Friday, July 30, 2010

Another Day at Universal Studios, Orlando

Day three in Orlando. The day started with a fantastic IHOP breakfast, where the minion taters were far better than they’d ever been in Port Charlotte, or even DC. The pancakes were numbered three instead of two, and it was just like a heavenly heart attack in my mouth. If walking around in the sun, ten miles at least, a day was going to help me get in shape – these breakfasts were sure to keep things in a nice orderly balance.

Rather than heading to the Islands of Adventure, as was the initial plan, we headed back for Universal Studios. The reason? There was a second day of free wrestling. Katherine didn’t love it, so to speak, but she didn’t hate it. And as for me? I did enjoy it. It was a kick back to a simple time when entertainment was just mindless fun. I may not be able to sit through hours of televised wrestling these days, but it’s sure fun to see when you can scream and shout, and are surrounded by blood thirsty viewers waiting for people to beat the snot out of one another.

While we had ridden all the rides yesterday, there were a number of shows at Universal Studios that we had not seen. They would have taken too much time. This is why we had budgeted two days at each park. Today would be the show day.

We started off by waiting in the shade of the New York streets alleys, sitting on boxes. For a moment we could have been confused as players in the show. I wish I hade period clothing to wear.

Out of the blistering heat – literally blistering for those pale and foolish enough to forget their sunscreen (I’m looking at you, Katherine) – we waited for the Blues Brothers to drive down the street in their stolen police car, with giant speaker system strapped to the roof. There’s something about that music that has a timeless quality. Now sure there has only been about fifty years, so it’s not as timeless as some of the classical stuff that I can’t stand, but it has something to it. Something that even Nirvana may not stand the test of time to. It’s – pleasing to listen to. What else would you expect from those on a mission from God?

I wish I’d seen the movie. The second one was filmed only a few miles from my house – and yet, I’d never managed to check them out. It’s just one of the many things I need to watch when I finally get back to the quote unquote real world.

When the brothers took back to the streets, we headed to Beetlejuice’s graveyard review. Here the songs had been updated from when I last watched the performance. I’m not going to lie, I thought they may have just kept it terribly out of day. But no, they stepped up their game, and watching the black and white striped creature in action, I realized just how underused a character he is.

Sure he had his one movie (which once terrified me, with the dancing corpses in wedding dresses) and a children’s cartoon – but there is so much more potential for this character. The review showed the crude sexual-innuendo filled “BJ” that was lost to the Sunday morning special. Now would be a perfect time for a relaunch. Though created decades past, he is as relevant today as he was then. If not more so.

Wandering back through the San Francisco area, I realized that so many people here would never see San Fran. Then it hit me how many of the recreations I’d walked through in real life. And once more it hit me just how great it is to travel. And then I felt like a jerk. I’ve been removed from large travel, situated in one country making small jogs each day. Still – there is so much to be said for that, it’s just as interesting as world travel. In fact, spending just one day in a city, and bugging out really forces you to make the most of it, rather than hanging out slowly going mad. There are things lost in this as well.

I remembered that travel within one country is just as amazing as travel through many. Although this will not stop me from brining up references to other places that I know Katherine has not seen, ending the line with, “ahh, you really must go.”

Be thankful, folks back home, me doing this now is getting it out of my system so that none other than Kath need deal with this travel jerk. I’ll try hard – really hard – to never start a sentence with “When I was in…” or “Have you been to…” And on the plus side, so you don’t feel bad for her, Katherine is developing her own stock pile of “When I was…”

Next up, the Disaster ride was fixed. Yesterday it had been a downed piece of electronics, but now? Now it was ready to go. And I was ready to ride the movie. Years ago there had been a part of this which showed how sound effects were used. This was Murder She Wrote themed. The shout out to Murder She Wrote is no longer a staple in this park, although you can still find it hidden in the Terminator show.

Video clips were filmed by people chosen from the crowd, and when we rode along in our subway car, watching things explode all around us, we watched a video that combined all those clips to form a complete video, featuring The Rock, produced by he who will live on in infamy as needing more cow bell. Christopher Walkin, no matter what you do, that is how you will be recalled. A perfect epitaph.

With time running short, and TNA wrestling tickets to pick up, we had to skip the live Fear Factor performance. This was more than a little upsetting, as I wanted to see people eat bugs, or eat them myself. But no – we were called back to the terrifying red roller coaster, the Rip Ride Rockit. We grabbed TNA tickets, and then got in line. While it claimed to be half an hour, it was really only a fifteen minute wait. On board, all belongings would be thrown from pockets. This is why we stashed our gear in the lockers provided.

All except one small item, forgotten in my shirt pocket. The little two dollar clock I picked up in Cambodia, replacing my broken GPS unit as my time piece. This clock was later busted in Japan, and fixed with Duct Tape, brought back to life. But now, as I rocketed upside down, to the lyrics of his holiness, Mr. K. West sampling the best parts of Better Faster Stronger, the time piece was flung from my breast pocket. After the ride you can buy a video of the experience. You can also watch the moment. There it was, replayed over and over, the watch leaving my pocket, and me feeling for it, mourning the loss.

Still – it needed a proper send off, and now for the moment I am free from my obsession with time. Free – free – Katherine what time is it? Katherine what time is it? Katherine what time is it?! Well – I’m getting free. All addictions are hard to kick.

With Wrestling tickets we headed back through the park, riding the E.T. ride again, as there was no line. Mostly I just wanted a picture of his speak and spell telephone, because the ride? It was no better a day later. Good Bye KatherineMikeSamScottyLauraJennifer.

Then to the Hollywood Make Up show where a very creepy host showed trick knives, and how fake blood can be used. During the show they picked a female volunteer. They always do. It’s because the women are far more terrified, and worried about what will happen. In this case they choose a Japanese woman who spoke hardly any English.

Was it slightly racist that the performers switched their Ls and Rs when talking with her? Sure – but we established that that was already a part of these parks during the Harry Potter experience. But – was it hilarious when this woman was so freaked out by the fake arms, and the fake blood, and the fake knife cutting her arm that she tried to run off stage time and time again? Yes. Yes it was.

“Best volunteer ever.” And I believe that they meant it. Rare to get someone so in character for a thing like this. You have to imagine most people that come to a show like this would expect to see odd sights.

And the host? With lines like, “I’m not allowed to talk to children any more,” and, “This isn’t the Magic Kingdom – I don’t need to be nice to you!” he was fantastic, as was his straight-woman.

Last up? The Animal Show. I suggested this as a joke, more than anything. It would fill time, and be better than nothing. When the first dog came on stage, and Katherine’s eyes lit up – ohh! So cute! – I realized that this was probably the thing she would enjoy after all.

The dogs from MiB and Marley and Me took to the stage performing tricks. It struck me that while this was cute and fun, were these elephants it would be sad. Strange how that distinction is made. There were also birds, and orangutans, and a wee little piggy. I was hit after suggesting we eat ribs that night. Fair enough.

As I watched the animals, it struck me that when my parents took me to see this show years ago, and I watched those animals… well, they were all probably dead by now. That was not the least bit depressing. Especially when I realized one of them was Beethoven. Poor dead Beethoven.

And then off to TNA Wrestling! YAY!

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