I feel like it's the first day of school, and I'm trying to stumble through one of those "What I did on my summer vacation" essays. Hopefully, we get graded on a curve around here. First of all, I can't for the life of me figure out how to post pictures in these posts. It's some sort of voodoo ritual that escapes my highly scientific brain. So, I'm just going to post a link to Flickr, and if you're interested, you can check them out there. http://www.flickr.com/photos/41967492@N05/sets/72157628451349163/with/6528377451/ Those are the Universal Studios ones, at least the ones that came out OK. Also, I apologize for not taking food pictures. I intended to, but in practice, I just couldn't do it. I salute those of you with the bravery to do so in public. OK, on with the show... Tuesday, 12/6/11 - After a sleepless night (because I was a bit excited, y'know?), my driver, Haji, picked me up a little before 4:00 AM, to take me to Logan airport. Haji's a great guy, very professional, and very friendly. I would reccomend him to anyone in the greater Boston area (if you need contact info, send me a PM). Traffic was very light, being pre-dawn, so we made it to Logan in no time. I was checked-in (with Jetblue) and through security before 5:00 AM. My flight wasn't scheduled until 7:10 AM, so I had plenty of time to relax, read and people watch. Anyhow, before long, we were boarded and actually took off about 5 minutes early. This was my first time flying Jetblue, but I really enjoyed it. The seats were comfortable, the staff was friendly, and the individual satellite TV/radios is a great perk. The flight pulled into MCO about 15 minutes early, and I was one of the first out of the plane. On the way to the luggage carousel, I found my driver, Jose (another great guy, who I would be happy to reccomend to anyone in a PM) already waiting for me. My suitcase was the second one off the plane, and we were on the road within minutes. This is pretty much how the whole trip went. Everything that could go right, did go right. Anyhow, I was at the Royal Pacific Resort by 11:00 AM. They already had my room ready. It was a king bed room, in tower one, on the ground floor, facing the pool (I thought I wrote down the room number, but I can't find it at the moment). Really nice room, the only downside was I could hear the music (though not the people) from the pool until around 11:00 PM. Still, it was only for 3 nights, and I was planning to stay out (sort of) late those nights, so I let it go. After dropping off my luggage, and checking out the room, I walked over to the Studios (I was saving HP for the next morning). I picked up my ticket at the will call kiosk, and was through the gate by 11:30 AM. Some of the attractions that I did that day: Terminator 2: 3-D (getting old), The Simpsons Ride (What a hoot! one of my new favorites), Men In Black (still a lot of fun), Jaws (an old favorite, I'll miss it), Disaster! (worth a look), Revenge Of The Mummy (fantastic! best ride in the park!), Shrek 4-D (fun, but not as cool as I expected it to be), Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket (great ride, but the only one that the restraint was too tight for me. At 5'10" and 250 pounds, I fit on everything else reasonably well, but on this, I could barely breathe. Unfortunately, that made this "one and done" for me) and the Horror Make-Up Show (Great show, still a lot of fun). I had a fairly average lunch at Mel's, the highlight was the TM at the register asking me what I wanted for Christmas (apparently, they were asking everyone, just for grins). I told her I wanted 20 minutes with Angelina Jolie. She laughede, and asked me why only 20 minutes. I told her it was because Angie's a little crazy, and more than 20 minutes might be dangerous. She liked that. I headed back to the Royal Pacific around 4:30, for a shower and a little relaxation. The shower part went smoothly, but the pool music precluded any relaxation on my part. By 5:30, I was walking over to Citywalk. I did some window shopping, and eventually had dinner at Bubba Gump's. I had the fish and chips, which I very much enjoyed. By this point, having been awake (and mostly on the go) for 36 hours, I started getting tired. I headed back to my room around 8:00 PM, watched a little TV, read a magazine and hit the sack around 10:00 PM. Wednesday, 12/7/11 - Staying at one of the three hotels on Universal property meant being able to get into "The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter" at 8:00 AM, instead of at 9:00 AM like everyone else. So, I was up at 7:00 AM, and at Islands of Adventure at 7:30 (part of that is that I get ready very quickly in the morning, and part of it is it's just a 10 minute walk from RPR to IOA). They actually let us at 7:45, so by 7:50, I was amongst the first handful to reach WWoHP. I was only mildly interested in the wand show at Ollivander's, but seeing as this was my best chance to see it, I went straight there, and was first in line. Had a fun conversation with the witch and wizard maintaining the crowd, as well as the nice family behind me. They let us in the shop right around 9:00 AM. It's a cute show, nicely replicating the scene from the book/movie, but once is enough for me. After that, I headed straight for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. No crowd at all at this point of the day, it was essentially a walk on. I loved it, so I went back to the entrance and rode it a second time, also with no wait. This time, however, I started getting a little nauseous. Now, I don't usually get motion sickness, so I figured I just needed to eat a quick breakfast. I found a food cart nearby, grabbed a croissant and an OJ, and was ready for action. I decided to take a spin on the Dragon Challenge. I rode the Chinese Fireball, as the Hungarian Horntail wasn't up and running yet. Still a very fun ride. Afterwards, feeling rejuvenated, I decided to take a third ride on Forbidden Journey. This was a mistake. I got really sick this ride. I didn't have an accident, but it was