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Photo TR: Halloween in Florida with TPR


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Part the First: Fear and Loathing at Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party

 

Hi! This be me--Tor! Chuck, he let Tor talk about Hal'ween Flor'da stuff. He do same for Tor friend Criswell few years go. He kinda weird, but buy Tor beer, so he OK.

 

You might 'member Tor from Ed Wood movies, like Plan 9 fro' Outer Space an Bride of Monster. I get be star of Beast from Yucca Flats, but that no Ed movie. Me use pro rassle, too.

 

So, Chuck, he say we talk 'bout Disney Halloween stuff now. Tor little fuzzy 'bout that, but he get lots 'o' candies. Tor like candies. . . .

 

OK, that's enough for now, Tor. If you're good, maybe I'll let you write a few captions. I apologize, everyone. Mr. Johnson is very enthusiastic about being on TPR, but being dead for, oh, the last 40 years or so has made him a bit . . . befuddled.

 

Now, where were we? Oh, that's right, Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party at the Magic Kingdom. There are no haunted houses or mazes or scare zones or Jello shots at this event, but there is a parade, fireworks, short lines for major attractions, and, of course, candy. Lots of candy.

 

TOR LIKE CANDIES! JEL' SHOTS TOO!

 

Yes, you've already said that, Tor, thank you. This event is always a nice way to kickoff the Florida Halloween season. Why, some members of TPR even dressed up for the occasion--a more than not-so-scary notion in itself.

 

Let's have a look, shall we?

 

HOKAY!

 

Thanks, Tor.

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. . . only frightening!

 

Tor morel scairt of giant blue baby! More pitchurs to come.

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Yes, it's Toontown . . .

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My camera simply cannot capture the splendor that is Disco Ice Bat.

 

Ice Bat rock Tor world!

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It's the Castle of Doom!

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It's Disney--with extra horror!

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OK, OK Tor--just don't piledrive me or something.

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Not near 'nough! More candy for Tor!

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Tor sick of rain! Tor want candies!

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Well, to pass the time while it rained, Ol' Granpa Taco warmed himself by the fire and told us stories about the old days: "You see, back in my time, we didn't have your fancy blue-corn tortillas and nacho cheese and such. All we had was hamburger, some cheddar cheese, lettuce, and maybe a few chopped tomaters. But we all felt blessed."

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. . . that it's raining.

 

Rainy days and Mondays a'ways get Tor down.

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Tor take dis pitchur!

 

It is a little blurry, but it does get one idea across . . .

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Aghh! Dey all scare Tor!

 

Have a Twizzler, big guy. You'll feel better.

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Tor t'ink baby scary! Baby scare Tor!

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Yes, I'm here! Hot damn tamale!

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OK, now I'm getting a bit scared--and aroused.

 

Tor like Choc-o-Tacos!

 

That's nice, Tor.

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This is a little less "not-so-scary."

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This isn't quite as "not-so-scary" as it gets.

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We're a bit early, so let's enjoy the decorations, OK?

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Patience, Tor. Patience.

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But before we enter the park, here's a shot for Scott. Look! They're moving Monorail Silver from one beam to another! Geeking out yet?

 

Tor want see candy!

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Me Tor! Me a'prove this caption!

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CHUCK! YOU POST MORE PITCHURS NOW!

 

OK, OK, sheesh! Giant ghoul wrestlers have no patience at all.

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That's it for now. Say good night, Tor.

 

TIME FOR GO TO BED! TOR SLEEP!

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The not-so-scary walk out.

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Oh. Dere candy!

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Tor tire of floats! Where candy?

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I think this float is new for this year.

 

Tor no 'member it, neither. But Tor dead long time, so don't 'member much.

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The Gravediggers Drill Team--up close and personal.

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Arr! Scurvy pyrates!

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"It's really not so scary . . ."

 

That song will be burned into my brain until Halloween is long past.

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These cast members were instantly possessed by the "Boo to You" song.

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Mean Tor still more scairt of giant blue baby!

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Here's the Headless Horseman. You know what that means, right, Tor?

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Tor take this pitchur, too! Want live here someday!

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Yes, red-hot Tootsie Pop shrapnel rained down on the crowd! Oh, the humanity!

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The Candy Blast caused many casalties.

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This is the only picture of Space Mountain in this TR.

 

No Space Moutin' make Tor sad.

