Tag Archives: Universal

Planning a Trip to Orlando? Here are some Hints and Tips

We’ve been doing the Florida Disney trips for so long now that people have started asking us for advice on planning their own holidays. I have been sending this information out to people that wanted it via email but I thought that it might be useful to put this together in a blog post.

This should be of use to anyone that hasn’t been before and is looking for hints and tips on what to do before you go and where to go once you are there. It will also be of interest to those that have done a package trip before and now want to DIY.

So let’s get that question out of the way straight off…

Package or DIY?

You have two choices here: either go on a package holiday or do it yourself. The pros of a package holiday are that it is easy and (possibly) cheaper but your choices will be more limited. A DIY approach gives you much more flexibility in terms of flight times and villas to choose from.

We always did it ourselves as then we knew exactly what we were getting and had the ultimate control.


Costs

Ok so there’s no getting away from this, it is expensive. At least compared to a trip to Spain. You should be expecting to pay in the region of £1,500 per adult for flights, villa, car hire and park tickets. On top of that you have to consider, maybe, car parking at the airport and the US entry ESTA. Oh and spending money of course.

If that hasn’t put you off then read on…

Flights

Book early, go direct.

Easter is a very popular time for Brits to go so flights get booked up pretty quickly. The very first time we couldn’t get direct flights and therefore had to stop in Charlotte, NC. We ended up not arriving at the villa until the early hours of the morning. We were knackered but the boys still wanted to go in the pool!

We have flown mostly with BA but once (maybe twice) with Virgin. They are pretty much the same except that Virgin has a check-in at Disney Springs so on the last day you can drop your bags off there and get some Disney time in before having to go to the airport.

Flights leave mid-afternoon so we always spent the morning in the park, then went to Perkins for lunch and then on to the airport.

Accommodation

All the places we stayed in have been pretty similar and all of a good standard with bags of space and a pool. Latterly we also looked for places with games rooms (usually in the garage) for the boys.

For booking we have used “friends of friends” and the following websites:

http://www.orlandovillas.com/
http://www.holidaylettings.co.uk/

It is quite easy to put in your requirements and get a list but as we have discovered you have to look at the availability fairly carefully. Also we know what area we like to stay at, Davenport, but we have been in a number of areas and all have been of a very similar standard and distance from Disney etc. Kissimmee is another popular area.

Pool heating is extra and worth paying for (the figures I have quoted above include that). We didn’t pay for it the first year and it was pretty chilly in the water. This was April/May so if you go in the height of summer it might not be necessary.

Davenport is on the US27 which runs between the US192 and the I4 and is about 20-30 from the parks with a Publix and a Walmart close by along with a Dominos!


Park Tickets

You can buy directly from Disney/Universal but we have used both of the following:

https://www.floridatix.co.uk/
https://www.attraction-tickets-direct.co.uk/

This is because they are UK based and issue “real” tickets. Others issue vouchers that you have to exchange on the first day which is a bit of a pain. Attraction Tickets Direct also have some good offers too. Last time we used them we got a $25 Disney gift card for each adult.

It is very much geared up to getting you to buy a two week, all park ticket, which we always do. These tickets are heavily discounted and give you access to all four Disney parks and the two water parks. If you are going to go into the parks a reasonable number of times (and if you are going to Orlando isn’t that the point?) then these are worth it.

Just so you don’t get a nasty shock when you get to your first park. Somewhat unbelievably parking isn’t included in your already expensive ticket and will cost $22+ a day but is valid at multiple parks on the same day.

The Universal tickets work the same and are valid for their two parks and the water park. And, yes, the parking is the same price here too. I’m not saying that it is a cartel but the price always matches. Just saying.

