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Erik & Smisty's Florida Oddventures


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[Edit: Unfortunately, the physical Hula Dog (or, as it was later know, "Kona Dog") building has closed. However, they now apparently have a food truck!? -Erik]

 

When it comes to food, I think it's safe to say that I'm a bit more "Oddventurous" than Smisty. So I ended up going to this next place by myself....

 

Hula Dog

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Located on I-Drive, near Wet 'n Wild, beneath a giant billboard advertising McDonald's (natch), Hula Dog offers "authentic Hawaiian-style hot dogs."

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I've never actually been to Hawaii, so I'm in no position to judge their authenticity. But Hula Dog was opened about three months ago by a guy who was stationed in Hawaii and apparently really liked their hot dogs.

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Help me, magic surf board! How does this work??

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Below this are more boring ingredients you can get if you prefer your hot dogs a bit less Hawaiian. But what fun would that be?

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Ta-da! The bread is very soft, and pretty much covers the entire dog. What you see here cost me about $7.50.

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If I have a complaint, it's that the hours are a bit unpredictable. (I can't stand when a place is closed between "lunch" and "dinner.") But I guess you have to kind of expect that when it's just a couple of guys bootstrapping a new business and trying to do everything themselves. And, in any case, the hot dogs are really good!

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I don't get it.

Edited by Electerik
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What exactly was on that hot dog?

 

It was a 1/4lb premium beef dog (step 1), with spicy jalapeno hula sauce (step 2), pineapple fruit sauce (step 3), and mango mustard (step 4).

 

They also have lemonade that they squeeze when you order it, which was quite tasty, as well.

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Hello to the TPR gods, this is an amazing site, I've been lurking for a while now and thought it was time I posted!

 

I saw the Hula dogs place in Feb, I am a bit put off by little food places like that, kinda wish I'd tried it now, I did go to the Gator Golf however and loved it, especially getting a photo sitting on the back of a Gator! I plan on doing the Gator wrestling course next year when I go, should I survive this experience il celebrate with a Hula Dog!

 

Great trip report Erik and Smisty, are you going to go to Gatorland? I've not been since I was 5 and really can't remember much apart from my Father grabbing my Mothers ankle on the swamp marsh bit and scaring the **** outta her!

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Awesome! I think I remember Anthony Bourdain trying these things during his Hawaiian episode. This place is definitely on my radar for October now!!

 

 

EDIT: Yep, here it is @ 5:40....but called "Puka Dogs" in Hawaii.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hCN2bFedMos

 

Thanks again for bringing these to my attention, Erik & Smisty. So glad I don't need to travel thousands of miles to try one now!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Some very brief background: Parrot Jungle debuted in Pinecrest, Florida, in 1936, but was bought out by the city in 2003. A new, better location was found, all the animals moved, and the whole place rebuilt on Watson Island in Miami. The result, an attraction with a great deal of history, but all-new infrastructure.

 

Jungle Island

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The entrance to the two-story garage that serves as Jungle Island's parking lot.

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The murals are a nice touch. Honestly, we really didn't know what to expect from this place coming in, and were immediately struck by how much bigger it was then we'd thought.

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An adult ticket is $32.95, but an annual pass is only $10 more.

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The breezeway that leads to the entrance.

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Hey look, parrots!

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Really starting to be impressed, and we've only just walked in.

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Okay, where to first?

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I know, let's go right to the middle!

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The star of Jungle Island is their liger, Vulcan. A liger, of course, is the offspring of a male lion and a female tiger.

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Ligers are the world's largest cats. Vulcan weighs over 900lbs. (He only looks small here because I am in the photo.)

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He's not alone, though. he has a couple of tabby tigers to keep him company.

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"Dude, nobody came here for the tabby tigers."

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Okay, there are three different shows here, each in their own theater. Time to head to the first one via one of Jungle Island's crazy elevated walkways.

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Oops, got here a bit early. Let's go see what else is in the area.

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Jungle Island is very wheelchair friendly. In fact, with the exception of the stadium seats, I don't think there's a single stair in the whole place. But, like the nearby Miami Seaquarium, they don't take much advantage of their awesome views of the city.

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Ooh, a green albino alligator!

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Turkey jokes are no.

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This is a photo of a turtle.

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Apparently, there's some sort of beach/water play area, but it was closed off that day.

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Under the stadium is a reptile exhibit. (Which would explain why the stadium is called the serpentarium.)

