We're finally back in Anchorage and though I'm in the midst of 47 loads of laundry and a stack of mail to rival Everest I'm ready to blog like crazy--but you knew you were going to have to hear just a little about our adventures, right? It's either that or I'm going to invite you over to sit through 35 hours of family photos, memorabilia and in-depth video footage of A Small World and alligators (though not alligators at A Small World--now THAT would be something).
I may have mentioned my love-hate relationship with theme parks. I mean they’re fun and all—no griping about The Happiest Place on Earth here, no sirree—but I really wasn’t interested in seeing parks other than maybe the Magic Kingdom where the Mouse Himself resides.
You’ve probably heard that Universal Studios operates theme parks in California and in Florida but the one in Florida has two parks: one is the studio tour with rides and attractions but the other is an amusement park called Islands of Adventure. It’s built around a pond and has different areas much like Disneyland has but instead of Tomorrow Land and Frontier Land it’s got The Lost Continent, Jurassic Park and Seuss Landing.
We arrived and in an orderly fashion (we’re nothing if not orderly) worked our way around the park counter-clockwise so we started with The Incredible Hulk, a serious roller coaster that scared even Spencer. You know when you see a net stretched out beneath the twirling track, filled with items that have dropped from the cars that you have no business going on such a ride. I repeat, no business. But ride they did (they meaning everyone but Lily and me--I was glad to have an excuse not to ride, "I'd better stay back with Lillian, you guys go on ahead and get killed without me") and Spencer came off a bit shaky and twitchy. Yea, he’ll need therapy.
But next stop was Dr. Seuss Land which (I hate to say it) just didn’t do it for me. I mean Dr. Seuss is kind of cute and playful and all but something about walking through a world lined with twelve-foot Sneeches and Truffula Trees kind of freaks you a bit. Who was it that thought that what every kid needs is a real, live Wocket in their pocket? I love the Cat in the Hat as much as the next mom but to see him life-sized next to a beer-bellied man wearing a “Thing 1” t-shirt takes me to places I just don’t want to be.
BUT . . . before you think it wasn’t worth the $420 admissions price (GASP! And don’t get me started on their nine dollar hamburgers) let me describe the rest of the park. The Lost Continent was completely converted into the adventurous ruins of an ancient Greek temple. Fountains, torches, statues, crumbling stones, it had it all and was MOST impressive. Not quite $420 worth of impressive, but a good start. The highlight was probably Poseidon’s Fury where you wind your way down into the belly of the ancient temple to encounter curses, phantoms, pyrotechnics, fountains and laser shows of Biblical proportions. Make that pagan proportions.
Then there was the Dueling Dragons. I have never seen a theme park create such a set up for an attraction. You walk through a bona fide castle, complete with dungeons, torch-lit stone archways and vine-covered arbors to get to the double-track coaster where you dangle from one of two cars that curl and swoop through the air in a series of near-misses at speeds of nearly 800 miles an hour. It's the roller coaster that breaks the sound barrier.
When I saw this sign here warning riders to remove their prosthetic limbs before boarding that should have been the cue for my brain to turn on and for my feet to step out of line but I actually rode this one, with my removed flip flops tucked safely beneath me. I thought I’d be fine but the minute we were cranked up to the top and released I closed my eyes and prayed, “Please make it stop, please just make it stop!” I went to my Happy Place and withdrew from the reality around me as we whizzed through the loops and spins, my eyes closed the entire time and my heart beating so fast I got light headed. When I finally came to a stop at the platform it took me a minute before I was ready to stand without feeling like I’d pass out. I guess the Dueling Dragons will have the distinction of being the last roller coaster I will ever ride. Well, I guess I did ride the Flying Unicorn which Lillian and I loved—I’ve determined that that’s more my style.
But as for the rest of the park, I’ll skip most of the other details: the Eighth Voyage of Sinbad pyrotechnic stunt show or the Jurassic Park River Adventure that drops you from 1000 feet into a swirling pool (at least that’s what it felt like). It was kind of like Disney’s Jungle Cruise on crack—instead of cute little head hunters and pythons and robotic elephants you get full-sized bloody-fanged dinosaurs coming after you to delight and thrill.
Then there was the Toon Lagoon section where we made the mistake of riding Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls. If you thought there was water on the Jurassic river ride just wait until you hit this one—it’s like psychotic version of Splash Mountain. You get wet the minute you sit down and it doesn’t stop until you get out—they even have a place where people can put quarters in water canons and blast at the passengers as they float by at the end of the ride. As if there was any place that I wasn’t wet (see for yourself--that's us after the ride). You should have heard the words I used on the guy that shot me, he learned the meaning of fear when he saw me coming after him.
Best ride? The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman, where you go web-slinging with Spidey himself through the help of 3-D glasses, great effects and a spinning car on a track. But I’ll stop here, if you’re one for theme parks you can go to Islands of Adventure and expect a great time, it’s clean and well-kept, the rides are entertaining and the place is made to put you right there with the action.
But bring your own food--and a very large towel.
Technorati tags: Universal Studios, Disney World, theme parks, Florida, travel