Topic Wiki

Orlando Overview
Orlando is a magical place that's not too far from home and cheap to get to with miles. Obviously, Disney, Universal and SeaWorld are the main attractions, but there are other things to do as well. The theme parks are not just for families with kids; a couple can have an absolute blast as well!

Trip Reports:
@Yehuda's trip to Universal - Quick TR Summary, Detailed TR = 4 parts Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

Getting there and getting around:

How long should I go for?
The length of your trip will likely be based on the number of parks you want to go to. Don't rush your day - give yourself a full day per park, walk around slowly, get engrossed in the magical worlds that are Disney and Universal, and wait on long lines all day :P . Some will say that you can do parks in less than a day, which may be true for certain ones, so then do a park and a night activity; don't squeeze in 2 parks in 1 day because you finished 1 park at 3PM.

Air:
MCO is Orlando's airport. You can fly directly from all New York airports. Flying business from NY will have just marginally better seats/service for double the price. The only useful benefit is getting more free checked bags, so if may be worth sending 1 person in your family in J so they can bring an extra bag. As of 1/15, Uber was not allowed at MCO due to an airport fee dispute, so the 2 ways to get an Uber are 1) Take a random hotel shuttle to a hotel and then call an Uber from there (suggested by @Uber on Twitter, but join the ethical discussion of using a shuttle if you're not staying at that hotel) and 2) Move the pin on your Uber map to a road outside the airport so that you can officially request a ride. Once a driver responds, call him and tell him you're actually in MCO and see if he'll agree to pick you up anyway. Below are the direct flight options with one-way Saver prices in Y/J.

HPN:
B6 - miles vary based on the dollar cost of the flight

EWR:
UA - 12.5K/25K
B6 - miles vary based on the dollar cost of the flight
WN - New non-stop flights beginning March 2016 - miles vary based on the dollar cost of the flight but if you're flying with your +1 and you have the Companion Pass, this can be your cheapest way to MCO

LGA:
DL - 12.5K/25K
B6 - miles vary based on the dollar cost of the flight

JFK:
AA/US - 12.5K/25K with AA miles | 7.5K/15K with BA miles
DL - 12.5K/25K
B6 - miles vary based on the dollar cost of the flight

ISP:
WN - miles vary based on the dollar cost of the flight but if you're flying with your +1 and you have the Companion Pass, this can be your cheapest way to MCO

Car:
A car is not absolutely necessary in Orlando, but it will definitely make things easier for you so you can be on your own schedule. Keep in mind, you'll have to pay parking fees at the parks each day. Many hotels have complimentary shuttles to the airport or the parks and some might even have both. If your hotel only has a parks shuttle, you can probably get a cab for the airport trips for cheaper than renting a car. If Minyan and going to the Kosher restaurants are on your radar, then you will likely need a car, although there are hotels that are both near those sites and have shuttles to the parks. See where your hotel is and decide if you need a car.


Where to stay:

Basically, your options are to stay at a hotel in the 10-15 minute range from the parks, at an official Disney or Universal Resort, or renting a private home in the greater Orlando area.

Here are some places that are discussed in this thread:

NameAreaMore InfoComments
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Comfort Inn & Suites Universal Convention Center10-20 minutes from parksWebsiteNot the fanciest, but being a Choice property means there's a BRG possibility. Free shuttle to Universal and SeaWorld. 5 minute walk to Kosher Gourmet restaurant/grocery and 20 minute walk to Chabad.
HotelDisney ResortWebsiteSPG category X; X/night
HotelUniversal ResortWebsiteSPG category X; X/night
"Get your own place"Greater Orlando AreaAirBNB, VRBO, HomeAway, Florida Sandanavian/ Vacation Pool HomesRenting a private home can be great for a family. You'll get more for your money over a hotel - a couple of bedrooms, living/dining rooms, and a full kitchen. There will usually be a pool, and if you look hard enough, you can find one that's enclosed for privacy. The downside is that they're usually not too close to the parks, which means you'll definitely need a car and have to pay for parking at the parks.


What to do:

Theme Parks:

With some searching you might find a travel/tourist website (like Musement) that may have a sale that you can use towards the tickets. For Universal Studios, the cheapest place to buy would be from Chabad of South Orlando or Orlando Torah Academy . Tickets are only sold for the upcoming "season". So in December, you'll be able to buy tickets for January break, but not for Pesach, and in the summer, you likely won't yet be able to get for the upcoming January.

Disney ParksComments
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Magic Kingdom
Epcot
Hollywood StudiosFormerly MGM Studios.
Animal Kingdom

All Disney parks have airline style food at specific cafes. Not very good but at least it's a hot meal without leaving the park. You can see the list of cafes on Chabad's site here.

Universal ParksComments
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
StudiosThe first of the 2 parks built, so it has some of the more classic rides like E.T. and The Mummy, while also featuring plenty of newer rides like Shrek, Minions, and Transformers. There are 1 or 2 roller coasters, and the rest of the rides are more like shows/3D/4D rides. Home to Harry Potter: Diagon Alley. If you have a park-to-park ticket, you can ride the Hogwarts Express train to connect to the HP World in Islands of Adventure. Only Kosher snacks are available here, no real food. As of 1/15, the mix for ButterBeer had a hechsher, but the topping did not, and they won't serve you without it. For a TR on the park, see here.
Islands of AdventureFeaturing rides like Jurassic Park and The Hulk, this park also has 1-2 roller coasters, while the rest of the rides are more of the show/3D/4D variety. Home to Harry Potter: Hogsmeade. If you have a park-to-park ticket, you can ride the Hogwarts Express train to connect to the HP World in Studios. Only Kosher snacks are available here, no real food. As of 1/15, the mix for ButterBeer had a hechsher, but the topping did not, and they won't serve you without it. For a TR on the park, see here.

Other ParksComments
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
SeaWorldA very family friendly park, less packed than Disney and Universal. Cheap annual passes as well as combo discounts for SeaWorld and Busch Gardens (which is in Tampa, 1hr away).
LegoLandLocated in Winter Haven, the park is a bit of a distance from the Greater Orlando area - approx. 45- 55 min away from other Orlando parks. LegoLand has an amusement park as well as a water park. If you look online it looks like the 2 are often not open on the same day. Each park costs about as much as the Disney/Universal parks (~$80) and can be greatly enjoyed by children, but can be underwhelming for adults. All rides are "kiddie" rides, some don't even allow adults on. The park is missing the magic of Disney/Universal, but may be much emptier than those parks, so that's a plus. The life-size Lego statues around the park are cool, but their water damage shows that LegoLand just doesn't get the "magic" necessary for an Orlando park. Kids will love the mini coasters and rides, something they might not be able to experience too much in Universal and parts of Disney.
See here for cheaper tickets (~$100 total for 1 adult and 1 child ticket)


Other Attractions & Activities

NameMore InfoComments
______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
WonderworksWebsite
Fun SpotWebsite
Titanic The ExperienceWebsiteGeared towards older kids / adults
Ripley's Believe it or notWebsite
Disney QuestWebsite
Cirque De SoleilWebsite
Orlando Science CenterWebsite
Kennedy Space Center - Visitor's ComplexWebsiteTour NASA's KSC. Now features Space Shuttle Atlantis.
Skeleton MuseumWebsite



Shuls:

NameMore InfoComments
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Chabad of South OrlandoWebsiteDaily Minyanim - Shachris @ 8:00AM and 9:30AM on Shabbos. Mincha/Maariv is 10 minutes before Shkia, which can be difficult to make if you're spending the day in a park. During very peak seasons, they'll have an extra Maariv later at night.
Orlando Torah AcademyWebsiteLocal day school that has Shacharis @ 8:30AM Monday - Friday (Nusach Edot haMizrach) during the school year. Peak season more likely to have Minyan than offpeak.
Orlando Torah CenterWebsiteShachris @ 6:45AM weekdays, (8:00AM additional for Yeshiva week) 8:00AM Sunday, 9:00AM Shabbos (Nusach Ashkenaz). Mincha/Maariv is before/after Shkiah, which can be difficult to make if you're spending the day in a park.

