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Old 06-14-2012, 10:36 AM   #61
OhioStateBuckeye
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Mid trip recap and preview

MID TRIP RECAP AND PREVIEW

Now that the Disney part of the trip is over, I thought I'd pause to reflect and to let everyone know what is coming up next if you want to continue with my trip report into the murky waters that is not DL (hah).

Restaurants we ate at rated on a 5 point scale:

Table Service

Jazz Kitchen:

Atmosphere: 5. Beautiful building and wonderful jazz pianist to set the mood.

Food: 5. Delicious well cooked food.
Price: 3. Very pricey, even though I only ordered an app and a side as my meal.

Service: 5.

Blue Bayou:

Atmosphere: 3.5. I don't really think its all that great of a place to eat if you aren't by the water.

Food: 4. I was in love with the gumbo and the potatoes that came with my Monte Cristo, the sandwich not so much.

Price: 3. Very expensive

Service: 5. Favorite waiter of the trip.

Thunder Canyon BBQ:

Atmosphere: 5. Feels like we were at a country picnic with some corny, yet good, entertainment.

Food: 5. Loved everything, plus its all you can eat.

Price: 5. $20 each for all you can eat isn't so bad.

Service: 5.

Counter Service

Hungry Bear:

Atmosphere: 4. It was very relaxing to eat by the water and it was quiet

Food: 5. Mostly because they had sweet potato fries and a cute cupcake

Price: 4. A little bit pricey, but not so bad

Service: 4. We went during a quiet time, so all the employees gave us extra attention

Corn Dog Castle:


Atmosphere -- I did not order the food as I was sitting near WOC.

Food: 3. It was just a corn dog, nothing fantastic

Price: 4. Not bad

Service: -- Didn't witness it.

Trader Sam's:

Atmosphere 5+. Amaaaaazing

Food: 4. The fish tacos were pretty decent

Price: 3. Of course the drinks were over priced, but they were delicious

Service: 5. Both of the bartenders were very attentive and super fun.



Rides/shows we wanted to do but missed:

1. Canoes. Nothing we could have done about it, wish they'd been open
2. Matterhorn. Boo refurbishment
3. Columbia. Once again, closed seasonally
4. Monorail. I really wanted to ride this so I could ride up front, but we just never got to it
5. Fantasmic! Wish we would have gone when they were doing daily showings, I really wanted to see why DL's is so much better than WDW's
6. Paradise Pier. We missed a lot of the carnival type rides due to lack of time and the fact that Brian doesn't like most of them, would have liked to go at least once
7. Grizzly River Run. Never had a time when getting soaked would have been convenient
8. TOT: Not too sad I missed it, sounds about the same as WDW's
9. A Bug's Land. Ooops....we didn't even set foot in here. I don't even remember seeing it.

That's really not too bad, especially since 3 of the 9 were closed.


Over all thoughts:

I really enjoyed DL (DCA was ok). I liked the volume of rides and I definitely could have spent more time there. I am not really sure I can say if I prefer
DL or WDW more than the other. I think what it comes down to in the end is the memories you make in each park. When its cold and dark in Ohio
on a February day, what memories do I have that I can look back on and smile and feel a little bit warmer. I went to WDW 3 times when I was
younger with my family, so right now I'd probably say I prefer WDW.

But...about a week after we got back we decided we were doing a repeat southern California trip for my birthday in March! So I'll have the opportunity to make even more memories in DL so maybe I'll begin to prefer that park.

Final thought:

WDW, your still the park its most convenient for me to get to. Get a Trader Sam's. Immediately.


And now if you are going to stick with me through the rest of the non-Disney trip, here is the itinerary:

Saturday: Universal Studios and driving down to San Diego
Sunday: Picking up our camping supplies and heading out to the Joshua Tree Natural Preserve to hike and camp under the stars
Monday: Back to San Diego (with perhaps a secret surprise side trip) to check into Loew's Coronado
Tuesday: San Diego Safari Park and Old Town
Wednesday: USS Midway and then the airport
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Old 06-14-2012, 05:25 PM   #62
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I love it so far!!
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Old 06-15-2012, 10:05 AM   #63
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I've really enjoyed reading this and I look forward to more!

