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PTR: Gary's 2009 Florida Finale!!!

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Hey everyone,


I have not been posting a whole lot on here lately as I have been swamped since I started teaching this fall. It has been a great experience so far, but I like many others am looking forward to a break. I started to think that perhaps a trip may be in order for that break. Florida was kind of the obvious choice as it is the only place where parks are still open and I can drive to it in a reasonable amount of time (doesn't hurt that I still have my free pass for Universal from the Super Bowl contest that has not been used yet either).


I am currently looking at is heading down from NC the day after Christmas, spending the 27 and 28 at Universal for sure, 29 and 30 may be a combination of Universal/Credit Whore runs, the 31 for Busch Gardens in Tampa and New Years day at Sea World. The end would come with the drive home on the 2nd


I thought I may try to see if there was anyone who would be interested in tagging along, or perhaps even just meeting up for a day or so during the trip. I do have a friend that may be interested in comming along, but he is on recruiting duty for the Marines and may not be able to take that kind of time off, but regardless of if he does or not, it would still be cool to meet up with some fellow TPR members again.


Let me know here or by PM if you would have an interest.


-Gary "Looking for a little adventure during my first winter break as a teacher" T.

Edited by carolinacaniac
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Hey again everyone!


It looks like I am going to be going to Florida for certain now, and my sister is going to be tagging along for the adventure! The plans are looking something like this:


Dec 26 - Leave NC/Quick stop at Adventure Crossing in Jacksonville/Arrive in Orlando/Possible stops at Fun Spot and Old Town


Dec 27 - Universal Studios Florida


Dec 28 - Universal Studios Islands of Adventure


Dec 29 - Universal Studios Florida


Dec 30 - Universal Studios Islands of Adventure


Dec 31 - Busch Gardens Africa/Celebration Station


Jan 1 - SeaWorld Orlando


Jan 2 - Head back to NC


If anyone is interested in meeting up at all, let me know and we can make arrangements and what not.


Hope everyone enjoys there holiday break!


-Gary T.

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^^Hey Michael, that would be awesome! What is bringing you down to Orlando? Get a job in the area or something like that? Did you change your number since last year? If not, I still have it, I will just send you a text or give you a call in the next couple days so that you have my number, or I can send you a pm, either way works for me. Looking forward to it!


Also, I have updated my plans a bit as it looks like I am going to go for a credit run or two, so here are what the current plans for anyone else who may be interested as well:


Dec 26: Drive from NC and arrive in Orlando/Fun Spot/Old Town


Dec 27: Credit run that will include Boomers in Dania


Dec 28: Universal Day 1


Dec 29: Universal Day 2


Dec 30: SeaWorld


Dec 31: Busch Gardens


Jan 1: New Years recovery/Universal Day 3


Jan 2: Drive home


-Gary T.

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Just following a really strong calling to the area that started in 2007 with a friend's conversation. Trying to line up work as I go. This whole thing accidentally started December 8, and it's been a scramble to piece it together. It'll be worth it when the dust settles.


Seems there are several folks heading to Orlando to live in the coming months. Will be great to meet those folks in person.


Might be able to meet up on 28th or 29th for dinner at Citywalk. Tight budget right now, so no parks for me, but it's ok.


If no joy on number, try Facebook or Twitter and that will reach my Blackberry. Delighted to meet up again and looking forward to your call.

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Merry Christmas Everyone!


Just giving an update here, as my younger sister was going to tag along for this Florida trip until my folks gave her a new puppy for Christmas, so I will not be sticking around as long, and am going at this more free-lance style than I had originally planned, right now. But I generally expect to be in Tampa by tomorrow evening and for the 27th, and in Orlando by the 28th until the 30th or 31st, where I will start heading back up to Greenville. I will try to give a better update on plans as it gets closer and things start to fall into place, so that anyone who finds some free time and would like to possibly hang out can. The more the merrier!


Michael, I will give you a call or check on here as I am going to take my laptop with me in case anything comes up for you, other wise I am looking forward to meeting up again at City Walk!


-Gary "going for a different kind of road trip" T.

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Hey again everyone!