Food:

For Kosher food inside the theme parks, see the comments section of the specific park above.

NameMore InfoComments
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Kosher GourmetWebsiteA classic deli with slightly pricey/reasonable prices, unlimited fountain soda refills, and mostly-friendly service. You may be able to find discounted gift cards at GreatKosherDeals.com. Next to the restaurant is also a Kosher grocery. The restaurant will give you a bag to go shopping with and you'll bring your purchases back to the restaurant to pay. Mostly (only?) non-perishables sold here. (Certified by the RCF)
Kosher GrillWebsiteReview from shiframeir - Got takeout from here (place was packed and crazy for Yeshiva week), and the food was actually very good though understandably not cheap. Shwarma on baguette was great - even though they threw in this cabbage salad that scared me, it actually went great with the shwarma. Burgers were thick with flavor and decent shoe string fries. Caesar salad with chicken was what it is everywhere but with a real flame grilled piece of chicken. Stir fry wasn't fantastic, but is a nice alternative option on the menu that we enjoyed. Chili wings didn't really have much sauce flavor, but maybe they're better when you don't take it to go.
Review from yeki89 (when this store was a food truck called Kosher on Wheels) - Falafel & fries was very good with large portions and fair prices.
(Certified by the RCF)
Catering by Motti / Motti's BistroWebsiteTakeout food available for Shabbos. Bistro restaurant only open during Yeshiva week
Winn DixieStore LocatorLocated on Apopka Vineland (yes, that's a street name), this supermarket carries Cholov Yisroel milk and many other Kosher products.
Jerusalem GrillWebsite1 hr away in Daytona Beach

« Last edited by mendelk on April 03, 2019, 10:16:40 PM »

Author Topic: Orlando Master Thread  (Read 299880 times)

Offline BBPAPA

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Re: Orlando Master Thread
« Reply #480 on: January 15, 2015, 10:45:29 PM »
Arghh!! MISTAKE! I know it's costly, but it is the happiest place on earth. We went for our honeymoon. Did 4 days in disney, 1 in universal and then miami for the weekend.  We felt universal was blah.  Although I've heard HP world makes it much better, but we definitely felt like universal is the cheap step sister to WDW. I am planning to go next year jan/feb with the family.

+100

Offline shiframeir

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Re: Orlando Master Thread
« Reply #481 on: January 16, 2015, 01:33:27 AM »
Going to be staying at the lighthouse key resort in Kissimmee (close to the holiday inn orange lake resort, 5 min walk) from Sunday morning to Thursday jan 18-22, any other jews around to make a minyan (other than Torah days)?

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Re: Orlando Master Thread
« Reply #482 on: January 16, 2015, 09:38:41 AM »
any ideas on where to park your car
for Sea World or WDW and NOT pay for daily parking?

Anyone out there staying at a WDW property?

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Re: Orlando Master Thread
« Reply #483 on: January 16, 2015, 10:03:49 AM »
Tuesday, 1/6

Only after booking the hotel, did I realize it was just a 10 minute walk to Chabad and Kosher Gourmet (formerly Kosher Culinary), the better of the 2 Orlando restaurants according to most people I asked. Shacharis was at 8:00AM, and at 7:30, I turned off my alarm and fell back asleep. Whoops… We had decided the night before that we would pass on the 8:50 shuttle to Universal (the parks open at 9) and opt for a more relaxed morning and catch the 9:45. When I finally did wake up (thank G-d because I did not have an alarm set), I Davened and went down to pick up some free breakfast (something I also found out just a few days prior and also feels great when it’s a BRG). They had kosher Nestle hot chocolate packets (like SW), fruit, and yogurts. Man, the waffles and eggs looked good, though! We packed some sandwiches (from the bread and spreads that we brought with us) for lunch for the day and ran down to catch the shuttle. You have to pick up a free shuttle “boarding pass” from the Universal service desk that’s in the hotel lobby. The signs make it seem like you need to pick these up well in advance, but we got them 5 minutes before departure. The shuttle picks up from a few hotels, and the ride that I thought would take 5 minutes, ended up taking a ½ hour. :-\

We got to Universal around 10:15, went through security and entered CityWalk, which is the strip that leads to both parks and is full of stores, shops, a movie theater and a bunch of other things that make it an exciting nightlife scene. At the end of CityWalk, the road splits to each park, and we headed to Universal's Islands of Adventure. Why we picked that one first? No good reason. I bought the tickets to Universal a little while back when Yehoshua found that Musement was having a black Friday sale – buy a 50€ Musement gift card for just 25€ – and they had Universal Orlando tickets! Only one gift card could be used per transaction, so I bought one under my account and one under my wife’s. I waited until they released tickets for the dates we needed and got ready to book. I found a discount code online to take 10% off a booking, but their site was only accepting one “code” – be it a gift card code or discount code. I chatted with them complaining that I couldn’t use both codes even though the terms of the gift card didn’t say anything about combining it with a discount code. It took some time, but I was able to get them to give me 2 new codes for 65€ each. After applying them (and considering the 25€ I paid to buy the gift card originally), the Universal passes came out to ~$140 per person for 2 day park tickets. About $10-15 cheaper pp than Chabad’s prices (who are normally considered the cheapest for Orlando park tickets). Now, all I received from Musement was an email confirmation listing the tour travel agent who the tickets were officially coming from, but no official Universal ticket. I called the tour agency a while ago, and they told me just print out the email and bring it to the ticket window at Universal. At the park, we decided to go to the guest services window and after waiting online for about 10 minutes, we got to an agent. She looked at my email printouts and tried punching in every “code” that was in the email, but nothing showed up in her system under our name. The codes must all have been Musement and the tour agency’s internal codes, and she explained that she needed some sort of code to put into her system to turn these emails into actual tickets. We called up the tour agency and found out that, for some reason, I never got a second email from them with vouchers that could be turned into actual tickets. The rep made it seem like she could easily forward that information to the Universal agent, so I said great and passed my phone over to the agent. It took 30-45 minutes from the time we got on line until the agent was finally able to get our tickets printed, and it was now after 11. What a way to start the day. :( Although it was not Universal’s fault at all, the agent felt really bad and gave us 4 express passes to skip the line on rides!! That absolutely saved a LOT more time than the 45 minutes we spent getting the tickets. G-d always has a plan, eh?



