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Showing posts from November, 2004

Hooters

Last but by no means least the most frequented eating establishment in all of Orlando, well by us anyway. We went there so many times the staff (mmmmmmmm the staff) recognised us and remembered our orders. The place has a pre-conception of being sleazy but it's unwarranted, there were couples, families and parties being catered for. We read that a rival chain was being taken to court for stealing the concept and the Orlando residents were definitely behind Hooters which says a lot for it.

IAAPA

This is the big convention that takes place every year and where anyone interested with the industry meets for some back slapping and shmoosing. As I'm not interested in that I was a little disappointed with it to be honest. There was only the one ride to go on, called a DiskO which was pretty good but felt a bit odd because you sit facing outwards unlike a frisbee where you can see everyone else riding. In previous years there had been more. You do get to see what rides may be coming up and get the opportunity to collect brochures from the major players. There's also food vendors demonstrating their new ranges that you can sample (some nice slush puppie variants). But all in all, we spent half a day there then never went back.

Skull Kingdom

This is a haunted attraction which we ignored (the guy in there was well creepy), however parked outside it was a new S&S swing which is starting to be bought by parks. Thorpe Park is getting a version of it this year. We got a free ride on it because we'd been at the convention and had our passes (the perks!). The ride itself is alright, swinging above the horizontal scares you a little bit but it is a little short in duration. It'll be a good addition to any park that buys it though.

Wet and Wild

The main water park in Orlando and although I'd been to others, I hadn't been to one with so many different rides. It's a nice escape from the theme parks, just don't go when it's too hot.
Whilst there I managed to try one of the near vertical drops that always look too scary to go on.
It was fine, the only problem I had was at the end the speed causes your shorts to rip shreds out of your arse. I came off quite sore.

There's also a strange ride where you sit back to back with another person and swing using a water cannon that you take turns to open up. This got really scary and because you don't have full control and are quite exposed you really think you're going to fall out, well I did. At a couple of points I had to slow us down because I really thought I was going to fall out. Afterwards I think I realised why, the harness hadn't been checked by the ride operator and was way too loose.

Kissimee Old Town

This was an evening jaunt away from Orlando. The area has a couple of thrill rides and is just a place to hang out. When we got there it was biker night with the main road inundated with some stunning looking Harleys and Superbikes. A little odd to see both types there, I didn't think the crowds mixed.

Skycoaster
I've ridden one of these things before but not on the scale of this. You get dropped from 300 feet and come throught he swing at 70 miles an hour. I ended up doing it on my own (one had done it before and the other didn't even want to try). When you're hanging at the top its deathly quiet and pretty scary but once you've done a full swing you relax and it becomes better.
I was too scared to even scream.

G Force Dragster Race
This was a new concept of ride which is basically a shot tower dropped on it's side that launches dragster cars along a racetrack. This is officially the fastest non-coaster ride in the world and the acceleration is immense. Its also…

Busch Gardens

So it was out to Tampa to get to this park which turned out to have the best coaster in Florida.
They're in the process of building a new one which is going to be a definite reason to go back out there, but this year I had to make do with the great coasters it already has.

Montu
This was the best coaster of the holiday. It's an inverter like Nemesis but on a much bigger scale and because they'd turned some of the trim brakes off made it more intense than it should have been. I'd also heard bad things about the ride operations at this park but saw no problem. We were allowed to stay on the ride if there was no queue, and for most of the morning, there wasn't.

Scorpion
This was an old Schwarzkopf coaster (Old German guy who designed some great rides). Not bad but not great, especially as there were other better coasters in the park. This probably explained why there was no queue on this ride whatsoever.

Cheetah Chase
This was their new coaster for the year, actually it…

Disney Magic Kingdom

This was by far the busiest park of the holiday but it should have been expected after all it is Disney.

Space Mountain
I absolutely hated the version of this ride in Paris. My head came more bashed than a Tyson opponent (when he was in his heyday). This however, even though it was 20 years older, was great - really simple and enjoyable with some nice flybys as you pass the opposing train.
Coming off the ride you travel on what feels like a sponge travelator, very odd indeed.

Big Thunder Railroad
When we got to this ride, it had just been reopened following a "technical problem" and when we finally got on it found all the lights on which to some enthusiasts would be a dream come true, but to me just showed how bad some of the effects really are. Having ridden it a second time, with the lights off, found it to be a pretty good ride although the Paris version is much better, albeit newer.

Splash Mountain
Although I don't know the Briar Rabbit tale on which this is based, the …

Disney Animal Kingdom

At the centre of the park is a huge tree with over 350 animals carved into it. This alone is absolutely stunning and when you're queueing for rides you're often walking amongst the roots and trying to spot all the creatures. At one end of the park they're building Everest which I think opens in 2005. This looks massive and should be a good addition to the park, when it opens. It's nothing but a tease in its current state.

Dinosaur
This is apparently the same ride as Indiana Jones in Cali but themed around a time traveling journey. The ride itself is OK but Indiana is a lot more enjoyable. I didn't want to see the dinosaurs more than once but would instantly run back into Indiana Jones having ridden that.

Primeval Whirl
This does not look right in a park synonymous with great theming. It's supposed to be themed around a tacky version of the dinosaur ride and looks just like it. Also disappointing to find that half the ride wasn't working on the day we were the…

Disney Movie Studios

The first of the Disney Parks that we went to and the one we spent less time in.
Most of this park is tailored at the little kids.