 

Aw, I'm sorry Tor.

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. . . and me and Brad. Tor is passed out on the floor.

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I think a ride on the Tomorrowland Transit Authority will sooth Tor's jangled nerves. Presenting Jon and Stacey . . .

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"You can learn an awful lot from the flowers,/Especially when they cause your doom . . ."

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Dis too confusing for Tor! Mad Hatter and Alice girl stoopid!

 

Settle down, big fella.

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Tor get more candies now!

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Just to let everyone know, there is no releation between Tor and myself.

 

Erik no deny destin'y! You mus' be Tor great nephew, or som'thin! NO DENY TOR!

 

Easy, Tor, easy--there are a lot of people named "Johnson," and they're not all as large as you.

 

Yeah! Tor BIG Johnson!

 

Er, yeah, sure. Let's move along to . . .

 

Halloween Horror Night at Universal Orlando

 

Yeah! Tor like Hor' Night! Want to write 'bout it, but Tor ha' too many Jello Shots, so little fuzzy ag'in. Chuck write, 'stead.

 

OK, Tor--if you insist.

 

HHN 2009, "Ripped from the Silver Screen," was excellent this year--the best of the five HHNs I've attended. I was particularly looking forward to the haunted houses inspired by the classic Universal Monsters--the Wolf Man, Dracula, and Frankenstein. They were all great, but I was pleasantly surprised by the Chucky (Child's Play) and Saw houses, too (never been a big fan of Saw, but it sure made for an good maze).

 

Here's how I rank the houses, starting with my favorite (it was a pretty tough choice).

 

Frankenstein: Creation of the Damned: This maze picks up where James Whale's The Bride of Frankenstein leaves off. The good doctor patches and stitches his ruined castle back together to continue his experiements in reanimation; of course, it doesn't go as well as he might have hoped. This is an excellent updating of the old movies, and I liked the "steampunk" look and feel of if. Very, very detailed.

 

Chucky: Friends till the End: One of the biggest suprises of the night. I've never found the Child's Play movies (outside of the first one) particulalry scary. (Hell, you can easily punt Chucky across the street.) But this maze involving possessed toys is beautifully done--scary and funny (often at the same time). It builds to a great finish, too.

 

Dracula: Legacy in Blood: Don't look for some guy in a tuxedo here. Universal has taken this legend back to the source that inspired Bram Stoker--the history of Transylvania's nororious Vlad the Impaler. It turns on one key line from Stoker's novel--"I shall turn your women against you." And the good count has been busy, not only turning our women against us, but impaling their men, as well. Again, amazing atmosphere.

 

The Wolf Man: My fondest memory of the first HHN I ever attended was the old "Monsterama" maze (2000, I think), which featured the "classic" versions of Universal's Monsters--the Wolf Man scared the crap out of everyone in my group when he practically bounded over our heads. This new maze is great, too--a very good expansion of the old Lon Chaney, Jr., flick from the 1940s, complete with a "living" forest.

 

Leave it to Cleaver: Welcome to Meetz Meats, where the choicest cut is prime rib of . . . YOU! (Yeah, I've used this joke in other "Haunt" write ups.) This tour of a 1950s meat-processing plant for cannibals is largely played for laughs, and works nicely (apparently, I'd look "good on the buffet"). The goofy plastic masks worn by most of the scareactors make them look like mutant versions of Bob's Big Boy.

 

Saw: I'm not a big fan of this series, but this is a very good maze. All the elements and traps from the movie are there, and Billy, the trike-riding puppet, is one of the creepiest little bastards ever.

 

Silver Screams: This year's "icon" maze comes off a bit weak, mainly because, I think, it tries to do too much. The movies represented here range from Army of Darkness to My Bloody Valentine to Shaun of the Dead, and there really isn't enough space and time to do them all justice. But the Usher is a good character, and the maze does have atmosphere to burn--the Shaun of the Dead section is particulary well done. At any other park haunt, this maze would be a headliner.

 

The Spawning: This is the most "generic" maze at HHN (mutant lizards on the loose in a city sewer system), but it's still a lot of fun. The "Sculdurs" (Scully/Muldur, anyone) are pretty good monsters.

 

We enjoyed a great behind-the-scenes tour of the three main houses this year, and Michael Roddy, the creative director of HHN, spent some time with us, too--my thanks to him and the Universal staff for treating us all so well. And seeing the houses lit up did nothing to diminish the scares that night.