We finally entered the park and immediately fell in love. I just love how well Universal (and Disney as well) makes you feel like you’re in a totally different world – and that world changes completely every time you step into a new “section”. The park starts off with a long strip of restaurants and shops that all give off an Island vibe (hence the park name).  I’d like to point out that thank G-d, the weather today was just BEAUTIFUL. Not cold at all and yet not too hot where you’re sweating as you walk around all day. My wife got attracted to the first Minion thing she saw, but we made sure not to waste too much time in the shops so early in the day. :) At the end of the strip, you have a choice to go left or right. I have OCD with these kind of things and always want to make sure I don’t miss any corner of a park (and somehow I didn’t take a map at the ticket counter!) but I quickly realized the park is nicely laid out for the OCD folk as it’s a big circle, so pick left or right and you’ll eventually make it all the way around. We chose left, “Marvel Super Hero Island”.

Let’s start with this: I’m a chicken when it comes to rides. I definitely don’t do roller coasters (I have tried a few, yes). I’m scared of the speed (while not being in an enclosed car on the ground), the idea of falling, the heights, and I really don’t like the feeling of the wind blowing through my cheeks or the drop in my stomach. My wife, however, is into rides except super spinny rides that make you nauseous. Because most you can’t see most Universal rides since they’re indoors, I was led to sheepishly asking the employee standing at the entrance to every ride what kind of ride it was. Every ride has warning signs that scare you to death, so those don’t really help you judge what to expect. Asking an employee is great if you have the courage because they often can describe it in simple words and also compare it to other rides in the park that you may have gone on. It was also great that every ride had employees standing at the entrance to the line (something that LegoLand, for example, didn’t have).

Marvel Super Hero Island: The Incredible Hulk Coaster is the first ride you see, and it’s clearly a roller coaster. My wife was willing to go on real rides herself, but was not in the mood for a coaster first thing in the morning, so we walked on. The rest of the rides in the area were too scary or nauseating until we found The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, which was the first ride we considered as the entrance agent said it was a 4-D ride/experience with no real drop. However, the line was long, and we weren’t sure it was worth using 1 of our express passes on the ride (since we didn’t know what else was coming up), and so we continued walking. Dr. Doom was proudly standing around for pictures and the Green Goblin was sneakily running through the crowds and scaring people.

Toon Lagoon: This next area was really, really cute. I didn’t even know Universal had rights to this kinda stuff, but all the buildings were splashed with your favorite characters from the Sunday Funnies – Beetle Bailey, Hagar the Horrible, etc.


 
2 of the 3 rides here were closed and the 3rd, Dudley Do-Right’s Ripshaw Falls, was an indoor/outdoor water ride that had a very large drop at the end into a pool of water. I never saw this before, but there were several walk-in drying machines at the exit of the ride for you to dry yourself off – pretty cool! The drop looked too steep for me, and my wife considered it, but decided to keep walking instead. I can’t blame her, I understand that it’s not fun to go on a ride alone. I’m glad in the end we hit up enough rides to overshadow the ones I chickened out on.

Jurassic Park: Another incredibly well-done section of the park. The extensive greenery and the sounds of animals and dinosaurs you hear really make you feel like you’re in a jungle.



Pteranodon Flyers was another ride that looked like I could handle (it was on a track in the air, but it moved slowly), but when we got to the entrance, they told us only kids can ride. #awkward Next up was Jurassic Park River Adventure. My wife had heard about this ride and knew she was going to go on it - first ride of the day! The entrance agents told us there was a drop into water at the end (you could see it from the outside), so I was out, although the wait was really short, so that was good. The ride was probably very similar to Ripshaw Falls, based on what they both looked like from the outside. Thank G-d all Universal rides have a quick exit lane at the last second, so we were able to wait on line together and then I could take the walk of shame when it was her turn to get on. She said the ride was amazing. You’re on a boat with about 10 people, and it slowly makes its way around a Jurassic Park scene, showing you realistic-looking dinosaurs, etc. Eventually the ride goes indoors and also gets a bit faster and finally ends with the big drop from indoors to outdoors and into a big pool of water. Yeah, not for me… but really too bad because it sounded great. We then left this section because I still didn’t have a map to realize we missed 1 attraction. Eventually we came back here, so I’ll just put it in here instead of coming back here when we chronologically actually came back. Jurassic Park Discovery Center is an interactive activity room that’s set up to mimic the visitor center from the movie. You can have your picture taken and morphed with a dinosaur to see what you would look like as a dinosaur, you can go through the steps of incubating a dinosaur egg and play a dinosaur trivia game show. Cute, but I definitely wouldn’t go out of my way to stop off here.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade: Ah, the moment we’ve all been waiting for. It was everything we dreamed of. You step into Hogsmeade and are just overtaken by magical the world that J.K. Rowling created.


 
The whole village is covered in fake snow, the shops are all the cute HP shops from the books and movies and - Ah! It’s just awesome!


 
Let me first state that we have been to the official HP Studio Tour in London, so we were ready to compare everything we saw there with what Universal created. Universal did a fantastic job. First, we headed towards Flight of the Hippogriff. Built around and through Hagrid’s hut, this mini-roller coaster had me thinking twice before getting on. However, after talking to the entrance guy and watching it go around once, I decided I would brave it. Here we used our first express pass and only waited about 3-5 minutes. As expected, most people would laugh at this “coaster”, but for me, it was enough to know I didn’t want to ride it again. I didn’t hate it, but it was definitely at the edge of rides I can handle. The drops and speed were just shy of what would make my stomach churn and so I handled it, but didn’t love it.

Next up, we saw The Castle. Ah, it was so cool!


 
It houses the main attraction, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, and I was fully expecting it to be a roller coaster. I was quite downtrodden because I really thought it would be cool to go and wished I liked coasters better, but then was shocked when the entrance agent told us it wasn’t one but rather an intense flight simulator and that it capped out at 5mph! An old Irish lady (love that accent) was right behind us and told us she just went on it, and it’s a bit more intense than the way the agent described, but that it’s definitely not a coaster – and she was scared of coasters herself! That really calmed me down. We had to put our bags in the lockers (free for the first hour), which were impressively modern – fingerprinting to unlock your locker. We used our second express pass, but still had to wait about 10 minutes to get into the castle. Once in the castle – they just did such a good job! – you walk through the hallways while waiting online and you see people moving in pictures having discussions, you get greeted by Dumbledore in his office, you see Harry, Ron and Hermione in a classroom telling you about the ride which is going to be an experience of you flying on a broomstick. Finally you get to the ride, and it’s a few people per “glider” hanging from above tracks with huge screens that really make you feel like you’re flying. The ride does move and occasionally spins a bit much as you “dive” for the snitch and around castle grounds. Really, a very enjoyable ride! I’m sure it’s worth the wait, but I’m glad we didn’t have to find out! ;)

After the HP ride, we began our research into the Kashrus of ButterBeer. They sell it everywhere, and it looked so good, that we just had to find out. I asked a few people and eventually they brought me to one of the chefs in the back kitchen. He told me the mix is Kosher, but that I couldn’t go into the kitchen itself to see the Kosher logo – so I convinced him to take a picture of it on my phone. :) I had never seen the Florida K before, but before I was able to make any calls, he told me, “Oh by the way, we don’t have certification for the topping that we put on top of the ButterBeer, and we aren’t allowed to sell it without the topping since it’s a trademarked drink.” I started making my calls and finally found out that Florida K is approved by the CRC, but after speaking to a Rabbi who works with the Rabbi that gave the Hechsher, he said they’re familiar with ButterBeer and know there’s an issue with the topping and that’s it. They couldn’t give me a good reason it has a Hashgacha on half the drink – the mix and not the topping – but that’s what it was. I tried getting a few vendors to sell it to me without adding on the topping (by saying I was allergic, etc.), but they all knew the rule and were steadfast in not allowing me to get half the drink – alas ButterBeer and my wife and me were not meant to be. :(

