Photo TR: A Very Touristy Holiday in Florida... And Philly!

P. 2: Philadelphia Zoo, food (cheese!), history and culture!
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Photo TR: A Very Touristy Holiday in Florida... And Philly!

Postby jedimaster1227 » Sat Mar 03, 2018 3:49 pm

This year's holidays in Orlando were filled with a ton of new (and returning) opportunities to enjoy the parks... And in keeping with birthday tradition, I lived it up in town. But we decided to pivot a bit on the tail end of the holidays by catching a flight to Philadelphia just to try something new. This trip report starts with the Florida section of our holiday adventures and the next update will start with photos from our visit to Phily, cheesesteaks and all!
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As a major Star Wars fan, I made it a point to experience the new Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire VR experience from The Void during its opening day at Disney Springs.
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The lobby is open and inviting...
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I get the feeling that based on the design of the space, the theme of the game or the content could be changed out semi-regularly.
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In case you were wondering, the VR experience comes with a set of warnings.
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Guests are prompted to choose their preference of stormtrooper armor and then are briefed by Cassian Andor, from Star Wars: Rogue One. The story of Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire takes place before the events of the film. While no photos were allowed beyond this space, I can tell you that I absolutely loved the experience. The VR was unlike anything I've experienced before and the effects (heat, water, sound, physical set pieces integrated into the virtual space around you) were fantastic. The interactivity between your three other teammates is incredibly cool (and for this reason I highly recommend coordinating to get a group of four together that you know to experience this together) and the immersion is intensely real. The story is accessible to the casual fans but has some great nods to lore that will make the more hardcore canon fans smile. I cannot recommend this enough!
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Over at Disney's Hollywood Studios I checked out the new Baseline Tap House and was really impressed with the selection of beers and the light bites they served.
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As one of our holiday gifts, my in-laws got us tickets to see The Book of Mormon...
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The show was an incredibly pleasant surprise with fantastic music, a really funny cast and story and some direct references to Orlando that made it even more fitting that we were seeing the show in town.
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We had a chance to stop in for an evening at the Epcot Festival of the Holidays to try a few new items.
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ALL THE CHEESE!
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So much delicious food!
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So much delicious porg!
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Over at SeaWorld the Christmas Celebration was running so we hopped over to see the Clyde and Seamore Christmas show including the return of the famous SeaWorld mime!
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Minor set updates for the Christmas show.
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Clyde & Seamore's Countdown to Christmas was... interesting.
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Similar behaviors to those found in the Sea Lions Tonight!
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Some fun photo ops in the park.
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The park really does a fantastic job decorating for the holidays!
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If there's something SeaWorld has continued to do well over the years, it is their seasonal events.
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Really nice!
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Rudolph's Christmastown was a new area for the park.
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Guests could meet several of the characters from the classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer claymation feature.
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And I met Bumble!
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Santa moved from his previous meet and greet location inside of the entrance of the animal exhibit in Wild Arctic...
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He moved to a side room towards the exit of the exhibit.
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Shamu's Happy Harbor was dressed up too.
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The light sails were pretty clever.
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Meatball pretzel for the win!
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Miracles is easily one of my favorite SeaWorld shows year-round.
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It is cheesy...
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Mildly Christmassy...
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And uses obscure music from The Prince of Egypt in sync with the awesome killer whale movements.
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Just a good time to be had!
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And of course there are big splashes!
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There's a whale of a tail or two...
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This is classic SeaWorld and I love every bit of it.
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The Sea of Trees returned this year, bigger and brighter than ever.
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The Waterfront looked great for the event.
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As a Landry's Select Club member, I get $25 every year for my birthday to use at a Landry’s restaurant of my choice.
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Naturally I chose Yak & Yeti at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
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This Malaysian Seafood Curry was absolutely fantastic!
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While we were there we also took the time to see Flights of Wonder during one of its last days running.
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I saw the show only once before this viewing and that was in 1998 when I visited the park before the official grand opening.
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I was pleasantly surprised with the experience and it definitely hyped me for the new Up-themed show opening in a few months!
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Over at Hollywood Studios I finally got the chance to meet Baby Groot...
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And Starlord too!
Last edited by jedimaster1227 on Mon May 07, 2018 4:43 pm.
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Photo TR: A Very Touristy Holiday in Florida... And Philly2

