downunder

My October 2015 - L.A. and Orlando

13 posts in this topic

After a great time at Movie World's Halloween the weekend before. It was time to cross the Pacific to theme park Nirvana, and get my haunt on. In summary, what did I do?

  • Sat October 17 : Travel Sydney to Los Angeles then onto Orlando / Fun Spot Orlando
  • Sun Oct 18 : Busch Gardens Tampa and Howl O Scream
  • Mon Oct 19 : Animal Kingdom / Disney Studios / Epcot / Magic Kingdom
  • Tue Oct 20 : Sea World / Fun Spot Kissimmee / sleep
  • Wed Oct 21 : Universal Orlando / Lights-on Maze Tours / Halloween Horror Nights
  • Thu Oct 22 : Knott's Scary Farm
  • Fri Oct 23 : Magic Mountain / Zombie Joe's Urban Death Tour (North Hollywood)
  • Sat Oct 24 : Queen Mary Dark Harbor
  • Sun Oct 25 : Knott's Scary Farm
  • Mon Oct 26 : no parks / Australian Consulate
  • Tue Oct 27 : Knott's Berry Farm
  • Wed Oct 28 : Knott's Scary Farm
  • Thu Oct 29 : Knott's Scary Farm
  • Fri Oct 30 : Halloween Horror Nights - Hollywood
  • Fri Oct 31 : watch rugby world cup final / Universal Citywalk / go home

I was also going to Las Vegas and Frightdome and other haunts, but had to cancel and stay in LA because my Passport got severely damaged in Florida and I had to go to the Australian consulate in LA to get an emergency passport. Trust me folks, trying to get through the TSA at screening with just an Aussie issued driver's licence is not fun.

To be continued...

 

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Saturday 17th October 2015 - Pre-game and Fun Spot Orlando

Out til 3am on Friday night / Saturday, so it was time to pack. In such a hurry for the train to the airport in the morning managed to drop my Opal card in between tapping in and jumping on the train. Had to tailgate at International station (though I had hit the station access fee cap that week as well as 8 regular trips, so the journey was actually free). Blocked my Opal card online to save my balance, so sucked in bogan at Glenfield who tried using my card the next morning.

Didn't score an upgrade from Premium Economy, but Virgin Gold status gets me a gig at the lounge, had a shower, and scored some food. Pretty tired by the time I got to the plane, one movie and then it was sleepy time. Repeat at LAX at the Delta lounge (they recognise your status benefits on Virgin) and then onto Orlando.

Got picked up at the airport by my mate who'd recently moved to Florida, and it was straight to Fun Spot Orlando for some coasters. Fun Spot is not far from Universal Orlando and is a very small park, but plenty fun - including an alligators pit. But we were there for credits, not to go all gator boys on the reptiles.

Rode the junior GCI woodie first. It was a bit of a departure from a typical GCI, just a straight out and back with airtime hills and short trains. Delivered some good airtime and was a pleasant surprise. Next to the Vekoma Junior invert, which was good for what it was and then we rode the kiddie coaster. Then we were out of there, and hit a Texas steakhouse bar near our accommodation in Kissimmee. Overall, not a bad little park with a good selection of rides and attractions.

Next stop, Busch Gardens Tampa and Howl O Scream....

Edited by downunder

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Sunday 18th October - Busch Gardens and Howl O Scream

Headed off early morning to drive to Tampa. Got there before the rope drop and once the rope went down we made a bee line for Cheetah Hunt. I've got to say Cheetah Hunt is not super intense, but a lot of fun - it's a real adventure of a ride as it covers a good part of the park and varying terrain. It was a shame the line was too long at night during the haunt to ride it again.

Rode Cheetah Hunt another couple of times, and then started a circuit around the park. We hit Falcon's Fury first up, the new drop tower. The drop isn't as intense due to your prone body position going down, but it's a fun ride, we did it about five times during the day. The crowds were fairly light until the Halloween event. Rode the adjacent Wild Mouse and then headed for Kumba.

Now Kumba, a sit down looper, is what people call old-school B & M, it has some serious g-forces and a great layout. No line to speak so we did a few laps in various rows, back was best if I recall correctly. Then we wrapped around and hit Sheikra,  a serious people eater in terms of capacity. As far a dive machines go, the two 90 degrees drops are fun, but they aren't really exciting outside of that. We did multiple laps in various rows and positions.

Next stop, more old school B & M - Montu. This is one hell of an intense invert, I've only got this behind Nemesis at Alton. Never lets up the entire ride and the blood really goes to your feet in a big way. After a few laps we did the train around the park and checked the wild life like the rhinos, and throughout the day we went to various animal exhibits in between coasters. They even have an Aussie enclosure with everything from Kookas to Kangas.