After the ButterBeer tragedy, I Davened Mincha, we ate sandwiches that we brought with us, and we went through the cute shops such as Honeydukes (where they sold actual Chocolate Frogs, Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans – not the Jelly Belly version – and many other candies from the books all made by Universal… without a Hechsher :(), The Hog’s Head and The Three Broomsticks (and actual restaurant and bar!) and Ollivanders – where you can watch a demonstration of someone getting picked to have Ollivander try to find the right wand for them (and they get to keep it)! They sell replica wands from all the famous characters and kids were waving their wands all over the park. How much? FORTY dollars. Sheesh. The fancier wands actually interacted with parts of the park to make certain things happen, like water shoot out of places, etc. We also got to take a picture with the Hogwarts Express conductor infront of a replica train. We passed over the Dragon Challenge roller coaster – my wife wasn’t in the mood either – and then headed out of Hogsmeade. We came here later for something very exciting, but we’ll get to that soon. Based on how long this section was, you can tell HP World was our favorite part of the park. :)

The Lost Continent: This next section was built to look like an olden day, Middle-Eastern, Alladin-esque world. Of course it looked really cool, but there are only 2 attractions and we decided to pass on them and only come back if we wanted to later. One is a Sindbad stunt show, and the timing was off from when we got there. The other is a walking guided tour of Poseidon’s “ancient temple”. That one sounded interesting but, again, we decided to just keep walking and make sure to see the whole park.

Seuss Landing: Dr. Seuss world put up a good fight with Toon Lagoon for the cutest section of the park. The whole place was bright, colorful, and felt like you were walking in a Dr. Seuss book.


 
We picked up some candy (finally had some Kosher stuff in here) and Dippin’ Dots (yeah, we’re really healthy :P) and then waited on a 15 minute line to ride The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride! (Exclamation mark is part of the official ride title – it wasn’t that exciting ;)). The ride was a slow moving trolley in the air that went around Seuss Landing including riding through some of the shops and restaurants. Cute, relaxing ride. The rest of the rides here were too kiddy (yeah, the trolley wasn’t, right!?) except for The Cat In The Hat ride.
 


You sit on a slow moving car that goes through the story of The Cat In The Hat – it does spin a bit at times in case you’re the nauseous type, but not too bad. A great, fun ride. To me, that kinda ride (similar to It’s a Small World in Disney) is the ideal kinda ride. #chicken

Now it was time to backtrack (at this point I had gotten hold of a map and marked off which rides we wanted to get back to). Since the park is a big circle, we just walked past the entrance and walked right into Marvel Super Hero Island again. Here, we decided it was time to use express pass #3 to ride The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man.


 
The line was really long, so it felt great to skip it and our wait was less than 5 minutes. The ride also fits into my category of ideal rides, although it’s definitely faster and more intense than Dr. Seuss. You put on your 3D glasses and get into a car that goes through a storyline of all of Spider-Man’s villains trying to get you while Spidey tries to save you. The rides spins a lot IIRC and the 3D was pretty intense (in a good way!) but what I like about the twists and drops is that it’s all the screen + the car tilting and not actual drops, so it’s just in your mind, which I can handle much better. The ride was so good that we were ready to get right back in line and use up our last express pass. We got back on the ride and were enjoying it until… it stopped! The car stopped, the audio shut off, the video screens went blank, the moving things stopped moving, and the lights went out (besides for emergency lights). I kindly informed everyone in my car (who apparently didn’t speak much English) that I rode the ride before, and it’s not supposed to stop like this. :) Got some laughs. 5 minutes later, the ride picked up, but there was no audio. Then it froze again. Then it worked. Then it stopped. And finally, it was done. They offered us to go again and skip the line, so we headed down a special corridor to get to the front (although I was wondering how they could guarantee it wouldn’t break again). When we turned down the corridor, we saw how long the line was (no idea how that happened), so we just said forget it and left the ride.

We walked through Toon Lagoon again quickly (my wife took a second and decided she would not go on Ripshaw Falls) and made our way to Jurassic Park. The line for the River Adventure was much longer this time, so my wife decided not to go on it again, and then we found the Discover Center, which wasn’t so exciting so I just included it above. We then went back to Harry Potter world and decided at that point that we would not go to the 2 attractions in The Lost Continent but would take the Hogwarts Express (!) to Universal Studios and call it a day at Islands of Adventure.

Universal first built Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure and then a number of years later, they built Diagon Alley in Universal Studios. Once they had both HP worlds, they made the Hogwarts Express ride so you can travel between the two. You can only ride it if you have a Park-to-Park ticket (aka Hopper), and it turns out we did have that! (Who knew?) There was about a 15-20 minute wait in what looks like it could be a train station and then finally we saw the Hogwarts Express pull into the station.


 
I mean it’s a real freaking train, and it looks just like the one in the movies!! The crew leads you on and directs you to a cabin to sit in – just like the one Harry and Co. sit in on their trips! The only negative thing was that they squished 8 of us into one cabin, and I couldn’t even sit next to my wife – we were across from each other. As the train starts going, you realize that the window is really a TV and they’re playing a video that makes it seem as if you’re going through the London countryside to get to King’s Cross Station. I think that was a great idea, because if it was a real window, we’d just be staring at Universal back lots, which is far less exciting. The ride takes about 5 minutes and then you get out into King’s Cross Station, and it really looks like the actual King’s Cross, but better yet – once you pass by the sign that says 9 ¾ (more on that later), the station turns from a magical-feeling place into what looks just like a real London train station! There are ads on the walls for London sights and companies and train timetables with UK cities that actually update and change. Really, really cool! More on King’s Cross in tomorrow’s adventures!

The reason we saved the Hogwarts Express for the end, was because we thought it would be good to get to the other park at night (you could take the shuttle back to the hotel from either park, since they both meet at the same parking lot) and go on 1 ride. I left this out earlier, but 1 of our express passes was a special one that let you skip the line only on certain “special” rides, such as the main Harry Potter castle ride. The pass was also good for the Minion ride, which is in Universal Studios. However, the passes were printed with an expiration date of today, so they wouldn’t be good the next day. BUT, at the HP ride… no one collected our pass! To each his own in this situation, but based on recent Psakim from my Rabbi, I decided that it’s their responsibility to collect the passes (they did at every other ride), and since they didn’t, I could use it again. So, that’s part of the reason we took the Hogwarts Express now at the end of the day to try and catch Minion Mayhem once we were done with the first park. I already described the train ride, and after we exited in London ;), we made our way around the park passing through Sunset Boulevard, which was really cool all lit up at night with old-school diners, theaters and shops. We actually stopped in one theater that had a magic show starting soon. The show was only 12 minutes (yes, that time was listed on the banner outside; I didn’t actually time it), but it was fantastic. The magician pretends like he’s explaining how the tricks are done, but he doesn’t really. He did some very impressive floatation tricks. At the end, they try to sell you the tricks with DVDs teaching you how to do them, but they were >$20 a trick, so I passed. Very fun and entertaining. We continued on and finally made it to the Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, which is very close to the entrance/exit of the park. The line was over an hour long, but we walked right in :) I forgot to mention that my wife loves the Minions, and stopped at every store selling Minion stuff to check them out (yes, at one point I did get her a Minion doll), so she was really excited for the ride. The ride was another @Yehuda’s Ideal Ride, although a bit different. Instead of being in a car that moves around a track relatively slowly, this is one of those rides where you sit in a theater (with 3D glasses) and the whole section your sitting in shifts, tilts, etc. with the movements of the video. Gru and the Minions attempt to turn the crowd into Minions themselves to work for him, but ultimately… ah, I won’t ruin it for you. ;) The effects were intense, including the fake drops, but we didn’t get nauseous from it, it wasn’t too scary, and overall it was a great ride!