Fastpass+ (https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/fastpass-plus/)

Unsurprisingly the parks get very busy and the lines for the popular rides can be hours long. We tended to see this as a waste of time and so used the following plan of attack. Get to the parks as close to opening time as possible and head straight to a ride you are interested in and get straight on. Secondly use Fastpass+ this is a way of pre-booking your attendance at certain rides – there is an app that allows you to do it. It’s not as flexible as it used to be in that you can only book three rides per day but it is worth doing as you get to skip the main line – it is much quicker. Oh and it is free.

Universal has a similar system which, I think, was $99 per person. However, I really don’t think that it is worth it given that the lines were so slight compared to Disney.

Last time we went our Disney tickets also included Memory Maker. This allows you to have your photo taken by any official Disney photographer in the park and then you can download the images later on and also view them on the app. It was brilliant. The photos were always great and ensured that everyone was in the picture.

Other things to do

Unsurprisingly, there are a whole load of others things that have sprung up around the parks for you to do. Here are a few that we have enjoyed over the years and are worth doing:

Outa Control Magic Show (http://www.wonderworksonline.com/orlando/the-experience/the-outta-control-magic-comedy-dinner-show/)
– food (well pizza), magic and comedy. Kid friendly, great fun. Held in an upside down building.

Boggy Creek (http://bcairboats.com/)
– airboat rides. See birds and crocs (or not depending on your luck).

Outlet shopping (http://www.lbvfs.com/)
– loads of outlets. There are also the Premium Outlets that you see on the I4 but LBV is my personal favourite as it has a shop serving decent tea.

Old town car show (https://myoldtownusa.com/category/events/car-cruises/)
– went a couple of times until Helen and the boys screamed enough! Lots of old and souped up cars that you can see drive through the old town and then walk through as they are parked up.

Kennedy Space Centre (https://www.kennedyspacecenter.com/)
– check to see if you are going to be there during a launch and do that, otherwise it is a long drive and I wasn’t overly impressed.

Character dining (https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/dining/)
– worth doing once if you think the kids will be wowed by having dinner with Mickey and Baloo et al.

Medieval Times (http://www.medievaltimes.com/)
– slickly done jousting etc. with meal in a castle.

Cirque de Soleil (https://www.cirquedusoleil.com/fr/la-nouba)
– this is currently shut while it is refurbished.

Downtown Springs (https://www.disneysprings.com/)
– Really nice place to go for a Disney oriented shopping trip. Has a great Lego shop there and you have to have a strawberry shake in Ghirardelli Ice Cream & Chocolate Shop. There is a Planet Hollywood and a loads of other top name brand shops and restaurants there too.

Fireworks and shows at Disney parks (get there early). All are good but latterly we have been going to Epcot’s because they are more adult in theme.

Favourite Rides

There is so much to do in all the parks and plenty for kids of all ages but here is a list of my favourites:

  • Test track (Epcot)
  • Safari (Animal Kingdom)
  • Space Mountain (Magic Kingdom)
  • Midway Madness (Disney Hollywood Studios)
  • Star Tours (DisneyHollywood Studios)
  • Indiana Jones (Disney Hollywood Studios)
  • Simpsons (Universal)
  • MiB (Universal)
  • Transformers (Universal)
  • and, of course, … Harry Potter (universal)

Eating out

We loved the following:

  • Perkins – great breakfasts – check out my favourites the Tremendous Twelve and the Magnificent Seven.
  • The Cheesecake Factory – the enormous portions for the mains sadly prevent you from getting to the cheesecakes, which is a shame. Buy to take away and eat at home.
  • Cracker Barrel – a good value family restaurant serving traditional style food
  • Bahama Breeze – another good, more upmarket, restaurant, probably my favourite with a wonderful Shrimp Creole and Key Lime Pie
  • Red Lobster – great for fish, obviously!
  • Disney Springs – this has changed enormously since we were last there and there are many more options to suit all tastes and wallets. We particularly like House of Blues.
  • Olive Garden – a new one for us this year as it wasn’t built the last time we were here. It is “Italian”ish!
  • Ruth’s Chris Steak House – for a top end and tasty steak.

