So, ten theme parks, dozens and dozens of rides, lots of shows, six pounds of food, and about fourteen miles of shoe leather later, and I’m back from Orlando. On Day 12 we went back to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, and on Day 13 we returned to the Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, and Epcot. Here’s the other days, in a nutshell:
Day 1 – Universal Studios
Best attraction… overall, probably Terminator 2: 3D for the combination of live action and three dimensional effects. Also of note are The Revenge of the Mummy, and Jimmy Neutron’s Nicktoon Blast. The biggest disappointment was Earthquake. There’s not much to it and, in 2007, is somewhat dated.
Day 2 – Magic Kingdom
Best attraction… for originality it has to be Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor. It’s a very clever ‘interactive stand-up’ show, and the third time we saw it I was even a part of the laughter. Also recommended are Mickey’s Philharmagic, a glorious 3D movie, and the old standards Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Biggest disappointment has to be Pirates of the Caribbean, which was definitely not as good as I recalled the Disneyland version back when I was a teenager.
Day 3 – Animal Kingdom
Best attraction… Expedition Everest has Disney magic written all over it. A great coaster with some very good effects as well. Dinosaur is also a great dark ride if you don’t mind being thrown about. Kilimanjaro Safaris is a brilliant animal excursion. The Festival of the Lion King is one of the best shows I saw in Orlando. Primeval Whirl – a crazy mouse coaster, but the single most frightening ride I was on! Nemo, The Musical was poor, especially by Disney standards.
Day 4 – Florida Mall
The rain put a temporary delay on our theme park plans, but we always had a day set aside for shopping anyway. Great centre (if you’re a woman) with hundreds and hundreds of stores (literally), including M&M World, where you can buy pretty much anything you can think of with a crispy chocolate shell…
Day 5 – Islands of Adventure
Best attraction… The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man is a brilliantly executed mix of 3D and simulator, not to be missed. The launch on The Incredible Hulk Coaster is breathtaking, and before you know it you’re in the first of seven inversions. Dueling Dragons is an outstanding inverted creation. I expected more from Jurassic Park River Adventure, but it was still a good ride.
Day 6 – Epcot
Probably the most relaxing park, and the best looking one as well. Best attraction… Test Track is an innovative thrill ride. Mission: Space was possibly the most intense experience I had in Orlando, while Soarin’ is overrated but always has major queues. Maelstrom was a pretty poor boat ride, in need of a rethink.
Day 7 – Busch Gardens
Best attraction… Montu. Quite simply, the best rollercoaster I have been on. It’s an inverted monster (that’s hanging upside down, people) with seven inversions and has some great air time as well. Stanley Falls is a cute log ride, while Rhino Rally is a good idea, partially executed. Tanganyika Tidal Wave has a great double drop at the end, and Pirates 4D is a four dimensional waste, albeit quite funny.
Day 8 – Seaworld
The shows, Blue Horizons (dolphins) and Believe (killer whales), are both excellent. Up close these creatures are stunning. Kraken is a great, floorless coaster, and a real speed demon. Journey To Atlantis is a good combo coaster/water ride, while the simulator Wild Arctic is a little dated but still heavy on movement.
Day 9 – Wet n Wild
A totally different fish to the regular theme parks. Disco H2O is the best ride in the park. It only lasts about twenty-five seconds, but it’s excellent. The Black Hole and The Surge are also very good. Der Stuka is a freefall slide from six storeys up… and it hurts, trust me! The only downer here is the amount of stairs you have to climb for the rides. We went back to our hotel room with really sore feet!
Day 10 – MGM
Short on rides, but Fantasmic (the end of night light and water show) was absolutely amazing, as was the stunt show Lights, Motors, Action. The Tower of Terror was a brilliantly themed scare-fest. The Backlot Tour is a bit of a letdown – there’s just not much to it, and the Rock n Roller Coaster was closed for refurbishment, so that was a disappointment.
Day 11 – Blizzard Beach
The lesser of the two water parks we visited. None of the rides matched the best ones at (whisper it... 'the competition'), although it was still an interesting diversion. Toboggan Racers was probably the best ride there, and Cross Country Creek (lazy river) was a relaxing journey around the park. Slush Gusher was painful, and as soon as I reached the bottom I regretted telling the wife (who followed me) that it wouldn’t be...