prevented only by sheer willpower. After this third ride, I had to find a bench to sit, and collect myself. After about 10 minutes, I was feeling well enough to window shop through Hogsmeade. When I was done looking around, I decided to try my first butterbeer. I opted for frozen, and it was delicious. I still had most of it by the time I wandered back to the port of entry and the Cinnabon shop (where I decided a cinnamon roll would go nicely with the butterbeer. Needless to say, I was on a sugar high for a while after that. Now I was ready for some more rides, and happily my upset tummy was now joyously content, so I headed for Marvel Super Hero Island. I rode the Incredible Hulk Coaster (as much fun as RRR, and I could breathe comfortably), Doctor Doom's Fearfall (which I enjoy, it's a very smoothe ride) and the Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man (Still one of the very best rides in Florida). I then backtracked to Seuss Landing. I'm a big fan of Dr. Seuss, so I spent a fair amount of time just wandering around, and talking to Who's. While there, I rode the Cat in the Hat (a nice dark ride, with maybe a little too much spinning for my middle aged good) and the High In The Sky Seuss Trolley Ride (it's the Peoplemover with Seussian overtones...I loved it). After that, I decided it was time to get wet. I started my soggy sojourn with the Jurassic Park River Adventure. This is a great ride, and I only got a little wet, mostly from my torso up. The real drenching started with a trip to Toon Lagoon, and a ride on Dudley Do-Right's Rip Saw Falls. This left me quite soaked. Fortunately, I had the foresite to grab a locker for my phone, wallet, etc. At this point, there was nothing to do but hop onto Popeye & Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges. The only way to get wetter is to just dive into the river, and get it over with. The good news is that I really enjoy both of these rides in Toon Lagoon, so it's worth it to me to get soaked. Still, at this point, I was in sore need of a shower and dry clothes, so I headed back to RPR around 1:00 PM. By 2:00 PM, I was fresh as a daisy, wearing dry clothes and back at IOA for a little sightseeing, and some photos. I also picked up a Jurassic Park T-Shirt for my nephew (who loves dinosaurs), and mailed a couple of postcards from Hogsmeade. After my time at IOA, I wandered over to the Studios to take a few more pictures. While there, I decided to ride the E.T. Adventure (still a fun ride), as well as another spin on the Simpsons and Men in Black. Around 5:00 PM, I headed over to Citywalk for some more shopping. I caught an early evening showing of Hugo (in 3-D) at the AMC Cineplex. Outstanding film, with tracking shots that would've made Orson Welles jealous. Really spectacular in 3-D. Afterwards, I had dinner at the Nascar Grille. It's not one of the shining stars of Citywalk, but I like it. I was back at RPR around 9:00 PM, and I decided to do a load of laundry (I hate piles of wet clothes). Good thing, too, I'd end up needing some of those clothes at the end of my trip. Eventually, I nodded off a little after midnight. Thursday, 12/8/11 - I started my day at rope drop at the studios. Before jumping on rides (and remembering the previous day's lesson), I stopped for a croissant and OJ before getting started. I took another ride on the Simpsons, Men in Black, and Revenge of the Mummy. Now, because I was staying on property, I could skip the lines at most of the attractions, just by flashing my hotel room card, which I wore in a lanyard around my neck. On the wilder rides, I'd lust tuck the lanyard inside my shirt, and be good to go. Except, while riding the very wild Revenge of the Mummy this morning...I forgot to tuck the lanyard back into my shirt. 10 minutes after the ride, I realized the lanyard was gone! With my room key! With charging privileges! Fortunately, I was certain that I had lost it on the mummy ride, so I backtracked to it, and spoke with the TM out front. He called inside, and sure enough, they had found it. Apparently, the lanyard was held on with velcro, which ripped open on the ride. Crazy! Happily reunited with my room card, I continued my adventures by riding ET (again), Men in Black (again), and Jaws (for one last time) I also caught another showing of the horror make-up show (with an entirely different Alex Ross and Mark Jacobs...odd) and another showing of Shrek 4-D. Having exhausted the studios, I headed over to IOA. Once again, I rode the Cat in the Hat, chanced another trip on Forbidden Journey (which froze up twice on this ride...is this a message?) and had another frozen butterbeer (yum!). Afterwards, I took in a showing of the re-vamped (since my last visit) Poseidon's Fury (which I enjoyed). I finished this visit with one last, semi-wet ride on the Jurassic Park River Adventure. After a short midday break at RPR, I decided I wanted to grab a late lunch at the Three Broomsticks. Around 4:00 PM, I was enjoying my fish and chips, and a regular non-frozen butterbeer. While in the WWoHP, I decided to take a ride on the Dragon Challenge (riding the Hungarian Horntail this time) and one final ride on Forbidden Journey. No problems this time. Final score for me on Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey: 5 rides, 1 queasy, 1 quite sick, 2 ride stoppages and a lifetime of fond memories. By 5:30, I was back at RPR for a quick shower before heading off to Citywalk. Remembering how much I enjoyed Hugo in 3-D, I decided to watch another 3-D movie. I chose Immortals. Not my best decision. There were a few good action sequences, but, overall, the movie stunk. I have since dubbed it "Trash of the Titans". I went back to Bubba Gump's for dinner again, this time ordering a cajun blackened chicken sandwich. It wasn't as spicy as I would've liked, but it wasn't bad. I headed back to RPR around 10 PM, and packed. The next morning, I headed off to the House of Mouse. But, I'll post that part of the trip on the Disney side. Hopefully, within the next few days.