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Old 10-22-2009, 06:37 PM   #1
Teknik_DC2
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Planes, Trains, Automobiles, and Boats. A Non-Disney Trip Report

Hi Everybody. For those who read by Pre Trip Report here: http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2287733 I am finally back and ready to start recounting my trip. As I said in the Pre Trip report none of the main parts of the Vacation were with Disney. We went on a Carnival cruise and went to Universal Orlando instead of WDW. However because Carnival travels to many of the same locations as Disney I thought i'd share this with you hear anyways.

The purpose of this trip was a reward to us for buying a house. In March we bought our first home and as part of such we recieved the $8000 tax credit from the government. Because of the stress of buying a home and such and our itching for another cruise (we went on one for our honeymoon) we decided to take $1000 out of the tax credit and save the rest to go on an amazing vacation. When we realized we were sailing out of Port Canaveral we decided that we should spend a couple extra days in Orlando as well and have some fun. We were also able to talk some of our friends into coming.

The cast of this Trip Report are:

Me (Jeff) and my Wife Kiera


And our friends Tyler and Rachael


With that said lets move on to Day one of this twelve day trip report.

Day 1: Travel to Orlando and a Small Amount of Disney Magic

The day we had been waiting for for nearly 6 months had finally come. We were so excited to leave the reality's of life behind and go enjoy ourselves for a nearly 2 week long vacation. However no matter how excited we were 4am came way too early (especially since we went to bed around 1ish). We packed up our vehicle, locked up our house, and we were on our way. We swung by Tyler and Rachaels to pick them up and then we went and picked up Kieras mom (so we wouldn't have to pay for parking at the airport) and we were on our way to Salt Lake International.

We arrived around 5:40am and got our stuff unloaded and made our way to the baggage check. I couldn't belive how busy the airport was at 5:30ish in the morning. We waited in line for probably about 25 minutes before we finally got our bags checked in. I was also releaved to see that we still got the cheaper fees for our baggage check in considering American Airlines raised there prices after we booked.

A word of advice when booking your airline tickets. Take into consideration these baggage fees. I'm sure you may be able to find airlines without the baggage fees priced similarly.

Anyways once checked in we made our way thru security and to the terminal where out 7:10am flight to Chicago would soon start boarding. We found our gate and grabbed some breakfast at Quiznos and as soon as we were finished they started boarding our flight.

It had been a long time since I had flown for the length of time that we would be today. Our flight to Chicago was about 3 hours long and then to Orlando about 2 1/2 hours. I'd never flown on American Airlines before but they don't have complementry peanuts or any snacks anymore. Only beverages are free. Luckly we packed some extra snacks. With how little sleep we got You would thing we'd tried to sleep. But I have never been able to sleep on a airplane. There was no difference here as well. I didn't even try. Kiera tried though but never successfully fell asleep.



To try and pass the time I watched an episode of the Office on my Ipod and then listoned to some music. Before we knew it we were starting our descent into Chicago. I had only been to Chicago on time back in 2002 and it was also for a layover. When I was there that time it was very stormy and I was in such a rush to catch my connecting flight that I didn't have time to take anything in. This time it was a clear morning and we were able to see the city as we came in to land as well as Lake Michigan.








Although we had the same flight to Orlando we still had to get off the plane in Chicago for an hour. During this time we walked around the terminal looking at the city off in the distance and also bought a coffee free strawberry cream frapachino at Starbucks and looked at some books.



We were soon back on the plane and in the air and on our way to Orlando. At this point I was starting to get excited. It had been 16 years since I had last been to Orlando so my memory of it was very limited. Unfortunatly I my Ipod crapped out on me (bad battery) so I had to make the most of my time by looking at the sky mall magazine and anything else I could find in that pocket. encluding the safty manual which I couldn't help but laugh at this picture.



We were soon starting our decent into Orlando and the clouds outside were so pretty. My wife was enjoying taking pictures of them all the way until we landed.







As soon as we walked off the plane we could tell we were in Florida because the humidity hit us like a brick wall. And that was just in the walkway from the airplane. We could only imagine how it would be once we were out of the airport. This is where 1/2 the Train part of the title comes from. After walking thru the terminal in Orlando you have to take a tram to get to the main building. So we boarded the tram and made out way to baggage claim.




After finding our bags (cause they put our planes luggage on the wrong turnstyle) we made out way down to Budget to pick up our rental car. Our car for the pre-cruise portion of our trip would be a Pontiac G6. After setting up the arrangements to drop the car off in Port Canaveral rather then back at MCO we were on our way. I was very suprised by our rental car as well. Mainly because it was still brand new. It only had 150 miles on it when we picked it up. Not bad if I must say. I'm really glad that we decided to get a midsized car too because we stuffed that trunk and still had to have 2 suitcases up front.



If your going to Florida soon one thing to keep in mind is that Florida has lots of Toll roads. If you wanna save a few bucks grab a couple rolls of quarters and your set. If you don't wanna deal with change most rental cars are equiped with an etoll system. Basically charging you as you drive past which you pay when you return the rental car. this service costs and extra $2.50 a day though or $10 for a week. We just stuck with the quarters.

After driving around and getting briefly lost we finally found Universal Orlando and then our hotel the Days Inn Universal Maingate. I booked the hotel we did because it was cheap (like 38 bucks a night) and across the street from Universal. However this hotel was cheap for a reason. It was ghetto. Yeah I read the reviews and we were pretty much taking a 50/50 chance on it. But it was nothing like the photos showed it to be. It was very old and run down. Good thing we were only there to sleep cause we wouldn't want to spend anymore time there then we needed to. To add to the ghettoness of it there was a nasty swamp next to it with signs warning not to swim cause of gators. This freaked the girls out some. We don't know for sure if there was gators but we thought we saw one out there at one point.



