Sunday, September 18, 2016

50 for 50: 6.5 -- Day Two at Universal Orlando with Cousin Kim

While we'd (mostly) covered Diagon Alley on the first day, we didn't get to do much else in Universal's first park that first day, because they were kicking us out for Halloween Horror Nights.  Normally, the park's closing time is more of a suggestion than a hard and fast rule.  You can get in one last ride as the minutes tick past the set hour, and you can stay in the shops for an additional hour or more.  But not with Halloween Horror Nights.  Universal's main park closes at 5:00 -- and that means to start heading to the exit gates around 4:15 -- they start setting up stanchions and check-points and aiming traffic toward the "out" around then.  Which was fine enough for us, as we really HAD had a full day.  But we had more park to cover the next morning.

And we covered it.  Men in Black ride; Simpsons ride, Transformers ride, Terminator 2 show (with a, er, somewhat less-than-buff dude in the Terminator role), Mummy ride, E.T. ride--

-- look, I didn't want to ride the E.T. ride.  But Kim did.  I don't think I'd ridden it since I was a kid at and rode it at Universal Hollywood.  I mean, for a time, it was the signature attraction of the place -- everyone was amazed by the technology by which E.T. says your name at the end.  Now, it's a kiddie ride.  Sigh for lost childhood.

(Oh, and they have posters outside -- I'm sorry I didn't take a picture, so you'll have to take my word for it -- but the posters were trumpeting the "30th Anniversary release" of the movie in "2002."  Kim and I did the math on that one over and over, but couldn't make it work.)

And we did the Rock and Roll roller coaster (or whatever the hell they call it).  I think it's the most intense of all the coasters at Universal.  Mostly for the "holy crap, that's straight up in the air" start, but also for the nearly-straight-down that follows.  And for the fact that it's a looping coaster without an over-the-shoulder harness.  You just have a really good, solid, padded, around-your-waist harness.  Which I may have latched extra tight, because it was the only thing holding me in.  And with the harness pressing my midsection upward, and the right tilting you 90 degrees backward for the initial uphill, than quite a bit in the opposite direction when you go down, my, um, undergarments were not up to the challenge of keeping everything where it ought to be.  When the ride paused before another drop, I turned and shared this fact with Kim.  She shared her own problem of a similar nature.  We both started laughing.  Uncontrollably.  We rode the rest of this coaster screaming in laughter at how this ride was disorganizing our otherwise pristine exteriors.

We did the Harry Potter Escape from Gringotts ride again -- because it was AWESOME and because we had some unfinished business in Diagon Alley.  (One of which was the ice cream parlor.  Apple Crumble ice cream.  I will dream about that.)  But our other unfinished business (thankfully, handled before the roller coaster) was Souvenir Acquisition.  Specifically, video souvenir acquisition.  For what we'll just call Way Too Much Money (well, no -- considering Universal wanted $35 for the video of our laugh-fest on the roller coaster (no thank you), THIS was a bargain), you dress up in Hogwarts robes and pose in front of a green screen in a dozen different Harry Potter-related scenarios, and they take ten-second video clips -- which they put together in a two-minute moving-photo album for your viewing pleasure.  (I have the DVD -- which we haven't watched yet.  They still haven't emailed me the promised the file.)

Making it was kind of hilarious.  (I don't know who they expect to make these videos, but each room had about five robes in it:  two were 3XL and two were kids' smalls.  We had to use the stock in both rooms to scare up their only medium and large.)  Our photographer was giving us cues, and we were pretty horrible at acting as directed -- I know for certain that I messed up the timing on two of them (but I have great hopes for the very last).  Tip for anyone trying this:  they're not recording sound, but your interaction with your partner is much better if you improvise lines anyway; trying to mime this shit is a recipe for disaster.  Still, it was an amusing disaster, and I'm looking forward to watching us make fools of ourselves all over the Harry Potter universe.

And that's about it for that one.  I had a third day on my ticket (it's only another $10) so, after Kim and I had a leisurely breakfast (and good chat), we hugged, she hit the road, and I went back to the park to repeat a few rides before heading to the airport.  Wasn't nearly as fun by myself.  

But now I'm at the airport and my flight is overbooked, so I should head over to the counter and see what they're up to.  Which is a shame because I don't have time to proofread.  Or to tell you about the bird that (apparently unaware that it was not yet time for Halloween Horror Night) pretty much flew directly at Kim's face.  (She jumped!  I jumped!  Strangers jumped!  Seriously, it was like that damn thing was on a mission.)  Afterwards, I thought, "Hey, free scare!"

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