Photo TR: Scarin' and Crusin' with TPR in Orlando

Part 12: Just when you thought it was all over . . .
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Photo TR: Scarin' and Crusin' with TPR in Orlando

Postby cfc » Mon Oct 24, 2011 2:08 pm

What happens when you combine an October week with Theme Park Review in Florida with a week on the Caribbean? An amazing week becomes an awesome two weeks! I always look forward to hitting WDW, Universal, and Busch Gardens (and their various Halloween events) with TPR every year, and the opportunity to add a week on Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas was irresistible. Thank you, Robb and Elissa, for another great vacation!

This TR is going to be a bit disjointed because I'm going to hop around a bit instead of posting everything chronologically. Why? It just makes more sense to post the Halloween stuff before Halloween. We'll get to some random Disney stuff, Legoland Florida, and cruise after all the Halloween events are covered. Everybody OK with this? (Why am I asking? It's not like you have a choice here. ;) This is my TR, dammit!)

Let's get off to a mellow start with my favorite night to visit Florida's Magic Kingdom: Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party. Although this event is geared toward families (what a shock) and is pretty much the same year to year, I always look forward to it for a number of reasons:

1. I'm hanging out with fellow TPR members, which guarantees a good time no matter what happens.
2. Space Mountain wait time--5 minutes.
3. The parade and fireworks are always fun.
4. Candy!

So, don't expect anything too scary here--at least not on the surface. Who knows what lurks beneath?

Boo to you!
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Those with party tickets can enter the park at 4:00. The party itself starts at 7:00 and goes till midnight.
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Nothing says "horror" like a pumpkin in a jaunty touring cap and bowtie!
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"Just leave your kids with me, folks! I'll have 'em all cooked up for you by suppertime."
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Shawn wants to make damn sure that he gets his recommended allotment of sugar tonight.
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In Scotland, vampires crave sugar and cinnamon, not blood.
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Lou has found just the outfit for formal night during the cruise.
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Of course, it does have some drawbacks, such as encouraging random people to call you.
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I wasn't in costume, but many members of our group dressed up. Say hello to Justin Bieber!
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Shannon dresses like this pretty much every day, but Scott's "theme-park geek with a camera" costume was outstanding.
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"I am Mrs. Nesbitt, do you hear me? MRS. FREAKIN' NESBITT!"
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Ice Bat and Sharktopus have combined to become "Mega Disco Ice Bat and Sharktopus"! Watch your back, Godzilla!
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Hanno decided to become a crazy Dutchman.
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Behold the horror of the "Boo to You" parade, foolish mortals!
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"What? You wenches won't show me your breasts here? They used to in California!"
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You know, Playtex lifts and separates. Just sayin'.
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The Villains float is always a highlight--right up there with the bald guy and the snack cart.
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"Gawrsh! Lookit all you nice folks! Almost makes me sorry to unleash my undead minions to snack on your intestines!"
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The Halloween fireworks are always great, too.
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Excellent music and lighting effects--plus, they blow stuff up real good!
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Uh oh! Tomorrowland has taken a direct hit!
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The World of the Future's retaliation is swift and terrible!
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You can't participate in MNSSHP and not ride the Haunted Mansion. That would be a serious faux pas.
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The new interactive queue is fun.
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It brings out your "inner Phantom of the Opera."
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"Oh, I could spend all night shoving these books back on the shelf. Really, I could."
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This spider is nearly as big as the ones we enountered in Jamaica during the cruise.
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"See ya real soon"--IN HELL!
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"Goodnight, folks! I hope you liked consorting with the Prince of Darkness!" Next up will be Universal--and HHN.
Last edited by cfc on Tue Nov 29, 2011 7:38 pm.
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Re: Photo TR: Scarin' and Crusin' with TPR in Orlando

Postby gisco » Mon Oct 24, 2011 2:18 pm

Yeah, a Chuck report!

Love the picture of Lou!

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Re: Photo TR: Scarin' and Crusin' with TPR in Orlando

Postby Meteornotes » Mon Oct 24, 2011 2:41 pm

Disco Ice Bat & Sharktopus is a force to be reckoned with! It's like almost too much awesome in one small space for the universe to deal with.

This is one of my favorite events of the year. Especially when I don't watch the parade!

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Re: Photo TR: Scarin' and Crusin' with TPR in Orlando

Postby jray21 » Mon Oct 24, 2011 4:46 pm

Awesome start Chuck! Can't wait to see more! How was the Cinnamon Bread Divv was about to devour?
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Re: Photo TR: Scarin' and Crusin' with TPR in Orlando

Postby ernierocker » Mon Oct 24, 2011 4:53 pm

Yay for MNSSHP! Yay for Chuck Trip reports! And what did you dress up as Chuck?
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Re: Photo TR: Scarin' and Crusin' with TPR in Orlando

Postby BeemerBoy » Mon Oct 24, 2011 5:45 pm

Thanks, Chuck! I spent minutes and minutes on that costume, and I'm glad there's someone out there that can appreciate the amount of thought and effort that went into it.

Love the "Phantom" shot. Ha!

Great start. Looking forward to reliving more of it!
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Re: Photo TR: Scarin' and Crusin' with TPR in Orlando

Postby Jojo19799 » Mon Oct 24, 2011 7:29 pm

I love your trip reports Chuck. Looking forward to seeing the rest of it!
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Re: Photo TR: Scarin' and Crusin' with TPR in Orlando

Postby larrygator » Mon Oct 24, 2011 8:50 pm

Oh no! Chuck on a cruise.