After the ride, we looked around the stores a bit more and then caught the shuttle back to the hotel. I originally thought we would catch the last shuttle at 8:10 (the park closes at 8PM), but we ended up making the 7:20, so all in all, we did Islands of Adventure in about 7.5 hours going on most of the interesting rides and walking slowly throughout. The ride back to the hotel was shorter than the ½ hour on the way there because we were the first stop. Interesting how we were the first stop in both directions, but I wasn’t complaining. Like I said before, the hotel was just a 10 minute walk to Chabad and Kosher Gourmet, but I noticed on the map that it was technically just behind the hotel. I asked the clerk if there was a way to cut through to get to International Drive and he said we could just walk through the hotel’s parking lot and through the parking lot of the building behind us. We did that and popped out right by the strip mall with Chabad and the restaurant and were there in 5 minutes!

Kosher Gourmet – this deli-style restaurant is what you’d expect from a place that’s 1 of 2 Kosher restaurants in an out-of-town place. It looks nicely modern, but isn’t fancy or totally clean. There’s no clear person who’s seating you, so we kinda just made our way in till someone saw us and gave us a seat. They have a classic Kosher deli menu, and my wife got the hot wings, the chicken fingers from the kid’s menu (and got a little bit of a snide remark from the waiter), and I got the grilled chicken salad. The salad was blah – I didn’t like the chicken, so I shared with my wife (which was kinda the plan anyway) and the wings were good although I don’t love wings and the chicken fingers were great. Fountain soda was unlimited refills, so that was nice. The total was around $50, and I paid most of that with a $40 gift certificate that I bought from GreatKosherDeals.com (which I paid $30 for minus $10 from credits I had there from SBS), which shows you that their prices were pretty reasonable. We walked back to the hotel, I Davened Maariv (unfortunately, Chabad only has a regular Shkia Minyan and only has an 8:30PM Maariv when there is high demand), and we called it a night.

Offline 3yummyboys

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Re: Orlando Master Thread
« Reply #484 on: January 16, 2015, 10:34:04 AM »
Thanks for the detailed TR!

Offline noturbizniss

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Re: Orlando Master Thread
« Reply #485 on: January 16, 2015, 12:39:25 PM »
Nice TR - but holy cow!! You are a HUGE CHICKEN!! Your poor wife! She's so sweet that she told you she wasn't in the mood to go on a coaster so early in the morning. It's even sweeter that you believed her!  My wife and I both love coasters and we went on the hulk by like 9 am when we went. I used to be petrified of roller coasters too, but when I went to Disney World at 19 during winter break my friend convinced me to go on the rockin roller coaster and I LOVED IT.
READ THE DARN WIKI!!!!

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Re: Orlando Master Thread
« Reply #486 on: January 16, 2015, 12:50:33 PM »
Thanks for the detailed TR!
YW :)

Nice TR - but holy cow!! You are a HUGE CHICKEN!! Your poor wife! She's so sweet that she told you she wasn't in the mood to go on a coaster so early in the morning. It's even sweeter that you believed her!  My wife and I both love coasters and we went on the hulk by like 9 am when we went. I used to be petrified of roller coasters too, but when I went to Disney World at 19 during winter break my friend convinced me to go on the rockin roller coaster and I LOVED IT.
Thanks! Haha, yeah... no joke. Umm so she wasn't lying about not wanting to go, but I don't need to convince you of that. I went on a bunch of coasters at 6 Flags in high school as well as at Lake Compounce after that and yeah, I just don't feel the thrill. Would you believe me that I felt uncomfortable riding the gondola up/down a mountain in Vail and in Switzerland? I just don't like heights. My wife can't understand how I'm so comfortable on planes while she's not. I dunno...

Offline noturbizniss

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Re: Orlando Master Thread
« Reply #487 on: January 16, 2015, 12:52:58 PM »
Thanks! Haha, yeah... no joke. Umm so she wasn't lying about not wanting to go, but I don't need to convince you of that.
Watch your attitude son!!
I went on a bunch of coasters at 6 Flags in high school as well as at Lake Compounce after that and yeah, I just don't feel the thrill. Would you believe me that I felt uncomfortable riding the gondola up/down a mountain in Vail and in Switzerland? I just don't like heights. My wife can't understand how I'm so comfortable on planes while she's not. I dunno...
I was just thinking that as well. If your so squeamish on roller coasters how being on a plane has no impact. I guess cuz its inside and you usually don't feel the sudden drops of hundreds of feet in seconds or the speed.
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Re: Orlando Master Thread
« Reply #488 on: January 16, 2015, 01:32:50 PM »
Someone in my company has a house in Orlando that he rents to employees.
Is this a good rate?
4 BR.
The rates per night, including all taxes and fees are as follows:
  • Low Season - ~96
  • Mid Season ~102
  • High Season ~108
  • Holiday Season ~114
The house is in this neighberhood - https://www.google.com/maps/@28.3064881,-81.597143,17z
The description he emailed me is as follows:
"The house is furnished and fully equipped with cathedral ceilings, central air conditioning and heating, cable, 37 inch High Definition TV, WIFI Internet access and a two car garage. There are two sets of sheets for each bedroom and towels for each bathroom, pool towels are also provided. All kitchen utensils and equipment is provided including, microwave, dishwasher, toaster, coffee maker, blender, plates, cups, glasses, silverware, pots and pans, bake ware, and plastic pool dishes. There is a hair dryer in each bathroom, iron and ironing board and full size washer and dryer in the house. The house is equipped with small hotel soaps and 1 roll of toilet paper in each bathroom for your comfort upon arrival. This limited amount is provided for you; however, additional soap and toilet paper items that you need are your responsibility to provide during your stay. Dishwasher and laundry detergent is not provided but is generally in the kitchen and laundry room for the guests use.
The Master bedroom has a king size bed, 32 inch High Definition TV/VCR with a master bath with separate shower and bathtub. There is another bedroom with a queen size bed, another with a full size bed and the 4th bedroom has 2 single (twin) beds. There is a queen size sleeper sofa in the living room. For young children there is a Graco high-chair and playpen.
The pool is fully screened and there is also a gas grill, table and chairs under the covered lanai by the pool.
There are tennis courts, children's play area and a community pool at the entrance to the community. For the Golf enthusiasts, there are plenty of public and private courses nearby.
VERY IMPORTANT The doors to the pool area have alarms. When the door is opened you have only a few seconds to press the button on the alarm box by the door. When pushed the alarm is silenced for approx 15 seconds. This is a Florida law to prevent children from accessing a pool area unguarded. The pool area doors must be closed to prevent the alarm from going off.