And Finally…

The following post has even more hints & tips about getting the best out of your US holiday:

http://www.neilthompson.co.uk/2011/05/08/usa-11-tips-tricks/

If you are on Three you can use your phones in the US at no extra costs.

It’s a fantastic place, you’re going to have a great holiday!

USA ’18 – Round Up

So this is the final post of the holiday I promise and it is the now traditional round-up post. Here I group together all the posts to allow you to quickly find the post most relevant to what you are interested in. If you want to do a comparison you can find the round ups for 2009 , 2011 and 2014 here.

This was all correct in May 2018 but is subject to change – check the links to the official sites provided to see if it holds true now. And enjoy!

Things to do

Places to Eat

You’d be hard pressed not to find somewhere that you want to eat out in Orlando as the place is packed with a wide range of restaurants to suit all tastes and pockets.

From the list below Cracker Barrel was the cheapest (helped by it being ‘dry’) and The Cheesecake Factory was the costliest based on bill size for our party of four. Don’t forget to tip which will add 18 -20% minimum to your bill.

Here are some of our favourites:

  • Perkins – great breakfasts – check out my favourites the Tremendous Twelve and the Magnificent Seven.
  • The Cheesecake Factory – the enormous portions for the mains sadly prevent you from getting to the cheesecakes, which is a shame. Buy to take away and eat at home.
  • Cracker Barrel – a good value family restaurant serving traditional style food
  • Bahama Breeze – another good, more upmarket, restaurant, probably my favourite with a wonderful Shrimp Creole and Key Lime Pie
  • Red Lobster – great for fish, obviously!
  • Disney Springs – this has changed enormously since we were last there and there are many more options to suit all tastes and wallets. We particularly like House of Blues.
  • Olive Garden – a new one for us this year as it wasn’t built the last time we were here. It is “Italian”ish!

Places to Shop

Plenty of bargains to be had in the US, particularly in clothing if you like their styles and fit. Here are some places we like to shop:

  • Shopping – blog post on where we went
  • Lake Buena Vista – mainly clothes but also a good character outlet selling cheap Disney stuff
  • Dollar Tree – America’s answer to Poundland but remember that by the time you add tax  it is actually Dollar oh Seven Tree!
  • Wallmart – Asda’s owner and you will notice some similarities, such as the George clothing brand, and some differences – they are huge places
  • Premium Outlets – Higher end clothes retailers
  • Barnes & Noble – Book store. There is one opposite Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse on West Sand Lake Road. Pay a visit before getting a great (but pricey) steak!

By Day

This is a list of all posts in the order that they were posted:

Oh, and don’t forget to stock up on Fanta Pineapple!

USA ’18 – Day 14 – Back to see Harry once more

Our last full day. Boo! We chose to spend it in Universal which has lots of rides for all the family. It also is home to my least favourite ride: “Secure a locker at Hogwarts” which, as I have said previously, is a real pain and poorly designed. I’m tempted to say that wouldn’t have happened at Disney…

Anyway, we did the same circuit as we did before so we started off at the Gringotts ride which once again we did twice. Then three of us went onto Men in Black while Alex did some roller coaster that you wouldn’t get me on if you paid me. Men in Black is so old now that the recorded messages as you go round make reference to no “videotaping” who remembers doing that?

This time the Simpsons ride was working so we were able to sample the delights of trying to be killed by Sideshow Bob once more before we headed off for a single rider trip on Transformers.

Finally we got the Hogwarts Express across to the other park and went on the “Forbidden Journey” a couple of times, again as single riders. It is amazing that even after riding this probably at least half a dozen times I am still noticing things in it that I have never seen before. You can also date just when it was conceived and built by the age of Daniel, Rupert and Emma who looked pretty young.

We have been making lots of use of the single rider option this holiday which has meant very short wait times and frequently we haven’t been split much as a party at all, which is even better.