PLEASE, no pantless pictures this time.
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Re: Photo TR: Scarin' and Crusin' with TPR in Orlando

Postby SuperShawn » Tue Oct 25, 2011 2:50 pm

MNSSHP was a great starting point Chuck. This event exceeded my expectations in every way, especially with the dolled up Haunted Mansion workers! Can't wait for your next instalment. Oh and Boo To you!
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Re: Photo TR: Scarin' and Crusin' with TPR in Orlando

Postby cfc » Tue Oct 25, 2011 5:01 pm

OK, it's time to ramp things up a bit. Out with the cutesy and in with the gory! On the the 21st Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando!

This is my favorite theme-park event. Last year's event was a bit "off," with no particularly memorable houses, weak scare zones, and a really bad Bill & Ted show. This year was a definite step up with much better (if somewhat familiar) houses, slightly improved scare zones (not outstanding, but OK), and a slightly better (as in I didn't want to gouge out my eyes and fill my ears with hot candle wax) Bill & Ted show. The whole "Lady Luck" theme didn't come off. I was on the RIP Tour, where William (our excellent guide) explained the concept of how Lady Luck appears throughout history, and each house involves a moment when someone's luck could be either good or bad (mostly the latter) based on the the choices he makes. It seemed a bit thin for a theme--and it doesn't bode well if it has to be explained in detail. ("Icons" like Jack the Clown and Director are easier to understand without a lot of back story.)

The houses, as is usually the case with Universal, are beautifully designed with very elaborate sets (even in the "tent" houses) and atmosphere to burn. I didn't think there was a real "bummer" in the bunch, but here they are from best to worst:

H. R. Bloodengutz Presents "Holidays of Horror"--A fired horror-movie-show host gets his revenge on his nasty station manager by making his former boss suffer through some demented "holiday" movies. We've seen plenty of movies and mazes that use Halloween themes to rape and strangle Christmas, Thanksgiving, and even St. Patrick's Day, but how many have tackled Arbor Day? This maze is largely played for laughs, and I enjoyed it thoroughly--beware the living trees!

Nevermore: The Madness of Poe--I've always been a fan of Edgar Allen Poe's stories and poems, and this maze really delivered the gothic atmosphere (especially the "Masque of the Red Death" room). I like how the house was a sort of a "tour" of Poe's sick mind, although Busch Gardens Tampa's approach to the same subject matter was effective, too (more on that later).

Winter's Night: The Haunting of Hawthorn Cemetery--Here's a another 19th-century gothic maze, and a more "traditional" ghost story, complete with bitter cold, "snow," and restless spirits. Good, old-fashioned fun (like walking through a haunted-house movie from the 1930s or '40s).

Nightingales: Blood Prey--WWI nurses turn out to be vicious demons who feed on pain and suffering in this maze, which takes you into the trenches and field hospitals of the 20th century's first major conflict. It's a good maze with plenty of scares, but it did seem a little derivative of the Collectors mazes from past HHNs.

Saws 'n' Steam: Into the Machine--There's lots of noise and water in this Industrial Age nightmare, where guests become unwitting fuel for a monstrous machine that provides power to the privileged few. An interesting idea that builds on a steam-punk scare zone from last year (even KD's Haunt has a steam-punk zone this year).

The Forsaken--In a way, this is another "holday" maze--sort of John Carptenter's The Fog meets Columbus Day. A garrison at a 14th-century Spanish fort is massacred by the vengeful spirits of a fourth ship abandoned by Christopher Columbus back in 1492. Although the sameness of the scare actors gets a bit monotonous (they all wear armor and have glowing green eyes), the stormy atmosphere makes up for it (you will get wet).

The In-Between--A hapless college student stupidly opens a vortex to another dimension in this "3D" house. I'm not that crazy about 3D mazes, but this one is fairly amusing, although I think they could've made it an evil clown maze with just a few minor changes--still plenty of fun.

The Thing--This house is "meh" at the beginning, but builds to a fairly strong finish (which is probably where most of the budget went). Still, it was the weakest maze of the night.

Here's a tip--if you want to have extra fun on your RIP Tour, go with Renee and Allison. Those two will scream if they see a random piece of paper on the ground.

Here's a look at HHN. I tried to used my flash as little as possible to take more "atmospheric" (that is, blurry) pictures. So, it's not your eyes. It's my meagre photographic skills. ;)
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I have taken this photo in compliance with Florida law.
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Holy crap! A zombie construction worker scare zone! Oh, that's just the new mini-golf course. Never mind.
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I had some time on my own before the RIP Tour, so I checked out an attraction I'd never experienced before: the aptly named "Disaster."
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If only this were true . . .
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Christopher Walken likes a paycheck as well as the next man.
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Sound advice in any disaster.
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"The name of the attraction is 'Disaster.' 'D-I-S-A-S-T-E-R.' Does everybody understand that?"
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Great. I waited about 45 minutes to watch some "3D" video footage of Christopher Walken pulling a paycheck.
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"Help me! This tank is full of Grinch balls!"
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Well, that was about 80 minutes well spent.
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Let's check out a few scare zones in broad daylight, shall we?
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Universal sure gets a lot of mileage out of this old bus.
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Uh oh! No one warned me about scary boxes covered with black drapes! MY GOD! Renee! Allison! Run for your lives!
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"Tonight I will swallow your soul--while you pee your pants!"
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A squirrel! And he's eating a stick! Get ye behind me, Satan!
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The horror . . . the horror . . .
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We interrupt our usual blood-curdling program of terror to show you Chuck's lunch. Now back to the horror, which is already in progress.
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Although I wasn't impressed with the Lady Luck theme overall, I did think she had the best scare zone.
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My god! Tourist zombies!
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"Tonight, I vill suck all of your blood--or steal your Jello shooters!"
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"I have come for your women--and your churros!"
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Meanwhile, back at the TPR House . . .
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"Don't you have a tour to meet, you little worm?" Ulp! Er, off I go to meet the group. More pics to come.
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