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PTR: Dave Goes To Orlando!

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OK, before we begin, as always, it is time to review Dave's Rules Of Engagement for his PTRs:


- I am a writer, I get paid to write, and I like words, so there will likely be many more than you are used to in this PTR. Think of it as a learning opportunity.


- I suck at photography. I used to be able to use the excuse that I cannot see for this, but two years of eye surgery has not improved my photographic skills at all. So again, I suck at photography, and there will likely be images of "questionable" quality in this PTR. You have been warned.


- I am completely insane, and often say and do things that make no sense to anyone, and there's a good chance that one of more of these captions will make zero sense and/or may offend you. I apologize in advance. I will not, however, be paying for any therapy for anyone, so proceed at your own risk!


OK? Then let's begin!


First of all, yes, I know, this report is somewhat late. A lot of this is due to the fact that I spent about 17 days in my own house between the last week of August 2008 and January 1 2009. I have been busy. But since a small minority of you seem to be entertained by my nonsense (or are at least humoring me about it), I felt that I had to start posting these things. Besides, it's the off season, so what else is there to do? This has to be more entertaining than watching almost anything on TV, right? Right?!? Yeah, that's what I thought...


Anyway, Orlando. Halloween. What usually ends up being one of the best weeks of the year for me, because of all the crazy fun that we end up having. This year was no exception. We started the week by meeting at WDW and eating at Spoodles, followed by house preparation (there were three houses for troublemakers this year, the most ever). The next day was a lot of shuttling people around, and dropping some off at SeaWorld, while the rest of us wen to Hooter's. Now, I have no idea why we went there, as the food is just horrible, and I do believe I had the worst chicken wings ever. But at least the company made up for it. After that, it was time for a short visit to Old Town (some people stayed longer) and then back to the houses for more preperation (I did not take any pics of the houses for some reason, but Robb & Elissa goes all out in decorating these places and getting them ready for everyone. The amount of work they do on these trips is insane). Dinner at Carrabba's closed out the night.


The next day started at Wet & Wild. I have not been to a water park in years, and certainly not since all my eye surgery. One of the side effects of this surgery is that I am almost blind in bright sunlight (unless I have very dark sunglasses). So I wasn't sure how this was going to work. And knowing this group of people, none of them were going to help me, and just laugh at my misfortune if I managed to kill myself. I was able to get around better than I thought I would, but only did one slide, as navigating the stairs was a bit challenging. So I spent much of the day helping Robb & Elissa with Kidtums at the kids area, where we discovered she loves the slides. I did have quite a bit of fun at this place, but really need a helper if I'm going to go to one again.


After that, it was off to Epcot, where some attractions were visited before we began the annual See How Much Food You can Stuff Into Your Gullet at the Food & Wine Festival. This is always fun, and some of our group really tried to succeed in Drinking Around The World. The evening was capped with Illuminations, which, while it is a show, and I pretty much hate shows, at least this one does entertain as it features explosions and fire. I think I've seen it about ten times now, though, so I'm kind of done with it.


Anyway, enough of my yammering...let's go to the visuals!!!




RULE!!! We'll stop here for a bit. Next up, Disney's Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom. Hope you enjoyed this nonsense so far...








Illuminations time. Remember, people...


One of the highlights of Food & Wine every year is the spicy tuna roll from the Japan area. As always, it did not disappoint.


Ice Bat and some tasty shrimp!


Here Joey shows the proper way to conduct Drinking Around The World - TWO AT A TIME. I'd also say this is how Joey likes his women, but, well...


Yeah, that's more like it!


Chris, looking odd.


Robb has consumed all of his food, and is preparing to grab any from anyone that mistakenly gets too close to him.


It's not easy to find a place to sit during the proceedings. So we just took over an area. I also think this was about the time Elissa instructed Robb and I to buy "a lot" of potstickers. And we seriously considere buying about 40 of them. But we didn't. But that would have been funny.


The first of many random little plates of tasty food. And soup!


OK, now we are preparing to see how food we can eat, how much alcohol we can drink, and in general how much fun we can have. And trust me, a good time was had by all...