Universal is still, comparatively speaking, empty when compared to Disney with the majority of people converging on the Harry Potter lockers rides.

So that’s our final day just about done with our last evening meal out chosen as Olive Garden which we all enjoyed on our last visit. There were LOTS of people waiting for a table when we arrived but the good thing about American restaurants is that they have a quick turnaround so we were seated within 30 minutes.

We are now packed and have a late flight tomorrow so have time for just one more park tomorrow – which will it be?

USA ’18 – Day 6 – Universal Appeal

We’d decided to go back to Universal today rather than use the Fast passes we had for Disney. That means that it is Disney 2 – Universal 2 so far in the battle of the parks.

We got there for park opening at 9am so that we could make our way straight to the new Harry Potter ride “Escape from Gringotts”. Getting through the park gates at Universal is always an excruciatingly slow experience as you aren’t trusted to scan your own ticket, this has to be done by an attendant. I guess that this is to speed up the process but in our experience it does anything but. Then you have to wait while your fingerprint is scanned and checked. It’s all a bit of a palava.

Anyway, that done and out the way we made straight for the Escape from Gringotts ride. Having never ridden this before we were a little apprehensive about what it would be like. The lead up to the ride was fabulous as you walk through the upstairs area of Gringotts bank before being taking to a very realistic lift which takes you “down” to the vaults. It is all beautifully done.

The ride was described as a roller coaster but turned out to be a mix of short roller coaster and motion simulator, which Universal does so well. You were seated in small cars and an overhead harness came done to pin you in place. It is the most restrictive ride I think I have been on. I won’t spoil the ride itself for others but it was short but very good.

When we came out the lines were still very small so we immediately went round and rode it again. That’s one of the great things about a. going early and b. Universal – the lines are short anyway and almost empty first thing. We were able to tick off: Gringotts, Men In Black (which is looking pretty dated now), Transformers and Shrek. After lunch we went in to the other park and went on Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and then got the Hogwarts Express back to the first park and out.

In the evening we went to Chilli’s, a restaurant we used to love when it was still a going concern in the UK. The food is great and Mat loved his Jalapeno Margarita until I knocked it all over the table!

USA ’18 – Day 5 – A Pale Shadow of its Former Self

There was a time when Disney’s Hollywood Studios would have ranked as our favourite park but based on today’s visit it won’t be getting top spot in 2018. The park is currently undergoing a huge amount of building work creating the new Star Wars land and for this a number of rides have been levelled. Add to this that the all new Toy Story land is there but isn’t due to open until 30th June. They whole place feels small with not as much to do as before.

That said there are still enough rides to keep the boys entertained. They went on the Rock n’ Roller coaster a number of times. I’m afraid that I didn’t make it as far as the cars this year as I bottle it before getting on. The thought of doing it was making me feel physically sick and I decided that wasn’t a way to feel on holiday.

Dotted around the Disney parks are official photographers who will take your picture in iconic locations. Previously, if you had wanted to download these you had to pay for the privilege and we never bothered. This year that has been rolled into the ticket price so now we can get some pictures taken of all the family without my arm stretched out. It’s a great addition and brings terrific value. They photographers are good and the pictures are usually available on the Disney app within minutes. Brilliant!

Our gas guzzling 4×4 was ready for a top up today and so we popped into a garage. I won’t bore you again with the trials and tribulations of trying to pay for petrol in the US with a UK credit card but, in short, it’s a pain. Having filled the tank for about £20 (TWENTY POUNDS FOR A FULL TANK!!!) I went to start the car and nothing happened. There then followed a frantic couple of minutes while I tried to restart the car and interpret the dashboard warning lights. In the end it transpired that I had left the car in drive and you can only start the car when in park position. Doh!

On a happier note the 7/11 stocked bottles of Fanta Pineapple which is just the best thing ever and the sooner we can get this in the UK the better!

