Thursday, August 22, 2013

Orlando Boom

After a gloriously fun holiday in sunny, stickily humid Florida, I have now returned to grey, also fairly stickily humid Dublin. Yay. However, I've returned to find that I've been nominated in the Pop Culture and Humour categories in the Irish Blog Awards, so genuine thanks and awkward hugs to the kind people who saw fit to throw my blog into the ring. You're sound.

Anyway, the holiday. I'm not even sure where to start. It involved four theme parks, one alligator sighting, two evenings of pirate-themed crazy golf, eight hours of wandering around the Kennedy Space Centre, two dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts and me almost passing out from the intense heat while queuing in Hogsmeade. Of all places. I ask you.

So here are a few of the things I learned in the city of Orlando:

My family and I are kinda brilliant at theme parks.
Florida in August = enormo-queues. But we didn't stand in line for more than half an hour or so for anything, bar two rides that broke down while we were mid-queue (shakes fist at E.T. and Ariel), however that's just down to sucky timing and couldn't be helped. Fastpass tickets (the free Disney ones, not the Universal Studios ones that they charge you for. NEVER those ones), single rider queues and just waiting until later in the evening are all handy queue avoidance techniques.

Also, there is a FANTASTIC rollercoaster in Universal Studios that allows you to choose a song to listen to while you're being flung upside-down at a frankly alarming height. The Bear and I both ended up picking Sabotage by the Beastie Boys. I had a sore throat the next day.

I will judge people based on their bumper stickers.
For example, when I saw one that said "Obama is what happens when you allow idiots, illegals and welfare recipients to vote", I came to the conclusion that the guy driving that jeep was a racist, backwards and deeply unpleasant dickhead.

Florida laughs in the face of subtlety.


There's nothing on earth like a genuine, bona fide, electrified, six-car monorail!
You need to take either a ferryboat or a monorail to Disney World from the car park. We took the monorail (because, obviously) and were then trapped on it for a very sweaty extra ten minutes when the monorail ahead of us broke down (because....obviously).

We got the boat back when we were leaving.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is AH-MAY-ZING.
Universal's Islands of Adventure theme park is already eleven kinds of deadly, but throw in Hogwarts and the village of Hogsmeade and you've got yourself one overexcited me.

Admittedly, our day there didn't start off too spectacularly, seeing as I got walloped with heatstroke while queuing for the first ride of the day, a Hippogriff rollercoaster. It was completely unexpected, as I've never had a weird reaction to heat before. I was drinking water and lemonade since we arrived at the park and we were standing in the shade when it happened, but out of nowhere I got really lightheaded and dizzy and just felt sick. My hands seized up and my fingers, feet and face went all tingly, so I was left with useless numb crab claw hands that had to be prised open by the Bear so I could hold a bottle of water. Disaster!

My first proper look at Hogsmeade was from a wheelchair, while being bumpily escorted over the cobbles to the first aid area by a big burly paramedic dude. It wasn't exactly ideal. However, after around twenty minutes and a lie down in an air conditioned room, I was fine again. Anyway, it actually all worked out in the end, because thanks to my little episode we got to skip the queues for the Harry Potter rides for the rest of the day. TOTALLY WORTH IT.

NASA is super cool.
We expected to spend around half a day at the Kennedy Space Centre, and yet found ourselves traipsing around the Atlantis shuttle exhibit at seven o'clock that evening.

Shortly after we arrived home, Armageddon was on telly and showed Ben Affleck and Liv Tyler dry-humping in one of the blasters on the base of the rocket in the photo above. "Get out of Apollo 8, you jerks!" I said. They didn't listen.

America is terrible at chocolate (Ok, I already knew this). 


There is a Disney-built town called Celebration.
As we were driving to and from the theme parks, I kept noticing road signs for a place called Celebration and remembered a documentary I'd seen years ago about this creepy town built by Disney where everything was perfect and the people living there were Disney obsessives.

So, naturally we went there for breakfast one morning. It's actually kinda deadly. There's ACTUAL white picket fences all over the place, the houses and buildings are all painted in ice-cream shades of pastel and the signage has a decidedly art deco twang to it. It's like Disney meets Stepford Wives. I liked it.

Their wall sockets look like worried little faces.

"Oh nooo!" They all said.

Also, we saw Jesse Metcalfe while we were killing time waiting for our flight home in the airport in Chicago. The Bear was the one who noticed him, because he was being an aggressive dick to the woman who was with him, who we later reckoned must have been his PA or something. Dad refused to believe that he's a douchebag, because he loves him on Dallas. He was a douchebag though.