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Old 11-23-2009, 07:59 AM   #151
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Gotta love that view, Illuminations is one of my favs. Where I play my very limited style of golf I try find any lost balls, but I don't I would be venturing very far into those trees.

"There are 12 things in Florida that can kill me. 9 of them live in there. I'll get another ball from my bag."

I couldn't agree more
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Old 11-23-2009, 08:53 AM   #152
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Originally Posted by FreezinRafiki View Post
Now, I'm pretty much a cheep skate and typically only play municipal courses up here in the frozen tundra of Wisconsin. But we were on vacation so I sucked it up and paid for the Disney Course. Holy cow, was I glad I did. This was a beautiful course. We chatted with the starter for a few minutes. After learning that we had never been on this course, he gave us some pointers. He called the roughs "brutal", and he was right. The grass was cut just taller than a golf ball, but the way it laid, you could walk right over your ball and not see it. And if your ball made it past the rough (as most of mine are known to do) and into the trees - say goodbye to that one. The foliage is tight to the fairways and dense.
One of the balls I hit into that mess couldn't have been more and 2 or 3 feet in. My father-in-law tells me to stick my head in there and try to find it. I replied: "There are 12 things in Florida that can kill me. 9 of them live in there. I'll get another ball from my bag."
Another fancy thing you don't get on $15 municipal courses? GPS in the carts. Being a geek, I was in heaven with this thing. Each cart had a 12" screen hanging from the ceiling with a map of the current hole and exact distances from your current location. How many yards to carry the water, to the sand on the right, to the front and back of the green. I was having a ball with this thing. Did it help my game? Don't be silly - of course not.
I'm a golf cheapskate, too. I pretty much only play twilight golf anymore. I'd love to see the Palm and Magnolia courses though--I get a kick out of playing the same places the pros do!

And GPS is way cool. You can see exactly how far into the trees your ball went, or measure to the yard that cold-topped drive--was it 50 yards, or 52? Now you know.

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I have very few rules in life, but one of them is "if they spell Crab Salad as Krab Salad, don't eat it."
This is on the Rules of Life somewhere.
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Old 11-23-2009, 09:55 AM   #153
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Originally Posted by praisehisname View Post
Good breakfast, not-so-good lunch...at least you had fun golfing! Sounds like the kids did really well with their birthday money!
They did. And, in typical fashion, they had it all opened and scattered on the hotel floor within 2 minutes of getting back to the room.

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Originally Posted by DisneyDaddy-O View Post
Gotta love that view, Illuminations is one of my favs. Where I play my very limited style of golf I try find any lost balls, but I don't I would be venturing very far into those trees.
I did go digging for one ball that was just into the vegetation. I moved a few leaves on a low shrub and found 3 balls! By the way they were weathered, they had been there quite a while. And no, none of them were mine.

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I'm a golf cheapskate, too. I pretty much only play twilight golf anymore. I'd love to see the Palm and Magnolia courses though--I get a kick out of playing the same places the pros do!
While we were there, they were setting up the Magnolia course for the Children's Miracle Network tournament that just happened in the last week or so. To see all those grandstands and tents was a pretty cool sight. They had 10x13 pictures of all of the past champions with Mickey Mouse lining the hallway leading to the locker rooms. Except for Tiger Woods. His picture was had it's own wall and was probably a 16x20. The look in his face was priceless: "give me my check and get this rat away from me."

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And GPS is way cool. You can see exactly how far into the trees your ball went, or measure to the yard that cold-topped drive--was it 50 yards, or 52? Now you know.
Nope. I always carry a 25 foot tape measure in my bag so I know for sure.
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Old 11-23-2009, 01:59 PM   #154
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Day 12 - Oct 20 - Universal Studios & a gourmet dinner

After a "down" day yesterday we were ready for Entertrainment, Excitement, Magic and Endless Possibilities of Fun! Instead, we went to Universal Studios.

Bambi's mom got free tickets through work, including parking and $10 per person vouchers for lunch. So I was pretty hopeful going in. The Universal option came up a few weeks before we left. We had never been there before and were certainly open to trying it, particularly at that price. I began doing a lot of research and really didn't get a very "kid-friendly" vibe about the park.

I know they are aligned with Nickelodeon, but I only have a passing knowledge of anything on that network. Madison knows most of the characters from watching at day care, but we never watch it at home.