1. The gas grill is on the lanai by the pool. (If the grill is out of gas, you can refill/exchange the tank at any of the local places and you will be reimbursed for the cost or you can call redacted tell them it is for unit redactedand they will arrange for a replacement to be brought out and installed.

2. There is a full sized Maytag washer and dryer in the laundry room. Normally there is laundry detergent left/replenished by the guests. There is also a dishwasher and microwave oven, dvd/vcr and cable tv in the master bedroom and family room area.

3. Bedding and towels are provided. There should be 2 sets of linens per bedroom. The pull out couch is a queen size bed and should have linens in the bedroom by the laundry room.

4. There is a Publix Super Market further down CR-545 S, come out of the development, turn left onto Sand Hill Rd, make a right at the intersection and follow to Red Light, WalGreens Pharmacy on left. I believe the name of the road is Osceola-Polk County Line Road. Cross Osceola-Polk County Line Rd and Publix is on the right. There is another Publix on Osceola-Polk County Line Rd at Champions Gate about 3000 yards to the right towards the I-4 entrance also a gas station is located there.
"
READ THE DARN WIKI!!!!

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Offline 3yummyboys

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Re: Orlando Master Thread
« Reply #489 on: January 16, 2015, 01:35:34 PM »
That's a great price

Offline voby27

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Re: Orlando Master Thread
« Reply #490 on: January 16, 2015, 02:38:30 PM »
Going to be in Orlando this Sunday the 18th-21st.

Going to Animal Kingdom on the 18th and Magic Kingdom on the 20th. If any interest in making a mincha minyan at either of those parks during those days, please let me know and hopefully we can arrange one.

Offline Ergel

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Re: Orlando Master Thread
« Reply #491 on: January 16, 2015, 04:16:47 PM »
Life isn't about checking the boxes. Nobody cares.

Offline morgs

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Re: Orlando Master Thread
« Reply #492 on: January 17, 2015, 01:44:41 PM »
@yehuda-waiting for the rest-love the details!!

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Re: Orlando Master Thread
« Reply #493 on: January 17, 2015, 07:42:19 PM »
@yehuda-waiting for the rest-love the details!!
Thanks! Working on it now. Really hoping I can get the next day out tonight.

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Re: Orlando Master Thread
« Reply #494 on: January 17, 2015, 09:52:31 PM »
Did you go to kosher grill as well? That is also nearby iirc

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Re: Orlando Master Thread
« Reply #495 on: January 17, 2015, 10:02:51 PM »
We didn't go. Would have liked to try both places, but with Gourmet so close to our hotel, we weren't interested in looking for Grill. I also heard that it's just like a stand outside Disney (with no seating) but something about that doesn't sound right.

Almost done with the TR, although I didn't get to proofread it too much.

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Re: Orlando Master Thread
« Reply #496 on: January 17, 2015, 10:11:42 PM »
Wednesday 1/7

I woke up with enough time to pick up the day’s shuttle boarding passes on the way to Chabad for 8AM Shacharis. I even found a shorter shortcut to Shul, so it was really just about a 5 minute walk. The Shul is in a storefront that's attached to Kosher Gourmet. It's a nice little place, and in the back is a small room that must be the classroom for any Frum kids that live in Orlando, which I would assume to be just the Chabad families' kids. It took 15 minutes for them to get to Pesukei D'Zimra, so Davening took almost an hour, but I got back to the hotel, picked up some more yogurt and hot chocolate and went to the room to pack up for the day. We caught the 9:45 shuttle, and we were on our ½ hour (that should have been 5 minute) trip to Universal!

This time, we knew exactly where to go because, y'know, we were basically Universal pros. We went through security, walked through City Walk, and this time, turned towards Universal Studios!



The back of yesterday's park map had Studios on it, so today I was fully prepared. ;) The park is also a circle, but it's very clear which way is the way to begin, so we started out going straight ahead to...

Production Central: The first ride that sticks out at you is Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, which we got to ride the night before with express passes. Today, the wait was over an hour. It would have been fun to ride again, but that was going to be very unlikely due to the wait. So, we turned around and right across from it is Shrek 4-D - our first ride of the day! There was about a 10 minute wait, and then we were in! I had been to Universal Studios in California before, and this ride is basically the same as the Shrek ride there. It's one of the ideal @Yehuda rides, where you sit in a theater that will shake, tilt, shpritz water at you, etc. The storyline picks up where Shrek 1 left off with Shrek and Fiona on their honeymoon. Cute, fun ride – had a great time! After Shrek, we continued down the street right past the Rip Rocket something or other gigantic roller coaster into the next section of the park. I’ll point out that we skipped over the Transformers ride. If I had to bet, it wasn’t a roller coaster, but my wife really has no interest in Transformers and actually did not want to even check out the ride. So, no opinion on that one.

New York: As soon as we walked into New York, the Blues Brothers drove right past us in their old-school car playing old-school music, was fun to watch for a minute. We first went online for the Twister ride because we were told it’s just a “ride” that you walk through and things blow on you and interact with you. The weather was noticeably colder today – we regretted not bringing sweatshirts – and waiting on line in the cold made us realize that the TWISTER ride was probably going to be even colder, so we stepped off the line and moved on. Up next was Revenge of the Mummy, a ride my wife was dying to go on. She really wanted me to come with, so we talked with the entrance agent, but he confirmed that yeah, it’s pretty much an indoor roller coaster (as the ride description on the map even indicated). I apologized dearly, and said I just can’t go on. We waited in the single riders lane (which we’re unsure was actually any faster) and then I, once again, took the walk of shame as she got on the ride. She loved it! She said that you ride through all the mummy scenes, etc. and that it was a blast! After she got off, we walked through the streets of New York, which were just awesome! All around you were sets from movies – a fake government building, Macy’s, subway station, and many stores from the olden days, including this store with Hebrew words on the sign!



There’s a Ben & Jerry’s store in this area, which I imagine (ask your LOR) is Kosher like all big-chain ice cream stores – ask them to wash the scooper, pick flavors you know are Kosher and only use cones/toppings if you know they’re Kosher.

San Francisco: I’m not sure why exactly, but technically the next area is San Fran vs NY. It’s really just more sets from movies and there are only 2 attractions here, so I’m not quite sure why they called it a new area. One attraction is just a Beetlejuice/Monsters show and the other is Disaster, which is a ride where you learn how disaster movies are made. We passed on it because it only looked semi-interesting and didn’t stand a chance against what we saw up ahead…

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley: As I said yesterday, Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure was built first and then Diagon Alley was built in Studios. The layout is quite genius. San Fran just turns into London. There are little old London shops on the street and if you pay attention, you’ll notice the set from Sirius Black’s house on Grimmauld Place – my wife caught it. You’ll also see the purple Knight Bus parked on the street, and you can take a pic with the driver and that creepy Jamaican head doll he has. Kinda cool, but not so cool if you’ve seen the actual Knight Bus from the movies at the studio tour in London. 8) Now, from this vantage point, the only real noticeable building is King’s Cross Station. As I mentioned yesterday, it really looks like you’re in London and the station looks very real. We went back in because we heard of a really cool thing that you could do from this side of the station. You follow along to get onto the train and then when you get to Platform 9 ¾ the have a cool fake-mirror setup where it looks like you are actually walking through the wall into 9 ¾! For best video results (we were warned about this the night before from friends who were in Orlando), have one person stand on line and video while the other person continues on through the wall. I’m not sure if my explaining it does it justice, but trust me, it was really cool! After trying that out, we had no interest in riding the train again, so we walked back through the station out into London. Right next to King’s Cross is what looks like a brick wall with an opening that perhaps leads to bathrooms. If you enter it… you cross over into Diagon Alley!!! Sooo cool!!