What do I see across the lake?!?


Renee seems quite excited to be involved in Ice Bat photo time. Or maybe not. I'm probably going to be getting another restraining order. I think they sell them pre-printed at Staples and other fine office supply stores for easier filing, just in case anyone is interested...


SUPER RARE EXCLUSIVE PHOTO!!! Why, you ask? Because Matt is NOT HOLDING A BEER. Trust me, this moment almost never happens...


Sorry Brian, but today it is all about Ice Bat!


OK, since I am easily amused, I declared it to be RANDOM PHOTOS WITH ICE BAT TIME! Our first victim, err, I mean "participant" was Stacy, who is one of my favorite people ever and who I wished lived closer to me so we could get into trouble on a regular basis.


Sorry, Ice Bat, but not even your powers of awesomeness can keep this attraction from both sucking and blowing.




Still fun, but the safety warnings are just silly in how over the top they are. It's not like rabid bears will be chasing you with flamethrowers or anything. That only happens at Tokyo Train Station. Where you get no warning...


So it was my first time riding since the makeover. Which meant I actually had to stay awake and pay attention to the ride. I was not impressed. I thought the random screwing around with the computer and the animated sequence really didn't add anything. Plus ours didn't work anyway. The best makeover would have just been pillows, so napping would have been easier...


Even Ice Bat is enthralled by the beauty of wandless Spaceship Earth!


Somebody is going to need some tissues...


OK, next day, Epcot time! So revel in the glory of wandless Spaceship Earth!


While here, riders are praying to whatever gods they believe in for the safe return of their spines.


Right here, things seem fine.


That's right, it's the Wind Storm! And it is, um, not good...


Uh, oh, what is this?!?


We were like the only people here. Which was sort of sad, as that means the new people did not get to experience Old Town in all of it's full mutant glory. Seriously, come over to this place at night and it's like it's a casting call for a zombie film. With actual zombies. Excpet actual zombies are likely smarter. And smell better.




So here we are at Old Town. And they have a new credit! Everyone seems quite excited by this. Except Matt, who is likely off to search for beer...


At least Chris made the meal more amusing.


Random remnants of the Hooter's lunch. Seriously, this place has some god awful food. I have no idea how they stay in business. Oh wait...




And it's time to start comsuming alcohol! Margaritas are Ice Bat approved!


Mmmmmm...tomato and mozzarella...


So since all my vaginas are lame and never travel with me, and especially since one is abandoning me, the application process for new vaginas is SO OPEN. But during the search process, at least Ice Bat had agreed to accompany me on this journey. Here we are, getting ready for an awesome meal at Spoodles, one of the better WDW resort restaurants.

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So all I will say about the activities at the house after that long day is that it is amazing what people will confess to after they've been drinking all day and are sitting in a hot tub at 1 AM...


OK, time for the next day of Orlando adventures, which this day would be a morning visit to Hollywood Studios, followed up by going to the Magic Kingdom for the Halloween event. The big draw at DHS was the new Midway Mania ride, which I had really low expectations for. But I ended up loving it, and thought it was one of the best new attractions I was on in 2008. Seriously, it was awesome fun, and I guess the person that explained it to me originally didn't do a good job of describing it, or I am dumb. Probably the latter.


We killed a good chunk of the day here, riding good tower and other assorted attractions. Though I did not ride The Great Movie Ride, which is not great in any way. But funny story time: while I sat out this travesty against mankind, a bunch of the characters came through the area, including CHIP & DALE! Plus I got a text from the people on the ride, as it had broken down, prolonging their torture! HAHAHAHAHA! At least I was amused by this.


That night we headed over to the Mickey's Halloween event. I think I've done this four or five times now, and it's pretty consistently awesome. I don't collect candy, but they really do give out a lot. The ride lines are usually minimal (though they seemed longer this year for some reason, even if the event wasn't sold out that night), and we always manage to ride all the major attractions. I really do recommend this event if you're in the area at this time of year, as it is a lot of fun.


