big scoop of ice cream on top. Happily the tap water these days won't kill you, straight away, so you only have to drink this by choice.
|One of the oddest tasting things I've ever sucked up a straw|
We saw a great magic show, who doesn't like a good magic show, and magically left $46USD lighter albeit with some magic tricks in a bag. The real trick will be to make sure they get opened, learnt and used. But hey what's life without the occasional reckless purchase every now and then. It was Callum's purchase out of his own "stash" so, over to you buddy. Yes there were some great rides. The Rockit Rollercoaster started with a sheer vertical lift off. Very nice. Revenge of the Mummy had some great effects and a dash of riding in the dark which is always nice. MIB, pretty average. The Simpson and Despicable Me, lots of fun. The car your in doesn't actually move anywhere. All the action happens on the screen but by the time the ride's over you feel like you've been around the world. The Terminator had some live actors inter mingled with some new Arnie Terminator footage I've not seen before which was different. We're getting really efficient at doing these parks. We were in at 9 and out by 3.30 but got to do every ride and see every attraction that grabbed our fancy. I may have to write a book on How to Conquer a Theme Park in Less Than Eight Hours. We have a little unfinished business with Harry Potter and Spider Man tomorrow and then a return to Epcot on Friday.
Well, must say I think we've all really enjoyed our time here in Orlando. We are now officially theme parked out and looking forward to moving on from the bubble that is Orlando. It's a bit like being on the set of the Truman Show here. Everyone is tremendously nice and friendly. There is a place for everything and everything is in it's place. I suppose with 53 Million people landing on your door step every year you have to be organised. Our last hurrah was Typhoon Lagoon Water Park. Some ok water slides and a Lazy Creek where you floated in a rubber tube around the park in a big slow moving loop of water. It was packed full of people with very content and relieved looks on their faces. The water was suspiciously warm.
The wave pool was the big hit. 150 metres across with a thousand screaming people who by the sound of it have never seen a natural wave before. This amazing machine spits out waves from zero to six feet in a couple of seconds. From one side to the other this big wave rises up and bashes through the mosh pit of water worshipers for about 50 metres then slowly pieters out to a healthy white wash. It doesn't break left or right, just rolls on then fades away. A bit like what we're going to do now. Thanks Orlando, it's been a blast
I think we're all now looking forward to seeing some of the real America now. Experiencing some of the rich history, the amazingly diverse landscape and meeting some of the more authentic characters.
A little stop press here. Thought I was done but we went back to Epcot for one last half day. Had the ticket so no sense in wasting it. The boys had some unfinished business with Fast Track. But, while we were there we popped into the Nemo ride. Very ho hum. BUT, did you know, at EPCOT they have the second largest man made salt water aquarium in the USA and the third largest in the world. I had no idea. There is no mention of this in the park guide and it doesn't seem to be widely promoted at all. The place is amazing. There are over 65 different species of fish and 6000 sea creatures swimming in a 5.7 million gallon tank. We got talking to Georgia, one of the attendants and she took us up to the staff only top level to get a topside perspective. It's massive. There is a scuba diving tour you can do in the tanks and if we weren't leaving in the next couple of days I'd be in there.
|You lucky buggers having this in your back yard|
If you ever come to EPCOT put this on your list.