RECENT VACATION

I recently visited Orlando, Florida. I got back this past Saturday, March 23, 2019. It was such an AMAZING trip! Five parks in six days…six parks if you count Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios two separate parks. My mom, aunt, sister and I flew into MCO (Orlando airport) on St. Patrick’s Day. After we got our luggage, we headed off to International Drive for lunch…at least my family did. I went and rode the Orlando StarFlyer, the tallest and fastest swing ride in the world. This thing was off-the-charts INSANE! Over 400 feet in the air, swinging at 60+ miles per hour with only a chain and a seatbelt holding you in? Yeah…it was terrifying! But that’s the rush I live for! It was SO worth the $13! Since it was St. Patrick’s Day, my family and I decided to get a few drinks at CityWalk near our hotel. After that, we went back to the hotel to get settled in for the night.

The next day, Monday, I went to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Naturally, I headed straight for Pandora to ride Flight of Passage. At park opening, it was already boasting a 210 minute wait…3 ½ hours! So what did I do? I hopped in line, of course. I waited in line for damn near 3 hours for this ride. Let me just say this—OH…MY…GOD! This ride is one of, if not the best ride I have ever done! And that’s saying a lot, considering how many rides and roller coasters I have done in my life. After that, I went and saw Finding Nemo the Musical. I grew up watching Finding Nemo and the show did not disappoint! They had puppeteers suspended from wires dangling upside-down and doing flips. It was amazing. I also had FastPass for Na’vi River Journey so I hopped on that. It was a nice, relaxing boat ride that I personally think does not get enough credit. The shaman at the end of the ride is the best audio-animatronic I have ever seen. It is so fluid and so life-like it’s hard to think it’s just a robot. I also had FastPass for Expedition Everest, so I went on that, as well. It was a really cool roller coaster that had “DISCO YETI!” on it. For those of you who don’t know, “Disco Yeti” is a completely stationary animatronic yeti that is illuminated by a strobe light to make it look like it is moving. Actually, what was nice about Everest is that it had a Single Rider line, so I was able to just use that and keep riding it. Animal Kingdom, naturally, has a ton of animals in it, so I took in some of the animal sights. It was really cool seeing all these animals! The last FastPass I had was for Kilimanjaro Safaris at sunset, which is when everyone says you should do this ride. They were absolutely right! Seeing all the nocturnal animals wandering around was incredible! I even saw a lion jump into a tree, which I didn’t even know was possible. After I rode that, I saw River of Light to end out my day. It was a cool show with illuminated barges, fire and laser effects and projections on the water. A great end to a great day!

On Tuesday I went to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. I went to Toy Story Land first to ride the newest coaster, Slinky Dog Dash, but it was closed temporarily for technical issues. So I went and rode one of my favorite rides of all time, the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. After filming that, I went and rode Rock N’ Roller Coaster. This ride was cool! It has music by Aerosmith playing the whole ride and shoots you out from 0-60mph in 3 seconds. Crazy fast! I had FastPass for Tower of Terror, so I rode that again. I went back to Toy Story Land to ride Slinky Dog, since it was back open at that point. It was a fun ride. Not too intense, but it was a family ride, so that’s understandable. I had FastPass for Rock N’ Roller Coaster, so I rode that again. After walking around and buying a Toy Story alien filled with popcorn (I swear I am not making that up!) I saw a show. Probably the best part of the day at Hollywood Studios was meeting the one, the only, Mickey Mouse. I felt like a kid again. I was so excited to meet Mickey! I had FastPass for Fantasmic! to end the night. (Yes, the exclamation point is part of the name). Fantasmic! was incredible! It was based around Mickey Mouse and his wild imagination. The highlight, at least for me, was the fire-breathing animatronic dragon that came toward the end of the show. This thing was massive! All the pyrotechnics and lasers made for a great way to end my night at Hollywood Studios!

On Wednesday I went to Epcot. The first ride I got on was Journey into Imagination with Figment. That was probably my favorite ride of the day. It was just so weird and Figment the Imaginary Dragon was so cool to see that I couldn’t help but love it. I also rode Mission Space: Orange Mission, the most intense version of the ride. I also had FastPass for Test Track, so I rode that. That was a fun ride! The Finding Nemo ride was ok I guess. It was actually kind of dark in the ride and you couldn’t really see anything that was going on. I saw Simple Plan as part of Epcot’s Flower and Garden concert series and got the drummer’s autograph. That was pretty cool. After that, I met up with my mom and aunt and we had lunch and rode Frozen Ever After. It made me want to watch the movie. I have actually never seen FROZEN, but the ride was pretty neat and I know the premise of the movie, so I understood what was going on. I met Donald Duck and he did not like the fact I was wearing a Mickey Mouse shirt. He was pissed! It was actually kinda funny. So after Frozen Ever After, we headed toward the exit of the park and I hopped on Spaceship Earth with a 10-minute wait.

