Monday, August 21, 2006

Orlando The Ride!

This past weekend I went to Orlando to spend time with my girlfriend while she was there for a class she was teaching. We had the chance to go to Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, and Wet ‘n Wild for cheap thanks to a friend who got a job there about a year ago.

My friend went above and beyond the call of duty for the weekend. In addition to getting us the discounted tickets, he drove us around, took us to a great restaurant, and guided us through the parks. It was certainly nice having an expert there to navigate the rides and hit all the best ones, maximizing our time.

For me, this trip was a dream come true. As you know, I’m a huge Back to the Future fan and ever since the ride opened in 1991 I’ve wanted to ride “Back to the Future The Ride.” One of the highlights of the ride was seeing one of the time travel modified DeLoreans. As a BTTF freak, I plan to purchase one soon, the plan is to do so in the next 3 years. When my search gears up you will no doubt hear more about it. I believe the one at Universal was actually used in the films (although most of the add on pieces are no longer the originals), but who knows for sure. They have built a few since then for promotional purposes.

The BTTF ride was amazing. Despite being one of the oldest rides in the park, there was a significant line, forcing us to wait for nearly 30 min (a substantial amount of time for a ride in the off season). If you are unfamiliar with the ride, the premise is that you are on a tour of the “Institute of Future Technology”, a research facility run by Doc Brown, in which your group is to travel 1 day forward in time for the fun of it. This all goes horribly wrong when the 1955 Biff is found to have stowed away on one of the research time vehicles and ultimately steals one after locking Doc Brown in his lab. As the only ones able to get to a time machine, you must track down Biff and save the universe from a time paradox. This is one of those rides where the motion matches the projection, in this case a huge omni screen theater.

While in line, you listen to music from all three soundtracks, watch videos introducing the Institute of Future Technology, and even see props from the movies. Some of the props which were present included Einstein’s (Doc’s dog) bed, Marty’s guitar, several of the clocks from the opening scene, a hoverboard, and the alternate 1985 newspaper archive.

The coolest part of the ride is that you get to ride in a (fake) 8 passenger DeLorean, like the one shown below. While the interior wasn’t true to the original time machine design, it did have a small dashboard mounted flux capacitor and time circuit unit. The dash also contained a speedometer and gauges matching that of a real DeLorean and a small monitor which tracked Biffs status and allowed him to communicate with us. You can see the movie we saw here.

I had seen all the videos, pictures, and reviews associated with the ride over the 15 years that I had waited for this moment, so there was little surprise when I was actually there, however there was something unexplainably different about experiencing the sites, sounds, and feel in person. Although I can’t honestly say it was the best ride of the weekend, it was without question the best experience. The wait was worth it, it lived up to all my expectations!

Today I found out a sad piece of news about the ride from my Universal friend, it will be closing in less than a month. I suppose this could either be seen as good news or bad news how you look at it. It is good that I was able to see it before the end, bad that it is going away forever. If you want to see the ride, book your tickets now! More info can be found here.

The water park was also a blast. I can’t even remember the last time I went to one, but it had been far too long. The best slide was Disco H20, probably the strangest water slide I’ve ever been on. Up to 4 riders get on a raft and are sent through traditional twists and turns, arriving in a large bowl like structure where a 70’s disco party is taking place. The music is blasting, multicolored lights are flashing, and the disco ball is hanging from the ceiling. The momentum keeps the raft spinning around the room for couple times, then falls into the exit tunnel. I’d never been to a disco party in my swim suit before, I guess there is a first time for everything.

Our first night in Orlando we went to City Walk, Universal’s night life central. The place was full of neon lights, spot lights, live outdoor music, and of course more than a few places to eat & drink. Here is a picture of it during the day (right), but you get the idea.

It had been six weeks since I’d last seen my girlfriend, and in case there was any doubt, that is a LONG time. As great and exciting as all my trips to NYC, Chicago, Orlando, San Francisco, and Des Moines ;-) may sound, I’d much rather have a local relationship. But as I’ve said before, she is more than worth it! We will see each other again in just under 2 weeks, and thankfully won’t have to go 6 weeks again before her move back. Thank goodness!

Here are some other photos from the trip:


Blogger Karin said...

They're closing it?? NOOOOOOO!!! That was my favorite ride when I was there at age 11, although the $1 in quarters I found in our DeLorean might have had something to do with it.

8/21/2006 6:06 PM  
Blogger david said...

I know! It is terrible. Then again if you think about it most college students weren't even born when the movie came out. I guess you need to keep the rides fresh. Still, it is sad to see it go.

8/24/2006 6:45 AM  
Blogger Karin said...

I can't believe they'd close it if it had one of the longest waits of the day! Just think, only 8 more years until we are "in" Marty's future. I'm already on the waitlist for a hover board.

8/24/2006 6:31 PM  

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