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Old 10-22-2009, 06:38 PM   #2
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After getting unpacked we were starving. Rachael mentioned that she wanted to try something that we don't have back home. We decided since we had a whole night ahead of us that we should head up to Downtown Disney since they have many restaurants that we don't have back in Utah and it would give us something to do that night. So we loaded into the car again, punched the address into my Blackberrys Google Maps and we were on our way.



We parked and made our way down to the newer part of Downtown Disney where we decided to eat at the House of Blues. This place was really good. They serve southern style food there. The whole place and atmosphere was great. We all loved it. The prices weren't too bad ether.







After dinner we walked around Downtown Disney for awhile and checked out many of the shops. Downtown Disney in Florida is so much better then the one in California. They have so much more stuff going on. We enjoyed looking in many shops like the world of disney and the lego store.













After finishing up at the World of Disney we figured we should start heading out to do the one thing we had planned for the night. That being watching the Magic Kingdoms fireworks from the Polynessian resorts beach. I can't belive how large the Disney property is in Florida. It probably took us around 30 minutes to find our way from Dowtown Disney to the Polynessian. But we soon found it and made our way back to beach to find a perfect spot to watch the fireworks. The view was great. I can't belive how tall the Magic Kingdoms castle must be if we could see it all the way across the lake. (I can't remember I was 10 the last time I saw it).





We patiently waited tell 9:00 for the fireworks to start but nothing happend. I double checked my phone and it said they would start at 9. What was going on. However before long the Electric Light Parade on the lake started. This was a pretty cute thing to see. I mean its nothing special by any means but its just one of those little added disney bonus you will find. Unfortunatly at this time my battery started dying on my camera.




By the time the Water Parade was done it was around 9:15ish. what was going on. Why weren't the fireworks going. Yeah there was a slight breeze but that wouldn't be enough to cancel the fireworks would it? Finally right before we gave up we saw the castle go dark and a light shot into the air. Yay the fireworks started. These fireworks were excellent. Some of the best i've seen. I could only imagine what they would be like to watch inside the Magic Kingdom. Oh well we will make it back there someday. Unfortunatly after these 2 pictures my camera finally gave up and was done and down for the night.




After the fireworks we were drained after a long day of travel and walking around Downtown Disney. We got back to the car and drove back to our hotel. We really needed to get our sleep because Day 2 would come quickly and we had a full day at Universal Studios Florida and Halloween Horror Nights to look forward to.
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Old 10-24-2009, 02:04 PM   #3
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Day 2: Universal Studios Florida & Halloween Horror Nights

After a good nights sleep we were up bright and early to get ready for our first day at the Universal Orlando Resort. When we first booked our cruise we decided to fly into Orlando a couple days early to spend some time at Universal. Figured we were there so why not make the best of it. After getting ready we finally left the hotel to make the 20 minute walk to the parks. Our hotel was right across the street from the parking structures. However theres no direct route to the park. You have to walk completly around the parking structures to get to the park. We also decided to check out Universal's Halloween Horror Nights since we are big fans of Halloween.



After the long walk was just a preview of what was to come. The days before our cruise Florida was experiancing Record heat so with 90 degree weather mixed with high humidity made for some miserable times. But we would still try to make the best of it.

We had finally made it to Citywalk and entered the Universal Orlando Resort. It was around 9:30am and we were hungry since our hotels "complementry" breakfast cost $4.99 a person. We decided to stop into the Cinnabon and get some Cinnamon rolls for breakfast.





After breakfast we made our way towards the enterance to Universal Studios Florida where we would be spending the day. We bought our tickets online so we were able to walk right up to the automatic kiosks and get our tickets right away. We bought the 7 day unlimited park tickets for $99 bucks. We figured that would be the best deal for our trip at the resort.






Once inside the park we decided we would make our way around the park counter clockwise hitting whatever attraction we would come to. So the first one we came across was Jimmy Neutrons Nicktoon Blast. The last time I had been to Universal Studios Florida was in 1993 and I was 10 years old. Back then Jimmy Neutron was still the old Hanna-Barbera ride. I remembered it being a simulater type ride but all I could remember was how much I loved this ride. So would Jimmy Neutron hold up to my memorys of Hanna-Barbera. No it didn't. I don't know if it was the fact that i'm was more familiar with Yogi Bear, the Jetsons, and Flintstones then I am with Jimmy Neutron or maybe that i'm not a kid anymore. I thought the ride was good for what it is though and is a good basic motion simulator for kids to build up with to the much better Simpsons ride.



The next ride (or show) was right across the street from Jimmy Neutron and would be Shrek 4D. Kiera and I went on this last year as its the exact same show thats at Universal Studios Hollywood. Basically its a 3d show where they add additional effects to play on your sences like smells, water spraying at you, and your seat moving in addition to the screen being in 3d. This is a cute show and worth checking out. When we saw it in Hollywood i questioned how the rewatchability of it would be. And I must say that it was just as good as the first time we watched it. I also loved the posters and such that are up in the que poking fun at other movies.



After finishing with Shrek we noticed that Universals Newest ride was finally open and running. The new Rollar Coaster called Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit. I am a coasterholic so I was really looking forward to this. The verticle lift hill was driving fear into me just by looking at it. This coaster is also unique in the fact that you get to choose the music you want to liston to on it. Theres a touch screen on your lap bar with a list of songs. There are also hidden songs you can choose too. Theres some really good songs but I placed my phone in the locker so I couldn't access the hidden songs. So I jammed out to Evenesence insted. The wait was a modest 30 minutes for the coaster. And in my opinion it was well worth the wait. It has been a long time since a coaster has scared me like this did. And thats saying alot considering you never go upside down on this thing. The lap bars just go over your mid section. There are no over the sholder restraints. So that mixed with the verticle lift scared the crap out of me. Everything on the coaster is great. I really wished we could have rode it again but unfortunatly time wouldn't allow it.