Anyway, enough of my yammering...let's return to the visuals!!!




Thus concludes this section of the PTR. But don't worry, I'll be back in a bit with a day at IOA/USF...plus some surprises! Stay tuned...


This is the only picture I have of DISCO ICE BAT! Story time - we had a giant group, and when it gets dark it's hard to keep everyone together. So I decided to get one of these flashing necklaces, and Elissa gave me one of her hair ties to attach the necklace to Ice Bat, and I held it above my head while we walked through the park, and people could easily follow the group by watching for DISCO ICE BAT! Seriously, many people commented later that it made it easier to stay together. All of you should recognize my genius more often!


Hanno is horrified at how I constantly butcher the art of photography...


Um, Reed, do you have any idea where Ice Bat has been?!?




When someone said we were going to check out "MILF", this is so not what I was expecting...


Random Tomorrowland shot!


This guy was probably happy when we all left the boat.


Guy does an excellent impersonation of the sort of expression a woman makes when I talk to her...


Stacy is always happy. Probably because I don't live anywhere near her...


...otherwise known as People That Have To Put Up With Dave For The Evening! Lucky them...


Jungle Cruise time! Random people on the boat...




What is Emily hiding from?


I think even Ice Bat is bigger than the Disneyland castle...


Good castle.






They always do a great job of decorating the place.


The reason we are here. Well that, and free candy...


"Emily, don't look now, but you're being followed by what looks like a guy who was kicked out of Poison!"


Some of our group getting wristbanded.


OK, Magic Kingdom time!


Random guitar! Well no, not really...hey, it's 2 AM here, and I'm writing these captions on a combination of diet coke and cold medication. They're not all going to be gold...


Random dinosaur!


Ah, good tower! Why couldn't all of them be this good?


Mama Melrose's for lunch. The food was great, as always, but we had one of the worst waiters I've ever had at a WDW restaurant. Seriously, dude, if you don't want to be here and do your job, there are probably toilets near your house that need cleaning...


Lou is now mesmerized by the presence of Ice Bat in her shirt, and cannot look away.


Lucky, lucky Ice Bat!


More random Ice Bat insanity!


Midway Mania is Ice Bat approved! It is seriously awesome fun, even if you do kill your arm from all the yanking motion. Unless, of course, you're Jahan...


The giant Mr. Potato Head was kind of cool, but the jokes got old after awhile.


I get all excited because there is a shark, and of course, totally screw up the picture. I really should not be allowed to own a camera...


Lots of random giant stuff. Except bees. Sadly...


The queue is nicely themed.


New attraction, finally!


Here we are at Hollywood Studios. At least there are no people or anything...

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Thanks for playing so far. Your torment will be at an end soon. But first, another installment of Orlando Halloween fun, this time covering...IOA & USf!!!


We started the day at IOA. This used to be one of my favorite parks anywhere, but the customer service at this place has been spotty in the past, and some visits are better than others. Today's was pretty "off". It wasn't horrible, but they just don't seem to be trying as hard as they used to. Plus there's a massive amount of construction going on here for the new Harry Potter stuff, and well, the whole place just felt "off" for some reason. We did manage to get lunch at Mythos, which I'm still amazed has not been transformed into Potter's Magical Burgers & Fries. Though given what they did to the Enchanted Oak, I can only imagine what they'll do to Mythos when they get around to it.


This was also the part of the day where we were all lucky enough to be given a walkthru of two of the haunted houses for Halloween Horror Nights by Manager of Show Development Michael Roddy. He is a cool guy, and you can totally tell he loves his job and pours his passion into making this event as good as it can be. Sadly, I had to skip HHN again this year, as the other side effect of my eye surgery is that it takes my eyes a long time to adjust going from light to dark, so I'm totally blind when walking into a dark area (like a HHN maze). I could do this event if I had a helper that would take me by the hand and make sure I don't walk into anything, but again, I didn't get this worked out beforehand, so had no one. But just walking through these two mazes allowed me to sort of see some of the stuff that I'd be missing that night, and it was cool. Besides, I had come up with some "alternate entertainment" for that evening...