Diagon Alley is done incredibly well. It looks just like the set from the studio tours but even better because you can actually go into some of the stores! The first store is a wizarding wardrobe shop (basically just classic HP merchandise) and the next store is Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes!!

         
In Universal Studios' Diagon Alley                                                In London's HP Studio Tour (pretty good copy!)

The store is amazing! All the classic jokes and pranks and toys from the books – Extendable Ears, Puking Pastilles, etc.! They also sell some of the classic candies from Honeydukes, like Chocolate Frogs. The shop is really cute and fun, but no, we didn’t spend our money on that stuff. :) Next up is one of several entrances into… Knockturn Alley. Dun. Dun. Dun. Knockturn is a small section that’s extremely dark. It has the Leaky Cauldron (an actual bar!) as well as Borgin and Burkes – the creepy, dark store that Harry accidently flu-powedered into. The employees in Knockturn Alley play the roles of creepy people perfectly! Back in Diagon Alley, there are some more classic stores like Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions – in case buying a $40 wand wasn’t enough for your kid and you also had to buy them a robe that they’ll never wear again. There’s also an Ollivander’s here (like in Hogsmeade) and once again, you can watch a wand pick its owner. There are a few other shops, including a place to buy ButterBeer >:(. As you walk around, you’ll come to Gringott’s, which houses the main ride of Diagon Alley.



After riding the castle ride yesterday, we really wanted to go on this one too, but first had to check it out, of course. I went up to the entrance agent and found out that, unfortunately, there was a drop at the end of the ride :(. That was another moment when I really wished I wasn't scared so that I could go on a ride that I'm sure would be fun and so that I don't let my wife down. The wait was long, and she didn't want to wait and ride alone, so we continued on. A few more fun shops including the Gringott's Money Exchange, where there was a goblin just standing there and talking - kinda funny.



We finished making our way among the shops until we were back at the gateway to London and crossed back through the brick wall. Right past the wall is where you see Sirius's house, and that's the end of Harry Potter World. Until next time!

World Expo: The first attraction you see is a live showing of Fear Factor. My wife was dying to watch the show, but they were halfway through one, so we decided to venture onward and come back later. Next up was MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack. The line had like a 20 minute wait, but there was stuff going on while you're waiting, which made it not too bad. We first had to put our bag in that fancy locker again, although I don't think this ride really needed it. This is another one of my favorite types of rides: the go-around-slowly-and-shoot-things-(in this case, aliens)-with-a-laser ride! The ride was a lot of fun, a bit spinny, and my wife obliterated everyone else in our car with her score. Afterwards, we still had time to the next FEAR FACTOR LIVE show so we headed out of World Expo, but just to keep this attraction in its section of the park, I'll tell you about the show now. Basically, a few times during the day, they allow actual park visitors to show up and audition to be contestants - pretty cool! We got there about 5 minutes into it and seemingly missed 1 challenge. The first thing we saw was a girl sitting down and they brought a cage that they said had a tarantula in it and they were going to put it over her head for like 30 seconds. Just as they were going to lower it, it popped open and a fake spider went flying into the crowd. Scared many people but that was the end of the challenge. Kinda not so much a challenge... Anyway, next up was 3 people drinking a milkshake of some really gross stuff. Spoiled milk with chunks in it, bugs of some sort and some other gross meat thing I think. One guy just chugged it and won. He got a yellow Fear Factor cup. Wow. The finale was 2 guys that had to race each other through a few obstacles. Apparently, they were the 2 contestants in the first challenge that we missed because one was given a 3 second head start due to his winning the first challenge. They first had to climb a ladder up a studio set that looked like a building and pull off flags attached to the building. To make things more exciting, people in the crowd had access to buttons that shot water at them and dropped buckets of water on their ladder as they were climbing - they were slipping all over the place! The guy with the headstart was much better at it and it's crazy how much 3 seconds makes a difference. After they got to the top and grabbed a key, they had to lower themselves down and then race over to a car (they each had a car) and put the key in, which would turn on a crane that lifted the car up in the air titling forward to a degree a little less than this slash \ . Once it was lifted to its height, each guy had to climb over the windshield and grab a bunch of flags that were on the bumper without falling off. Of course, the audience was shooting a ton of water at them during this time. It was really quite thrilling. After getting the flags, he had to climb back in the car to a canon that shot something at a target on the building to blow it up. In the end, headstart man won by a mile but besides for the 3 seconds, he really was much better. He was done before the 2nd guy's car was even raised up to its fullest height. They didn't announce a prize so that was kinda dull, but all in all the show was really fun to watch live!

I didn’t even realize this at the time, but after MIB, it feels like you’re walking into another section of the park as you enter the incredibly well-done Simpsons/Krustyland area. Looking at the map now, it turns out it’s still officially World Expo, but it definitely feels like a new area. The whole section looks so awesome! There are games everywhere with Simpsons themes, making it feel like you’re really in Krustyland. The main attraction is The Simpsons Ride. The wait was pretty long – probably a ½ hour – but it was easy to stay entertained since TVs placed throughout the line were playing every clip from throughout the Simpsons series that takes place in Krustyland. It really, really made you feel like you were there. When it was finally our turn, we were told to go into a room with a total of like 6 people. In that room, you get some instructions for the ride and then you go into the actual ride room. The room is a tiny room that has a car that you get into. Once the ride starts, the car raises into a much larger arena that has other “cars” with people in it who must have come out of their own prep rooms (it’s dark, and the screen is huge so you really have to look hard to see that there are other people in the “theater” with you). The ride is what I would have called a great ride in terms of it just being one of those cars that shake, twist, tilt, etc. without actually moving, BUT the video of you being on a roller coaster in the actual Krustyland was so intense, my wife and I both got really nauseous from it. It’s very similar to Shrek and the Minion ride, but the car “moves” so much more here – much more twists and tilts – that we really were like “uhhh” afterwards. It was a cool video/ride but it may get to your stomach. After the ride, we had like 2 minutes till the next Fear Factor show, so we ran there – but no need to repeat, as I covered that above.

Woody Woodpecker’s Kidzone: Next up was this partially-kiddy section. First thing you see is a theater that has shows with animals. We thought, “Okay, we like animals, maybe that will be cool – we’ll come back for the next show”. After the theater, we turned into the really kiddy place just to check it out. Barney and a bunch of the other attractions didn’t interest us, but we figured we would walk into the Curious George Goes to Town playground to burn some time. The playground is like a climbing house thing with plenty of places to get soaked with water and those giant buckets that tip over. But, at the center is an indoor ball-shooting room. Basically, there are soft balls everywhere that you can load into gun launchers and shoot them at people. Sure, it’s meant for kids, but hey it’s pretty fun to shoot kids (with soft balls) from across the room. :) On our way out, an adult up on a second story somewhere, shot us with a water gun and proudly raised his fists – acknowledging that he was as guilty as us for having fun in kidzone. From there, we went back to Animal Actors on Location! and quickly found out that these were no ordinary animals, but were actual animals that were ACTORS IN MOVIES!!! The ones that were in famous movies that I remember were the bird from Evan Almighty, the dog from Marley & Me, and the dog from Men In Black!!