Postby jedimaster1227 » Sat Mar 03, 2018 3:50 pm

(Continued)
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Over in Walt Disney Presents (formerly known as One Man's Dream), guests can find a portion of the Star Wars Galaxy's Edge model on display. The full model was shown to guests at the D23 Expo last Summer.
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There's also a full Toy Story Land model for guests to look at while in the exhibit.
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A nice teaser for Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway!
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The ride vehicle for Alien Swirling Saucers, coming to Toy Story Land at Disney's Hollywood Studios!
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I had to go back to the Baseline Tap House for more!
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A neat tie in to the Disney California Adventure Red Car Trolley line...
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Baseline Tap House replaced the former Writer's Stop and this is definitely a step up!
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Some great selections on tap and several tasty food options as well.
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The former graphic print shop has been converted into a bar according to the storyline of the space.
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Classic Disneyland imagery can be seen with some in-the-works poster prints.
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The former Writer's Stop marquee letters are scattered throughout the shelves of the Baseline Tap House.
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The Ace Hard Cider was delicious! I don't typically find myself in the mood for ciders but I tried this in the flight during my first visit and had to get more!
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Grand Avenue takes up the last remaining portion of the former Streets of America and encompasses the Muppets Courtyard including Mama Melrose's and the shops towards the back.
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The apartment callback at the entrance to one of the Grand Avenue facades is functional and contains the names of several Imagineers who have worked on projects for the parks.
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This will eventually be one of the entrance to Star Wars Galaxy's Edge...
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I'm already there!
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Love it!
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Muppetvision 3D also got a new marquee.
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And the Muppet fountain was partially restored!
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We rode Star Tours to check out the new Crait sequence inspired by Star Wars: The Last Jedi. The additions are quite fun!
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We also stopped in to see Star Wars: Path of the Jedi which now features an updated video that highlights The Force Awakens and a little of The Last Jedi.
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The holidays have expanded to Echo Lake this year!
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A Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM cupcake...
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The new Starbucks You Are Here mug for Hollywood Studios features the Alien Swirling Saucers from Toy Story Land!
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Since we were seeing Star Wars The Last Jedi later that day, it made sense to keep up with our theme and visit Star Wars Launch Bay to check out all that was new.
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The Star Wars Launch Bay preshow film has been heavily updated with new video related to The Last Jedi, Star Wars Rebels, Forces of Destiny, Star Wars Battlefront II and Star Wars Galaxy's Edge. I really loved all of the updates!
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If you look closely in Star Wars Launch Bay you can find pieces of some former Star Tours droids from the original attraction.
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Some new models from The Last Jedi have been added to Star Wars Launch Bay.
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Even more props from the film.
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This monstrosity was a delicious triple-tiered red velvet whoopie pie!
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Before it is time for Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM...
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It is time for Movie Magic!
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It is a really awesome pre-show to the normal fireworks show that runs at Hollywood Studios and I highly recommend checking it out!
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And then there's the fun that is Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!
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Lasers, projections, fireworks... This show has everything!
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The lasers are the best here.
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And the show includes The Nightmare Before Christmas!
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Such a fun show.
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Another new addition to the holidays at Hollywood Studios was the projections on Tower of Terror.
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Some neat imagery.
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My favorite of all of the scenes!
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The Swedish Chef has turned the Tower of Terror into a gingerbread house!
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Bork! Bork! Bork!
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One of my favorite movies.
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Greys. Sports. Almanac.
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Oh for the love of Porg!
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A new holiday droid!
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We were lucky to see two shows in the month of December...
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School of Rock was up next!
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And it did not disappoint!
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I was given a BB-8 cake for my birthday and it was BB-Great!
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Re: Photo TR: A Very Touristy Holiday in Florida... And Phil

Postby ThemeParkJunkie51290 » Sat Mar 03, 2018 7:07 pm

Awesome report! =) I love all the pictures, and I'm sure the cake was great! ;)
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Re: Photo TR: A Very Touristy Holiday in Florida... And Phil

Postby boldikus » Sun Mar 04, 2018 5:40 am

Great report and happy birthday!