Aerosmith Rock n Roller Coaster
This was nicely themed and having ridden the version in Paris I found this ride to be much much better although I preferred the lighting at the European Park. The cars are themed as stretch limos taking you across California to get to an awards ceremony. Going through the O of the hollywood sign (I can't remember which o) was pretty cool. The only coaster in the park

Tower of Terror
This was the biggest disappointment of the holiday. I was expecting an amazing shot drop tower but instead got something that just went up and down, the acceleration wasn't that great.
There was also quite a lot of queuing for the ride which put me off especially considering the short queues at the Universal Parks. You can't knock the theming of the building though.

Muppet 4D
Another 4D show which was identical to the one in Cali.
It'…

EPCOT

The technology park in the Disney World, there aren't any coasters here but there are some pretty decent attractions. We also walked the world fair which was a little cheesy but for the beer drinkers amongst you the only place to get a proper pint, although you have to spend a small fortune for the privilige.

Mission Space
This is their new ride, a centrifugal G-Force ride that simulates a flight to Mars. The one thing you notice about queueing up is the amount of warnings you get about not riding if you suffer from....
Definitely not Disney at all, they've even added sick bags to the cabins When the ride starts up you soon realise why, the forces are pretty intense and sustained, which is probably what does people in. At a couple of points you have to press a couple of buttons which adds a minimal level of interactivity (they don't actually do anything).

Test Track
This is quite an old ride but still pretty cool. You sit inside a car and a taken through a few temperature ro…

Seaworld

This was the "local park" as it was only 5 minutes away from the apartment.
Its starting to attract the theme park crowds installing some fairly decent attractions
The star of the park however is Shamu which packs the crowds and is worth seeing (once!)

Kraken
A massive B&M floorless coaster (that makes me sound like such a geek). It's eerily quiet though as to stop the locals complaining about the noise they filled it with sand (that makes me sound like a bigger geek). I think this was my favourite coaster in Orlando, especially when ridden in the front. It was also well run with very little waiting time.

Journey to Atlantis
The other big attraction in the park, is this very well themed boat ride. The only problem I had with this is that the big huge drop didn't get me wet but a 1ft drop onto the lift hill got me soaked. A nice attraction for the park though.

Penguin Enclosure
A big travelator takes you along the penguin enclosure which is quite impressive. You'…

Citywalk

Not a park as such but the downtown area that joins the 2 Universal Parks together.
It's here that you can enjoy nightlife or go to restaurants for meals.

Orlando Beer Festival
Whilst we were there Orlando had it's Beer Festival which was just an excuse for Americans to get pissed on weak lager and Europeans to drink whilst watching the locals get drunk.
Being on holiday I decided to try some of the beer on offer and wasn't surprised to find them as nasty as the stuff back home. A Jamaican Honey Beer was particularly nasty and quickly found it's way into a plantpot. The best drinks turned out to be the vodka variants with crowds queueing to try the drinks on offer. I'm sure it had absolutely nothing to do with the hot looking women serving them.

Margaritas
I wasn't sure about this place. It's something to do with a guy called Jimmy who sings lots of songs about drinking Margaritas. I guess he's a local celeb because lots of people were singing along to hi…

Universal Studios

The sister park to Islands with some great attractions but I came away thinking that the park in Hollywood was a little better in places. This however is the best place for a milkshake. Try the diner. It was so thick that it didn't spill over but continued holding it's shape like thick icecream.
Just don't try drinking it through a straw.

Revenge of the Mummy
This was the new ride for the park in 2004. I had intended this ride to be a complete surprise and so intentionally ignored any press articles or reviews of it (not easy to do in the internet era I tell thee). The ride itself is alright with some a nice mix of effects, coaster ride and animatronics. However the first time I came off the ride I expected more. The second time I rode it, I got more because all of the effects were working. I guess they were still having teething troubles with the ride.

Twister
A nice simulation of a twister which can be quite wet if you're in the wrong place (I'm not going to tell y…

Islands of Adventure

Probably the best park in Orlando (sorry Carlsberg) which we visited pretty much every day.
Some great theming, amazing food and just a great place to kill the day!

Hulk
The first coaster of the trip. Very large, very green and like the character it's based on has 2 sides to it. It starts out great with a superb launch and first few elements, complete with water splash. However the second half is a bit rough and I got beat up on it, so although I rerode it, there were better coasters out there. As with Spiderman (see next) skipping the pre-show means you won't know what the hell is going on. The throughput on this was superb with I think the longest queue being 10 minutes, for the front row.

Spiderman
I never understood from people's reviews how this actually worked so was quite looking forward to it. Needless to say I wasn't disappointed, it has a great mix of 4D cinema and motion ride with some great interaction between what is on the screens and the scenery you move t…

Florida is over!

Well I'm back from my trip to Florida and I had a blast. It was my first time out there and a place I'd been wanting to go to for a while. I was blown away by the scale of Disney. I knew it was big but didn't realise they had their own freeway and a huge amount of land to still build on.

Universal impressed me with it's range of rides, including some very hi-tech ones. There was also an amusement park and attraction convention there that we visited.

Here's my report which I've kept brief because I don't like writing at length and doubt anyone will actually read this. I'll break it down by into bite-sized chunks..