Anyway, after lunch we went over to the Studios side for a bit. Rode some random attractions and just wandered around a bit. I skipped The Simpsons ride as it had a huge line, and figured I'd catch it some other time. I do look forward to checking it out at some point. Eventually the day came to a close, and the group headed off to HHN while some of us got takeout from Outback and then enjoyed an evening of entertainment, thoughtfully provided by me!


Anyway, it was a fun day, even if it was a bit short for me. But we still managed to have fun that night, as you'll see in a bit...


Anyway, enough of my yammering...more visuals!!!




I have to post this for Lou. Why? BECAUSE SHE DID NOT WATCH SHARK ATTACK 3 WITH US!!!! I forgive her though, as she has promised to never ever make a mistake of this magnitude ever again. And thus ends this section of the PTR. Last part coming up!


So like I said, I had something to entertain those of us that didn't go to HHN...SHARK ATTACK 3, BITCHES!!!! Seriously, this is the greatest movie ever made, and contains THE GREATEST LINE IN MOVIE HISTORY. If you have never seen this, you need to watch it immediately. If you have seen it, you need to watch it again. It is awesome entertainment.


Time to head out for those of us not doing HHN. I really want to be able to do this event next year. I need a helper! I promise that I will tell amusing stories all night in exchange. And get you whatever therapy you need for having to spend the night in close contact with me...


Yes. Yes, it is...


I post this picture to remind us of the surliest woman we met all day. No, not Elissa...the woman working the game stand. Seriously, she was beyond irritated that she had to do her job. Um, WE ARE TRYING TO GIVE YOU MONEY. I really don't understand people some times.


It has sharks, so it automatically entertains. It's not as good as the one at Universal in Japan, but there's no way anyone could beat that experience.


The main reason to come over to this park. Still a top ten coaster! Another reminder how fire makes any attraction better!


Hey, let's not ride this! And we didn't!


I wonder how hard it is to get tickets to this?!?


Everyone is in awe of spotting the construction. Except Kidtums, who's like "you guys are all giant nerds and I don't want to know you".


Yeah, I guess they're building something new here. Should be interesting...


So let's go check out the Studios park for awhile and...OMG! CONSTRUCTION UPDATE!!!


Joey Door!


Across the lake shot!


Anyone that would trade a Delorean in for one of these is just crazy...


Random dinosaurs!


At least they went all out on the new sign...




Ah, dragons...


I'm taking a "wait and see" attitude about all of this change. I'm hoping for the best...


A proclamation! It's proclamating!


So in further cost cutting moves, they've replaced the awesome water vortex effect with a guy using a squirt bottle and a flashlight...


I am stunned this place is still here, and am convinced it will not survive the re-making of this area. Which is sad, because it's nice to have somewhere to go that has more food choices than burgers and fries.


"Hi, enjoy what's left of this land before we bulldoze it all down". I know places have to progress and change, but this was one of the nicest sections of any park in the US, and it will be missed.


This really doesn't sound good. And brings me to a rant: why is it almost impossible to buy anything to drink in this park in the morning? Um, it's Florida, it's not cold almost ever, people might be thirsty. I don't get this place some times...


Ice Bat is a dirty, dirty whore...


Unlike Dave, Ice Bat is popular with the ladies of TPR.


Kim is one of my favorite new people from last year. Why? Because she laughs at my stupidity! And I think we all know by now that I'm full of it. Or something.


Speaking of comedy duos, these guys are amazing, and I can't wait to hang out with them on a trip next year. And that's right, I'm signed up for all the TPR trips next summer. So many, many people are going to have to put up with my nonsense. I apologize in advance...


Wolverine is no match for the awesome power of Ice Bat!


Jen likely about to do or say something hilarious. Seriously, her and Scott are like the Comedy Duo Of The Year (I had a picture of the two of them, but it was so bad that a forensics lab really couldn't identify it, and asked that I stop bothering them with my crap pictures).


It was running pretty good this day.


Hot hulk action!


Random tiger!