After finishing up with Rip, Ride, Rockit we made out our way toward the New York section of the park and came across Twister. Twister is a special effects show that makes it feel like your in the middle of tornado. I heard alot of bad things about this show but I was very suprised. I actually enjoyed it. I also thought it was better then Backdraft at Universal Studios Hollywood. It also scared Kiera pretty good when the ground below us dropped some. I thought they did a great job on this attraction.





We next made our way to the Revenge of the Mummy ride. When I was at this park back in 93' this building contained the ride Kongfrontation. I don't remember the ride much though other then Kong attacking our tram and the photo op at the end. We also went on the Mummy ride at Universal Studios Hollywood. I thought that ride was pretty decent but way to short and I had heard that the Florida version was much better. So did the it hold up? Yes it did. This ride was excellent. Very well done and about 10x better then the one in Hollywood. This too is one that I wish we could have rerode.




Across from the Mummy there is a side street that had many of the cars from the movie "Fast and Furious" on display. I love cars. Other then my family and work they are pretty much my life. So I had to check them out.







Also near the Fast and Furious cars was the Time Train and Delorean from Back to the Future. So I had to take photos of those as well being huge fans of the movies. I must say I was somewhat disapointed in the Delorean though. The actual movie car is still at Universal Studios in Hollywood so this one was just a replica. And it wasn't a very well done one at that. I've seen fan cars that are better replicas.



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Old 10-24-2009, 02:46 PM   #4
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We next made our way into the San Fransisco/Amity area of the park. The first ride we came to hear being Disaster. The ride use to be "earthquake". They recently changed it though into a ride/show that makes it seem like your helping make a movie. It was a very unique Idea. You have a long preshow where you are touring the studio but then are asked to fill in as extras in a movie. They actually choose people for specific parts as you watch them film those parts and speak to the dirrector and such. Then you board the train to film the earthquake portion of the movie. It is a formula that I thought worked well. However it takes a long time to get thru the ride. And the earthquake portion isn't as intense as I remembered it being.





During and After waiting for Disaster we found the park was really starting to get busy. I was suprised as I had watched wait times for the weeks before our trip and the day we were there was getting much busier. We next made out way to the Jaws ride where we would have our longest wait of the parks. It was about 40 minutes and honestly the wait wasn't worth it. Yeah jaws is good for what it is. Its a classic in my mind. They really need to do something though to spice it up a little. But still I really liked the ride. I just don't think its worth the wait if its over 25 minutes long.





We next made it over to the World Expo section and to the Simpsons ride. The Simpsons ride replaced my former favorite Simulator and one of my favorite rides of all time Back to the Future. I had the oppertunity to ride the Simpsons at Universal Studios Hollywood last year and it was awesome. Its no back to the future but it still took my #1 spot for best simulator. The Florida version is identicle to Hollywoods and is just as good. I could ride this thing all day long. A word of advice though. Do what you can to sit in the front row. If your tall your will find your self hitting your head alot in the back row wich made a bad experiance for Tyler. This ride is diffenitly a Do Not Miss.






After the Simpsons we then went back to Men in Black. All I can say about this ride is wow. Probably one of the most emersive ride experiance i've had. From the second you enter the building tell you unload the ride you are totally emersed in the Men in Black Universe. The ride is a dark ride where you have guns and helping the Men in Black stop an alien invasion. You also are scored so you can compete against the others in your group. This ride was probably in my top 3 rides of the resort.





At this time we really started to get hungry so we made our way towards our final ride of the day in the Kidzone section of the park. The E.T. Adventure. I was really looking forward to this ride. They removed it at the Hollywood park so I was really excited to ride it again in Florida. The ride is still good for what it is. I love the feel of flying the bikes and the forest section of the que is excellent. I still find it kind of odd though when we go to E.T.'s home planet. But the ride is still pretty good for what it does. With the ride already gone though in Hollywood who knows how long the ride will still be around in Florida as many kids don't even know who E.T. is anymore. So check it out while you can.



After E.T. we were starving. It was now past 4pm and we still needed to pick up our Halloween Horror Nights Tickets. So we didn't check out anymore of the kidzone. Not like there was really much else for us to do there as everything left was for little kids. I did kind of find it odd with how many franchises clash in the kidzone with Woody Woodpecker, Curious George, Barney, E.T. and Fivel all taking up portions of it. We made our way thru the Hollywood section and found Guest Services where we picked up our Stay and Scream passes for HHN. Since we were already park guests and since it was a Thursday night the tickets were only $30 bucks a person. But I will get into that more later in the HHN review.




Once we had our HHN tickets our top priority became finding food. We decided to try out Finnagons which serves Irish style food. It was very good. I highly recommend it. The whole atmospher was great and we enjoyed the irish singer they had playing as well. Finnagons was also right next to the holding pin for those with Stay and Scream tickets to wait for HHN to start. The park closed at 5 and HHN didn't start tell 6 so thats where we would have to wait. We found this squarl running around and going right up to people wich we thought was kinda funny.








