Thursday was the one day of the trip where I had no WDW admission since my AP had expired the day before. But during the Super Bowl, I had managed to win a free pass to Universal Studios, so I was going to put it to good use so I wouldn't have to spend a day bumming around WDW with no park pass. After we were up and around for the morning, I drove Kevin over to Epcot and dropped him off, and I made the drive over to Universal. I still enjoy taking the back way to the park, where you get off at the Sea World exit off of I-4 and take Turkey Lake Road in. That's the way I always drove when I lived down there, so that's the way I still like to go.
After I parked, I made my way up to an Islands of Adventure ticket booth where they quickly exchanged my voucher for a real park pass.
Just as I posed for my photo, a random employee jumped into the shot with me!
Once inside, the first thing I wanted to do was to ride the Seuss Trolley Train Ride since that was the only new ride in the park since my last trip. The skies were looking a little ominous, but everything had the all clear for the moment.
The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride
The ride was really cute, and one that I would definitely ride on every trip, though not one that will ever fill all that extended queue that it has!
The view of Seuss Landing from the trolley train ride
After the trolley ride, I went across Seuss Landing and rode Cat in the Hat, which is one of my very favorite dark rides anywhere. When I came out, it was starting to drizzle, so I started the walk over to Lost Continent in hopes that I could jump inside Poseidon's Fury to wait out the rain. But when I got there, they said that the first show wasn't until 11:00am, and it was still before 10:30am at this point. So, getting wetter by the second, I trudged on to see if I could find an indoor place to stop somewhere else.
Construction on the Harry Potter area that I care nothing about
Due to all the construction, I ended up walking straight through Lost Continent and into Jurassic Park before I found a place to get inside!
When I arrived at Burger Digs, the sky was really starting to open up, so I just went out onto one of their balconies and parked myself there. I didn't feel the need to rush around in the rain since there wasn't anything else new in the park, so I just enjoyed the view for a while.
My view during my break on the Burger Digs balcony
After maybe half an hour, I decided that since I was already sitting there, I might as well eat lunch while I was at it. So I went inside and ordered a chicken strip basket, then returned to my comfy spot out on the balcony. Once I was done, the rain had slacked up to the point that I could walk in it, so I left and went back to Dueling Dragons.
The entire area around Dueling Dragons was torn up with the Harry Potter construction, but it wasn't a big deal this day since the crowds were non-existent. The current line bypasses basically the entire interior of the castle, which is a bummer since this was always one of my favorite queues anywhere! When I got to the station, I had my pick of any seats in the train, so I chose the back row of Fire for my first ride. When that was done, I used the bypass hallway to go back around, and I ended up in the front seat of Ice. I don't think I'd ever ridden in the front of Ice before, so I got to see the near collision with the wall for the first time. During the ride on Ice, it started to rain again, so I was pretty wet by the time I got off the ride! So I scurried back to my locker and grabbed my umbrella before going any further.
Once I had the umbrella, I backtracked up the exit so I could get a couple of photos of the construction. On the way, I started to chat with a nice employee who was giving me all kinds of info about it. I got a few nice pictures, including one where a worker was standing next to one of the windows in the castle.
From ground level, the window looked like it was floor to ceiling in a normal sized room, but with the man standing next to it, you could see that it was only about as tall as his shoulder! It's an incredible use of forced perspective. On the way out, a group of four teenage guys passed me...one little roly poly one, and three taller thinner ones. Just as they got past me, the roly poly one yelled "Where my dogs at??" and the other three guys started barking like dogs! hahaha
After leaving Dueling Dragons, I went into Toon Lagoon, but it was a little too chilly to be riding anything *that* wet!
So I stood on my favorite little bridge for a while and watched the Bilge Rat Barges float by, then spent a good long while taking photos in the area.
Emerging out the other side, I decided to hop on Spiderman since there was basically no line. Afterward, I made my way over to Dr. Doom and got in the single rider line. My first ride was over almost as soon as I walked up, so I got right back in the singles line to ride again. Well the guy who was loading the ride would look over at me, smile, go back to loading, smile and nod, load some more...until eventually he said "Were you waiting for someone?" Um...no...I'm in the single rider line doofus. So then he acted all apologetic and put me onto the ride immediately. Weird!
Some pretty disgusting props in a shooting game in the Superhero Island arcade
On the way out through the arcade, I spotted another one of the Road Trip arcade games, so I decided to try my hand at it again. This time, I made it to the second level, and decided to quit while I was ahead and take the small prize...
...which was a key chain flashlight. Three Brazilian (I think) girls nearby saw me win it, and wanted to see what it was. As soon as I turned to walk away, I saw them all start to take turns playing it :-)
Me with Captain America
Some scenery in Superhero Island
Since I'd already made a complete circuit of the park, the last ride I came to was Hulk, so I gave it a courtesy ride. It's still not my favorite B&M, but it's a pretty good ride. Afterward, I went ahead and made my way out of the park, not even bothering to stop in the gift shops on the way out. I walked over to the Studios via the path on the left, and was pleasantly surprised to see that you can see so much of Rip Ride Rockit from outside the park.