USA ’18 – Day 3 – Not so Fast not so Furious

Our drive along the 192 into the parks takes us past numerous eating establishments but at the very end there is a formal looking building with the words “Bob Evans” above the door. Initially I thought that it might be an estate agents or a realtor in the local parlance but a quick search identified it as a restaurant. I then made the mistake of suggesting to the rest of the occupants of the car that as it had Evans’ name above the door it must be a more up market restaurant. This was quickly shot down in flames as it was pointed out to me that if having your name above your eatery was a mark of good quality that would make Wendy’s, Denny’s and McDonalds all fine dining. They had a point so I quickly drove on. I’d like to say that nothing was said of it again but these things have a way of coming back to haunt you.

Today’s park was Universal which is actually two parks but they are so small (compared to Disney) and so close together that we consider them as one. Universal feels a lot more adult in its theme with rides based on the likes of Harry Potter (of which there are many), Transformers, Simpsons and Fast and Furious.

We made our way straight to the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride for which the signs said there were 10 minute wait times. I can only assume that was the wait time to secure a locker because beyond that and the long walk to the ride itself there were no delays (as seen below). In keeping with many of the more recent rides in Universal this makes use of screens to display action as you are moved from scene to scene in some sort of cart. This is a lot more effective that I have made it sound here. The best example is probably the Transformers ride which seems very immersive.

Next stop was to Hogsmeade station where a trip on the Hogwarts express awaited us. This is what appears to be a real steam locomotive pulling four carriages. It is incredibly realistic. Once you are seated inside you really could be on your way to Platform 9 3/4 as the windows are replaced with TV screens projecting images of your journey including a number of iconic movie places and a very realistic run into London. It was very impressive. You step out onto Kings Cross station which too is very realistic.

That is not an accusation you could lay at Universal’s newest ride Fast & Furious — Supercharged. It had only been open a week and today was the official opening. Despite this, like the rest of the park, it was pretty quiet and we got on it easily albeit slowly. We all came off the ride saying the same thing – “is that it?” It was very short and pretty tame compared to the high octane films. I don’t think we’ll be rushing to go on it again.

Today was the first time ever (I think) that I have gone completely camera free on holiday. Instead all the pictures were taken with my phone and don’t seem to have suffered any for that. I did feel a little naked not carrying the camera round though and it is much easier to hold and use than a phone so I may yet still take it out with me.

For our evening meal we went to The Cheesecake Factory. I was feeling bloated from all the other meals we have had so I ordered off the skinnylicious menu where the salads were under 600 calories. What turned up was the biggest plate of salad I have ever seen and while it was delicious I could still only manager half of it!

USA ’18 – Day 1 – Never Say Never Again

So, here we go again, for another spin around the Walt Disney World parks in Florida. Yes, yes, yes I know we said that last time was THE last time and that we said that the time before too but we just couldn’t resist. This really is the last time…

The flight was at a reasonable hour so we didn’t need to get up at the crack of dawn or wake the boys prematurely which was a blessing. After a chicken free (for me at any rate) breakfast in Nandos the boys went to the Weatherspoons to get their blood/alcohol levels sorted before being shut in a metal tube for nine hours. Helen and I wandered the rather uninspiring shops that Gatwick South Terminal had to offer.

The plane pushed back right on time and it looked like we were going to get away nice and promptly. We hadn’t even started moving in a forwardly direction when it all came to a grinding halt. One of the passengers had fallen “ill” and we apparently needed to go back to the stand to let him off. Worst was yet to come because not only did we have to let off the passenger they also needed to wrestle around in the hold for his baggage, reaffirm all the baggage in the bins around where he had been sitting and refuel the plane. Wait, what? They need to refuel the plane after having travelled approximately 100 yards? Just how close do they run these things? In the end the wait time wasn’t too bad and we were finally off.

