My Short Florida Vacation

7 01 2008

So I flew out to Orlando, Florida. The 3 brothers took separate flights and converged at MCO (Orlando International Airport) around 1pm. First of all, when we walked in through the gate, the entire place looked like someone had detonated a bomb. The ceiling was all gone and the ugly steel pipes were visible for all the world to see. The pillars were stripped and some had transparent coverings showing plain cement. Felt like I stepped into the airport of a 3rd world country. Definitely not the best impression of sunny Florida.

The airport was at a heightened alert – ORANGE security level or something meaning that if we saw someone suspicious, there was a greater urgency to report that dude to the authorities. I’m only assuming under a GREEN or YELLOW security level, those “suspicious” persons taking part in their “suspicious” activities could go unreported. And in the RED security level, anybody that sported a beard or mid-eastern looking features should be turned in for further questioning. They’re missing out the most important color – BROWN. If the security level is BROWN, it means that the toilets are over-flooding and immediate evacuation of the airport is required due to a virus-laden (pun intended) terrorist attack.

They announced over the ubiquitous PA system that they had identified a suspect and were looking for the person. This prompted strobe lights to flash all over the place enough to send epileptic sufferers into a seizure. That went on for a good 20 minutes before the tape-recorded warning message stopped for good. Passengers scared? Not really but it’s just another trick to instill fear and preoccupy visitors about the daily threats to the nation.

Brothers reunited and off to a cab. We got a West-African taxi driver who barely went close to the speed limit. In most cases, the driver goes 5-10 miles OVER the limit. In our case, she went south of it causing many drivers to flip at her passing from the left and the right. Stupid driver. Plus she didn’t know the hotel we were booked at – Park Inn located near the somewhat famed Florida Mall in Orlando. A usual 5-10 minute drive ended up being 30 minutes because of multiple U-turns and stops in parking lots of other restaurants to reorient ourselves. In conclusion, she was the worst taxi driver I’ve ever known.

Orlando is a typical capital city. It’s smaller and less interesting than the other cities in that state but it’s different because Orlando houses 2 Disney World Parks (Animal Kingdom and Epcot) and Universal Studio Parks (Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure). The latter parks in both Disney and Universal are the better. The place is spread out like the Midwest and employees are burdened to work like slaves as expected in the south. Swimming pools are in abundance but most of them don’t have heated water so it’s all for show. White cars there are as common as white snow here in Minnesota. Gas is also more expensive than in Minneapolis but the weather is much much nicer in winter – average of 75 to 80 degrees.

So what did we do there? As you can see, we went to both parks of Universal and to Epcot in Disney. Our 120 minutes of average waiting lines for the rides at Universal produced a lot of grumbling from us but after waiting for like 2-3 hours on average to get onto mediocre rides at Disney’s Epcot, we learned to appreciate patience. When we got back to Universal the day after the lesson learned at Disney, God were we thankful for 120 minute waiting lines.

There’s not much really to talk about the rides at either park. At Islands of Adventure (Universal), the best roller coaster was the not so fast Hulk which takes you into a million twists and curls at slower speeds lowering inertia and increasing paranoia on the riders. If you’re heading there, hop onto the “Dueling Dragons” rollercoaster ride then get on the Hulk. Cuz once you’re gone on the Hulk, everything else becomes lame. The much talked about “Spiderman” (Islands) ride wasn’t bad either. It’s a 3D laser projected ride where you’re on some open-top brand new fictional journalist vehicle. The combination of all the 3D effects along with props like water and fire makes it a great show. So it tied at #1 with the “Shrek 4D” (Studios) ride. “Terminator” (Studios) and “Poseidon’s Fury” (Islands) come in 2nd and 3rd in the best 3D show category. “Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls” was a good water ride compared to the other 2 in the park. Warning. Do NOT ever go on to the Men In Black (Universal) ride. Was totally not worth the 60 minutes we spent waiting and people warned us but we thought maybe they were wrong.

Disney’s Epcot Park? Not much to say other than it was plain horrible. So many little kids running around and super long lines for anything … food, drinks, rides, to look at any goddang thing there. Glad we got in for free thanks to a buddy who hooked us up.

We got up early Saturday morning to drive over to Daytona Beach. An extremely bumpy ride got us all curious and well whadya know. Our front-right tire was completely flat. Called up Enterprise to exchange our Aveo but they weren’t open for another 2 hours being a weekend. Holy shit. Got the ride in and we were upgraded to a Pontiac G6 sedan. White just like our previous Chevy Aveo and all the other cars around. The G6 was much nicer but the brake light would not turn off for some dumb reason. Cars honked around us and some girls in a Nissan Titan pick-up even pulled over to our right and was yelling at us saying we had a problem. So we definitely did have a problem. Stupid American cars. Back in the 60’s, people would say “Stupid Japanese cars” but sadly enough, times have changed.

Then we checked out Daytona Beach. Drove past the famous Daytona Speedway race-course. Embry Riddle University was right by it. Can’t imagine what it must be like to go to classes hearing race cars roaring right around the corner all day/night long. The beaches were virtually empty for what it is due to high tide. Didn’t seem too high to me but guess that’s the lifeguard’s call. The sand was littered sea-shells by what I initially thought were pebbles. Upon closer inspection, the horror of my dreams came true … they were all alive and everywhere. We could not walk on the beach without stepping on 20 or more sea-shells moving around trying to run away. Made me nauseous thinking about all the broken shells and punctured frail skins of those things we killed while running around the beach. So no boogie boarding. No surfing. WTF man. Give us a break. We’re on break.

Saw some NFL games at the bars where the disappointing Vikings lost against a weak Denver and the thriller between New England Patriots and New York Giants. Stupid Pats squeezed a victory somehow. That’s Orlando in a nutshell I guess. White cars. Great weather. High tides. Clueless taxi drivers. Tire slashers. Etc etc. Great place to live.


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