It looks like I am going to be going to Florida for certain now, and my sister is going to be tagging along for the adventure! The plans are looking something like this:


Dec 26 - Leave NC/Quick stop at Adventure Crossing in Jacksonville/Arrive in Orlando/Possible stops at Fun Spot and Old Town


Dec 27 - Universal Studios Florida


Dec 28 - Universal Studios Islands of Adventure


Dec 29 - Universal Studios Florida


Dec 30 - Universal Studios Islands of Adventure


Dec 31 - Busch Gardens Africa/Celebration Station


Jan 1 - SeaWorld Orlando


Jan 2 - Head back to NC


If anyone is interested in meeting up at all, let me know and we can make arrangements and what not.


Hope everyone enjoys there holiday break!


-Gary T.


Ok Gary, I know you have a pass to Universal and thats great... but Four days at UNIVERSAL??? Really? may I ask why you want to spend four days there?


Sure the parks are fun but trust me, you will be bored after a while... I live here in Central fl and i really recommend you spending maybe two days at Universal and a extra day at Sea World and Busch Gardens.


Universal Studios is a great park but Rocket is rough and pretty boring. A horrible paced ride. Mummy is always good. IOA Hulk needs some much love... The ride needs to be repainted and trains need to be completely overhauled. The whole ride you can feel the vibrations and its not glass smooth anymore. Dueling Dragons is still great, however the entry and exit process is a nightmare.


The whole park is looking a bit ran down.


Now onto Sea World.


If you have never been before TRUST me this is a All Day park. SW has the #1 Christmas event here in Fla. We have Shamu's Christmas Miracles and everyone needs to see this show. We have Clyde and Seamore's countdown to christmas. Its a cute sea lion christmas show. We also have Winter Wonderland on ice... this is our Ice Skating show with real gold medal winners.


Manta is amazing. Ride the front and the back... Best overall coaster I have ever been on. The reason why is because of the experience of waiting in the line and watching the stingrays then going upstairs to ride one. Kraken is very intense and a great layout as well. The shows are really good and its amazing how they can train the animals to do these tricks. You could easily spend two days there...


Busch gardens is HUGE enough said... Sheikra is a lot of fun. ride the front and the back. Montu is a lot of fun.. the first half of the ride is great the last half is ok lol.

Kumba still has it and could be the best B&M ever built. The shows are really good and they too have a ice skating show.


This is just my advice to you... Universal gets boring... go to the parks that have better coasters and you get to learn about animals and nature.

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Hey everyone!


So I am at the hotel here in Orlando, and have found some time to get some pictures going here! This will be a short update, as I am going to call it a night soon as I am going to get to Sea World in the morning, but before I get to the pictures, I just want to say that I had a great day at Universal today with Michael (a.k.a. TheRapidsNerd), and look forward to getting another chance to do it again in the future!


Now for this first set of pictures, I will give a little back story here. As I mentioned before, I was originally going to do this trip with my younger sister, but she had to back out, so I decided to shorten the trip a bit, and when I got back to my Apartment from my folks place on Christmas night, I decided to do this trip a little different, and take off right then and there.


So I left my apartment around 10:30 on Christmas Night, and drove all night to get to Florida. What ended up happening was I decided to make my credit run the same day, and it turned into a 24-hour driving and credit run session that covered about 1100 miles, from Greenville, NC to Daytona, Fort Lauderdale, Dania, Naples, Port Charlotte, Clearwater and ending in Tampa, where I would go to Busch Gardens the next day.


This first update is from an improv stop I took in Daytona so that I could get a new camera from Target, which was located right across the street from the Daytona International Speedway. I decided to take some pictures of the track and surrounding scenery as I will admit that I am a closet NASCAR fan. I also went to the beach of Daytona briefly before continuing on the Fort Lauderdale for Uncle Bernie's.


Hope you enjoy this first update, there will be plenty more to come, as I have taken nearly 300 pictures so far, and still have Sea World tomorrow!


-Gary T.


And this update will end with a glimpse of the view I had for the better part of a 24 hour period. Thanks for checking it out, more to come soon!


A monument for the motorcycle racing that took place on the beach


A cool oceanside stage




Some cool sandcastle-like work


Another part of the complex


This was over by the beach, looked really neat.


The secret passageway to the track infield and pits.


The famous tribute statue of Dale Earnhardt


The founder of NASCAR, Bill France and his wife.