Universal Studios was alot of fun and I recommend checking it out if you have the time to when your in the Orlando Area. The rides are all great and the experiance is top notch. Yeah Universal isn't Disney. But its not trying to be ether. It has its own unique feel and vibe. You shouldn't even try to compare the two. I look forward to going to Universal again next time we are in the Orlando Area.
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Old 10-24-2009, 02:46 PM   #5
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grea report so far, thanks for sharing. I go to Disney World most of my trips before I go on a cruise and have only been to Universal twice, but I'll be going in December before my cruise so seeing the pictures of Universal makes me excited
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Old 10-24-2009, 03:22 PM   #6
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The Time had finally come for HHN to begin. The advantage to having the Stay and Scream pass is that since you are already in the park you get a head start on the Houses before the start letting the people outside the Gates in. Its also a much cheaper option as tickets for HHN can cost up to $70 bucks. Unfortunatly there isn't alot of HHN pictures. I couldn't get any decent pictures cause of how much fog there was.

Right before 6pm they let us out and we made our way to the first house of the "The Wolfman". One thing Universal did great with all there houses is the attention to detail. And I thought Wolfman was the best detailed of all. However we didn't get any scares in this house. Also a problem in all the HHN houses was that the line is constantly moving. There are way too many people too be able to break people into groups like local houses do. So because of this we found that we kept barely missing good scares. Also if you can try to do the Soundstage houses after dark. Because it was still light outside we found our eyes hadn't adjusted yet as we made our way thru the houses. Still Wolfman was pretty good.



After Wolman there still wasn't anyone in the park so we made our way to Dracula. Same thing as with wolfman we kept barely missing the scares. However there were some cool effects like the floating brides and stuff in here. This house was kind of a dissapointment because the only people we saw were the brides. You would think that for a house called "Dracula" you would see Dracula in there. But no we never saw him.



By this time people were finally starting to file into the park. So we went to the third Soundstage house Frankenstein. This house wasn't quit open yet though. So we waited in line for about 5 minutes and then made our way back to the house when it opened. This was our favorite house of the night. We got scared not once but multipule times. We also saw the monsters everywhere and caught many of the really good scenes and scares. Easily the best one of the night in our opinions.



After Frankenstien we made our way to the back of the park where Saw is located. I read that this was a very popular house and the lines would build up fast. So we bypassed Leave it to Cleaver and went to Saw where we found the wait was still only 10 minutes. I thought the house was pretty good and stayed true to the franchise. My wife was pretty disturbed by it though as she's not one that likes torcher and gore and stuff. The kidnapped tourest part to a good scare out of my wife though as a guy grapped the girl and thru her into a room and then started to run like he was coming for my wife. It was pretty good. Not the best house but not bad ether.

At this point we were pretty proud of ourselves cause we finished 4 of the 8 houses in less then and hour. So After finishing with Saw we went to the theater where the Bill and Ted show would be at. It took them forever to open the gates to let us into the theater. Seriously it was only like 5 minutes before the show started. Anyways the show in our opinion was just Meh. It is very vulger (wich they do warn you of) but I didn't think there were very many funny parts as well. In our opinions it wasn't worth the wait.

When Bill and Ted got over the park was packed. Seriously where did all these people come from in the short time that we were watching the show. So I looked up wait times on my phone to see where we should go next and found that Chucky only had a 20 minute wait so we made our way there. We went thru our first scare zone "Cirque de Freak" but never got any scares here. We did however see the rat lady wich was pretty creapy.



We finally got to Chuckys enterance and got in line. We figured it would go quick with a 20 minute wait. Oh no. They hadn't updated the wait time. It was really an hour wait for it. And when we found that out it was too late to turn back. So we waited it out although in my opinion no Haunted House is worth that wait. Chucky was pretty decent though and we got a few scares in it. The house was done pretty well and it was my second favorite.

We were really starting to get tired after Chucky so we decided we would do one more house and check out the scare zones and head back to the hotel as we had another fully day of Islands of Adventure to look forward to the next day.

The house we decided on was Silver Screams. The wait said 20 minutes so actually verified this first and then made our way to the house. This was the icon house this year and showcased many different movies. It was pretty well done as well and we got a couple scares. More then Wolfman or Dracula anyways. The enterance to this one though was the best one out of all the houses.

With all the houses out of the way we started checking out the scarezones. All I can say is they were pretty weak. We didn't get scared in any of them. Infact in the Hacktation area Rachael somehow scared one of the scare actors. I thought for sure I would have been scared in the Hacktation area cause I hate chainsaws but no nothing or noone went after us. Many of the scarezone were well decorated but it seemed like there was a lack of scare actors in them. And the ones that were there weren't doing anything. Just kinda standing there. Maybe it was an off night or something I don't know. We were just dissapointed in them.








The time was now about 10pm and we were tired so we decided to call it a night and head back to the hotel. We stopped and looked at the Universal store and some other things in citywalk and then started making the trek back. Which kinda sucked to walk that far when you spent 12 hours in the park.





So my thoughts on HHN. It was a great event and worth checking out if your into being scared and Halloween. The detail in all the houses was much better then any other houses i've seen. However in my opinion I wouldn't go out of my way to make a trip to Florida specifically for HHN. Its worth checking out if your already gonna be there but don't go out of your way. I don't think I would pay full price ether. I would do it again in a heartbeat. But we would have to do Stay and Scream again on a thursday night. So check it out if your ever in the area. Although some things may dissapoint the event in total didn't. And at $30 bucks for the S&S its a great value for all that you get.
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Old 10-24-2009, 03:41 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DMMarla07860 View Post
grea report so far, thanks for sharing. I go to Disney World most of my trips before I go on a cruise and have only been to Universal twice, but I'll be going in December before my cruise so seeing the pictures of Universal makes me excited
Thank you. Yeah we looked into going to Disney but with only 2 days to spend we didn't have near enough time to do all that we would want at Disney. So we decided on Universal since we would have enough time and it was half the cost.