Thursday I went to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. Due to my pacemaker, they would not let me ride Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket, which I think is total BS. So I missed out on that. The first ride I rode was Revenge of the Mummy. I had done the one in California, so I had the opportunity to compare the two. This one was way better! A lot longer and more show scenes. I did manage to ride Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, which was a good ride! For nostalgia, I rode the ET ride. God, I love that little guy! I also saw a show that tells you about the behind-the-scenes makeup and special effects in Hollywood horror movies. That was really cool to see, since I am a movie guy and I grew up watching the Universal horror movies. After the show, I hopped on the Hogwarts Express and went to Islands of Adventure. The Hogwarts Express was cool because it was actually themed, naturally, to Harry Potter. In the train, you saw London out of the windows and felt and saw Dementors in the cabin. That was a cool effect! At IOA, I rode Dr. Doom’s Fear Fall, which is a drop tower ride. That was a fun ride, but not worth more than a 30 minute wait, seeing as the ride is over in about 30 seconds. I also rode the Incredible Hulk coaster in the front row. That was a really fun ride! Hell, the ride even sounds like Hulk roaring, it’s so loud! I also rode Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls, which is a log ride themed to Dudley Do-Right. That was the best themed log ride I have ever been on, excluding Timber Mountain at Knott’s Berry Farm. I did not go to Magic Kingdom, so I am not going to include Splash Mountain. So after that, it was starting to get dark and I noticed that the Jurassic Park River Adventure water ride had a 10 minute wait. I rode that and got pretty wet, which felt good. After that, I left the park and met my family. We went to a piano bar, which is something I had never done before. Honestly, that was probably one of my favorite parts of the trip! It was two piano players sitting face-to-face at two pianos. Everyone was singing along to all the songs and it was just a really fun time! If you have never been to a piano bar, I HIGHLY recommend it!

Friday was probably my favorite day and park of the trip. I went to SeaWorld Orlando. WOW! This park is AMAZING! It was completely dead, too. My favorite roller coaster I have ever been on, Mako, had a 5 minute wait all day, so I was able to marathon that. I got on it FIFTEEN TIMES in one day! It was incredible! So much airtime over every single hill! I got thrown out of my seat the entire ride! I rode it 3 times in the front and ten times in the back, so you can probably guess which row I liked best! Actually, the whole park was like that. I rode Manta, the flying coaster famous for its turn over the water, 5 times and never waited more than 20 minutes for it. I also rode the floorless coaster, Kraken. That was an ok ride, but it was a little rougher than I would have liked. I got on Journey to Atlantis. Again, I have done the one in California, so I got to compare the two rides. And again, I liked this one better. It had a lot more show elements, a bigger splash, and lasted a lot longer than its San Diego counterpart. I actually didn’t realize there was a little hill after the big drop into the water on the ride. That got me DRENCHED and caught me completely off-guard. Oh, I actually got stuck on Atlantis at the end of the ride and had to be evacuated from the boat manually. So that put a damper (no pun intended) on things. I saw a show at Shamu stadium called One Ocean. Those killer whales were awesome to watch and, again, I got soaked! I also saw a show with sea lions called Sea Lion High, which was the funniest animal show I have ever seen! I was laughing the whole time. After that, I rode Mako for the final time in the dark. WOW! I thought this thing was great in the daytime. At night, it is INSANE! You can’t see where you are going. I also saw baby dolphins swimming, which were absolutely adorable! I also saw manatees, which I think are cute animals and I immediately fell in love with them! SeaWorld preaches conservation, and I am 100% ok with that. They made me realize how awesome sea life can be!

Saturday we went to lunch and left for the airport. After flying for 2 hours on an over-booked flight, we went to Fallston Seafood and got seafood pizza, which was a really good welcome home. I gotta say, though…I think the best “Welcome home!” I got was from my dog. She was ecstatic to see me, and I felt the same! Yes, Orlando was fun, but I missed my dog.

So all in all, I had an awesome vacation and can’t wait for the next one! As always, thanks for reading and feel free to comment!

-Tom

 

Author: AuTom Spectrum Blog

I have Autism and am a self-advocate and public speaker. On the side I do stand-up comedy. I live in Baltimore County and have an AMAZING girlfriend

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