Not to sound like a Disney Snob, but Bambi and I were discussing Universal the night before we went. Basically, I summed it up as this: "I'm going in with some pretty low expectations, so based on that, of they are half way decent, they should blow me out of the water."

The obligitory "crashed kids" picture from that morning:



Grandma & Grandpa met us at Downtown Disney and we all rode in the van over to Universal and found a parking spot in their humongous parking garage. From there is is about a mile walk to the security check point and another mile and half to the entrance. You do walk through "City Walk" which is basically any mall in America, but with the roof pulled off. I just never got the feeling that families with young children are their target demographic.

At the end of City Walk is the NASCAR Cafe restaraunt, and thier mascot was out. My kids have no idea who this guy was. (I later Googled him. His name is Digger, and he's a gopher.) That didn't stop them from running up for a picture, though.



Finally, we get to the entrance to the park.



Our first stop was Jimmy Neutron's NickToons Blast. The attraction is like Star Tours in that you see a movie and your ride vehicle moves in concert with the movement on the screen. Evan was too short so sit in the moving seats, so I took him down to sit in the front in the stationary seats. Watching it from there it was just a herky-jerky movie with sharp cuts and fast-pased action. Kind of like The Blair Witch Project on methamphetamines.

The exit to that led you into a gift shop where SpongeBob was taking pictures. The kids stood in line and waited their turn. Just as they were walking up to Sponge Bob for a picture, an older lady walked up from the exit and stood next to my kids for a picture. Umm...lady, if you're going to line jump that's your business, but you shouldn't photo bomb someone else's picture. I politely told her to hit the road and snapped this.



From there Grandma & Grandpa got in line for Shrek and we started to wander the park. Madison was tall enough for the Simpsons ride, so we headed to that area of the park only to find out that it was shut down for technical difficulties. This seemed to be a common theme on this day, as it took several hours for us to see any signs of life from their Rip Ride Rocket Roller Coaster, and then it was just empty cars running the track for about an hour. Hmm...

Anway, here's Homer.



I will give Universal credit for this. Shrek & Donkey have a meet & greet area and Donkey is an animatronic figure that can actually talk and interact with the crowd. I don't know what type of voice synthesizer they use, but he sounds almost exactly like Eddie Murphy.



By now we had wandered back to the main street to see if MIL and FIL had gotten off of Shrek yet. We saw a few characters out so we went over. The had absolutely no crowd management what so ever for these guys. The characters were just in random places on the road with no lines, just crowds of people standing around them trying to figure out who was next for a picture. On top of that, they had what I assume were "set pieces", sitting around to make it feel like this was a real movie studio. Mostly, they were just large things to get in your way.
Curious George



Scooby Doo



Woody Woodpecker



By now we had joined up with MIL & FIL. He wanted to ride Jaws. They had been out to Universal Studios in California when Bambi was little and rode it there. They wanted to see how it compared. They did mention that that place was actually a movie studio and you could feel it. This one in Florida was a theme park that tried too hard to feel like a movie studio.



We got in line for Jaws but we were really humming and hawing over if we wanted the kids to do it or not. I didn't want them too scared to ever get in a boat again. So Bambi and Grandma took the kids over to Woody WoodPecker's area while FIL and I rode. If it was tame enough, we would bring them back later.

I know I said I was wrong about Tower of Terror a few days ago. But I know this would have freaked the bejeezus out of Madison, and possibly Evan. Sooo glad we didn't bring the kids on this. The boat ride is basically an excuse to have a mechanical shark jump out of water at you while a Jungle Cruise-wannabe driver reads his lines. The shark jumps out at you a few times before the driver shoots him with a "grenade launcher". I will give our captain credit, though. He was really into it and sold his performance. Would he mail it in during the afternoon runs after doing it 30 times? I probably would.

Back in Woody WoodPecker's KidZone, the kids were having a ball. Woody's roller coaster is very good substitute for Goofy's BarnStormer. They had an absolute blast in the ball house. And Evan didn't even let us change him into a swim suit before playing in the water (the weather had warmed up a bit by today).









After lunch we rode ET. We heard that the Simpsons was running, but it was a 75 minute wait. Nevermind.
I took Madison to the Animal show while Evan went back to the balls. We met up and played in Barney's Backyard for while. Madison wanted to do Jimmy Neutron again, so I took her over. On the way, we ran into Marilyn Monroe. Madison had no idea who she was, but had a nice conversation with her.