We plan on going back to Orlando late next year or early 2011 though to got the WDW for a week as well as going to Universal and checking out the Harry Potter stuff.
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Old 10-28-2009, 03:10 PM   #8
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Ok i'm here. Sorry for the delay. The bandwith in my other photobucket account got exceded so i'm reloading the day 3 pictures to my other account until the bandwith clears up in my main one. With that said onto the recap.

Day 3: Islands of Adventure

Day 3 was another early morning as we had our day at IOA to look forward to. However all of us were still way tired from the night before so we were a little slower at getting ready this morning. Becasue we didn't want to spend any extra money on food for breakfast at the parks we went to a local Walmart the night before and got some milk and some cereal as well as granola bars and some fruit so we could just eat at the hotel before we left.

Around 10am everyone was finally ready so we left the hotel and started making our trek back to the universal orlando resort. Once again the day was very hot and humid. Before long we were back in Citywalk and making our way towards the enterance of Islands of adventure where we would be spending the day.



We quickly got into the park and i was amazed just at the entry. The port of entry is so well detailed and themed. You really feel like you just stepped into another world. There arn't any attractions in this area of the park but there are many shops.




Our first stop for the day would be at the Marvel Superhero Island. This island is very well detailed to many of the supeheros based off of Marvel Comics such as Spiderman, the Hulk, the X-men, Fantastic 4, ect... With Disney recently buying Marvel it will be interesting to see what Universal ends up doing with this island in the years to come.




Our first ride of the day would be the Incredable Hulk rollar coaster. And man was this thing awesome. What made it even better was the 5 minute wait it was posting. If you are a coaster fanatic and love Inversions or going upside down then this ride is for you. From the launch tell the end the ride is just pure awesomeness.





We decided not to ride the Storm Force Accelerator ride since it was basically the same as the Tea Cups at Disney. We also didn't ride Dr. Dooms fearfall since it was also pretty much the same ride as one we have back home. So we made our way thru the Island to Spiderman.




What can I say about Spiderman? It was absolulty Stunning and Amazing. I don't even know how to explain the ride. From the moment you step into the cue where you walk thru the office's of the Daily Bugle tell your done with the ride its just such and awesome experiance. The ride did momentarly break down while we were in line for about 20 minutes though. But it was soon back up and going. Basically the ride is similar to Indiana Jones or Dinosaur at the Disney parks but the vehicle has more movement and you wear 3d glasses to give the effect that the characters are there in front of you. The only thing that could have made this ride better would have been if the characters were filmed in live action instead of cartoons.



After Spiderman we were done in the Marvel Island so we started making our way to the next Island.



That next Island would be Toon Lagoon. This island is designed to make you feel like you are in the world of the Sunday Comics from the newspaper. The lagoon name gives away to what kind of rides are here as well. Wet ones. They have a Poppie rapids ride and a Duddley Do Right Log Flume ride. Because of how early it was still we didn't feel like getting wet yet. So we pretty much passed on by since we would be coming back to do the wet rides at the end of the day. Its a nice well done area though.








The next island we came to was my favorite island. Jurassic Park. I am a big fan of the movies and the ride at Universal Studios Hollywood is in my mind the best water flume type ride out there. So I was excited to be immersed in the Jurassic Park atmosphere. Theres so many details here that you can't miss. Like the animal tracks and leif prints in the cement and all thru the island you can see the electric fences beyond the trees. Because the Jurassic Park River Adventure is a wet ride (basically the same as in Hollywood) we would also save the for the end of the day. There is also a small kid coaster there as well as a kid play area called Camp Jurassic that we never got around to checking out.






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Old 10-28-2009, 03:11 PM   #9
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By this point we were starting go get hungry some so we grabbed some food at the Jurassic Park Discovery Center. While there we also looked around for a bit. Its designed to resemble the Visitor center from the movies and has the dinosaur skeletons in it as well. There is also a few models of Dinosaurs and they have a hatchery where you can watch a baby dinosaur break out of its shell. Kind of a cute experiance for kids. There are many other activitys in there as well.






Just outside the discovery center theres a great view of the other islands of the park so I snapped a few quick photos.





Between Jurassic Park and the Lost Contenant a new Island is currently under construction. Its going to be the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. My wife and I are huge Harry Potter fans so needless to say we are very excited for this Island. Hogwarts Castle is going to house a new ride based on Robocoaster technology while the Dueling Dragons and Flying Unicorn Coasters are being rethemed to fit the area. The village of hogsmead will also be built where you can buy items mentioned in the books and movies. Hogwarts is massive standing around 200ft tall. We look forward to returning to see this when its all finished. Its said to open late spring of 2010.









Because of the Harry Potter construction the interance to the Dueling Dragons coasters is in Jurassic Park. These coaster are awesome. The que is also amazing and it will be interesting to see how that changes with it being rethemed to Harry Potter. We first rode the Fire dragon which was awesome. However they didn't have a sinced quit right with the other coaster so we were slightly ahead of the other train. We then got back in line and rode the Ice Dragon which was my favorite of the two and my new favorite inverted coaster anywhere. They also synced us perfectly on this ride so the near misses with the other train were so awesome and scary. Both trains we rode in the front seat as thats the only way to do it on an inverted coaster.




After Dueling Dragons we headed into the Lost Contenant Island. With Harry Potter taking over Dueling Dragons and the Unicorn coasters the only the Lost Contenant has left is 2 shows. We aren't really show people so we decided to skip them. However we did look at some of the area and the lost contenant is very well themed. Too bad it doesn't have much else going for it.





We finally came to the last Island of the park. Suess Landing. This island is themed to the world of the Dr. Suess books. And they did an amazing job with it. There isn't a strait line anywhere and you actually feel like your in the books. its very very well done. The area is mostly for kids so all the attractions are built with them in mind.




