When I was little, we would usually go to Disney World at least once a year, but I had not been to Disney or Universal Studios in almost eleven years. It had been about 25 years since I had been to Epcot.
Universal Studios. We hit just about everything we wanted to at the park because the crowds were surprisingly light. I'm a fan of the thrill rides, and while
"Shrek 4-D" and the Animal Actors show were cool and all, I was ready for something a bit more intense. Boy, did I find it.
Early in the day, Kyle, Kristina, and I lined up to ride the Hollywood Rip Ride Rock It. This is a beast of a roller coaster. While we were all standing in line, we couldn't help but notice that the ride begins with you on your back, going straight up. Next comes a steep drop followed by a corkscrew loop. The rest of the ride features plenty of steep drops and twists and turns. I was a little apprehensive, but when I noticed all of the 8-year-olds boarding the ride, I figured that if they could do it, so could I. When you get into your seat, you have the option of choosing a song to play through your seat's speakers. I rode the Rip Ride twice. The first time, I was so busy making sure that my harness was actually secure that I missed my chance to choose a song. I don't even remember what song played. The second time, though, I was a bit more confident and chose The Beastie Boys' "Sabotage." Check out this video my dad shot - this is the car that Kyle, Kristina, and I were on. We're on the second and third rows of the front car.
It was a wild ride. As soon as we got off the coaster, Kyle and I tried to get my dad to go on it. It took us all day to convince him that he needed to do it, and he eventually did. Kyle and I rode it again later with Dad, and, fortunately, Dad really liked it and was glad he went. I would have felt really bad if he had hated it and thrown up everywhere.
The Revenge of the Mummy ride was also pretty cool. It's a bit Space Mountain-ish in the sense that it's a roller coaster in the dark. And The Simpsons Ride was awesome - it's a very convincing thrill-ride simulator. We're all big Simpsons fans anyway and rarely get through a day without making some sort of a Simpsons reference.
|Dr. Emmett "Doc" Brown, me, Kyle, Kristina, and the DeLorean|
We finished out the day at Margaritaville. We could have gone to Universal's Halloween Horror Nights, but opted to just enjoy the parks during the day instead.
|Cinderella's castle at WDW|
Thunder Mountain is a tame roller coaster compared to Space Mountain and the Rip Ride, and it is supposed to be like a runaway train on a Gold Rush-era train track. Space Mountain is a bit more intense - it's basically a roller coaster in the dark meant to simulate a wild ride in deep space. Of course, after the Rip Ride coaster at Universal, even Space Mountain seemed tame.
Then came Splash Mountain. Most of the ride is a gentle river cruise through Brer Rabbit-land. There is a big drop at the end, though, and that's the main attraction of the ride. Plus, there is the potential that you will get wet. Very wet. And get very wet we did.
|Kyle and me, post-Splash Mountain|
Finally, we went to Epcot on Monday. Epcot doesn't have tons of thrill rides, but "Mission: SPACE" was pretty cool. It's a simulator meant to mimic a space mission to Mars. There's a mild version and an intense version option - Kyle and I immediately went for the intense option while everyone else tried out the mild version first. Later, we all went on the intense version together and the concensus was that the intense option is quite a bit different from the mild, g-force-wise. Basically, you're sitting in a giant centrifuge that spins around and creates the sensation of pulling g's during a vertical takeoff. The simulation also features some drops and thrashing around as you make your way to Mars. Very cool stuff.
Also neat was the "Soarin'" attraction, which simulates a hang-gliding adventure across California. You sit in a row of seats meant to look like a hang glider. You're picked up, feet dangling, and brought up to an IMAX screen. The seats move, making you feel like you're really flying. My dad flies a powered paraglider, so he especially enjoyed the ride.
The Test Track ride was also fun. The premise of the ride is that you're in a car that is put through rigorous road-condition tests. It ends with a fast downhill ride meant to test its top speed.
And we spent some time walking around all of the different countries. We had a nice lunch at Mexico's San Angel Inn, which features an Aztec pyramid and a periodically-erupting volcano (and excellent Blood Orange margaritas).
|San Angel Inn in "Mexico"|
And, no, I still haven't been inside the Epcot ball. I have no idea what's in there.
At the end of the third day, we were ready to head back to the condo and relax with a few brews. I brought Trivial Pursuit, and we played that until we were falling asleep sitting up.
The weekend was fast-paced but fun. I had been wanting to go back to Orlando for a while now, and I'm glad that we were all able to go. The crowds were lighter than usual, and the weather was nice although I wouldn't have cried if it had been a bit cooler. My mom was hoping for cooler weather, too, but we didn't quite time the cold fronts right. It was warm (mid-80s and sunny and dry), but at least it wasn't rainy or humid. And there were no illnesses, accidents, or major mishaps. Everyone made it through the trip healthy and happy, which is always a victory. I went on a skiing trip once about 12 or 13 years ago and it was a nightmare. Another travelmate and I fought the entire time, I crashed on the bunny hill and hurt both of my knees, and on top of everything another travelmate got food poisoning. Worst. Vacation. Ever.
If you've been to Disney, Universal, or Epcot, what's your favorite atttraction, Wonder Turtle friends?