A block or so later, we ran into the rest of the Simpsons. Again, she has no idea who these guys are, she just loves characters!



I know I mentioned that we don't watch Nickelodeon, but we do make an exception for Dora & Diego. They're OK. Here we are with Jimmy and Diego.



We rode the ride again, and it was marginally better sitting in a moving seat. Madison loved it, of course.

We met up Bambi and Evan started walking over toward the Beetlejuice stage to wait for Grandma & Grandpa, who went to that show. Madison was taking pictures of Evan standing in front of a statue, when some lady in an electric scooter drives right between them. Madison said, and I quote, "What the...?" and gave that lady the dirtiest look a 5 year old can muster! Daddy was so proud!

MIL & FIL joined us and we watched the Blues Brother's show. Elwood was bit on the skinny side, but they both sounded pretty good.

The skies were beginning to darken, so we made our way out of the park, thoroughly unimpressed. But we did have one more thing to look forward to tonight. Every time we come to Florida, we make it point to seek out a nice meal at a reasonable price. And not long after we left Universal, did we see a bright yellow sign beckoning us home: WAFFLE HOUSE.

It's more of an inside joke with us, but we have to do it every trip down. There's just nothing like getting served a plate of greasy food from a chain smoking waitress calling you "Hon."

So it was a fairly early night. MIL & FIL headed home to take care of the dogs. (No runaways since we've been gone!) We returned to the Beach Club and played with our birthday toys, watched Illuminations again, and turned in for the night.

I'm sure I sound like I hated Universal. And to some extent, I did. They really seem to be catering to teens and young adults, not to families and children. I never got that feeling of "this is awesome" that I get in any of the Disney Parks. I'm sure sometime we'll try their other park, Islands of Adventure. But not for quite a while.

Up Next: Back home at Disney World. EPCOT, swimming, and the International Food & Wine Festival!
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Old 11-23-2009, 02:33 PM   #155
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I totally understand your take on Universal Studios. We've been twice (years ago) and haven't been back. It just pales in comparison to Disney. I wanted to love it. I really did! I just couldn't. I did like it though.
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Old 11-23-2009, 04:01 PM   #156
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nice pics barry!! we havnt been to universal in about 8 years. well have to find time again to go over there. great update.
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Old 11-23-2009, 07:17 PM   #157
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Wow, you're cranking out the updates now. Nice job!

The Simpsons look...a little creepy in 3-D form. I love the picture of the kids passed out on the bed!

And my wife has a soft spot for the Waffle House.
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Old 11-23-2009, 07:46 PM   #158
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The Waffle House brings back some memories. I have a friend that lives in Panama City and we spent a few spring breaks hanging out down there in my early 20's. There was a Waffle House 2 blocks away from his house that we visited almost every night around 3-4am. LOL For some reason the trash plate was gourmet at that time! LOL

Did you ride any 'adult' rides at Universal? DW & I have been to the one in Cali and had a good time. I don't remember there being much for kids though.
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Old 11-24-2009, 08:08 AM   #159
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I totally understand your take on Universal Studios. We've been twice (years ago) and haven't been back. It just pales in comparison to Disney. I wanted to love it. I really did! I just couldn't. I did like it though.
I feel the same way. Disney seems to have spoiled us. I can't even go to our local Six Flags (Great America, just north of Chicago) anymore without watching how the place is run and thinking "Really? That's how you're going to do this?"

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Originally Posted by dvczerfs View Post
nice pics barry!! we havnt been to universal in about 8 years. well have to find time again to go over there. great update.
Your daughter is much more the target demographic, in my opinion. You would probably get a lot more out of it than we did. I can't complain too much though - the entire day at Universal cost us about $12 out of pocket!

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Wow, you're cranking out the updates now. Nice job!

The Simpsons look...a little creepy in 3-D form. I love the picture of the kids passed out on the bed!

And my wife has a soft spot for the Waffle House.
I had some "free" time at work. You're right, the Simpsons did look a bit creepy. You can't really tell from the picture, but Homer has his normal 2 or 3 hairs, but each one is about 3/4 of an inch thick and black.

I don't have a soft spot for Waffle House. It's more of a greasy, slimy sticky spot right in the pit of my stomach. God I love that place.