Did the early buffet for Howl O Scream, which included ERT on the mazes and 1 hour of fast pass on top of that - good value. You also get an early session of their show Fiends, which is a good show, but they had me at the sexy nurse assistants.

Got through the mazes fairly quickly except Zombie Containment Unit. Honestly, none of the mazes stood out, a lot of sameness about the sets and lighting - except for Zombie Containment and the 3D Clown Maze. Zombie Containment Unit was a zombie shooter, we had to wait about 50 minutes for it. At least they had an onsite DJ to keep things pumping. The line just went on and on, outside the building and then inside the building. The maze itself was very average, just shooting at random zombies jumping out, mostly they were behind cyclone fence props - fun, but very short. The scare zones were a bit sparse, Busch is a huge park so it's hard to get really immersive coverage.

This was the first of our marathon days, we clocked up 12 miles walking for the day. 

Next, 4 Disneys in One day...

Edited by downunder

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^Yeah we did it, OK looper, usual Schwarzy smoothness. A bit hidden now, walked right by it on out first park lap, caught it on the second.

Monday 19th October - 4 Disneys in One Day, or Downunder Does Disney

Animal Kingdom

We had a day loose in our schedule, so we decided to do Disney Orlando. I hadn't been in 20 years, so why not? We decided to do all 4 parks in one day, which sounds crazy, but there wasn't a lot we wanted to do at Animal Kingdom or the Studios, and we were prepared to skip Epcot if we weren't doing well for time. I appreciate Disney, but I'm not a huge fan, I'd rather be riding Expedition GeForce than Everest; El Toro than an E-ticket. But I thought I'd see what the little rodent had to offer. 

We started the day at Animal Kingdom, we only wanted to do the coasters and go. We got there before opening and were escorted by a cast member towards Expedition Everest. The other coaster was closed so our expedition was simple. I was chatting to the cast member and explained to them that we were going to do all 4 parks in one day. Impressed, or perhaps taking pity at our folly. He pulled us aside when we got to Everest, and gave us extra fast passes for Animal Kingdom (all our fast passes were pre-booked online for Magic Kingdom). As Everest was only thing we were doing at AK, we clocked up two laps with the fast passes.

I thought Everest was an average ride, the mountain was really cool, but it really didn't do a lot, and we all know about that dysfunctional yeti. I thought Disney could have done better with $100 million.

Park opened at 9am and we were out the exit at 9.15am, and worked our way back to the car to head to the studio. My mate is a Florida local, so he got a season pass with parking so we didn't have to pay for parking.

Disney Studios

We arrived at the Studios and made a bee-line for the single rider queue for Rock n Roller Coaster. About twenty minutes wait, it's a solid launched Vekoma indoor Spaghetti bowl themed around Aerosmith, definitely a righteous rock band. Surprisingly intense for Disney. But I'm all for the mouse growing a pair.

Didn't think the line was worth it for Tower of Terror, been on it before so not fussed. We went to the Great Movie ride which I really liked last time I was there. About 20 minute wait. I must say the animatronics were fantastic, as it took us on a ride through great movies over the years - everything from Singing In The Rain to Alien. The on-board interchangeable cast member(s) were lively as they got out and interacted with various scenes and swapped with a new host. Definitely a fantastic ride.

OK we were done with the studios and making good time, so we decided to hit Epcot.

Epcot

The great right-wing satirist PJ O'Rourke in his book Holidays in Hell described Epcot "a land of make-believe that's worse than real life". He was totally right at the time, though fortunately there has been some improvement since then.

First up, we hit Test Track, using the single rider line, we were on in 15 minutes. Go to love 3 across seating on an attraction. Test Track was excellent, and intense. The indoor section is a little cheesy, but fun and the outdoor part was balls to the wall speed. Someone had to do something about making Epcot less boring and they achieved that in spades with this ride.

I wasn't that interested in Mission Space, I thought it would be just a glorified centrifuge. I was wrong. It was about a 20 minute wait for the intense side. We were immediately immersed in the majesty of Gary Sinise (an old in-joke). Oh boy was that space shuttle launch intense, and the mission finished before any motion sickness kicked in. I was pleasantly surprised at how good this ride was.

We decided to wander around the lake, did a lap, checked out the food carts of the food and wine festival, but decided a restaurant would be better - so we did Italy, had a massive pizza. Wandered a bit more and drove over to the magic kingdom.