If you're referring to the adventure in finding decent customer service, then yes, it truly does begin here...


As always, the IOA tower is happy to see us!


Jimmy Buffet is the devil. And he has way overpriced cheeseburgers.


Where could we be going?!?

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And sadly, we come to the last section of this PTR. I'm sure you're all depressed and mournful...yeah, right! If you've made it this far, you have a higher tolerance for nonsense than most people!


So the first part of this day would find us taking the trek to Busch Gardens Tampa. This is a park that I think has improved over the years, and I wonder what the (eventual) new owners will do with the place. Hopefully they'll keep the quality up, as it's a really nice park. For some reason that I don't understand, I take almost zero pictures at this park. I'm not sure if I just get tired of using the camera at this point in the week or whatever, but if I come back from here with ten pictures, it's a lot.


Anyway, that night was the big house party, with more food and related items than you could imagine. It is awesome fun, and one of the highlights of the week. Again, Robb & Elissa really put a ton of work into this, and they are to be thanked endlessly for the good time they provide the rest of us with.


The following day saw people going home, or to other parks. Some of us went to Animal Kingdom and back to Epcot for more food before leaving for the airport. For some reason, AirTran wanted FOUR HUNDRED AND FIFTY DOLLARS for a flight back to Baltimore, so I got a hotel room and left on Monday. Airline prices always amaze me.


Anyway, the trip came to an end way too fast, but it was awesome fun, as always. Halloween in Orlando is one of the highlights of my year, and I look forward to doing it again. Thank you Robb & Elissa for all your hard work, and thanks to everyone that was there for tolerating me.


And for the final time in this PTR, enough of my yammering...let's go to the visuals!!!




And we end this nonsense with a sign of hopeful fun for the new year! Thanks for playing! Enjoy your lovely parting gift! And prepare thyselves for "Dave Goes On A Cruise", coming soon to a PTR near you! Or something like that...


More Epcot randomness!


"But before I conquer the world, I demand...MORE BEER!!!"


"Join me, and we will rid the Earth of these pesky humans! Staring with the idiot that carries me around.."


Random ducks!


Epcot time! I can't remember if we rode this on this day or not, but we rode it at some point, so I'm throwing it in here now.


This sounds a lot like my office...




Forget the yeti, respect the power of Ice Bat!


*scary noise*


I do like all the stuff to look at in the queue.


Time to go look for the yeti...


Giant tree!


Animal Kingdom time!


It looks like he's auditioning for a new TV show, "How Much Crap Can You Fit In Your Car?". Which would not be on Dave TV, unless the title was changed to "How Much Crap Can You Fit In Your Car While Being Attacked By Giant Carnivorous Bees?". See, I know people were waiting for the usual "giant carnivorous bees" reference, and I did not want to disappoint...


So Colin waited until everyone had passed out in food and alcohol comas, and then robbed the place...


OK, back to the trip pics. This is a horrible picture, but I didn't take many photos on party night. Pretend you've had about four or more Sam Adams while looking at it, and then it looks great. This was a seriously fun evening.


And we'll conclude this portion of "Dave Recommends Things" with this, one of the best zombie novels ever written. Yes, he's my friend, and I often give his books out as Elissa Bingo Prizes, but would I recommend anything that wasn't awesome? I thought not...


This is the last book I read. If you like spy/crime thrillers, you will want to check this out, as it is non-stop entertainment.


It was a bit harder coming up with a movie that I think most of you have not seen, but I think a lot of people have not seen Hard Boiled, which is the greatest action movie ever. Seriously, if the idea of completely over the top gun battles appeal to you, watch this.


For the less adventurous, but still wanting to enjoy some of the amazing music that is totally ignored by radio, I give you Porcupine Tree - Deadwing. PT is one of the best bands out there recording modern progressive music currently, and this is their best CD. Buy!


So let's call this "Dave Recommends Things To You". First up, is Diablo Swing Orchestra - The Butcher's Ballroom. This CD is not like anything you've ever heard, mixing metal, swing music, movie soundtrack stuff, and other styles together to create something totally unique. Check it out if you're adventurous in your music listening.