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The Waffle House brings back some memories. I have a friend that lives in Panama City and we spent a few spring breaks hanging out down there in my early 20's. There was a Waffle House 2 blocks away from his house that we visited almost every night around 3-4am. LOL For some reason the trash plate was gourmet at that time! LOL

Did you ride any 'adult' rides at Universal? DW & I have been to the one in Cali and had a good time. I don't remember there being much for kids though.
Perfect food to cure whatever ales you.

We didn't do any of the adult rides. But not for lack of trying. Rip Ride Rock It (the one I really wanted to try) wasn't running until well after noon, and then it ran empty for a good hour. Not a good sign in my book.
Men In Black was never less than a 60 minute wait. (Oh, how I missed the Fast Pass this day. And there was now way I would pay $60 for Bambi and I get their "head of the line pass." That's just wrong.)
Simpsons was broken for most of the day, then a 75 minute wait when it did open.
The Mummy, Disaster, and Twister - while having waits of 30 minutes or so - never really appealed to us enough to try them.
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Old 11-24-2009, 08:51 AM   #160
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Thanks, you just confirmed what I suspected with Universal, we would like to take the kiddos there but it seems like it is more for adults. Maybe we will wait to see Harry Potter and Universal on the same trip next time. At least it didn't cost you an arm and a leg to get in.
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Old 11-24-2009, 09:07 AM   #161
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Thanks, you just confirmed what I suspected with Universal, we would like to take the kiddos there but it seems like it is more for adults. Maybe we will wait to see Harry Potter and Universal on the same trip next time. At least it didn't cost you an arm and a leg to get in.
Bambi and I are big fans of Harry Potter and really want to go there too. Unfortunately, I'm sure there are millions of other people with the same idea. It's going to be packed after it first opens, and probably for months after. Maybe we can send a few dementors in there to clear the place out before we get there...
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Old 11-24-2009, 09:19 AM   #162
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Bambi and I are big fans of Harry Potter and really want to go there too. Unfortunately, I'm sure there are millions of other people with the same idea. It's going to be packed after it first opens, and probably for months after. Maybe we can send a few dementors in there to clear the place out before we get there...
By your review of Universal it dosen't appear that there are too many happy thoughts in that park to fight them off, so.....I think your plan may just work.

okay...I feel like a real geek now
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Old 11-24-2009, 10:28 AM   #163
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good info to have on Universal. my daughter will be 2.5 when we go in March. I only had passing thoughts of spending a day there. Think we'd get more out of a pool day.

Also, being from Wisconsin, I think curious travelers from the north are one of the target demographics of Waffle House. I went there out of curiousity, and most fellow Wisconsinites I know have done the same thing.
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Old 11-24-2009, 10:52 AM   #164
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good info to have on Universal. my daughter will be 2.5 when we go in March. I only had passing thoughts of spending a day there. Think we'd get more out of a pool day.

Also, being from Wisconsin, I think curious travelers from the north are one of the target demographics of Waffle House. I went there out of curiousity, and most fellow Wisconsinites I know have done the same thing.
I have a friend who spoke very highly of the Dr. Seuss area at Universal's Islands of Adventure park. I've never been there, so I can't comment specifically. However, looking at the maps, it looks to be about the size of Woody Woodpecker's KidZone. To me, it wouldn't be worth a full price ticket to enjoy 1/8th of the park.

And how's this for a coincidence: On of the things MIL & FIL miss most about living in Wisconsin is Menards hardware stores. (For non-Midwesterners, think Home Depot or Lowes). The closest one to them is in Indiana. The closest Waffle House to us? Indiana.

Really makes you think, doesn't it?
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Old 11-24-2009, 11:42 AM   #165
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I have a friend who spoke very highly of the Dr. Seuss area at Universal's Islands of Adventure park. I've never been there, so I can't comment specifically. However, looking at the maps, it looks to be about the size of Woody Woodpecker's KidZone. To me, it wouldn't be worth a full price ticket to enjoy 1/8th of the park.

And how's this for a coincidence: On of the things MIL & FIL miss most about living in Wisconsin is Menards hardware stores. (For non-Midwesterners, think Home Depot or Lowes). The closest one to them is in Indiana. The closest Waffle House to us? Indiana.

Really makes you think, doesn't it?
oh yeah, indiana is really where the midwest meets the south. you'd think it would be the best of both worlds..but, really it's just 5 hours north to south of random road construction.
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