Six months into our trip, we needed a break, so we had a week long holiday in Hawaii. Half way into our journey around the States, it was time for another “holiday”. Which meant only one thing, two weeks in Sunny Florida, our 40th State. |nd what better way to spend our time then visiting the theme parks in Orlando! I don’t know about Stef, but this travelling malarkey is a tiring business and I welcomed the break! As we crossed the border, our luck kicked in and it started to rain. It was only a light fall but it gave us an excuse to wear our raincoats for the welcome sign photo. Sitting at 40 states, we are quickly running out of poses to do! The coats seemed a good idea, until we opened the car doors – it was about 30 degrees Celsius. We took the photos as quickly as possible as I was sweating my nuts off!
We checked into the Maingate Resort and Spa in Orlando and decided to check the weather reports for the next few days. Thunderstorms… thunderstorms… and more thunderstorms. Not great. But anyone that’s been to Orlando this time of year knows that it is normal baking hot during the days and isolated storms towards night. Hopefully this was the case.
The next day, we headed to Universal. First up was the Studios. After seeing the train and car from the film back to the future, we went on the Terminator 3D experience. It hadn’t changed since the 1sttime I went on it back in 1997 and it was still as amazing. The 3D was so realistic that the grown man in front of me kept dodging every thing flying towards us on the screen.
As we walked downtown, we crossed another border, into Springfield, home of the Simpsons. Before going on probably one of the best rides of the day, we headed into Moe’s Bar. Once in, it looked identical to the cartoon. Stef ordered a Flaming Moe and I had a pint of Duff beer. Mine tasted like a normal beer, but Stef’s had smoke bellowing out of it!
After becoming Minions for a short time in the Despicable Me 3D simulator ride, we headed to the Transformer ride. This again, was a 3D simulator. This seems to be the popular type of ride now. Out of the all the rides in the park, about 70% of them were simulators. The Transformers ride was a bit different. You sat in a transformer car and got whizzed around a fake world. The 3D was projected onto sections, which made it look real. It’s hard to explain but it was close to the best ride of the day.
We went on a few more rides and headed to London. As we made it to London, which was the home of the Harry Potter experience, it made us very home sick. It was identical to the streets of London – even down to the parking signs! If you didn’t know any better, you’d swear you where back in good ol’ Blighty.
As we were visiting both of the Universal Parks in the same day, it entitled us to ride the Hogwarts Express between the two. We entered Kings Cross train station and were told that the train would be in about 45 minutes. As we went through the door, there it was; a queue that went on and on. They went all out making it similar to London. From the design of the street to the delayed trains and the ridiculous queue to get on said train!
We’d been quite lucky with the queues, as the kids had gone back to school a few weeks earlier. The queue here, was on another level. Literally. Just as you thought you were near the end, you’d go up stairs and have the same length all over again. They even had a shop midway that sold typical British sweets and drinks such as Trebor Strong Mints, Golden Wonder crisps and Boddingtons Ale.
We finally made it to platform 9¾ and waited for the train to arrive. It was a full size replica and we jumped on when it stopped. We sat in a compartment and the train set off. When you looked out of the window, you could see the gradual arrival of Hogwarts. They had a screen where the window was and also screens where the door was. Both played a big part in making you think you were in the make-believe world. It was all very clever.
The train pulled into our second park of the day, Universal Island’s of Adventure. We got off the train at Hogsmeade and headed for something to eat. We sat down and had a couple of hot dogs. There was a squirrel hanging around for scraps. I threw him a crisp and straight away Stef told me that it was a bad idea. What does she know?? A bit more than I give her credit for as within a few seconds, loads surrounded us. It was a gang of squirrels. All hungry and all aware that I was a bearer of free food. We quickly got out of there.
After riding the Jurassic Park ride and getting a little wet, we headed to the Popeye Water Rapids. How much wetter could we get? Well, a LOT! It was a water ride where up to 6 people sit in a round boat that goes around some rapids. We’d last been on it about 14 years ago and didn’t remember getting that wet. As we went round the track, we had been forced under every waterfall and hit with every water pistol that people were shooting from the bridges we went under. We got off the ride absolutely drenched. We couldn’t get any wetter. But at least it was hot so we eventually dried out.
The day ended with Stef joining me on a rollercoaster! That doesn’t happen often so that was the best part of my day.
The next day, we headed to Disney’s Hollywood Studios (previously MGM). We went on a few rides and after lunch ended up in the Honey I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set. Here, everyone looked very small with giant toys and buckets surrounding us. It was mainly for kids but it didn’t stop Stef going on a rope climb and me nearly taking down a small kid as I hurtled down a slide!
A few more rides came and went, and after a refreshing ice-cream and frozen banana, we headed to the Aerosmith Roller-coaster. The last time we went on it, you weren’t strapped in and you just laid your bags in front of you. We thought it couldn’t be that bad but it had a loop in it and you went upside down! I don’t know if someone had died by not being strapped in, but now they had straps! It was a fast ride. It starts by accelerating to super fast speeds followed by you being thrown around all over the place. As you can see from the photo, it was a scary experience.
There was one final ride that I wanted to go on. The Tower of Terror. You sit on a bench, which takes you around a haunted house. It makes it’s way around the house telling you a spooky story where it finally stops. The doors in front of you open to reveal that you are about 100 foot in the air, overlooking the park. It then drops to the ground at such speeds you become weightless. It then shoots you back up and repeats a few times. When we came here years ago, we went on it. Stef not liking heights wasn’t too impressed with it. She tried getting off it mid ride in a panic. It was hilarious for me.
For some reason or another, Stef didn’t want to go on the Tower of Terror this time. What a wuss!
The last day in Orlando, we headed to Disney Quest. It’s four floors of pure entertainment. Wall to wall with retro arcade games to the newest shoot ‘em ups. All you have to pay for is entry – after that, all the games are free. We were there for hours playing on all the games.
The only thing I didn’t like about the place was that some of the racing games didn’t work properly. Every time we played them, Stef would win. Clearly every machine I used was faulty.