Magic Kingdom

Time to take on the little rat in his lair. Main street was a sea of mobility scooters, people who weren't so much knocking on heaven's door, as running into it on their scooter, then reversing and doing it again. Any gaps left by the scooters, were taken up by strollers full of semi-retarded hellspawn who could not have possibly been comprehending their surrounds. We were in the badlands now.

We did Barnstormer to get what is known in the coaster world as a credit, not a bad little coaster to be fair. Our fast passes were for later. So we saw what we could do that had an OK wait, but my friend wanted to leave. My mate is a top dude, but he likes s***ty seventies and 80's bands and he needed to go back to Epcot and see...Air Supply. Another Florida mate was messaging us that when he drum-teched for them, and that he found the noise of the lead singer and guitarist making out quite off-putting - which fuelled a great deal of political incorrectness. So lame music and unfortunate white-man Afros were about to prevail - I personally would rather have my balls stung by scorpions than listen to Air Supply so I left him to it. I didn't care because that meant I could do more laps of Test Track. I must say the monorail between MK and Epcot was a good way to get between those parks. So a few more laps of Test Track, the big ball and we were back to MK.

Plenty of time before our late night fast passes (rookie error booking online, no early times).

We hit Haunted Mansion, then Big Thunder Railroad. Over to Tomorrowland (now wasn't that a huge hit at the movies, they'll have to jack up theme park prices again to cover the massive loss) for Space Mountain. Our fast pass was for a little later, so we did Stitch and Laughing Floor, which were seriously lame attractions, mere filler. Rookie error on Space Mountain, a fifteen minute line (which we couldn't see outside) so we should have used our fast passes later. Once we got off the ride, the parade had just finished and all the foamers were running for Space Mountain like greyhounds after a rabbit. Line was instantly long again. Space Mountain was awesome as usual, we all know what that entails, so I won't go into details.

Our last fast pass was for Seven Dwarves Mine Train, which I'd heard horror stories about how long the line gets. Well the line was long, but the ride is short. What a cheap attraction, seriously lame. Did Disney spend all their money paying James Cameron for the Avatar IP use? Just an average mine train with a few effects here and there. On that note, we left, having done much more than we expected. As final f*** you from Mickey it took us an hour to get to the car, the monorail is a hell of a bottle neck.  

We walked 15 miles that day.     

Edited by downunder

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Tuesday 20th October - Sea World and Fun Spot Kissimmee

The day before was about satisfying my curiosity about Disney, and this day was more of a pit stop after a frenetic series of all day-all night park days. Up early as usual, but at least I'd get to bed before midnight.

We got to Sea World before opening and headed straight for Manta, first ride of the day. It's a solid flyer (not a huge fan of this ride type) - nothing too out of the ordinary, intensity in the pretzel loop and floating around otherwise. It has an excellent themed environment around it, which the coaster interacts with nicely  - I'd put it just behind Tatsu which is the best flyer I've been on.

We headed for Kraken, which my mate is a big fan of, but it wasn't open yet. We did a lap on Journey to Atlantis, which is the best of the rides with this name. Some really good themed environments and enough coaster action to allow the fatty patch jacket brigade to consider it a credit. Got fairly well drenched at the end, was hoping not to LOL, but I got the wrong seat.   

Kraken was still not open, so we tried this (new to me) arctic environment next to Kraken. Seriously freezing inside, great for a hot day. It had a funny ride with penguin shaped cars that went along a floor rather than track. After the ride there was a stack of exhibits including penguins. Fairly impressive.

The onto Kraken, the B & M floorless. It's a pretty good coaster without being spectacular. Rode it about 8 times with minimal wait, mainly front and back. The new B & M hyper building site is next door, and it was a fascinating pile of dirt at the time.

We went through a few more exhibits like the sharks, rode the small coaster Shamu Express (new to me). Went on the polar simulator ride, and checked out the Shamu show. Given the tragedy that has happened in recent times the show was somewhat muted, in any case it's not really my thing anyway. We left after half a day at Sea World, it was nice to have a cruisey day, because tomorrow was a big one.

Orlando is the best of the Sea World parks (including our non-affiliated one). It has a lot more attractions than the Gold Coast - but the Gold Coast has a far better Shark exhibit and several other attractions that would match anything at Orlando. Yes VRTP can be world class when they want to be. 

Had lunch in Kissimmeee and then headed to the Fun Spot and rode the Spinning Mouse and the small coaster, and wandered around Old Town. After this went back to the accommodation and crashed, because after I got up early the next morning I was going to get about 2 hours sleep in the next 36 hours.

Next up: Universal Orlando, lights-on tours of 7 Horror Nights Mazes and Halloween Horror Nights.