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I'm not sure what Smisty is doing over there...

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...but this guy sure didn't like it!

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I don't think I've ever seen an underwater viewing area for alligators. And now we all know why.

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Okay, time for the show: "The Wild Adventures of Doctor Wasabi."

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Check.

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Okay, so the first girl comes out, and says that she's not Doctor Wasabi, she's just an assistant. Then a second girl come out, but doesn't identify herself, and Doctor Wasabi is never mentioned or even obliquely referred to again.

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Basically, the show is just these two girls bringing different animals out and talking about them. Which is fine, really. At the very least, it gave me a good opportunity to take photos of animals not-in-cages or behind glass, so that was nice.

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Where it got weird, though, was when the two ladies went into an extended tirade about how women were better than men. It might not have been so bad if there had been a male performer to react--but, as it was, it was just...strange.

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Leaping lemurs!

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Then Smisty and some other people we don't care about got to hold a python.

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African penguins! They swim! It's a show!

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Too bad they didn't bring the orangutan out; then maybe I could have gotten a decent photo of it.

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Oh hey, maybe not! Nevermind!

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So, this is sad. And she's dead. SO WHY EVEN TELL ME ABOUT IT??

 

Well, hopefully she got thrown into a nice hole somewhere.

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Hmmm, that "petting barn" looks awful dark in there.

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Ah! It's an EVIL petting barn!!!

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I like the implications of this sign.

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Llama llama llama llama!

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Smisty is excited for #PostAGoatThursday !

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Seeing its opportunity, this pig-thing goes straight for my crotch.

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Apparently, one of the VIP perks is getting to ride on a tortoise. Which is insane, but not why I'm showing you this.

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You know you suck when you get bucked by a tortoise.

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Down goes Frazier! Even the employees can't stop laughing. But don't worry, grandma, no one saw! Oh, wait....

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Kangaroo petting is an upcharge. I have no idea why, and am slightly offended by it. But, again, that's not really my point. "Please do not throw anything at the animals"?!

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Time for lunch, which means walking by Flamingo Lake and right out of the park. Yes, given the opportunity to build a whole new park all at once, Jungle Island chose to make its guests exit through its only restaurant. Way to think outside the box, guys!

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You actually enter (er, exit) to the upper level, where there are historic Parrot Jungle photographs and displays.

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Parrot Jungle's founder. According to the folks over at Monkey Jungle, Franz was an acquaintance of Monkey Jungle's founder, Joseph DuMond. Tired of Franz's constant suggestions as to how Monkey Jungle should expand, Joseph reportedly told him to, "Go start your own jungle!"

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Hank, the Crocosaurus. Which I only just heard of two photos ago.

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There are gonna be ramps, aren't there?

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Though the food wasn't anything particularly special, I was impressed by the variety available.

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After lunch, you must exit the park, cross this courtyard, and go back in through the main entrance. (Hang on to those tickets, kids!)

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Here's a photo that won't win over any anti-animal-captivity folks: He's trying to chew his way out through the metal grate that he's hanging from! You go, little prairie dog!

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Wait, so...the only restaurant is at the exit, and the only gift shop is at the entrance? What the hell, Jungle Island?

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The Lemur Experience is some sort of special (upcharge) tour or something. I don't know. I just think it's weird that it's in the gift shop. But at this point, I don't even know why that should surprise me.

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Oh cool, they have liger merchandise! ...uh-oh....

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Hi, Misty.

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The outside of the Parrot Bowl.

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The inside of the Parrot Bowl.

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This is really the only example, from any of the three shows, of an animal actually "performing." (Which is interesting, since the iconic thing from Parrot Jungle was a bird who rode a bicycle.)

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Next, they choose a volunteer from the audience to come down and get smacked in the face.

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Then the birds attack.

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According to Mr. Dude there, cassowaries are so dangerous that Jungle Island actually has the only one that performs in a show. Now, see if that idea raises any questions for you.

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Big finish!

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Adjacent to the Parrot Bowl is this aviary sort of thing. The Manu Encounter has limited hours, though, in the sense that it opens and closes on a schedule throughout the day. Now, you might think that a good time for it to be open is immediately after the bird show. But, obviously, you don't work at Jungle Island.

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After checking out some other stuff, we returned at the next available time. The terrible employee you see in this photo, sitting on his butt, playing with his cellphone, was five minutes late to open the thing up, though. Not that I'm bitter or anything.