Looking forward to Philly for obvious reasons but mostly to scold you when you tell us you went to Pats/Genos for steaks. :lol:

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Re: Photo TR: A Very Touristy Holiday in Florida... And Phil

Postby michaellynn4 » Mon Mar 05, 2018 10:45 pm

boldikus wrote:Great report and happy birthday!

Looking forward to Philly for obvious reasons but mostly to scold you when you tell us you went to Pats/Genos for steaks. :lol:


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Re: Photo TR: A Very Touristy Holiday in Florida... And Phil

Postby ytterbiumanalyst » Wed Mar 07, 2018 3:31 am

Wow, that's a lot of really great stuff you got to do! Thanks for sharing.
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Re: Photo TR: A Very Touristy Holiday in Florida... And Phil

Postby bert425 » Wed Mar 07, 2018 8:44 am

very impressed with the Projection show onto the Grauman's Chinese Theater facade.

the area really looks so much better without that Hat in the way :)
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Re: Photo TR: A Very Touristy Holiday in Florida... And Phi1

Postby jedimaster1227 » Mon May 07, 2018 4:39 pm

After an excellent time in Florida it was time to fly to somewhere new... No theme parks here for us to visit, but lots of culture, history, snow and delicious food! So now we continue with some photos from something completely different!
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It isn't a visit to the Orlando International Airport without a gander at the sleeping tourist... He must really be tired after all these years.
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But our holidays in Orlando have come to a close...
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And now we're somewhere new!
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Our first meal in the city was at Green Eggs Cafe, with some incredible Buffalo Chicken Skill Mac & Cheese!
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I can't go anywhere without finding something tiki!
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Neat to see this old building's Automat signage and facade retained despite it being repurposed.
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Philadelphia's most notable area is home to Constitution Hall, Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell and much more... We'll be back for these soon!
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Our first stop was the American Jewish History Museum...
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A pretty neat experience spanning multiple floors with several interactive exhibits.
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Interesting connection to the Titanic.
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That evening we visited Talula's Garden, a local restaurant with rave reviews... And with a cheese plate like this, I was off to a great start.
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Buttered brioche bites--little pillows of heaven!
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Lamb and gnocchi? Sold!
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And the best chicken I've eaten in my life!
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Housemade coconut cookie bites!
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Almond ricotta fritters!
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Port Poached Pears!
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Seriously, this place was the Garden of Eden. I can't recommend it enough!
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Looking down from our accommodations for the week, it was neat to see a Wawa (without a gas station) so close.
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Oh, and snow!
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The Liberty Bell is a historic attraction and the placement of the original bell in the shadow of its original location is a masterful design.
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And it is obviously a very popular experience.
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Echoes of National Treasure...
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Up close details.
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Time to visit Independence Hall!
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I've seen this painting in The American Adventure at Epcot!
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Neat!
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Independence Hall is best known as the location of the signing of the Declaration of Independence... And it was in this room where the signing took place!
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Almost all of the decor in the room has been replaced over the years, but the one item in the room that can be confirmed as original is the chair pictured here, where George Washington sat and signed the Declaration of Independence.
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The tour (which is free to attend by the way) takes you on a tour of the rest of the building. You just don't see massive rooms like this in construction anymore!
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Considering going up to the steeple to find Benjamin Franklin's rose colored glasses that will help me read the hidden map on the back of the Declaration of Independence.
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Next up was a visit to the Philadelphia Zoo... Which was very quiet due to the overnight snow flurry the city had received.
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Bats!
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TPR Turtle Fancy fulfilled!
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Megacroc found! Now where is Sharktopus?
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Yellow Spotted Lizards!
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Snakes. Why'd it have to be snakes?
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Ever seen a rattlesnake up close?
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This is the rattle for which the snake has earned its name.
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It is Kaa from The Jungle Book!
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With the zoo empty it was like walking through The Day After Tomorrow... Which was kind of awesome!
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Inside we found some chimpanzees including a few infants!
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Adorable!
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The Philadelphia Zoo is unique in that it has overhead trails for some of the animals to roam through...
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And during our visit, we saw a tiger enjoying the trail!
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This Florida kid does enjoy messing around with snow!
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Re: Photo TR: A Very Touristy Holiday in Florida... And Phil

