Orlando Holiday Best Bits

Man it seems like forever ago we were in Orlando! It's only been a couple of months, but as soon as we got back we dived straight in at the deep end of the Halloween season so the blog has kind of been focussed on talking about all the fab spooky stuff we did in October and Orlando content kind of took a back seat. But finally it's cold, dark November. The parks are closed for the most part here in the UK, so I thought now would be as good a time as any to actually take a second to chat about our trip and all of my favourite things we experienced! It's been long enough, so without further ado here's my best bits of Orlando 2018 for me!

Right so in case you didn't know this about me - I fucking HATE drop towers. It's not a height thing, I've walked around the top of the tallest building in the world without even a blink of an eye. No, no, what gets me is that intense dropping sensation. I physically cannot ride Detonator at Thorpe and will barely scrape by in my seat on Apocalypse. So when Falcon's Fury opened back in 2014 I knew I was going to absolutely shit myself riding this thing. I first rode back in 2016 and I remember feeling physically sick queueing for it, palms sweating and brain screaming at me to run the other way. But I pushed through and guess what? I absolutely LOVED IT!

For you see, it doesn't ride like any drop tower I've ever experienced. The sensation is actually a lot more like a dive coaster and I absolutely ADORE those! So on this visit to Busch I was super keen to get back on it and fully enjoy the experience without the crippling fear. Riding Falcon's Fury in the dark and slowly ascending above the park during its Howl-O-Scream state to see the layers of fog and lighting for the event was such an incredible high for me. Adored it!

This screen based dark ride opened the week after we came home when I last visited in 2016, but having ridden the version on the studio tour over in Hollywood I wasn't too fussed - how different could it be right? Well, turns out a whole lot actually! My expectations for this were rock bottom - I'd heard nothing but poor to 'meh' reviews of this attraction so really wasn't expecting much - we only really joined the queue just to ride it and get it out of the way. But my god - the theming! The queue in itself is an attraction, with intense dark and detailed caverns and walkways, one of the most terrifying animatronics I've ever seen and even live actors. Also big shout out to the vile worm with teeth animatronic dude in the cage which looks so incredibly grotesque and realistic.

I think it's the small details that really bring this attraction to life and set it leagues apart from its West Coast cousin. The trackless vehicles are an incredibly impressive feat of technology, heightened only by the realisation that even your driver is an animatronic. So. Cool. Then there's the facade of the cave itself which is just so massive and intimidating to the way the screens are blended with the sets and movements once inside the attraction proper. It's absolutely exhilarating and beautiful as well. Universal should be proud and those poo-pooing it...what the hell ride were you riding?

Listen, I made fun of the name of this coaster along with everybody else when it was revealed back in 2016, but secretly I've always been absolutely gagged for this coaster. Gravity Group can do no wrong in my eyes, and after falling in love with Cu Chulainn at Tayto Park in 2015 I knew I was instantly going to love Mine Blower. And I wasn't wrong!

After spending close to an hour finding somewhere to park the bloody car we finally nabbed somewhere and ran in, paid our $10 and got in line for the back row of this petite little hybrid number. It never ceases to astound me what these manufacturers are able to achieve on such a tiny footprint - it really is incredible. Mine Blower is intense, fast paced, unrelenting airtime filled madness from start to finish. So sad that it costs a tenner a go and I was too cheap to shell out fifty bucks for the wristband but honestly I was so elated after that one ride it was enough. I'll definitely be back to Fun Spot for more next time we visit!

Look I won't bang on too much about how much I loved this event, I've already done that in a separate blog post here. But this event, I can't stop thinking about how good it was and how we absolutely should have booked a second night. One night just wasn't enough and we massively underestimated how many meet and greets we wanted to do, how many treats we wanted to try and how many rides we wanted to ride. It was insanely good from the minute we walked through the gates and it didn't stop being incredible until we were back home at our apartment.

I think for me a lot of the enjoyment came from just how much I underestimated the event. In the lead up to our visit my mind was solely focussed on Halloween Horror Nights and Howl O Scream and the fun spooky horror stuff we'd be doing at those events. Mickey's Not So Scary to me was just going to be a fun night at the Magic Kingdom and nothing too much to fuss over. My underestimation definitely lead to me having an absolute blast at this event for sure!

Let it be known - I love me a good B&M hyper coaster and I was no stranger to Mako. We were the first public train to ride it on opening day in 2016 and I had an amazing time riding this fierce airtime machine. But that was a weird day at Sea World for sure - we basically spent all day hanging around outside the entrance to the coaster hoping for a hint of opening as it was only a soft opening. We got a couple of rides in but it was all quite rushed and crammed in in my memory, therefore I didn't truly remember how FUCKING INCREDIBLE this coaster is!

We rode four or five times on this visit, and chose front of the train every time. There's nothing like that feeling of being absolutely shoved out of your seat by pure force and then dragged down the other side. Pure bliss and one of the reasons I love riding these things in the first place. My mates and I had a chat about where this ranks among the B&M hypers and it's definitely up there as one of the best for me (I think from memory I would potentially only rank Intimidator higher). Again, one of those coasters you don't hear tons about, especially from somewhere like Orlando where everybody and their nan have been but urgh, just such a gem of a coaster.

OK so I wasn't exactly the biggest fan of the Toy Story Land project in general. I've been to all the other ones and always just found them kind of...garish? Which this is of course, it's based on toys and plastic so obviously it's going to be but you get my point. Anyway, Slinky Dog Dash made the Orlando version stand out ever so slightly from the other iterations so I was intrigued. And from the layout it looked like we were on for a winner - a kind of mini-Taron if you will. But then came the off-ride videos and POVs and man, this thing was slow. Like, obviously it's going to be, it's a kiddie coaster, but when the layout looked that fab it was hard not to be disheartened.

Well, we needn't have worried because even after an hour queue in the thick, Florida heat, Slinky Dog Dash is an absolute whippet of a coaster! The off-ride footage of this coaster being slow is entirely misleading - not only do you really feel the speed it's forceful and fun in all the right places and its layout lends itself to breaks in the speed and force in all the right places to ensure that things never get too much. It's the perfect family coaster in every way and if it didn't mean joining the back of that hour queue again I'd have ran straight back around for another go.

I've made no attempt to hide my disdain for the use of this IP for Animal Kingdom. Of course, the Disney goon in me was always holding out for Beastly Kingdom so anything other than that was always going to be met with an upturned nose, but Avatar seemed like a particularly harsh sting on top of all that. Even all the promo material, all the videos of Joe Rohde telling me how utterly incredible this land was going to be didn't really peak my interest. Even pulling into the car park of Animal Kingdom I wasn't really excited, and was more just going through the motions when we finally made our way into the land late that afternoon.

Oh. My. God. Pandora is easily the most immersive and stunning themed land Disney have ever created, and I've been to Tokyo DisneySea. The depth, the sense of scale, the theming and detail of every leaf, every inch of the land. It's just absolutely incredible and the perfect compliment to what I already think is Disney's second best themed park in the world (to DisneySea, of course). Urgh, I could have walked around that land all day. Utterly breathtaking.

Ah, writing that has brought back all the memories and I'm feeling all warm and fuzzy now, how disgusting.

Talk later xoxo,