 

I really liked four of the scarezones this year (the freaks, the chainsaw drill tream, the zombie war, and the Horrorwood Drive-In). But zones tend to be a hit or miss, depending on crowds and timing. The only minor bummer was probably this year's Bill and Ted show but I think the problem was the weakness of our pop culture last summer (not a very rich vein to mine there). Fun, but not as good as in past years.

 

Oh, and Rip Ride Rockit was damn good, too.

 

My thanks, again, to Universal, and especially to Robb and Elissa for setting up another great day and night at Universal Orlando. Here's a look at it.

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Hmm--I'm not sure this repair work is up to code. More to come.

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First stop, Frankenstein.

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Off to the soundstage mazes.

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"This is Universal. There are no 'Hidden Mickeys' here. Thank you."

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Look! A Hidden Mickey!

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Looks like they're "slashing" the budget.

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Hmm--this looks like a very troubled production.

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Time to unmask a little horror.

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This year's affable HHN host.

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Hmm--I think this popcorn has been here a while.

 

You no want, Tor eat!

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Very nice work.

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Here's the model theatre they used in their commercials and online.

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I so want a "Leave It to Cleaver" bobblehead.

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The "Unmasking the Horror Tour" includes these models.

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"Magnum PI is the greatest show in history! Shakespeare, Moliere, Shaw--their stuff is nothing but crap next to Magnum!"

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"MY GOD! WILLIAM SHATNER! I LOVE HIS PRICELINE ADS!"

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HHN hasn't even started yet, and Jon is already freaked.

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"Oh, goody! I've always wanted to tickle a Dutchman!"

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I'm willing to bet that flames will be shooting out of there tonight.

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My--that's a big one.

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Hmm--unless I miss my guess, this is some sort of "scarezone."

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And it was good--this element particularly.

 

Tor too big, no ride. Tor sad! Didn't even get kill dumb bird!

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. . . but the bird broke it!"

 

Tor kill dumb bird!

 

Easy, Tor--they'll fix the ride.

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"Hell-o-o-o-o, ladies! I was gonna take you on the ride of your life . . .

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Another sign brought to you by the Department of Redundancy Department. Now, did everybody get that? I repeat, did everybody get that? Is the signage clear?

 

Tor no get it.

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Here's the reason we're all here, right, Tor?

 

Don' forget Jel' shots!

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Dis how Tor pick up wimmins at Hor' Night! Me look more han'some in color.

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Tor back!

 

Chuck back too!

 

We both back!

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My local Home Depot doesn't carry this chandelier--maybe Ikea?

 

Tor can make one easy--from scratch! One more set pitchurs to come.

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This is an actual used coffin. If you have a body creamated, but want a "viewing," you have to pay for a coffin. Such coffins can't be reused, so they're sold cheap. Great for Halloween mazes--or as a cheap spare bed for annoying guests.

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Looks like the count has quite a bumper crop of corpses this year. Nice to see that he takes such pride in his garden.

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Next stop--Castle Dracula. And, buddy, that'll teach you for trying to peek through people's windows!

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Yep--I knew that wiring was dangerous!

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I'm pretty concerned about this wiring. Was your electrician bonded?

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But Elissa hadn't recokoned on the Sister of Frankenstein!

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"Piers, you WILL perform 'Illumigaytions' this week!"

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Hey! You Swedish! Like Tor!

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Be worried--these are Dr. F's dental instruments.

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You may recognize this fellow from the last year's "Body Collectors" maze (er, the one on the left, that is). Waste not, want not.

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Tor got craving for Buffalo wings now. Not sure why.

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Tor want pecs like that!

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"I'll need you to sign for it, buddy--gotta pen?"

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"OK, did somebody here order a new heart?"

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. . . Stoopid Monkey!"

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"Hoo, hoo! Ha, Ha! . . .

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Tor lookin' fer new head. You got spare, maybe? If no head, will settle for pelvis.

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"Hello. I'm Dr. Herbert West. If you're through with the cat, I'll take it off your hands."

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Again, I think Dr. F needs to have a word with those contractors.

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Takeout here for Tor! Tor hungry!

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One set more, from me 'n' Tor.

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And, so, we bid a fond farewell to HHN with this, the signature shot. Stay tuned for Howl-o-Scream at Busch Gardens Tampa.