The Haunted Mansion at DL does have hitchhiking ghosts, were they not working?
Also, I think the weird character you encountered at the BBQ was Horace Horsecollar.
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Old 06-16-2012, 09:46 PM   #64
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Whoops, I exceeded my data storage on my photo bucket account, so my pics got locked. Hopefully I will get them back up shortly.
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Old 06-18-2012, 10:34 AM   #65
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WDWJonasGirl View Post
I love it so far!!
Thank you

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lucille1963 View Post
I've really enjoyed reading this and I look forward to more!

The Haunted Mansion at DL does have hitchhiking ghosts, were they not working?
Also, I think the weird character you encountered at the BBQ was Horace Horsecollar.
I'm glad you are looking forward to more because I should have a new update today. The hitchhiking ghosts I was thinking of are the new ones at WDW, the ghosts do new technical effects like juggling your head.

Yep, I just googled the character and that is who it was. He still scared me
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Old 06-18-2012, 01:38 PM   #66
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Day 6: DD and Universal

After all the late nights and the early mornings and the constant running around, we finally crashed. And when I say crashed, I mean CRASHED.

We were supposed to get up early again to try to make it to Universal for park opening at 9. Instead, I snoozed my alarm so many times it finally just stopped trying. I think I was awake around 9:30 and took a nice jacuzzi bath and Brian wasn't up til around 10 (I finally had to wake him up since checkout was at 11).

I walked over to McDonalds to get us breakfast while he packed up. That's right, McDonalds is about 10 steps down the street from Camelot. Helpful hint: if you have a car available, go through the drive thru, there was maybe one car in line. The lines inside were super long, but they moved pretty quick. I got Brian a few breakfast burrito type things (our Ohio McDonalds doesn't have them) and I think we vacated our room at almost exactly 11.

I was pretty sad about leaving Disney, so we decided to make a final stop at DD.










I tried to trade my vinylmation (again) and was told they weren't doing it at that time. D Street and World of Disney both told me that it was too early for trading. I really never understood this...I was only able to trade once in
a DCA gift shop, and I chose poorly and decided to keep my cruise ship lifeboat vinyl. Overall, I was pretty let down by the trading experience.


How awesome is this stained glass window?





Our new friend for about 5 minutes


I loved the Peter Pan build a bear costumes

I went back and forth on whether or not to buy a sweet looking bag at World of Disney, it was blue with white trim and had an old fashioned looking Disney logo on it. I decided not to buy it because it was (I think) $70. Geez.

We slowly walked back to the car and I stopped to get a snack at the kettle corn cart. Popcorn was about to become my new trip snack obsession, as I'd get some at several other places.

The traffic wasn't too awful driving north to Universal, parking was outrageous...I am pretty sure it was over $10. The park was slammed (it was a Saturday, don't know what I expected).


Universal has a little museum we spent 10 minutes in, this dress belonged to Mae West, I can't believe her dimensions!


We are big Battle Star Galactica fans, so Caprica props would have to do






This chair is ennnormous!


actual dolls/sets from Coraline

Last edited by OhioStateBuckeye; 06-26-2012 at 12:23 PM.
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Old 06-18-2012, 01:38 PM   #67
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Day 6: Universal

We discovered that the new Transformers ride was only open to pass holders, and the lines for the Mummy and Jurassic Park were both over half an hour.



We were both still not recovered (in sleep or feet) so we skipped those and went on the tram tour.

This was actually pretty cool, it was 'hosted' by Jimmy Fallon who was on the overhead tv screens on the tram. He did skits and sang the 'tramtastic day' song and gave us some info on what we were driving through.


Universal is up on a big hill (they don't call it the Hollywood hills for nothin).
You had to go down several loooong escalators from the top level to the bottom level




a big city backdrop for filming


generic city streets




behind that start of the tram (it was real long) is the courthouse from Back to
the Future!




The outside of the King Kong ride!

This ride was so amazing and innovative. You get 3d glasses at the start of the tram tour, you put them on and go inside a building that has a tunnel/oval shape to it.



You are immersed into the scene from King Kong where Kong fights the dinosaurs. The walls/ceiling are 3d movie screens and they move around you, making you feel like your in the middle of the action. Then you 'fall' (it really does feel like your falling) down into the area from the movie with all the creepy bugs. That part was a little too real.



