48 hours at Universal Orlando

posted by Jeff | Sunday, March 12, 2006, 7:35 PM | comments: 4

I have not taken a trip anywhere in more than a year. The weather and my house were starting to really make me crazy. I knew my favorite Michigan girls were planning to be in Florida for their spring break, so I decided to go for a no-compromise 48-hour trip to one of my favorite places, Universal Orlando.

I arrived at MCO to get the last convertible in the Alamo lot, a PT Cruiser. Fun car, but it gets horrible gas mileage. I drove down to Melbourne to pick up Kara and Julie, who were staying with Julie's aunt. Easy drive, and it was fun to be out with the top down.

When we arrived at the Royal Pacific Resort on the Universal property, check in was quick and easy, and we hit the pool. I love the pool area and the bar. It's such a great atmosphere.

We did a walk around CityWalk, and then headed off to Downtown Disney to meet some of Julie's friends, who subsequently bailed. But hey, I had the car, and we learned driving with the top down at night in 74 degree temperatures is a bad idea. DD has some neat shops, but I don't like it quite as much as CityWalk.

The next morning we got up bright and early to hit Universal Studios first, starting with Revenge of The Mummy. I love that ride. It's easily one of my favorites in Orlando. I was disappointed though that the first mummy was not functional, so the soul-sucking effect was absent. That was a bummer. Still, awesome ride.

We did Men In Back and E.T. before heading over to Islands of Adventure. IOA was significantly more crowded, but with our hotel key cards we skipped lines anyway. We made our way all the way around by about 12:30, with the longest wait for Poseidon's Fury (because they appear to want to fill the room before starting the show). Dudley was closed for rehab, which was a serious bummer.

The one coaster note I'll make is that The Hulk is in dire need of new springs. My first time through I bashed my industrial in the cobra roll, and it hurt like hell. You can see the cars shift all over the place laterally throughout the ride, and this looseness is the only thing that holds it back from being an absolutely great ride.

We took a mid-afternoon break for some more pool action and some, uh, "refreshments" before returning to the park. Good times. When we got back to the park, we did a couple more laps on Hulk. I got a tighter car and it was a lot more fun.

Eventually we got back to Dueling Dragons where we had our one minor issue. With a fairly active queue, they pulled off two of the four trains an hour before the park closed. This made absolutely no sense to me. Kara even speculated that it was just asking for some problem that was going to shut down the ride. Sure enough, the computer thought that the transfer wasn't aligned right, and they couldn't restart. I was pissed because we were next in line for the front seat on Ice. The station was filled.

I was annoyed by this because the ride op told us they always pull off trains. I didn't want to be one of "those" enthusiasts, but I did feel like I had to vent a little, so they called the supervisor, and their "Park One" or MOD or whatever they call it. I expressed my frustration with the situation because I really want them to succeed where others fail. Why would you make people wait and risk having your ride shut down? These kinds of trips are expensive for most people, and for them to not see the value of your time and money says they don't care.

Fortunately the ride was restarted soon enough, and knowing we weren't going to get to anything else in time (and the fact that the queue emptied), we did four laps, two on each ride. Still some of my favorite inverters. The down time wasn't a day-ruiner, but I guess I was just a little disappointed because I expect more from them.

Anyway, that night we went to City Walk for Margaritaville. Our wait was about a half-hour shorted using our resort privy. That's such a festive place to eat. I had one of the best veggie burgers I've ever had. It was surprisingly good even.

Overall, lots of good times and good new memories. Kara and Julie were a lot of fun, and great travel buddies. It was such an amazing release from the daily grind. I wish I could've stayed longer, but even this short time helped me feel a little recharged.

A few photos of us.


Kara, March 13, 2006, 1:06 AM #

I realize that's your TRish overview...but realize that it was all that and so much more. SO many laughs and memorable times!

You rock, of course. Julie and I had the best time ever :o).

Walt, March 13, 2006, 9:05 PM #

Sounds like we almost crossed paths. I was in Melbourne on Wednesday.

Kara, March 13, 2006, 10:47 PM #

Crazy! On Wednesday we went shopping all over and hit up this place called Durangos for dinner. What were you doing down there??

Walt, March 14, 2006, 12:16 AM #

I was in Jacksonville all week on business. On Wednesday, we made the drive to Melbourne (well, I guess it's technically Viera) to see the Nationals and Cardinals in a spring training game.

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