Unsurprisingly a flight to Orlando is full of families and lots of young children. These have never been any particular trouble and they roam freely during the flight. There are two exceptions to this – take off and landing when the plane is filled with the sounds of children being forcibly restrained against their wills. That is a long 20 minutes.

Forward nine hours and we arrived at Orlando and our first snaking queue of the holiday. Despite the multiple lines and volume of people it didn’t take too long to get through, which was a blessing as it is a stressful time stood there wondering if you are going to be allowed in.

We collected the car and made our way out into the sunshine of an overcast Florida and straight into our usual row. Take two tired, stressed individuals and put them in a car with vague navigation instructions and light blue touch paper. It happens everytime. Despite getting lost and having to drive through a $1 toll because it wouldn’t take notes only coins – you would have thought that given the numbers of tourists fresh off the plane on this route that they would make it easy but oh no – we made it to the villa unscathed.

There is a now long established tradition that the first evening half our party has Dominos Pizza while the other half Chinese and this year was no different. Then we all sit around full and tried trying to hold out as long as possible before going to bed.

Tomorrow it’s back to Magic Kingdom.

USA '14 – Round Up

It has become something of a tradition to do a round up post at the end of our Florida holidays and so this is it.

Here I group together all the posts to allow you to quickly find the post most relevant to what you are interested in. If you want to do a comparison you can find the round ups for 2009 and 2011 also.

Finally, this was all correct in April 2014 but is subject to change – check the links to the official sites provided to see if it holds true now. And enjoy!

Things to do

Places to Eat

You’d be hard pressed not to find somewhere that you want to eat out in Orlando as the place is packed with a wide range of restaurants to suit all tastes and pockets.

From the list below Cracker Barrel was the cheapest (helped by it being ‘dry’) and The Cheesecake Factory was the costliest based on bill size for our party of four. Don’t forget to tip which will add 15% minimum to your bill.

Here are some of our favourites:

  • Perkins – great breakfasts – check out my favourites the Tremendous Twelve and the Magnificent Seven.
  • The Cheesecake Factory – the enormous portions for the mains sadly prevent you from getting to the cheesecakes, which is a shame. Buy to take away and eat at home.
  • Cracker Barrel – a good value family restaurant serving traditional style food
  • Bahama Breeze – another good, more upmarket, restaurant, probably my favourite with a wonderful Shrimp Creole and Key Lime Pie
  • Red Lobster – great for fish, obviously!
  • Downtown Disney (official site) – plenty of choice from McDonalds to themed restaurants to relaxed dining.

Places to Shop

Plenty of bargains to be had in the US, particularly in clothing if you like their styles and fit. Here are some places we like to shop:

  • Shopping – blog post on where we went
  • Lake Buena Vista – mainly clothes but also a good character outlet selling cheap Disney stuff
  • Dollar Tree – America’s answer to Poundland but remember that by the time you add tax  it is actually Dollar oh Seven Tree!
  • Wallmart – Asda’s owner and you will notice some similarities, such as the George clothing brand, and some differences – they are huge places
  • Premium Outlets – Higher end clothes retailers
  • Barnes & Noble – Book store. There is one opposite Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse on West Sand Lake Road. Pay a visit before getting a great steak!

Americana & Trivia

Various topics mentioned in the posts that capture the essence of both America and the holiday:

By Day

This is a list of all posts in the order that they were posted:

 

USA '14 – Day 12 – Two park blow out

As we get ever closer to the end of the holiday the realisation starts to dawn that you only have so many trips to the parks left and so there is much debate about what we should do when. We are also haunted by the thought that this will be the last time that we are coming this way, although that will make family and friends laugh given we have said that every time we come here! Anyway, all this leads to us packing in two parks into a single day – today it was Universal and Animal Kingdom.

At Universal we set out to do some of the rides that we hadn’t been able to previously, in particular the Despicable Me themed ride. The Fastpass system at Universal is an additional cost that we didn’t want to add so we lined up. This ride is the most popular in the park and meant a wait of over an hour for something that only lasted less than five minutes and was, in my opinion, not that great – good for small kids who love the film I guess.