Then we drove by a lot of movie cars/vehicles







This next area was a cool little theater where they showed you how they can do car stunts using robotic arms to control the car's movement







You can just barely see the robotic arm in this shot


Jurassic Park area with spitting dinos! So rude

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Old 06-18-2012, 01:40 PM   #68
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Day 6: Universal


Universal has about 8 different streets that are all different styles of Western time periods/areas

Here they demonstrated how they did water effects on a certain movie...I think it had Frankie Muniz?









More Western streets






Behind this tree is the couple of building they use for their Europe set




We entered a subway terminal, and I am pretty sure something was supposed to happen here but it did not


Another Western style


Then we entered a calm, peaceful seaside community (they actually filmed parts of Murder, She Wrote here)

Wait a minute...I think they got the wrong shark!



Look out diver!


Here comes trouble! That's trouble with a capital Shark!


Wisteria Lane


With special guest star...real deer!




Whoville




Well this doesn't look good...


What is that creepy guy carrying in that body shaped sack?!


He charges straight for the tram and freaked out the last few cars that he got rather close to

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Old 06-18-2012, 01:47 PM   #69
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Day 6: Universal


War of the Worlds' set




That is a real airplane. Tom Cruise moves do not come cheap


2 of my favorite Hollywoodlanders


Universal's water tank/screen



Next we got in line for the Waterworld show.



Brian had never seen Waterworld, and at the end of the show I was able to tell him that the show basically covered the whole movie. This was an excellent show, I loved how some of the show extras entertained the crowds beforehand. There were 3 extras who each had a section of the crowd, they all dumped/shot water at their own crowds or the other crowds depending on crowd redaction. This would have been awesome on a hot day (the day was warm but not hot, so we were glad we managed to not get wet).


Our guy was the best, naturally

Disclaimer: this show does have explosions, but I managed to miss getting any of them on camera
















You can read about the cast and all their actual tv/film roles

The show was good, Universal loves to tout all the show actors as real actors.

I had been looking forward to eating at Bubba Gump's for quite a while now (I love coconut shrimp and no places around home ever have it). So we took a break from the park and were seated right away. The food was very tasty, but along with 2 entrees, an appetizer and a drink the cost was pretty expensive.




indeed


Bubba Gump's is in there somewhere...


Cool looking restaurant at City Walk





After dinner we saw the Special Effects show. It was a really good show that had lots of audience participation and humor through a 'new intern', Jerry.

We decided to leave around 6 because we still had to drive to San Diego to check into our latest hotel. Brian wanted to drive down the highway that goes right by the ocean so I could enjoy the view, even though the trip
takes longer. So guess who conked out about 20 minutes into the drive and didn't budge again until we made it to our hotel? You better have said me...if Brian had, our trip would have took a very different turn

It turns out our hotel was blocks away from the airport and super close to downtown San Diego. Parking was free, which is really hard to find at a downtown San Diego hotel. The hotel itself was real small, I'd be surprised if they had more than 30 rooms. The inside of the room was clean but sort of run down. I would recommend this hotel if you need somewhere to crash for a night, otherwise I'd look elsewhere.

We decided we needed to sleep in again so we could be fully refreshed for our next day. So we watched a Game of Thrones repeat on HBO then fell asleep.

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Old 06-18-2012, 02:49 PM   #70
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I'm loving your trip report - the shots at Universal are awesome. Too bad you couldn't do the Transformers ride.

Quick question - which side of the tram is best to be near Jaws? My DS (7) loves sharks and loved being right near the shark in the Universal Orlando ride, so it'd be great if we could try to get so he could sit near where Jaws pops up again!
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Old 06-18-2012, 03:17 PM   #71
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Oh I can't wait to read of your Joshua Tree experience. I just LOVE it there! There truly is something magical about JT.

Thank you so much for posting all this. I'm so thoroughly enjoying it. Looks like my Sept trip has been cancelled but I don't feel so bad because I'm getting to live through yours lol
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Old 06-18-2012, 03:43 PM   #72
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I'm loving your trip report - the shots at Universal are awesome. Too bad you couldn't do the Transformers ride.

Quick question - which side of the tram is best to be near Jaws? My DS (7) loves sharks and loved being right near the shark in the Universal Orlando ride, so it'd be great if we could try to get so he could sit near where Jaws pops up again!
Oh I wouldn't say we didn't do the Transformers ride You'll have to stay tuned.

