Reflections on Florida

Having enjoyed Florida so much, I wonder how many more times I will go back.

I am back in London now and am missing Florida. The last week has been very different from many holidays that I have taken before because it was so packed with things to do. I tend to prefer the kind of holiday that allows you to relax rather than filling the days with more effort than would usually be required to go to the office. Orlando was, however, very different. Although the days were filled it was thoroughly enjoyable and felt like no effort whatsoever. I really have found a new love of roller coasters and it’s awoken a child-like interest in the theme parks. I think the enjoyment of the theme parks was the element I was most surprised about. Perhaps all these years of believing I wouldn’t enjoy them meant I found them all the more entertaining. Of course there was the added fun of there being six people to holiday with. It’s a time that I won’t forget easily.

What also struck me was that the ‘have a nice day’ mentality/philosophy which I often find saccharine and insincere in other American cities was so right in Florida that it made me readdress my thoughts on that whole approach to life. It adds to the whole experience and really does go to prove that just being nice to others can help make somebody else’s day all the brighter.

So, please, have a nice day and any suggestions of alternative American locations for a holiday would be most welcome.

The Florida Adventure Continues

This holiday just gets better and better. We’re at Universal Studios Florida right now.

Today is our last day in Florida. On Saturday PY and I left the villa for the Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Studios, Florida.

I thought Epcot and Busch were good but this has been fantastic. Jaws, Earthquake and Back to the Future at Universal Studios were fantastic (Terminator and Men In Black not so great). In particular I have to say how much I enjoyed the Jaws ride which is entirely made by the actors who are the guides on your boat tour and they really do make it fantastic.

Islands of Adventure has also been wonderful. Given my new found love of roller coasters I have ridden the Hulk and Dueling Dragons several times and I can heartedly recommend to them. The most amazing ride, however, isn’t an actual roller coaster. The spiderman ride mixes and indoor ride with projected 3D imagery to create the most superb ride I have been on while here in Florida. I am thankful that we were staying at a Universal hotel as the hotel keycard is good as a Fastpass as many times as you want so we’ve done Spiderman a number of times. If you go to Universal Islands of Adventure than don’t, under any circumstances, miss it.

And we managed to see the Black Eyed Peas at Universal Studios Mardi Gras on Saturday – which was a fun bonus to the whole adventure.

A Florida Friday

Ever since I was a child I’ve tended to avoid roller coasters because I was a little scared. Now I am addicted.

my photo of epcotIt’s Friday when I am writing this but I am not sure when I am going to get round to publishing these entries from Florida. I am on the verge of applying for a green card so that I can stay here in the sunshine and ride roller coasters all day.

Wednesday was Epcot day. It was the first Florida theme park that I have ever been to and it was amazing. Last Tuesday evening we went to eat in Downtown Disney. As we drove past the large Disney World signs PY was grinning uncontrollably. He has been here several times before and was excited to be back. After twelve years together I have to admit that I have never seen him like that – it was a fantastic experience. Oddly, by the time we drove under the same sign on Wednesday morning on our way to Epcot I was – similarly – grinning. We made our way to Test Track and got our Fastpass before seeing Ellen’s piece on energy (which is a little simplistic and to be seen in the context of being sponsored by an oil company). We then went round several of the other experiences which I won’t list here as there are many good guides to them.

Eventually it was our time for Test Track but it kept breaking down and we waited an hour to ride (the non-Fastpass queue was three hours by this point). This is where I admit I have never been any good at rides, roller coasters and fairgrounds. I get nervous so tend to stay away. Anyway, after all the wait I was very apprehensive about riding Test Track only to be a little disappointed. The screams that you hear as people hurtle around the side of the building do lead you to think you are going on the ultimate thrill but it’s really just an amusing diversion.

Then I went to ride Mission Space (which PY wouldn’t ride because it, apparently, spins you round to generate the weightless experience and he isn’t any good at those kind of rides). The built up to this ride is incredible (all the warnings about motions sickness managed to put two of our crew members off at the very last minute so there were only two of us in the pod). It was great but it wasn’t fantastic and it was over very quickly. And that’s when I realised where the fear comes from. It’s the clever build ups and staging. The rides themselves seem quite tame to me.

Now don’t get me wrong, the Epcot rides were great. World Showcase is fun; a lot of imagination has gone into the park and the fireworks impressive. It’s a great day out and it’s the place I overcame my fear of these rides.

So by yesterday when we went to Busch Gardens I was happier to ride the roller coasters. And I did – even the one where your feet hang down. And I would ride them again and again. I’ve discovered that I am thoroughly enjoying the rush of riding. It’s not something I had expected to get out of this trip but I have now uncovered a whole new world and I fear I’ll become addicted.

Go now and ride them all.