Our first ride here was the High in the Sky Suess Trolly ride. This isn't really anything special. It takes you on an overhead view ride of Suess landing. However its themed to the Star Bellied Snitchs which was my favorite Dr. Suess book so I had to ride it. The views were great but I would avoid it unless you have small kids.


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Old 10-28-2009, 03:12 PM   #10
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We then made our way to the Cat in the Hat Dark ride. Wow this ride was great. It was my guilty pleasure of the trip. I don't know why I liked it so much but it was so much better then most of the Dark rides that Disney offers. If you have kids or not this is a must ride if you go to Islands of Adventure.



Suess Landing also has a marry-go-round and a dumbo style spinner but we have those back home so we passed on them. We were now done with Suess Landing so we decided to start heading back to Jurassic Park and start hitting out the wet rides before we went home. However before we left Suess Landing we ran into the Grinch and the Cat in the Hat.




Once back in Jurassic Park we made our way to the River adventure. Like I said earlier the hollywood version is my favorite wet flume ride ever. The Orlando one is just as good however they are slightly different. I still think the Hollywood one is better because its got more dinos, is slightly longer, and has better scenes. However the drop seals the deal on both rides and this one is great as well. We were really suprised that we didn't even get wet on this ride though. One thing we found kind of cheap that Universal did though is all the major rides have free lockers you can use. However all the wet rides you had to pay for the lockers. Kind of a cheap money maker if you ask me.





After the River Adventure we went back to Toon Lagoon and to our next wet ride Dudley Do Right's Ripsaw Falls. A thing you need to know about the Toon Lagoon wet rides is if you don't want to get wet then DO NOT ride them. Cause you don't only get wet on these things. You get completly soaked. Dudley do right is a good Flume ride. Its not the best by any means though. The show scenes in it really seem to be lacking. However the drops on this ride are the best i've ever experianced on a log flume. Yest even better then Splash Mountain. The main drop is taller, steaper, and faster which means you get completly drenched when your done. The drops on this ride are what makes it great.



Now that we were soaked we made it to our final ride of the day. Popeye and Blutos Barge Ridge Rapids. This is the best Rapid ride I have ever been on. The point of Rapid rides is to get you wet. I don't know why people can go on these and think they will stay dry. Dudley got us soaked. But popeye go us drenched. If there were any dry parts left on us from dudley there weren't anymore. I don't even think ponchos would have kept you dry on this thing. This is a very good ride and easily the best rapid ride out there.



By this time now we were completly soaking wet. With how high the humidity was we wouldn't be drying very quickly ether so we decided to call it a day and start the long, wet, miserable walk back to the hotel.






It was around 4pm when we left IOA. The park was open that day tell 7 and i really wish we would have had a chance to reride many of the rides there. However we should have thought of that before we were soaking wet. Cause once we were wet we were done. It was a crappy feeling to be in wet clothes lol. Overall IOA is alot of fun and the themeing there rivals Disney and in some areas was better. You can't do the Universal Resort without going to both parks. Dont even try it. Make the time to visit both Parks on seperate days if you plan on going to Universal Orlando. I look forward to going back sometime soon after Harry Potter Opens to experiance it all again.

Once we were back to the hotel we figured we were already wet so we might as well go swim. So we changed into our swimsuits and went down to the pool for a little while. I was suprised that for how ghetto our hotel was the pool was actually pretty decent.








After swimming and getting ready for the night we were straving. We didn't know what we wanted though so we headed out to International Drive to see what we could find. While driving around we found this upsidedown building which is some sort of museum or something. It was really cool to see and the pictures don't do it justice.



For dinner we ended up choosing a Chicago food resaurant called U.N.O.'s. The food was really good but the service wasn't great. We were there for like 2 hours. Our food took forever to come and we didn't even get all the food that was supose to come with our orders. Yeah they were busy but they couldn't be so busy to mess up everything so bad. Oh well.

Rachael had 4 free movie passes to an AMC theater that were going to expire while we were on the cruise. So we decided to go to a movie that night to use them before they did. We could have gone to the AMC at Citywalk but we didn't want to make that walk back to Citywalk from our Hotel and because HHN was going on parking would be $12. So we drove back up to Downtown Disney and saw the movie Couples Retreat at there AMC theater. The movie was pretty good and funny.




It was past midnight when the movie was over so we headed back to the hotel to get a good nights sleep and get our things packed as we would be heading out in the morning to head to Port Canaveral and board the Carnival Glory for our 7 day Cruise.
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Old 10-30-2009, 02:50 PM   #11
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Day 4: Embarkation Day

The Day had finally arrived for our cruise to begin. We woke around 10am and got ready for the day. Kiera and I walked down to the Hotel lobby to checkout while Tyler and Rachael finished getting there things packed and ready to go. One thing I need to complain about with this Days Inn. I booked the hotel back in June on Days Inn's website. They had the option where if you "Buy Now" you will save 15%. So thats what I did. Well apperantly Buy Now doesn't mean Pay Now. I don't know where I could get the two confused. So that was a blow of an expense that I had thought got paid 4 months earlier. Oh well we were happy to leave that hotel. As I said in the first post I don't recommend it to anyone. Unless your brave and just looking for a cheap place to crash while your at Universal. Then it will work out just fine for you.

We soon had the car loaded up and were soon on our way to Port Canaveral to board the Carnival Glory for our 7 day Eastern Caribbean Cruise. Don't forget you quarters cause there were a few Toll Roads on the way out to Port Canaveral. The drive was nice and somewhat scenic. It took about an hour to get from our Hotel to there. We soon saw the Atlantic Ocean for the first time ever and off in the Distance we saw our ship. The excitment was really building now as we passed it to go drop our car off at Budget.