Postby jedimaster1227 » Mon May 07, 2018 4:39 pm

(Continued)
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It was kind of surreal for this Florida kid to see a polar bear in legitimate (not artificial/artificially created).
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I always love getting see Bald Eagles up close. They really are majestic creatures!
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Meerkats!
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Our visit to the Philadelphia Zoo was really awesome in a unique way (mostly because we were among five other guests there that afternoon).
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The National Constitution Center was something that was going to be a "nice to do" but not a "need to do" on our trip but I'm incredibly happy we ended up visiting!
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Inside the Sidney Kimmel Theater at the National Constitution Center, a gorgeous multimedia presentation featuring projections, moving set pieces and a live, roaming narrator... The show was like the next evolution of Circlevision and I was enamored by it!
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I might now be the President of the United States of America... The legitimacy of my inauguration has not yet been subject to examination.
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The National Constitution Center also features a room filled with life-sized statues of all of the signees of the Declaration of Independence.
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I found myself spending a lot of time here.
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I love all of this.
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Independence Hall is a visual focal point in the design of most major attractions in the surrounding area.
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We spent a LOT of time in Reading Terminal Market...
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While there, we (of course) tried a Philly Cheesesteak. I don't get the hype.
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MeltKraft on the other hand was all kinds of wonderful!
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Also, gator gumbo is as amazing as it sounds!
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The same place that had the grilled cheese (MeltKraft) was also affiliated with the Valley Shepherd Creamery... So I wasn't going to turn down an opportunity to enjoy some of their own cheeses...
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FRESH RACLETTE!!!
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Chocolate Chip Cheesecake for the win!
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Next up was a visit to the Franklin Institute, home to the world's largest heart.
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They also have a working Tesla Coil.
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This was honestly one of the coolest, terrifying things I've ever done... Why is it terrifying?
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This is why.
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The stairwell has a pendulum naturally moved by the rotation of the Earth.
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The Franklin Institute had a neat set of interactive sports exhibits to enjoy!
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More physical activity than I've experienced in years.
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Just neat.
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See? There are theme parks represented in this report too!
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I can't look away.
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They had a mini Houdini's Great Escape here!
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There's a whole section on aviation here too!
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Test Track?
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Funny enough, the real reason we planned to go to the Franklin Institute originally was because it was the home of the original Silence Dogood Letters as referenced in National Treasure. It turns out that the letters are most definitely not here, but it was still a fun place to visit.
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That's one heck of City Hall!
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I didn't realize that Comcast's corporate headquarters were here but it was neat to visit...
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During the holidays the Comcast Center opens its lobby for a non-stop presentation of holiday visuals on these really awesome screens.
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The experience draws quite the crowd!
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There are even some surprise elements around the inside of the building!
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It was a great way to finish our trip!
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Re: Photo TR: A Very Touristy Holiday in Florida... And Phil

Postby bert425 » Mon May 07, 2018 4:59 pm

1) I should absolutely know better than to read one of your TRs before dinner!
all the food looks wonderful!

2) all those Philly pics really bring me back to our trip there a few years ago. . great memories (in particular of the Franklin Institute, Independence Hall, and the Liberty Bell -- do they still have that guard standing right next to it to make sure no one licks it? (we asked him, and that's what he told us his job is!).

3) great report, that's so much for sharing!
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