I hung around for a while and took photos, but then my coaster enthusiasm got the better of me, so I ran inside and got in line for what would be my 341st coaster credit.
Rip Ride Rockit's vertical lift hill
The unique outside looping vertical loop...the highlight of the ride, IMO
When I arrived, the line was an hour long. But oh well...I didn't really have anything else to do in the park, and I *really* wanted to ride it, so I waited it out. The video in the line got very old very quickly, but it did give me plenty of time to decide on which song I wanted to hear during my ride. I hemmed and hawed about either Insane in the Brain or Rollin', but ultimately decided on Insane in the Brain because I wanted to hear how they had censored the lyrics.
When I boarded the train, I closed the restraint and quickly made my song selection. The restraint was unlike any I'd ever seen before since it was pretty much just one large round lap bar that went around your waist. The vertical lift was pretty cool, and I LOVED the way that the music added so much to the coaster! But of course, not even halfway through, the music cut out and I was left to ride the rest of the ride without sound. I still thought it was a really great ride, with that outside looping loop definitely being the highlight, but I really wished that the music had stayed on through the whole ride. Maybe next time.
With that under my belt, the only thing left to do was enjoy the rest of the park. My next stop was the E.T. Adventure, which is always a favorite of mine. I still love the smell...it's a smell that I always associate with good times.
My next ride was the new Simpson's simulator that took the place of Back to the Future. I liked the new version head and shoulders more than the old version, most likely because I like the Simpson's head and shoulders more than I have ever liked Back to the Future. The entire facade and indoor queue was covered in references to the show, including an entire map of Krustyland, with descriptions of the rides and shows! The ride itself was better as well since I didn't get motion sick. I think it had a lot to do with the fact that the movie has you looking in all directions instead of just directly in front of you. Sometimes you looked up, or to the right or something, which made it better than Back to the Future.
After the Simpson's ride, I went over to Men in Black, but for some reason, they weren't running the single rider queue. I wanted through the regular line, which really didn't take all that long, but was still probably 10 times longer than the single rider line ever was! They were also only loading one side of the ride, which was a major bummer since you weren't able to go after the points for the fusion exhaust port on the opposing car. Too bad. Still a fantastic ride though.
I wandered past Jaws but decided to pass on riding in favor of a lap on Mummy before heading out. Once again, the single rider line was closed, so I waited it out in the regular line. The wait was only about 15 minutes, so it wasn't too bad, but again...it was way longer than single rider would have been! When I was done with my ride, it was starting to rain again, so I donned my umbrella and decided to head out for the night. On the way out, I popped my head into the bakery near the park entrance, but they didn't have anything that piqued my interest, so I left without buying anything. After a few moments, I decided to go to the Orlando Ale House for dinner...this was a place that was a regular haunt of mine during my time living in Florida, but I hadn't been back since I moved back to Tennessee. I always loved their chicken nachos, so that's what I decided to have for dinner.
Ale House is only a couple of blocks away from Crossroads, so it's really convenient to everything. When I arrived, I texted Bill to let him know where I was, since he thinks the Ale House chicken nachos are disgusting haha. I went in and sat down, and ended up waiting a long time for anyone to come by my table and take my order. Finally, I stopped a guy in a suit who was walking by and asked him if he could send the server over. Instead, he just took my order right then, and ended up being my server for the entire rest of my time there! I already knew that I just wanted the nachos and a glass of water, so I didn't have to wait long at all for the food once he got my order.
When my nachos arrived, just like I remembered, they were enormous! Easily a foot long and three or four inches high! I ate all that I could, but I still barely made a dent in it. I also decided not to take the remains home since I had pretty much just eaten all the chicken and cheese off of them, so all I was left with was just chips. It was delicious though...just one more thing to miss about Orlando.
After dinner, I headed back to the hotel, but it was still really early, and I figured that I'd call around and see if anyone was open to hanging out. Eventually I got in touch with Charlotte who said I was welcome to come over to their unit and hang out for a while if I wanted. So I drove over there, and she and I hung out for the better part of two hours, just chatting and laughing and whatnot. By a little after 9:00, she had to kick me out since she had to get up early in the morning and make the drive home, so I said goodbye until next year.
When I got back to the Hilton, I had already missed the new episode of American Chopper, but that's ok since I can see it any time, and can only see Charlotte once or twice a year :-) I watched the episode of the barbecue show that came on next while I was rearranging all of my stuff into my suitcase to take home, then ended up falling asleep during the second airing of American Chopper. Kevin arrived a little bit after I fell asleep, but was in bed himself within just a few minutes of arriving.
Go to RADP 14 - DAY 9
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