After dropping the car off Budget has a shuttle that took as strait to our Terminal. We got there right around 1ish. I was very suprised at how quickly the line moved. Even more suprised how short it took once we were inside the building tell we were getting our Sail and Sign cards and were heading to board the ship. On our last cruise out of Long Beach on the Pride this process seemed like it would never end. Props to Port Canaveral for being on top of things and getting us thru quickly.






Finally the time had arrived. We were stepping foot onto another Carnival ship and more importantly another long awaited cruise would soon be starting. By the time we were on the ship we were already starving. However since we were told our rooms were already ready for us we decided to go drop off our carry on bags first. Our room was on the Empress deck in room #7345. Rachael and Tylers room was two down from us in #7353. On our cruise on the Pride Kiera and I had a balcony room. For this cruise we wanted to do it as cheap as possible so we just got an interior cabin. We thought it was going to be way way small. However we were very suprised to find how big the room actually was. Not bad at all. I just wish I would have remembered a power inverter since the rooms only have one outlet.

After getting settled in a little we meet back up with Tyler and Rachael and headed up to the Lido deck for lunch. I forgot how much I missed Carnivals food. There grill items still taisted amazing. Yum. After lunch we walked around for a little bit before we heard the announcement for the Muster drill coming up soon. So we went back to our rooms to relax a little until the call would come. Once it did we grabbed the life vest and went down to our Muster station for the briefing. It was soon over and we would be leaving for the start of our cruise in a matter of minutes.



One thing I had to do before we headed back to our room was make a phone call to Hotwire before we lost Cell service. When I booked the cruise I booked it with hotwire because they were giving $200 of onboard credit with "all" cruises booked within a certain time. When we were in the room before the muster drill I pulled up my account on the tv and saw the credit wasn't there. So I called hotwire and asked what was going on. Well apparently that deal didn't apply with the Early Savers rate. Even though I read all the fine print everywhere for it and the email I printed off said we were elegible for it. Anyways the guy who I talked to refused to give it to me since I was booked the Early Saver rate. So congrates Hotwire. You just lost yourself a Customer who has booked a few hotels and 2 past cruises thru you.

As we were pulling out of the port we meet up again with Tyler and Rachael and the back of the ship to watch the sail away. It was fun watching the land move past us as we left the US for our wonderful cruise. Off in the distance we could see the Nasa buildings. We also saw a sea turtle floating in the water and the beautiful Florida beaches.










We chose to do the Early dinning on this cruise because on the Pride we found with late dinner that would get on the ship after the port days and we would have to still wait forever for dinner to come. So this time we tried the early dinner. This was what I had been looking forward to the most. I love food and Carnival has excellent food. Each night I would typically order 2 starters, 2 main dishes, and desert. Tonight I took it easy though with just having some fish and a ceaser saled as my starters and the flat iron steak for dinner with the cream brule for dessert. Sorry but i'm not one to take food pictures lol.

After dinner we went back to the top deck to stroll for a little while. at the back of the ship there was a strom behind us a distance away. Lightning was happening every few seconds so that was really cool and interesting to watch. So I set my camera and timer and tried to get some shots of what we were watching. I also got a decent one of the sunset.




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Since we had time to kill before the welcome aboard show we wondered up to the front of the ship to try to find the mini golf. We had some fun just messing around killing some time instead and just trying to get a feel for the ships layout.





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Old 10-30-2009, 02:50 PM   #12
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I can't remember why but next we went back to the rooms. Maybe it was because we wanted to see what towel animal we got this evening. Or cause rachael wanted her camera. I can't remember.




Before we headed down to the show we had to make a stop at the place we stopped at probably 5 times a day. The ice cream machine. We love soft serve ice cream so that is one of the huge highlights for us. We even bring our own candy and stuff from home to put toppings on it.




After getting the ice cream we made our way down to the Amber Palace to stake out our seats for the show that evening. We watched Game Show be played as well as a round of bingo before the Welcome aboard show began.



The show began and we watched as the almost naked (ok not really) dancers did there thing on the stage. They then did a part where they pick people out of the audiance to come up and participate. The cruise director specifically warned to not try to get the people to pick your friend because they will pick you instead. Well my wife Kiera obviously didn't liston to that part cause when they were picking people she tried getting them to pick Rachael. And so subsequently she got picked instead to go up. So there she was. Up on stage not knowing what it is she would have to do.

I do have to comment though that it was always funny to see people reactions when we would say we were from Utah. And the reactions were no different here lol. Its like people think we are in a bubble our couldn't belive we would be around so much alcohol or where our other wives were lol. Sorry to break it to most people but we are somewhat normal too lol.

For the routein Kiera had to do a dance thing with 3 other people. It was pretty funny and i'm glad that she actually got into it and had fun. The guy next to her was hilarous with his dancing lol. I don't know if I could take pictures or not. But my wife was on stage so I didn't care.






Kiera did a great job and I was very proud of her cause I could never do something like that lol. For her participation she won a bottle of Champeign. Yep thats just the perfect gift to give to one of those Crazy Mormons from Utah who doesn't drink Alcohol lol. So needless to say the bottle sat in our room the whole week. I will tell what we did with it at a later time. But that didn't stop us from at least having some fun with it for pictures.




One thing about the early dinner was it doesn't replace the starving point of the day lol. It just delays it. By the time the show was out and midnight was rolling around I was already hungry again. So we went and got some Pizza (and more Ice Cream) wich would become a tradition each night of the cruise for us.

