This past week my girlfriend, Erin, had to go on a business trip to Orlando, so I decided to take the week off to go down with her and make the most of it! The whole trip was absolutely amazing, with short lines at the parks, temperatures in the mid 80s and nothing but sun the entire time. Very low humidity too.
Since our flight didn’t leave until Sunday morning, I actually drove down to Busch Gardens Europe for a few hours on Saturday and got some additional pictures of Griffon from the skyride. The next day we took off for Florida. It’s been about 13 years since I’ve been to any Disney park, so I made sure to get all the new credits that I’ve been missing out on. We also took a day and went down to Busch Gardens Tampa. Oh, and of course we made time for the Universal parks.
I realize that as I get older I won’t have the ability to do things like visit all 4 Disney parks in one day. I’ve heard it was impossible to do, but I definitely accomplished it on Monday. Overall we ended up with 61 rides, 24 coasters, and 9 new credits for the list. I took about 1000 pictures, so I’m sure they can cover the rest. This was definitely a memorable vacation.
Day 1: Saturday 4/21- Busch Gardens Europe
Decided to start the trip with a beautiful morning at Busch Gardens Europe
I've found the secret to how Busch Gardens keeps "America's Most Beautiful Theme Park" clean. I've never seen one of these in a park before.
Hey look, it's Top Gun Man!
Alpengeist flies by
New Griffon splash pool. You can see the viewing area is almost complete. Should be close enough to get a good splash from the train too.
Final turnaround before the brakes
Hopefully this will be an airtime hill. I have a feeling we'll find out soon
A view of the station queue area.
This duck was like.. why you puttin' that camera all up in my grilll???
Loch Ness through the woods
Loch Ness again
I wish more parks had trains. They're a great attraction when parks get crowded
New wood at Busch Gardens Europe! Actually, that wouldn't be such a good thing.
The train sat here at the bottom of the lift the whole time I was in the park. Apparently Griff started testing as soon as I left for the day. Go figure.
Close up of the trains. Those end seats are really going to be great. Hopefully we'll know for sure soon.
Day 2: Sunday 4/22- Flight to Orlando, and Resort photos
Sunday morning our flight left Richmond at 8am. I've never flown to Florida before, and it was really nice to only be in the air for 1.5 hours, and then have the whole rest of the day to do whatever.
We arrived, and checked into the Gaylord Palms resort (on her company's tab ). This place was really amazing. The resort was divided into 3 different "atriums" that represent different areas of Florida. The atriums were surrounded by guest rooms with balconies, and all of it was enclosed with a huge glass roof. The indoor areas were climate controlled to make you feel like you're outside in perfect weather. And, as you can see from the pictures, the whole place was massive. The pictures I got were just in the hotel side of the resort. There was a whole other convention side separated by 2 outdoor pools, a mini-golf course and volleyball courts. I could have spent a day or two just wandering around the place, but with a tight theme park schedule, I only managed to get a handfull of pictures while passing through.
Now I remember why I don't like to fly. It's been about 10 years since I was on a plane
Ready for vacation
After a mostly cloudy and cold month in Virginia, I can finally leave the clouds behind for a little while.
Getting into Florida
Our hotel for the week. This place was really amazing
St Augustine Atrium inside the hotel. You can see the guest rooms along the walls
Key West Atrium with sand sculptures
More sand sculptures
Balcony in St. Augustine area
There were several waterfalls around the resort
And alligators! Although they didn't move around too much
Alligators chillin' in the sun
This was a restaurant in the Everglades atrium.
Overhead view of the Everglades area
One of 2 outdoor pools
The second, "family" pool with a cool water slide. Unfortunately I didn't have time to go swimming
On Sunday night they had a small concert in the main area.
I don't remember who they were, but they sounded pretty good.
A view of the main lobby and check-in area
Our room was in the Key West section, but we didn't have a view of the inside of the hotel
But this was the view from our window. Having the world's tallest skycoaster in the background ain't too bad
And, the highlight of our room... shower head passes the test!
After we checked into the hotel, Erin and I both spent a few hours on Sunday at Universal Studios. I've never spent much time in this park, and haven't been to Florida since before Revenge of the Mummy was built.
The crowds weren't too bad for a weekend afternoon, we waited about 20 minutes for Mummy, which I thought was a really great ride. There were a couple spots of really good airtime, and the launched lift was a surprise to me. I've also heard it was a short ride, but I didn't think the length was bad at all.