The animals did great tricks, the host was super entertaining, and we loved the show. Highly recommended. After the show, we went over to E.T. Adventure. I couldn’t figure out why ET was in Woody Woodpecker’s Kidzone :o but after going to the entrance agent to confirm it wasn’t a roller coaster, I found out why. He laughed at the idea of it being a scary ride and told us it was built 30 years ago. Obviously, it was built here first and Kidzone was built around it afterwards. The wait was about 10 minutes, but they keep you entertained a bit with an ooooold video of Steven Spielberg welcoming you to the ride. After the video, you tell your name to an agent who types it into a computer and hands you some sort of “passport” card. Then you enter the fun waiting section that’s built to look JUST like the movie. It was awesome – all foresty and real-looking. Right before you get on the ride, you hand your passport to the agent and don’t know what the point of it was till later. You’re riding from an overhead track (like Harry Potter ride) and sitting on a bicycle, of course! The ride takes you through the final scene of the movie with a rush to get ET back home! Really, really cute and fun. Very nostalgic also based on how old it was and how “bad” the quality of the effects were, but there’s something very fun about that kind of nostalgia. The truth is I hadn’t seen the movie beforehand (gulp), but we made sure to watch it a few nights after the trip! After we got off, we ran back on line for round 2! :) After ET, we stopped in the closest store , which was basically Universal’s compensation for not having a SpongeBob attraction. The store was just SpongeBob with different sets to take pictures in and a live SpongeBob and Patrick to take pics with. Since SpongeBob is my wife’s absolute favorite, we stayed here for a while :).

Hollywood: The final section of the park is Sunset Boulevard, and as I mentioned from our first day when we stopped off in Studios at night, the whole street is set up to look like old-school Hollywood, with retro diners, theaters and shops. Here, we enjoyed the magic show (see the TR from day 1) and today, decided to stop by TERMINATOR 2: 3-D. The show (not a ride at all) is an exact duplicate as the one in California (which, again, I had been to in the past) and is an average show. You sit in a theater and basically watch a movie with the Terminator trying to save the world. The cool part is that it’s half movie/half live action. There are actors that you see on the stage and running around the crowd that also run into the screen at some points perfectly in line with when that actor shows up in the movie. Not sure if that made sense. Anyway, it’s nice, but nothing to write home about. After the show, we were right at the exit of the park. We took another look at the Minion ride, but it was still an 80-minute wait, so we went into the Universal Store, and I finally bought my wife the Minion doll she had been eyeing for 2 days. It was now time to end our wonderful stay at Universal Orlando. We had an absolutely fantastic time!



Heading out towards CityWalk, we asked around till we found the water taxis (free) that go to the Universal Resorts, specifically the Loews Royal Pacific resort. Why there? Because it was time to pick up our rental car for the next day’s trip. Let me explain. Hertz has a location, International Drive HLE (Hertz Local Edition), that’s just a few minute walk from our hotel. However, they close at 6PM, and I knew we wouldn’t be back from the park by then. I thought I would pick up the car the following morning, but there was a chance we would need it tonight, so I called the location and asked if there was some way for them to drop off the car at our hotel or to pick up late. They had a great idea, especially since we were going to Universal. Their location is considered the same location as the Hertz that has a desk at the Royal Pacific, and they said they could leave the car with the hotel’s valet and we could just take the water taxi to get it – perfect! The water ride was actually relaxing, took about 5 minutes and then we got off at quite the luxurious hotel. We were really impressed, but that’s probably how most Universal/Disney official resorts are. We got a bit lost in the hotel, bumped into a live Minion and Gru that my wife got a picture with :) and then found the parking lot. The rep out there knew about our car and offered us water bottles while we waited for them to get it – thought that was a cool perk! We got our car, a 2015 Chevy Impala (after reserving a Nissan Maxima). There was bit of a debate on DDF afterwards about whether I got an upgrade or a downgrade or what I deserved, but we thought it was sweet! Leather seats, backup camera, and really smooth new-car ride/feel. I used a Hertz free day voucher for the rental, so that made it even sweeter :). We drove straight to Kosher Gourmet for dinner.

Kosher Gourmet – for our second dinner, we decided to try new things. My wife got the BBQ Beef sandwich which turned out to be pulled beef and was really good! I got the steak, pepper, and onion sandwich and thought the only good part was the warm baguette it came in. :-\ Once again, we enjoyed the free-refill fountain sodas. Out total again came out to about $50, and we paid again using a GreatKosherDeals.com gift certificate that gave us $40 for just $30 and paid the rest in cash. I forgot to mention this yesterday, but right next to the restaurant is a small Kosher grocery store. I overheard the Mashgiach/guy behind the counter telling a customer that they can just take a bag, go shopping there, and pay in the restaurant. Just good to know there are some Kosher products available. We drove back to the hotel around the corner (yet somehow I got a bit lost), parked for free in the lot, I Davened Maariv and then we probably watched some TV and called it a night.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2015, 11:43:21 AM by Chaikel »

Offline noturbizniss

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Re: Orlando Master Thread
« Reply #497 on: January 20, 2015, 01:45:48 PM »
Perhaps this should go in Up in the Air, but I am not familiar with that board and did not want to open a new thread.  If someone could point me to the right thread there I will delete this and move it there.

Flying to WDW for 5-10 days with 2 kids next year, age 5 and 2.5. Will be using car seat for at least the 2.5 year old and possibly the 5 year old (depending how big she gets). Is there any advantage to booking J class on such a short, direct flight? Should I perhaps aim to get the SW Cards for me and my wife with free companion pass (I've hear SW seats may be tight with some car seats - especially rear facing)?
We have plenty of time for this as we will be going in January 2016. Figured I'd get the early jump on thoughts.
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Offline Marco Polo

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Re: Orlando Master Thread
« Reply #498 on: January 20, 2015, 01:56:09 PM »
Perhaps this should go in Up in the Air, but I am not familiar with that board and did not want to open a new thread.  If someone could point me to the right thread there I will delete this and move it there.

Flying to WDW for 5-10 days with 2 kids next year, age 5 and 2.5. Will be using car seat for at least the 2.5 year old and possibly the 5 year old (depending how big she gets). Is there any advantage to booking J class on such a short, direct flight? Should I perhaps aim to get the SW Cards for me and my wife with free companion pass (I've hear SW seats may be tight with some car seats - especially rear facing)?
We have plenty of time for this as we will be going in January 2016. Figured I'd get the early jump on thoughts.
In terms of seat size, probably not. For the extra bags, probably.
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Offline noturbizniss

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Re: Orlando Master Thread
« Reply #499 on: January 20, 2015, 02:24:39 PM »
In terms of seat size, probably not. For the extra bags, probably.
I have delta gold card, UMPE card and citi platinum mastercard so id get at least 2 checked bags freenad pay no more than $50 more for 2 more, so I don't think we'd need the bags.  With that said, it sounds like splurging for J would be a huge waste of miles.
The only question then becomes if it is even worth using the miles if I can get flights for $200 or even less when miles would cost at minimum 15k using avios.
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