This would have been cool to check out, but I took a pass as I had a full plate for the day


The pedestrian bridge they show on tv during every Daytona 500 it seems


In case you don't know what track I am talking about


I had no idea just how huge the grandstand at the speedway was until seeing it myself. It looked as though it was a mile long!


So this is me after about 10 hours of driving so far, little did I know that I was going to be on the road until about the same time I started the day before.

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Hey Everyone,


Just got back home this morning, and I must say it was a great escape to get out of town for a bit, but it is nice to be home after having been on the go for the past 4 plus days.


The rest of my updates will be focused on the parks that I visited during this trip, and there are almost 400 pictures in all that I took, so I will do the updates by park. Here is a listing of how my visits went while I was in Florida:


Day 1 (Dec 26):

- Uncle Bernie's Theme Park

- Boomers

- King Richard's Park

- Kidstar Park

- Celebration Station


Day 2 (Dec 27):

- Busch Gardens Africa

- Fun Spot USA

- Old Town


Day 3 (Dec 28)

- Universal Studios Florida

- Universal Studios Islands of Adventure


Day 4 (Dec 29)

- SeaWorld Orlando

- Adventure Landing


With that covered, it's update time!


While heading down to Florida in the middle of the night, I decided I was going for a credit run loop down to Fort Lauderdale, then to Dania Beach, Naples, Port Charlotte, and Clearwater before calling it a night in Tampa. This run became part of my 24 hour-1100 mile drive. One of the dumbest things I may have ever done, but was so worth it!


This first update is from Uncle Bernie's Theme Park in Fort Lauderdale. It is part of the Swap Shop flea market, which is HUUUUUGE!!!! I was actually surprised how large this place was, even having a pedestrian bridge from a seperate parking lot.


Hope you enjoy the pictures!


-Gary T.


And that wraps up our first stop on the credit run, and the first park of my Florida Finale! Hope you enjoyed, more to come later!


Safer to swim in than the Maleria River at Family Kingdom!


One last overview of the park before heading out!




Happy to get a new credit, or experiencing the burning sensation of a credit whole transmitted disease? You decide!


....what can I say? I am a bit of a credit ho!


Now, the question is if I am going to lower myself enough to ride it.......


And the other credit, the Dragon...the one that Robb and Elissa would not whore out for in that same update from above.


What an intense ride.....intense like camping


POV shot of the first drop


Time to take a spin!


Credit time! This is the Abandon Mine.....the one Robb and Elissa would do on their visit here a while back....as seen here: http://www.themeparkreview.com/miami2004/bernie1.htm


A Bouncy Bouncy knock-off




This park has a pretty good selection of rides


Now for Uncle Bernie's


Another car show


Some kind of a car show in the middle


This place had a rather large arcade


Nothing gets s*** sold like an American Flag paint job!


An outdoor section of the market


Private rooms available.....must be where the happy endings happen!


Inside the market


Hard to appreciate the size of that flag when you are tied behind a banner.


A look at the place from the Pedestrian Bridge


The first sign of safety!


...until you see how large it is compared to the complex!


We start with the Swap Shop's American Flag, which may seem kind of ordinary at first.....

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Hey everone!


This next update is from my short visit to Boomers in Dania Beach to see what the Dania Beach Hurricane was all about. Before I get to thoughts on the hurricane, There is one thing that I was not so fond of while at boomers. The only gripe I had about the place was the fact that there was a lot of waiting around on the staff of Boomers. Mainly on the roller coaster where the two employees working on the ride spent a lot of time between reading a book or text messaging and listening to an Ipod. On one of my four times on the ride, I think I sat in the train for about four minutes while the two employees were kind of doing their own thing.


Now if Boomers has some kind of a minimum wait time between cycles, then I suppose I am not too concerned, but if this is a case of employees just doing as they please since they are not as directly supervised, then it is another.


I just kind of felt like there was this "oh god, why are you here?" expression on their faces anytime anyone came up to rice.


No with regards to the Hurricane, I must say that it was a cool coaster, and delivered some great airtime. It certainly would be a great coaster for any park, and seems to be fairly well taken care of. It is certainly worth the visit to check out!


Now onto the pictures. Thanks for checking it out!


-Gary T.