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When the great parrot/spider-monkey war comes, what side will you be on?

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The Manu Encounter was actually really cool. I mean, it's like an aviary, but there are lizards and monkeys in it, too!

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I spent a lot of time trying to get all three critters in one photo. Try to be impressed.

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Fish are nice. [i'm not proud of that caption, but it's all I've got.]

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Unsurprisingly, Parrot Jungle Island also has lots of birds.

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I'm not sure why, but I really like the little photo of Truman next to this bird.

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Parrots do not like Coca-Cola.

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Lorikeet feeding. Smisty refused to even go in, still scarred from her experience at Parrot Mountain.

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Actually, this whole area reminded me a lot of Parrot Mountain. Minus the Jesus statues, of course.

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Art!

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Not a bird!

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Hey, it's one of those trees!

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Yes, I am fat. But look at this sprinkler!

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The Rare Plant Nursery appears to be an attempt to turn a backstage-area-that-you-have-to-have-anyway into an attraction. But it might work better if the plants were...oh, I don't know...labeled?

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"If you want to go to either of these two things, we can't help you."

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I've come to the conclusion that Jungle Island's visitors HATE ANIMALS.

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Look, turtles! Quick, give me something to throw at them!

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Our last show is Tale of the Tiger. (Er, Wild Encounters?) And it involves bringing animals out and showing them to you.

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Ooh, I found OUR section!

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So, the show starts with some slutty-looking chicks coming out and playing the drums. So that's pretty awesome.

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But I know that what you really want to see is pussy.

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Everyone's a critic. Captions aren't easy, you know!

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This was really lame. Lamer even than my captions. She brings out a real skunk, but has a water-sprayer hidden underneath and pretends to "skunk-spray" the audience.

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Apparently, dressing slutty *is* very helpful when working with big cats.

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Gibbons are very well-mannered.

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And then they start hawking photos.

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This photo cost me $60. I wish I was kidding. It's nice, though, isn't it? Please tell me it's nice.

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Goodbye, Tiger Theater! Goodbye, Flamingo Lake! And goodbye, Jungle Island! You were different from what we were expecting, but we had fun!

Edited by Electerik
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This photo cost me $60. I wish I was kidding. It's nice, though, isn't it? Please tell me it's nice.

 

It's nice. You're welcome.

 

How come you didn't get your picture taken with the cassowary? I imagine the possibility of being disemboweled by its talons may have been a factor.

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A few comments on a great photo TR!!!

 

- Never even knew this place existed, looks like a place KT would love so we'll have to check it out at some point.

- Speaking of KT, we used that same bottle for her as you did feeding the tiger.

- This is Miami we're talking about, most of the residents shoot anything that moves, hence all the warning signs.

- How many drinks had the woman had who fell off the tortoise?!!? Seriously, that's basically like falling off a rock.

- I would have high tailed it out of that theater the second they brought that evil raptor bird in!!!!

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This is really the only example, from any of the three shows, of an animal actually "performing." (Which is interesting, since the iconic thing from Parrot Jungle was a bird who rode a bicycle.)

And that's literally the only thing I remember from my visit to the original Parrot Jungle!

 

Several points:

 

- I'm actually shocked at how nice the place looks.

- You gotta love the ambition behind building the "Parrot Bowl" with that many seats.

- There's far too many great quotes to respond to. You guys outdid yourselves on this one!

- That's a nice picture.

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I've wanted to visit JungleIsland for a couple of years now and never got round to it, I plan on actually going when Im in Fort Lauderdale next year, I was mainly going for the Liger and the photo opp with the Tigers, but it looks like a pretty nice place, I'm looking forward to it all the more now, apart from one thing......

 

 

This photo cost me $60. I wish I was kidding. It's nice, though, isn't it? Please tell me it's nice.

 

$60!!!! do you get anymore than a photo for this or do you just have the photo and thats it? seems a little steep unless you get a little interaction time with the Cub and its Keeper!

 

I thought they had a Liger called Hurcules any mention of him anywhere?

 

Great trip report as always guys!!

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Jungle Island looks fun, but it seems deserted. What day of the week did you visit?

 

I believe it was a Monday. It was a couple of months ago now, though. It just took me a while to do this one, because I knew it would be big.

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This photo cost me $60. I wish I was kidding. It's nice, though, isn't it? Please tell me it's nice.

It's actually really, really nice. I would have easily paid double that, so not only is it nice, but also a great value!

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