Our other “target” was to go back onto the Transformers ride as we had all enjoyed it so much the first time we were in the park. Our last visit it was shut and that also proved to be the case today so it is clearly not the most reliable of rides. So it was off to do the Simpsons once again.

There is a very clear difference between the Universal and Disney parks and that is in the “cast members” that man the attractions, shops and restaurants. Disney feels magical because the people that work there are engaged, well trained and knowledgable. You get the sense that Universal is staffed by those that couldn’t make the grade to get a job as a Disney cast member. It’s not that they are bad it’s just that they are noticeably not as good. You find groups of them standing around chatting – something that you never see at Disney. Also, and this is going to seem a really trivial point, but in order to load people onto rides there are inevitably queues and the management of these as you get to the very front is done by putting parties into very short lines, typically six people. At Disney they do this seamlessly while at Universal the use of a clipboard and pencil is required.

Does any of this matter? No, not really, it doesn’t affect our enjoyment of the ride itself but it does show the lengths that Disney goes to ensure that everyone has a great time. It works.

20140412-100149.jpgLate afternoon we went off to Animal Kingdom and this is where the Fastpass+ system really does work well. As previously explained you can now book your Fasspasses in advance, up to two months in fact, on the web or mobile app. Knowing that we were coming here tonight we pre-booked our passes for the rides we wanted. Previously, under the old system, that would have been impossible as all the Fastpasses would have gone much earlier in the day. This meant that we were able to get a late afternoon slot for the safari and it being much later we saw many more animals than we had previously. We did Dinosaur and Primeval Whirl one more time and Mat won a couple of soft toys on the fair.

Having done all that we went on to Downtown Disney where we had a reservation at Planet Hollywood. I must be getting old as boy was it noisy, certainly not the place for a quiet conversation. Still the food was ok and it was a good end to a busy day.

USA '14 – Day 5 – More Bort licence plates to the gift shop

Today’s park was Universal where we had planned a route to include the Simpsons ride, Men in Black, Jaws and then the Beetle Juice show. The park was very quiet and so we were quickly onto the first couple of rides without any fuss at all. The Jaws ride proved more problematical in that it has been removed to make way for what looks like an extension to the Harry Potter themed part of the park. You can see in the image below that there is going to be a replica of Kings Cross station:

20140405-153541.jpg

We also went on the Transformers ride for the first time, it being new since our last visit. This is a ride where you sit in a car and you are moved around a series of different places being jerked and bumped around. Difference with this one was that it was just simply amazing. You wear 3D glasses and the scenes are giant projections. With the glasses and the movement of the car you really feel that you are racing through the streets being chased by Megatron. It was such a great ride that we got off, exited and then got straight back on again. That was also an indication of just how quiet the park was too.

A few months ago I noticed that Steve Hackett was playing in Orlando while we were over here so I booked up a couple of tickets for Mat and me as you really don’t get that many opportunities to hear classic Genesis played these days. The venue, Plaza Live, was a really great place to see a gig but the whole experience was a bit of an eyeopener.

Now, I am basing my thoughts on attending precisely one concert in the US but that’s all I have to go on. It is true that the audience last night was loud and active.

When I say loud I don’t just mean whooping in appreciation (although there was a lot of that) I mean talking. Remember that this was a rock concert so they really had to shout to make themselves heard. If you are wondering why I didn’t tell them to shut up please see here.

When I say active I don’t just mean getting down to the music in appreciation (although the guy next to me was really going for it) I mean regular trips to the bar to top up the beer and a standing ovation at the end of every song!

Again, this may be unusual even for the US but I am suspecting not. However, all this was a minor distraction from the main event which, just like it was last October was superb.

Oh and if you don’t understand then subject of today’s post, see here: