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Everything posted by pianojohn

  1. Thanks for taking the time to do that! I appreciate it for those of us who would give up looking after a park or two!
  2. For me, Kraken is the best B&M in Orlando. Yeah, I know Hulk is cool and has a great launch, but I feel there are two many elements in too short a time and space. Kraken, on the other hand, spaces everything out. I love the way one element flows into the next. I also love the location right over the water, and the fact that most days you can walk right on it. Great ride!
  3. They rotate the menu a little bit each time I have gone. I would recommend almost everything on the menu, and they usually have a dessert display as well. The best part, though, is the atmosphere. I just love the setting, decor, and location right on the water. Make sure you check ahead since the hours change quite often. The best time is a late lunch (1:30-2) or just before sunset. That way, you can check out the great neon from across the water at Marvel Superhero Island.
  4. Since they just held auditions down here for the host of the show, I would think mid to late May before it debuts at the old Wild West show stage. Not sure how long this show will last before the novelty wears off, ie. Millionaire at MGM.
  5. Just got back from BGT with some more pics. I think the coaster looks awesome, and one of the best features is the way the first drop is visible from the lift hill. It is probably more psychological than anything, but as you ascend the 200 feet, a look to your right and all you see is track headed straight down. That should freak some people out! Also, I don't think the crowds are ever that bad at BGT. One of the reasons is that the usual crowd there is 60+ if not older, and they tend to avoid the thrill rides. When I went on Tuesday, everything was a walk on. At one point, I was the only one on Cheetah Chase. Not the only one in my car, but the only one on the whole ride! Of course, the ride is sort of lame, but nevertheless! But DO avoid HallowScream for crowds. It took us an hour just to get into the parking lot, and everything in the park was an hour to 1 1/2 hour wait. They really need to do a better job with traffic off I-75 to that left turn at the park. They recently completed the underpass for trams from the parking lot, but it is still a 2 lane road that leads to the parking lot.
  6. There is a Starbucks at Universal Studios Orlando right across from the Beetlejuice show, and the prices are not that out of line with out of park locations. And when you compare the price to "normal" theme park inflated prices, it all evens out. Besides, I'd rather pay $4 for a Frappucinno than $4 for a coke. It just feels like you're not getting "as" ripped off, although I am sure you are!
  7. As a person who has made his living in theme park entertainment (5 years at Cedar Point, 4 at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, 3 at Universal Orlando, 1 at Universal Japan, 1 at Sea World and 6 and counting at Walt Disney World), Opryland was considered the premier theme park for entertainment, and it has yet to be matched anywhere. They spared no expense with their shows, often employing live bands of 6-12 members, an unheard of amount of musicians in today's world. I visited it twice and truly miss the last place you could see live music wherever you turn! And CHAOS was awesome its first year of operation!
  8. I liked Rampage back in 1999 at the Spring Coaster Con. I am not sure how it has held up since then. Also, Wildcat at Hersheypark is cool. Pretty much any curving twisting first drop works for me.
  9. Just rode Soarin' today during Cast Previews and I love it! I think it is an awesome addition to EPCOT, and will hopefully revitalize the other side of Future World in the same way Test Track and Mission:SPACE revitalized the opposite side. The que (SP?) is great. It really feels like an airport and the music and lights really add to the ambiance. I rode it in the back row first and then the front row. Two different experiences, but both equally rewarding. I cannot wait to ride it again!
  10. Why don't we reserve judgment on the coaster until we ride it! Lots of coasters look lame in videos and then end up being great rides and vice versa. Case in point: I was so psyched to ride Texas Giant after seeing all the videos on it. MAN was I disappointed once I got to ride it. I think it will be a fun ride and definitely and lot more convenient than Oblivion and L5 (I think that's the name of the other one.) I will be there next Tuesday so I can see if they are still testing and give a first hand account of the speed from the ground view.
  11. Crowds should not be too bad. I had family visit me Easter week, and even with the HUGE crowds, we still managed to do quite a bit. The trick is to get there as soon as the parks open and hit the E ticket rides at whatever park you are at (Space Mtn, Big Thunder, Splash Mtn, Mission Space, Test Track, TOT, RnR Coaster). AVOID Magic Kingdom on weekends and Mondays. For some reason, most tourists hit MK on Mondays and you will deal with huge crowds there no matter what time of year. The weather has been great here lately, so you have a great time!
  12. I rode the Ultra Twisters at both Nagashima Spaland and Ikoma Skyland in Japan. Both were very smooth and actually a lot of fun! This one also looks cool. Here are some pics of the Ikoma one. They wouldn't let me videotape while I was riding it, so I let them use my video camera and tape me from the platform. It is pretty funny because they kept talking throughout in Japanese, and when I got off the ride, I tried to thank them in what little Japanese I knew. Great day!
  13. Since I will be doing a show in Roanoke, VA for 6 weeks this summer, I am hoping to spend my one day off each week at the following parks: Dollywood, Six Flags America, King's Dominion, and Busch Gardens VA. When the show ends, I plan to drive up to see the family in Cleveland with stops at King's Island and Cedar Point. Driving BACK down to Orlando will necessitate stops at Six Flags Over Georgia, POSSIBLY Wild Adventures, and then home to Orlando. I am still hoping to make it out to CA for Disney's 50th with stops at Knotts and Magic Mountain. And since I am in NYC about once every two months, perhaps a trip to Six Flags Great Adventure would be in order. Still haven't made it out to Cypress Gardens yet!