OK, story time. Apparently word got around that Shark Attack 3 was so awesome, so amazing, and so life changing that a bunch of people decided that they needed to watch it. So since one of the houses had a home theater, that's exactly what they did. I so wish I had a picture of this, as it was an amazing site to see so many people packed into a theater room watching this cinematic masterpiece. Which everyone agreed was most amazing. Which brings me to my point: when I recommend anything, PEOPLE SHOULD LISTEN TO ME. In fact, I'm going to do just that...


He's not looking too good. Perhaps too many pepsi cans have been tossed into him.


The real reason to come to Tampa...RECYCLESAURUS!


OK, this section needs a coaster pic. So here's one. It wasn't taken on this trip, but at least it's from the same park!


And turtles! I do enjoy the different animals around the park.




Random elephant!


Well, not this. Don't worry, Ice Bat, I will not subject you to this crap. My spine still hurts from the last time I rode it years ago, when someone proclaimed "oh, it's running pretty good!" Which I think meant "you'll probably be able to locate most of your bones when you get off the ride". Seriously, someone fix this thing!


...but then the excitement level greatly increases when Ice Bat appears! He always makes anything better!


People seem reasonably excited about this...


Hey, we're at BGT!

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Hey, we're at BGT!

Hey, not in that picture!


Epic, as always, Dave. That was one helluva good week. I have also resolved to order a copy of Shark Attack 3 and Butcher's Ballroom.

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Jimmy Buffet is the devil.

Dave, due to your general awesomeness, Ice Bat's presence, and your decision to include a certain transportation picture, I'm going to let that comment slide. Now I'm off to find a copy of Shark Attack 3.


Also, I must point out the most humorous point of the whole report (the very first sentence):


OK, before we being, as always, it it time to review Dave's Rules Of Engagement for his PTRs:


- I am a writer, I get paid to write, and I like words, so there will likely be many more than you are used to in this Photo TR. Think of it as a learning opportunity.

You get paid to write? Love ya, Dave!

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^I have mixed feelings about Buffet. I think he's a very good song writer (particularly his "Margaritaville" era stuff). But there is a bizarre "elitism" about him that gets on my nerves. I'm talking about how he so often complains about how retirees and tourists are ruining Florida and the Gulf in general, yet his music pushes the whole Gulf Coast lifestyle, thus encouraging people to go there.


People who gripe about how tourism is evil shouldn't open chain restaurants.

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^ I definitely hear where you're coming from. Mostly as a product of my environment growing up, I've been a Parrothead as long as I can remember. Some of us "die hards" secretly cringe at the news of the latest Margaritaville this or thats opening up.


On one hand it's definitely over-saturation, but I'm cutting the guy some major slack for one simple reason. If you look at his career, the man has survived in a cut throat industry for close to 40 years with little to no radio play. Heck, even his most recognizable song didn't even hit #1. When you consider the amount of albums he's sold over that time, it's somewhat amazing.


So, with all the other talentless artists (see: any manufactured pop star these days) banking on their name and image alone (Sean Combs comes to mind), I can't begrudge Jimmy for finally cashing in on his name and "cult-like" status in a huge way. He sort of earned it, at least in my eyes.


Also, the guy's one of only a few writers to ever have both a fiction and non-fiction work hit the New York Times bestseller spot. Impressive. [/end fanboy mode]

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^He's definitely is a "grassroots" superstar, much like the Grateful Dead (now there's a group that makes me cringe). His books are entertaining, too.


But I guess we should get this back on topic--Ice Bat rules!

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Dave, this is beyond epic! Seriously, this is one of the best trip reports ever! But hey, why the hell didn't I get a picture with Ice Bat?!?!?!?! Haha it's okay though, you captured how much crap my car can hold! Seriously, as I was unloading all of it when I got home I could hear my suspension lifting because of all the weight!!!!


I ended up selling a lot of that stuff as a fundraiser for my project, so it went to a good cause!


I look forward to seeing you again Dave, and it needs to include another epic movie night!

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