 

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No offense mate (which we all know means I'm about to cause dorm) but the way you talk about the parks, the coasters and especially the other people in the parks makes you sound like a complete ass hat. 

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I am kind of being facetious, taking the piss more than a bit (too many P J O'Rourke and Hunter S Thompson books), but I know many people who live on the internet don't get that. I'll cease reporting, it was fun to reminisce. I actually had a ball; at most of the parks and catching up with friends on both coasts, and I will repeat next year - though I'll give Orlando a miss.

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I rather enjoyed the take on Disney, whilst at the same time appalled and shocked that anyone would go to Orlando and spend only a single day on Disney property. i took the humor, disregarded the negatives. Many TRs I flick through on a TL:DR basis, but i decided to read the disney one and am now interested in going back over the rest.

I can sorta agree with what Rappa is saying, but the style of writing is still interesting.

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Yeah I dunno how you can say that Disney isn't your thing and its not El Toro/EGF, but you haven't been for 20 years, and still skip heaps.

At Animal kingdom what about the Dinosaur multi motion ride, or the other credits in the park?

Like, if you'd ridden the majors and still not liked it I'd understand.

 

But if you're visiting places like WnW Syd and AK, literally riding a couple of things and giving up then its not really a full experience.

Would be like me going to SFNE and saying "nah, won't bother riding bizzaro, have already been on a hyper before, plus the line is too long".

Surely it can't be that the only rides you like in the whole world of theme park enthusiasm is the Intamins?

 

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You can write better than me, so you aren't the worst; you're actually pretty good. Can't say I agree with everything, but I was a nice ride and a different to the typical TR fare. 

 

As for Disney in a Day, are you outta your mind?! 

Maybe it's because I'm a Disney fan, but that just feels like a very, very strange choice. I couldn't even think of doing a smaller park, like Fiesta Texas in a day. Oh well, I guess we all take things at our own pace.

14 hours ago, downunder said:

Orlando is the best of the Sea World parks (including our non-affiliated one). It has a lot more attractions than the Gold Coast - but the Gold Coast has a far better Shark exhibit and several other attractions that would match anything at Orlando.

 

This makes me feel really chuffed. As much as we all bitch and argue about the parks, for not painting during a refurb, for returning mazes in a seasonal event, or even debating what on Earth VRTP is going to do next, it still shows they're doing a great job.

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On Tuesday, 15 December 2015 at 1:40 PM, Gazza said:

Yeah I dunno how you can say that Disney isn't your thing and its not El Toro/EGF, but you haven't been for 20 years, and still skip heaps.

At Animal kingdom what about the Dinosaur multi motion ride, or the other credits in the park?

Like, if you'd ridden the majors and still not liked it I'd understand.

 

But if you're visiting places like WnW Syd and AK, literally riding a couple of things and giving up then its not really a full experience.

Would be like me going to SFNE and saying "nah, won't bother riding bizzaro, have already been on a hyper before, plus the line is too long".

Surely it can't be that the only rides you like in the whole world of theme park enthusiasm is the Intamins?

 

To put it in perspective, I wouldn't normally even consider going to Florida at all, but a good mate moved down there from Minnesota so I was mainly there to catch up. The primary objectives while there were Halloween Horror Nights (incl. lights-on tours) and Busch/Howl O Scream, anything else was kind of a bonus. We did consider an extra Disney day, but in hindsight it was good to have a easier day.

Like I said, I mainly wanted to satisfy my curiosity about Disney and do a bit of a taste test and check out mostly attractions I haven't been on before (in hindsight, Dinosaur sounds like a crazy ride - the other credit at AK was closed BTW). Some of the new to me stuff blew me away like Mission Space and Test Track, and others not new continued to impress me like Space Mountain, Haunted Mansion and Big Thunder. I'm more into thrill rides, though I can appreciate theming. Though themed rides to me are like movies and I only want to do them once or twice for the most part. Whereas thrill rides, the good ones, I can do over and over (I can liken it to something I won't mention here). There's no right answer here, everyone has different preferences. I don't jump up and down (or even notice) if someone has different likes to me, to each his own - enjoy.

With Tower of Terror, I've been on it plenty of times before, it was new when I was there last LOL. It's good, but I could live without doing it again. Again it comes down to preference, I wouldn't be saying that about Bizarro at SFNE. We covered what we wanted to Disney and much more, I was pleasantly surprised at what we achieved.  

Zantasbar I thought Disney in one day was insane too LOL, but we had a clear plan (albeit with some rookie errors) and went for it. I have no regrets.     

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