We also got on E.T. and MIB for the first time, which were both decent. And the Nuthouse Coaster kids credit.
Twister was not so impressive
The streets at Universal are really cool to walk around. However, there just isn't much to "do" for someone like me who wants to keep moving to the next ride
Streets of Universal
The only photo ever seen of Mummy
Until I snapped a quick photo of the trains.
Hey look, we're in... wait a minute I wasn't on a plane that long
New credits are always a plus!
Back to the Future Theming. I wonder if this will stay in the park
The MIB ride. I wasn't so impressed with this, actually. I expected it to be exciting, but it turned out to be more of a kids attraction (in my opinion)
Day 3: Monday 4/23 - All the Disney you can handle
On Monday, I was on a mission. Erin was in a vendor show all day, so I had time to myself to conquer as many Disney attractions as possible. I had been strategizing my plan of attack with a few friends before the trip, and the plan we came up with worked perfect.
I left on the shuttle at 8:15am, went to all 4 parks, and didn't get back until after 11:00pm. I was exhausted, and my fairly new socks had holes worn in the heels by the end of the day, but I managed to hit every major attraction in all 4 parks.
I would say the highlights were Space Mountain, Tower of Terror, and Expedition Everest. Space Mountain was much longer than I remember, and overall a great ride. Tower of Terror was such a cool ride, even before you get to the freefall part. I really didn't know what to expect, and it was great.
Expedition Everest is actually in a class of it's own for me. I've never been much of a fan of themed rides. I've always said I wish parks would spend more money and build bigger, longer rides rather than spend the money on theming, but I really think they did Everest perfectly. Another thing that got me was that I was expecting it to be more of a tame ride than it was. There were some really good g-forces in the first backwards section, and again in the helix. Then shooting up by that Yeti at the end with his hair blowing in the wind reaching down at you was amazing. I had 4 consecutive rides on Everest at the end of the night as the crowds were leaving, and the line disappeared, and that really had me feeling that this is a great, solid ride.
After Animal Kingdom, I hung out at Epcot for a while as the sun went down and pretty much just took pictures there. The only ride I wanted to get on, but didn't, was Soarin'. It came down to either food, or soarin' and anyone who has been with me to a theme park knows which one of those two would have priority. I ate a nice meal and then watched the fireworks.
Starting off at Magic Kingdom, I was able to get there before the gates opened.
Cool shot of Space Mtn and one of the boats
The overexposed Grand Floridian resort
I think I need some help with a caption for this one :)
I rode Big Thunder Mtn as a kid, but riding it again this week really proved this is such a great coaster.
The theming is really great
Big Thunder train
I was amazed at the 2 train operation on Barnstormer.
Some castle and flower pictures for castle and flower lovers
I think the lighting was really great on this shot
Now it's on to MGM. Only a couple things here to ride, so I was only in the park for about an hour
Rockin' Roller Coaster was great, and much smoother than I expected.
I like the theming outside the entrance
And I managed to sneak a shot in the exit area. The train isn't launching, I just used a slow shutter speed.
Tower of Terror was awesome. This was my first time on the ride, and I wish I had more time to ride it again
Tower of Terror queue line theming
After a long wait for the shuttle, it was off to Animal Kingdom
There's really only one thing to take pictures of here. That's Everest. Definitely my favorite ride at all Disney parks
coming out of the mountain
I love the way the mountain really blends in with the background
Everest queue line theming was great.
Props in line
I know I've seen this shot before
The runout before the 2nd lift
helix of awesomeness
Cresting the top of the mountain
Only one side of Primeval whirl was open, so unfortunately I missed out on a credit here :(
I took a ride on the safari tour, but was not very impressed with it
And lastly, on to Epcot. I thought test track was really cool
At this point the sun was going down, which is the best time to get pictures
Beautiful pics! Griffon looks great. You can see in the pics how it totally dwarfs the other coasters. Love the shot of the kid showing crack! The Expedition Everest pics were great too- it looks like an awesome coaster. And the hotel- wow! I think I want to be reincarnated as one of those crocodiles.
Home Park: Kennywood Favorite Park: Cedar Point Favorite Coaster: Millennium Force (steel); Beast (wood) Coasters Ridden: 72
Unless you're the lead dog, the scenery never changes
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