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Aghh! Soap bubbles scare Tor! Mus' get outta here, after more Jel' Shot . . .

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"Aw, you're so lucky to be locked up with all those adorable rodents!"

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. . . Rat Woman!

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Tor t'ink bearded lady hot! But she got nothin on . . .

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Cirque du Freak was next.

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"Stupid purple dinosaur crabbin' my act!"

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If you survive Barney, that is.

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Chucky will scare the crap out of you.

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JELLO SHOT FOR TOR NOW!

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What playin' at drive-in? Maybe see Tor in Bride of Monster!

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"Yeah! They put the wrong brand of bottled water in my fridge! Heads are gonna roll!"

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Chainsaw Guy: "Who put the brown M&Ms in my trailer! I hate brown M&Ms!"

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Tor like big lights!

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Nice work this year, Chucky.

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. . . and used his vampiric mind powers on us! "Look into my eyes! You will fly to Japan! You will visit Universal Osaka! You will get a Jaws ball cap and bring it back to me! Obey!"

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Mike Roddy shared his thoughts . . .

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"Presenting the 'Squeezinart,' from Ronco! It squeezes and drips and squashes and oozes! And if you order now, we'll throw in a set of Ginzu steak knives absolutely free!"

 

Tor think great deal for $19.99!

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Dracula has devised a very efficient system for feeding his older, "feral" brides.

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. . . not-so-lovely vampire bride.

 

Look OK to Tor. You get her number?

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Lovely vampire brides . . .

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Hmm--looks like Angus McNasty had a go at Renfield's cat.

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Tor ready finish dis, now! Wanna talk 'bout . . .

 

Howl-o-Scream at Busch Gardens Tampa

 

. . . but Tor have too many Buds (like, 200) to 'member much. Maybe Chuck 'member more. I dunno.

 

I'll take it from here, Tor--thanks.

 

I hadn't been to the Tampa version of HOS in three or four years, so I was looking forward to checking it out this year. Tampa, like Williamsburg, tends to repeat mazes from year to year (a new one comes in, an old one cycles out), so it was all new to me this year, with one exception.

 

Williamsburg's HOS tends to be a bit more "family friendly," while Tampa's ramps things up a notch or two (and charges extra)--all the more to compete with HHN at Universal. Well, Tampa put on a great HOS this year--the mazes and scarezones were much improved over my last visit.

 

Tampa likes to use some sort of "frame" for their HOS. This year, it's a vampire fashion designer and her crew of bloodsuking models and lackeys: the "House of Vayne." They hold a "fashion show" about, oh, every three minutes just inside the main gate, which always ends with some poor schmuck being dragged on stage and turned into vampire chow. You think people would learn. Tsk, tsk, tsk.

 

My only gripe with the whole "Vayne" thing is that it doesn't get past the main entrance, so it doesn't really work very well as a theme. Madame Vayne shows up in one maze (Taste of Blood), but that's about it. I think they needed an entire maze devoted to the House of Vayne (like some sort of perverted backstage tour, like BGT does on their HOS Web site).

 

But that doesn't detract from the quality of BGT's mazes this year. Here's how they stack up, starting with the best.

 

Nightshade Toy Company--Hmm . . . Universal does monster toys, BGT does monster toys. Talk about symmetry. But this maze, set in a haunted toy company, is loaded with goofy, scary atmopshere and is a lot of fun. Beware of the Tina Tinkle dolls!

 

Reconstruction: The Doctor Is In--Another winner. A twisted MD is into some serious "reconstructive" surgery--using pretty much any part from anyone he can get his hands on. Lots of blood and guts here--very well done.

 

Delta Epilson Delta: Pledge Week--You know, I always figured that this is what really went on in sorority houses: a whole mess of whipping, torturing, taunting, and, of course, spanking. But the bloodshed was a bit of a surprise. A clever idea, well executed.

 

Taste of Blood--Williamsburg had pretty good luck with their vampire maze this year, and Tampa's is pretty good too. Bloodsuckers have taken over a city subway system, and you've missed your train. Too bad.

 

13--Every year, the Messengers biker gang needs to chow down on 13 people, or so it seems. The story is a bit hard to fathom unless you've checked the HOS Web site, but this maze of crazed scooter trash with chainsaws and Harleys is fun (they tend to telegraph the scares a bit, though).

