Floor-ee-da field report

So as I mentioned on Twitter, I was gone for about a week to visit Florida. My wedding anniversary isn’t until later in July, but the timing was too perfect for a visit in June so we made that this year’s anniversary trip. (We try to visit somewhere new every year for our anniversary). This year was Florida.

First, we visited Miami for a U2 concert. Technically this was a congratulations gift to my wife for her recent Masters degree, but it segued nicely into anniversary plans. We had wanted to see their tour in Baltimore but they were sold out, so we saw them there. They were (predictably) very good, because that’s one band that knows how to put on a show.

Then we hopped in a rental car over to Orlando to visit Universal Studios. We went to the Islands of Adventure so we could see the new Harry Potter stuff, and it was pretty amazing. They recreated Hogsmeade really well, and the ride inside the castle was well-done. We also tried Butterbeer, which tasted the way I’d imagined it would — cream soda with some butterscotch, basically. I also went on the Potter coaster twice — one for each “dragon.” I dig roller coasters, you see.

Anyway, next we checked into our Disney resort for our four-night stay. We hit the Magic Kingdom first, then Hollywood Studios, Epcot, back to Magic Kingdom, and then Animal Kingdom before our plane left yesterday. I won’t go into all the details, since there are too many, but I’ll hit on some high notes.

That’s probably the most efficient park I’ve ever seen. Any time I had a question or problem, someone had already thought of it and they had a solution in place.

Magic Kingdom has a lot of cute attractions for kids, and we saw a lot of adorable children getting into the spirit of it. I think when we have a kid we have to bring them back there. It didn’t offer many rides for adults, though. Space Mountain is interesting as coaster history, but not that interesting as an actual coaster. Splash Mountain was fun though. Surprised they still pay homage to Song of the South.

Star Tours at Hollywood Studios was definitely a high note, predictably enough since I’m a huge Star Wars nerd. But the whole motion ride experience was really well done, even better than Potter thanks to the huge hi-res screens, and I like the random shuffling aspect. We went twice and saw four different locales. (There are six in all, shuffled from two sets of three).

We also waited in the super-long line for the Toy Story ride, which is really more of a video game than a ride. You basically go from station to station in a shooting gallery. Pulling a cord to fire every shot makes your arms tired, but it’s a really impressive bit of tech all working together.

Hollywood Studios also has Fantasmic, which was my favorite of the nightly fireworks displays at the parks. It had a cute story about Mickey’s dreams being taken over by the Disney villains, and it sort of reminded me of the first Kingdom Hearts game.

Epcot is like the science and history museum of Disney. I wish we’d have had more time, since I like that stuff, but we had spent a little time in Downtown Disney that morning. We’ll have to devote more time to that when we go back someday.

We saw the July 4 fireworks from the castle, too.

Our last day at Animal Kingdom, a park worker noticed our Happy Anniversary buttons and took us over to a park worker named Sandy. She got us VIP access to the Lion King show (front row, and I was asked to do an elephant sound on stage), and then good seats for the Finding Nemo musical. She even pulled aside a little fish toy as a memento. It was a nice way to cap off the festivities.

  • Theatrhythm? I don’t even know anymore. Maybe the game will be brilliant, but these titles are getting weirder and weirder.
  • I didn’t keep up with game news much on vacation, but I heard about this strange experimental Pokemon iOS game. It gave Nintendo a stock bump, which should be serving as a sign that they need to look into this stuff. I enjoy Nintendo’s wacky first-party devices, but there’s nothing wrong with differentiating their portfolio with some sure hits. Smart phone games are taking off, so why not benefit from it?
  • I don’t really mind online passes since I buy my games new, but it’s worth noting that this Sony Online Pass thing is not a new development. We were one of the only sites I saw that noted they’ve done this before with PSP games. I’m sure we’ll see more of this trend, since it’s generally fair and works as an incentive or to recoup some profit from used sales.
  • As alluded to in a prior post, I’m automatically a bit skeptical when a developer talks about how their next game is going to be even awesomer. But I want Mass Effect 3, and I likes what I’m hearing.
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