By now we were tired and ready to go to bed. So we said goodnight and headed back to our room for the night. Unfortunatly we would have another early morning the next day because we would be getting into our first Port of Call in Nassau, Bahamas. We will be there for only around 6 hours and arrive around 8:30 in the morning. When well we ever get our chance to sleep in?
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Old 11-04-2009, 02:10 PM   #13
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Day 5: Nassau, Bahamas

Our first Port of call came quickly with it falling on our first day full day of the cruise. We would also be in Nassau for the shortest amount of time of any of our port of calls so it was another early morning so we could be up and off the ship as soon as it docked at 8:30am.

After a quick breakfast at the Lido decks buffet we then headed down to the gangways to get off the ship. Apparently everyone else on the ship had the same idea as well cause it was like trying to herd cattle. But after a few minutes of shoulder to shoulder crowds and pushing we made our way off the ship and started making our way towards town.








Our original plans for our time In Nassau were to take the water taxi over to Paradise island so that we could do the dig at Atlantis. However due to the fact that there was a storm passing thru at the time with it raining and the wind blowing we decided against the water taxi idea. As we were walking out of the port building we got bombarded with people offering taxis, tours, hair brading, cuban cigars, ect...... All we wanted was to find a way to get to Atlantis to do the Dig. As we were walking away from the building a very nice man came up to us offering tours. He told us his tour was 2 hours long and he would take us around the city as well as to atlantis to tour the grounds for only $25 a person. He wasn't pushy about it at all like the other people so we decided that his tour sounded like fun so we decided to do that instead of the Atlantis Dig. He took us to a waiting area with a few other people and then went and got his van so we could begin our tour of Nassau.




After driving thru a small part of the city our first stop of the tour was at Fort Fincastle. I'm one who enjoys history so it was pretty neat to me to learn about the history of this fort. It was also the oldest structure I have ever been to. They had a tour guide there specifically for the fort so after listoning to him we were free to roam around and check it out for ourselves. The fort also offered some great views of the island and surrounding areas. However since it was raining at the time we were there you couldn't see much lol. There is also a small flee market set up around the fort with a bunch of bargin suvonieers which Tyler and Rachael spent some time looking at so they could bring some stuff home to there families.





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One thing we were dissapointed we didn't see was the Queens staircase. The tourguide told us we would be going there. And I knew that it was right next to the fort from reasearching online. However it seemed like once we were there my mind went blank and we all forgot about it. After we got home I heard that some fellow tourests were robbed at the staircase that same day. I don't know what time it was at but Im very thankful now that we forgot cause that could have easily been us.

After the fort we loaded back up into the van and were on our way to continue the tour. We drove around the city some more and then eventually made it to one of the local beaches.




I must say I was pretty dissapointed with this beach. When you think bahamas you think very pretty white sand beachs and the tourquise blue water. Not this one. Almost every inch of it was covered with seaweed. It was ugly. And the stormy waters didn't help since you couldn't see the tourquise in it. But I guess it is more of a locals beach so they probably don't take as good of care of it as they would the ones the tourists visit regularly. We also found a coconut floating in the water with some wierd snail type bugs on it. The tour guide was also very kind to dust the sand off our wives feet.


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Old 11-04-2009, 02:13 PM   #14
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After the beach we loaded back up and were on our way. The tour guide next took us on a tour of there neighborhoods. From the welthy areas all the way to the run down ghettos. It was really sad to see the circumstances these people have to live in. Many of the homes in the ghettos looked they would fall over in a small windstorm. Plus they didn't have water or electricity. They would have to walk up the street and fill up buckets for there water. The guide said most the people in the ghettos have there prioritys backwards. They live in complete dumps but they would rather live in those and have worldly things such as nice cars (one ghetto house had a brand new lexus in the driveway) then to move up into a nicer home. He also told us that many of the goods they buy on the island are about double the cost of what they are in the us. This went for there cars and there gasoline. Baptist churches also dot the island on every corner it seemed like. I don't think I saw any other churches there other then Baptist.







Our next stop would be to head over to Paradise Island and go to Atlantis. We were excited to see this as when you think of the Bahamas this is pretty much what most people think of. And wow. It is amazing. The detail to everything is excellent. Its a very beautiful building and in my opinion was the best part about our stop in the Bahamas.








The classyness of the resort transfered inside as well. I've been inside almost every major resort in Vegas and Atlantis is right at the top with the greats there. Atlantis is amazing.






Because we took this tour we wouldn't have enough time at Atlantis to do the Dig. However they do have a large aquarium in there main lobby that is open to the public to look at for free. We spent a lot of time here looking at many of the fish, tiger sharks, manta rays, and sting rays that were swimming around in it. Guests of the resort can also go snorkling in this tank.




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Old 11-04-2009, 02:15 PM   #15
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After the aquarium our guide then took us into the Casino to show us the Moon and Sun statues as well as take us to the backside of the building so we could see the backside of the resort. Seeing the beaches back there now reminded me of what I thought the beaches of the Bahamas would look like. The whole resort is so beautiful.













We were now done with Atlantis so we went back up front to wait for the driver to bring the Van around. As I said before Atlantis is very nice and easily the highlight of Nassau. I think the only reason I would ever have a desire to visit Nassau again would be specifically to stay at Atlantis. At Atlantis you feel like your in a completly different place then the rest of Nassau. But this isn't just the case for Atlantis but I belive for most of Paradise Island as well. This Island is catered specifically to Tourism it seems so naturally is much better upkept then the rest of Nassau. Atlantis is a Do Not Miss in my opinion if your going to Nassau.





We were soon back in the van and on our way back to the cruise terminal since our tour had finished. We were very happy we decided to do this tour because we were able to see much of the island of Nassau and there culture. Much more things then if we spent our whole time at Atlantis like we originally planned. If your into history and culture I recommend one of these tours for you. This guy we went with was very knowladgable and very nice. We had a great time with him.


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