 

Death Row Vengeance--Just a nice, self-guided tour of an old prison where the ghost of executed scum want to have their vengeance on you. This one features my favorite, old-school dark-ride gag: the guy who gets fried!

 

Trapped in the Walls--This is the one holdover from my last visit. Apparently, we're walking around inside the walls of a haunted house, and evil things are trying to get us. It's not exactly clear what we're doing in there, but there are some decent scares in this maze (and it's a long one).

 

Tor tire readin' dis! Want pitchurs now!

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Maybe doc can give Tor new forehead! Me go in!

 

One more set of pics to go.

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So, Larry, Erik, and I had to brave this maze without Tor for protection.

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Aghh! Tor no like freaky toys! Stay out here drink beers instead!

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Spolier: Someone may actually be standing there after dark!

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Excuse me, are you Mr. and Mrs. Del Muerto? I hear you're having a carnival? If so, where can one procure some funnel cake and fried Oreos?

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OK, who is "Del Muerto," and why is he holding a carnival?

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OK, we got a lot of walking to do tonight.

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TOR FIGHT ALL YOU!

 

Hmm--best lay off the Budweiser for a bit, Tor. You've already drunk two cases.

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Tor take this punk easy!

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Yep--better call Orkin.

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Hmm--looks like they have a bit of a vermin problem.

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You know, this is not a good sign to put in front of your buffet.

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But first, there's dinner--and this rather lame magician's show.

 

Tor like cute bird tricks!

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Aw, I'm glad I'm here, too.

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. . . then hang out here the rest of the night."

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"OK, we have front-of-the-line access until 8:30. I say we hit all the mazes, . . .

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Scary enough for ya now?

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Hmm--not too scary yet.

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Looks like the "insult skulls" are back--but they're on break.

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Look at everything Larry can ride! He's a big boy now!

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We're here for HOS, Tor--not lousy beer.

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Tor just fin' out no more free beer! Tor smash!

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Tor not get it, though.

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Look like they do somethin' here.

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Wha' sign say? Tor not read so good.

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Tor no like be actor no more. Want be fashion model now. Where Vayne lady?

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Aw, Hal'ween almos' gone! Tor sad!

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Wha'? Look like "scrum." Tor no can read sign. But we leave, so Tor sad.

 

Yes, it was a great week in Florida. Thanks, again, Robb and Elissa!

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Sheesh! And I thought $45.95 was expensive. Now they want blood!

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Looks like another poor schmuck is about to pay way too much for a pair of designer jeans.

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OK, how is this different from a typical day in the world of high fashion?

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Welcome to "Transylvania's Next Top Model."

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See? I just opened up a whole can of it on this guy!

 

Bah! Tor scairt him first!

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Don't let this fanny pack fool you--it's where I carry my can of whoop ass!

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And by night.

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OK, last maze of the night--by day.

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About as many as you can trap in the walls.

 

Tor t'ink your riddle stink.

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How many vampires does it take to fill up a bumper-car pavillion?

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See? "DED" like these two--dead!

 

Yes, I do get it now, Tor--thanks.

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See? Dey mean "dead!"

 

Oh, so they do. How delightfully droll.

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Can't quite figure it out, though.

 

Tor think you turn stupid!

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Hmm--I do believe this is meant as some sort of "play on words."

 

Tor think it mean "dead."

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As I recall, there's pair of werewolves here. It is a little hard to tell.

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Another tragic South Beach Diet mistake.

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Come to think of it, I haven't seen Wes tonight.

 

Tor no see Wes neither.

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Oh my god! Scary biker graffiti!

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13. You know, I really didn't "get" this one until I reviewed the Web site later.

 

Tor not get either. Tor not get lotta things.

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Yep--that's more like it.

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OK, the scarezones are starting to get a bit spookier now.

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Tor get dizzy frum lazer lites!

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Great stuff, Chuck and Tor!

 

Makes me more sad that I wasn't there this year though!

 

Everyone keeps saying that Saw was a really good maze. If the rumours are true and Thorpe Park are getting a year round Saw maze next year then hopefully they're taking pointers from Universal.

 

- Divv "Not missing Halloween in Orlando next year!" Walsh

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Great TR from an awesome trip! I didn't take too many pictures at Busch Gardens so I really enjoyed seeing some more details from that. I was kind of out of it that day, with the start of some awful cold/flu, but I remember being pretty impressed with what they did.

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