If you want to be next to Jaws sit on the right hand side. When you board the tram he should be first in. However, only about 4 or 5 people fit in the rows, so if you have enough family members he can always switch sides (I thought the majority of the good picture taking opportunities were on the left hand side, dunno if that was just because it was on the opposite side to me or if it was real).

Quote:
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Oh I can't wait to read of your Joshua Tree experience. I just LOVE it there! There truly is something magical about JT.

Thank you so much for posting all this. I'm so thoroughly enjoying it. Looks like my Sept trip has been cancelled but I don't feel so bad because I'm getting to live through yours lol
Oh no I'm sorry you had to cancel the trip, we are going back in March, maybe you could start to plan a later trip?

Oh Joshua Tree...I think we took almost 1k pictures there. A lot of panoramic shots and a lot of shots I am going to feel bad about leaving out of the trip report.
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Old 06-20-2012, 12:44 PM   #73
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Loving your report!!!!
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Old 06-22-2012, 09:31 AM   #74
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Loving your report!!!!
Thank you

I am ready to post my next day update as soon as photobucket stops its maintenance....really photobucket? Your maintenance should be magically finished in less than a minute
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Old 06-25-2012, 09:38 AM   #75
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Day 7: Joshua Tree Preserve

We let ourselves sleep in a bit and relax this morning!! Woo what a change haha. We needed to be refreshed for the rest of the vacation, so we finally got a little break.

We slept in til around 10, then got packed up and checked out of the hotel.

Ooops, I don't think I took any pictures of the hotel. Well...it was the Pacific Inn and Suites and we paid about $90 for the night (the free parking really helped this place). Other than that it was probably the least favorite of the hotels, it really could have used an update, but it wasn't unclean or anything like that. Just not super impressed.

We needed to head to REI (a big outdoorsy store that does camping rentals) to pick up our tent and a few other items, then we were going to slowly head out to Joshua Tree for some hiking before we made camp.

On our way to REI we finally ate at an In-N-Out. We did not do the animal style ordering. Brian had ate there many times before, and I'm sorry to say I just thought it was ok. The meal actually seemed pretty healthy compared to most fast food places, but I think Wendy's is better.

We then made a few stops at Target, Walmart and REI for our camping supplies. I ended up getting a sleeping bag at Target, we were going to rent one at REI but we found one for around $30. I was really excited to see that this particular Target had 2 levels, so it had the shopping cart escalator! Really, I am not even sure why I paid all that money to go to Disneyland if this excites me so much.



On our way to Joshua Tree, we were on a mission to find Brian's old house in Rancho Bernardo. So we drove around aimlessly for a bit until he got his bearings.





We stopped to check out his old middle school (he says this is the school that was in the movie Ten Things I Hate About You, the one that had the football field down the steep hill).





We finally found his old road (we may or may not have slipped into the exit gate as someone left). He showed me his old house, we just sat in the car and looked, we may be slightly creepy lookers but we are not dangerous stalkers, hah. I thought the area was pretty interesting, I liked all the hills and the different style of architecture.





Now that we'd reconnected with Brian's roots we finally headed out to Joshua Tree.

This was a very interesting drive, we got to go by endless windmill fields (which is where I called my mom to say happy mother's day and tell her sorry that she has a terrible daughter who goes on a vacation across the country during mother's day).







The closer we got to Joshua Tree the more the little towns started to make us feel like we were back in the wild west. I kind of wish we'd have stopped at some of these places and checked them out, we were planning on stopping at the 'create your own cactus garden' on the way back, but we took a different route.



















When we were about 10 minutes out from the Joshua Tree entrance, we stopped at a McDonald's to get a sandwich, we had bought some food to cook on the camp stove later, but we planned on doing a little hiking before dark so wanted to eat something.

The entrance to Joshua Tree was not very spectacular, just a little sign. No one was even manning the entrance booth so we had no one to pay.

Hope everyone is ready for a million pictures!!

I had always wanted to see the desert and I was not disappointed. Brian had already picked out our campsite, so we drove around a bit and stopped at all the exhibits (which were signs by the road that told a bit about what we were seeing).










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