And ends stop number two of the first day. Thanks for checking it out, more to come later.


And thus covers the Dania Beach Hurricane, a wooden coaster worth a side trip to ride.


And an overview shot


Through the trees


Through the structure shot


Must be nice to be getting paid to sit in a control booth while listening to your i pod and texting your friends.....


Brake run for all of the brake fans!


The price board for Big Mike.....The ride entrance sign for Larry....and the lift hill for all of those with that kind of fetish. Three for the price of one!


Boomers looks pretty awesome if you ask me!


The arcade area of Boomers


Two of boomers rides, as well as my own personal new for 2009 ride, my '06 Saturn Ion


.....and what do you know? It is the way to Boomers!


This way to Boomers it seems.....

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^We've experienced the same problem with the team members operating the Hurricane. You always feel like you're inconveniencing them. It's important to note though that the people running the Hurricane are not actually Boomers employees. The Hurricane is owned and operated by an outside vendor. They split their revenue with Boomers. So, while the guest service often sucks on the Hurricane, we can't actually blame Boomers for the poor service.



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^^I actually did not take a spin on either one as I was trying to get to the five places that I did in one day, so I only did the Hurricane, but I certainly would like to give them a try the next time I visit Boomers.


^Thanks for the compliment Micheal! And yes, there were some good laughs, especially at the Jurassic gift shop, I think I watched that video on facebook about 6 times, and was still laughing. A friend of mine got a good laugh out of it too.


For this update, I am going to try and cover the last three parks from day one. These include King Richard's Park (Naples), Kidstar Park (Port Charlotte) and Celebration Station (Clearwater).


-King Richard's was certainly one of the best themed FECs I have seen, as everything went along with the castle theme, even having a moat around the main building. The other thing that surprised me was the fact that they had a bar for the adults, something that seems to help keep folks around a bit longer. This place certainly seemed to know what they were doing, especially since they had some good business going for them during my visit


-Kidstar is certainly one of the smallest "parks" I have visited, but it looked very well maintained, and was cool to see at night. Unfortunately, since I had just bought this camera, I was still trying to get a feel for it during the night, so many of these pictures as well as the ones for Celebration Station came out a bit blurry.


-Celebration Station..........was for a Miner Mike......I think I have said enough


Hope you enjoy this update!


-Gary T.


And that makes the fifth and final stop for day one! Day two will be next that will feature Busch Gardens Africa, Fun Spot USA and Old Town! Thanks again for checking it out!


"Oh you sad and pathetic credit whores!"




but this is why we are here....


including some bumper boats


a glimpse of a few of their rides


The final stop, Celebration Station!


That wraps up park number four, now it is time to go for the last stop of this 24 hour-1100 mile journey called day one!


A view from the train




and the main reason for the visit....a smaller dragon wagon.






A look down the only path....like I said, it is a small park



Their farris wheel


Outside of Kidstar Park


Stop number three done, but not before a warning from Dragon Dude: "Don't you remember what happend to the British guy on Inglorious Bastards when he held three fingers that way??" Thanks for the look out dragon dude!


This ride is also intense.....intense like Karaoke!


POV Time!



This is one of the largest Dragon Wagons I have seen or been on.


Now for the main reason why I stopped.....CREDIT TIME!


An overhead picture of the complex


Isn't that half of the fun though? :)


Another look.


And the part everyone has been waiting for.....THE BAR!


The end of a gator orgy!


A few gators chillin


One gator chillin


They even have live alligators






A look at some of the park's offerings in rides


As you come outside, you have this cool little dragon dude greet you!


Another look at the inside.


This is what you are greeted by when you walk into the main building.


And here we have the moat in front of the main building, also safer to swim in than the maleria river at Family Kingdom


This water play area was called Merlin's Moat. A very cool thing to have, but not today as the weather was just a bit cooler.


Another look at the main building from the parking lot.


Here we are at King Richard's!


............yeah, it was like this for about 30 miles or so.


Between Boomers and King Richard's was the drive down alligator ally, which had a lot of...............

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^It's a screwed up Moser Ride. Here's the link to our visit to this park back in 2007.




Gary, did you interact with the staff at all? One thing we noticed is that everyone was really nice and friendly which is usually odd at some random FEC like this.

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