  14. For me, it's BGW all the way. Of course, I am prejudiced since I worked there for 4 years as a supervisor. The attention to detail, theming, everything is just something you don't see at many parks including Disney. I also love the lush setting with all of the trees. In the summer, it is a sea of green, but in the fall, the leaves just pop out at you. It really is the most beautiful park in the world. I also love the coasters. I could ride Apollo's Chariot and Alpengeist all day, and BBWolf and Loch Ness are still fun. At PKD, I could do each coaster maybe once or twice, but that's about it. They beat you up too much, and the ride ops have never been that friendly. Food: hands down BGW has some of the best park food anywhere. But if you still cannot decide, do them both. They are about 1 1/2 hours apart.
  15. Maybe not my favorite coaster, but some of my favorite pics are of the faces of riders on coasters! It is always a challenge to snap the shot at exactly the right time, but it is worth it when you get shots like these. Enjoy! Great Bear at Hersheypark in 1998. For this one, I had to shoot through a chain link fence right before the train hit the Immelman. HersheyPark Wildcat in 1998. I love the faces on this one!! William's Grove Cyclone in 1998.
  16. I was just at Busch last month working in the Entertainment Departmenr and got a close up look at Sheikra from backstage. Let me just say that first drop looks AWESOME! Even better is the view from across the street in the McDonald's parking lot. I can't wait to ride it, but I still hold out hope that one day a Central Florida park will build an Intamin Hyper or Giga Coaster!
  17. I had family visiting me this week from Ohio, and as a Disney cast member, I was obligated to show them around! The crowds were pretty crazy all week, and they closed Magic Kingdom and both water parks on Tuesday due to capacity. That being said, we still had a great time and did almost everything in all of the parks. The key is to get there EARLY, beat the crowds, do the big "E" ticket rides, and get out! We did the fast pass for TOT, waited 40 minutes for RNR Coaster, then back over to TOT, basically spending an hour to do the two big rides at MGM. Mission:Space was a 2 hour wait on Tuesday, and all of the fast passes for Test Track were gone by 11:30am. In my opinoin, TT is NOT worth the wait, and their single rider line is not very efficient. Universal was also very busy, but we did everything we wanted to do in both parks. Thank goodness for single rider lines on Spiderman, Mummy, and Men in Black. I wish Disney would do a single rider line on Space Mountain! But I guess there would be nowhere to put it since both in lines are already being used with Stand By guests and Fast Pass guests.
  18. "My son will be 6 years old. Is swimming with the Dolphins at Discovery Cove a good Idea?" If he is a good swimmer, yes. I had a wonderful time there last spring, and the majority of your day will be spent snorkeling, laying out, checking out the bird aviary, and eating some good food. The actual dolphin swim only lasts about 1/2 hour, but it is quite remarkable. The majority of it takes place in shallow water, and if he wants to, he can "ride" the dolphin back to shore, but only if he can tread water for a little whileand is not afraid of deep water. Also, if you visit Discovery Cove, you are given a week's pass to Sea World. The parks are right next door to each other, and it makes a nice addition to your vacation. "How far in advance do you have to book into the Kennedy Space center to see a launch. There will be one on 28/10? Is it worth the extra trip? What do we need to know and what do we need to do…" As far as shuttle launches go, you can see them from miles and miles away. I drove over there to see one YEARS ago, and it was a blast seeing people from all over the world and seeing license plates from all across the USA. You can just drive east on Route 528 as far as you can go and once the traffic starts getting bad, just pull off to the side of the road and watch the launch. But be prepared for a MAJOR traffic jam on the ride home. To make the launch enjoayble and tolerable, bring a cooler with snacks. The Space Center is only an hour's drive east of Orlando. If you want to make a day of it, you could spend it at the Space Center checking out the exhibits. I don't know if they have a shuttle or special viewing area on launch days, but it would be worth inquiring about. Hope this helps you! The weather that time of year is PERFECT, and the crowds seem to be non-existent, except for the special events at Disney and Universal. If you can, try to do either one of these on an off night. That is, visit the parks during a week day and EARLY in the Halloween season. If you go to HHN on a weekend, be prepared for lots of people and long lines. Also, as an Orlando native, may I suggest some better places to eat rather than the chain restaurants on International Drive. For good food and good pricesm check out the Orlando Ale House. There is one in Lake Buena Vista near Downtown Disney. On Disney property, my favorite buffet restaurants are Boma at Animal Kingdom Lodge, and Ohana at the Polynesian. Both have great food, and Ohana really makes an effort to entertain the kids there.
  19. Millennium Force Top Thrill Dragster Magnum XL-200 Raptor Wildcat Gemini Cedar Creek Mine Ride Wicked Twister Blue Streak Corkscrew Iron Dragon Disaster Transport Wildcat Mantis Woodstock Express Jr. Gemini Mean Streak
  20. When I was 16, I rode Gemini liek 20 times in one day! It was the biggest coaster at the park way back then!
  21. Six Flages New England. Back in 1998, went there for a day. When we bought an ice cream at 11am, the cost was $2. We hand the cashier a 20 and she proceeds to give us 18 ones!! We were probably her first customer, but GEEZ! Iguess they never heards of 5's or 10's. Also, LOVED how all of the coasters ran just one train even with the big crowds. So, 1 to 1 1/2 hour waits for everything. Luckily, left there and went to Lake Quassy for a FUN afternoon and then Lake Compounce for a GREAT evening. It made up for the lame time at SFNE.
  22. Yes, if you stay at any Disney resort from the budget All Star and Pop Century to the pricey Grand Floridian and Wilderness Lodge, you get the same on site privileges. As a cast member, I will echo the sentiment that Spring Break time is the most busy time next to the week between Christmas and New Year's EPCOT on Tuesday had 100 minute waits for Test Track with all fast passes gone by 11am. If you can swing it, the best time is May, October, and the weeks between Thanksgiving and a week before Christmas.
  23. Went to the 1984 ACE Convention at Crystal Beach. Got to ride the Comet about 50 times.
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