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Erik & Smisty's Florida Oddventures

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Misty wanted to take her dad somewhere for Father's Day, but he didn't want to do anything that was outdoors (because it's summer in Florida) or that would be crowded (because it's summer in Florida). What he did want to do was go see Green Lantern. So, in an effort to make the occasion slightly more special, we took him to Downtown Disney's AMC "Fork & Screen" Dine-In Theater, which we had been wanting to check out anyway.


Now, this isn't exactly a new concept. But we had never tried anything like it before.


01P3315281.jpg.6aa95fa9a556ea908edec27461074fa8.jpgThe entrance to the fancy stuff. (Near Planet Hollywood.) If you just want normal movies (without food), there's an entrance on the other side. (By DisneyQuest.)



02P3315291.JPG.27c4077288d43d777d34af1bdef5922b.JPGYou buy the tickets inside the lobby. Which is nice, because it's Florida. (In fact, I was still a little wobbly from the heat outside, if this photo is any indication.)



03P3315292.jpg.a8a9d91e551e33bfafdf53ce21cd8579.jpgIf you think you can guess what movie Erik & Smisty are about to see, email your answer to "greenlantern@youidiot.com" and maybe someone will send you something! (But probably not.)



04P3315274.JPG.d569cf09898781b9c73e2256b155b6e3.JPGYou can actually order appetizers and such at the bar while you're waiting for your movie to start. Note that the bar's name is "MacGuffins."


The theater is semi-age restricted. You must be 18 or older, or accompanied by someone who is. Which makes sense. We did see a handful of children, but I'm pretty sure they were all there to see the new Jim Carrey penguin movie. So this might be a good choice if you find children ruinous to your movie-going experience.



05P3315280.JPG.d88f4b9b5b79de9abba8354cc860f6a3.JPGIf you're not sure what the bar is named after, have a nice sit down and maybe it'll come to you.



06IMG_1650.jpg.abd86e42e11a12e21cb2a25f7c057a98.jpgHow it works:


1. Your food will be delivered shortly before the previews start, which means that you'll be done eating about 1 minute into the actual film.


2. No one will offer you dessert. You must summon the server if you want that.


3. Your server will not look like this.


4. It's going to be really expensive.



10P3315278.JPG.70e97bad92b3cd46c529fba1c37d66e9.JPGThis photo is pointless.



17IMG_1657.jpg.b1e6dd76b6e7c44e8a510201b7da86a6.jpgThe menu is more extensive than I expected (this is just part of it), though there's no steak or lobster to be found here. Pasta, quesadillas, burgers, salads and sandwiches make up the bulk of it.



18P3315294.jpg.9efaa9debf625ec380e6edf7ad3b23cc.jpgNote how far back from the "table" the chair are. That was kind of weird. Anyway, I had the brisket quesadilla. And while it was quite good, it was a little slight considering that it was $11. Misty got the Bistro Chicken Mac & Cheese, which was also quite good, about the same price, and plentiful. Her dad got a chicken quesadilla and onion rings, and her mom got chicken tenders and fries. Three soft drinks between us, and no desserts. Total price before tip: about $63.


That doesn't include the actual movie tickets, incidentally, which were $11 a piece.


Was it worth it? Well, I mean, I enjoyed it. It was pretty cool, and it did feel like we were doing something "special." But it's probably not something that just the two of us will feel like we need to do on a regular basis.



20IMG_1654.jpg.b8419d72c3d0d51fc607995f4df60d2c.jpgThere was also an option for unlimited popcorn for $7. And drinks have free refills. So you could probably just do that and endlessly snack throughout the movie, summoning your server whenever you run low on something.


Of course, either way, you're really gonna have to pee about midway through.


It's also worth noting that the theater was fairly bright, even while the movie was showing. Brighter than the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater at Disney Hollywood Studios, to be sure. It didn't bother me, but it was a bit distracting to Misty. And there's no getting around the fact that the servers are a distraction, no matter how much they try not to be. Ours was also not very good. Her response time was ridiculously slow. But most of the other guests did not seem to have that problem.


I was just thinking about dessert when the check was dropped off. So then I decided against it. And this is *me,* the guy who usually orders dessert first. Now, I know they tell you that you have to summon your server if you want anything else, but this really seems like a wasted opportunity on their part. Even though it would be a distraction from the film, the servers should ask you if you want dessert at about the midway point. I bet they'd sell a ton of it. After all, you're doing a thing where the whole point is to eat, and you're not eating anymore. Plus, the menu had lots of good dessert options. But I didn't see anyone in the theater getting any. Problem.


Still, it was certainly worth doing once. I'd give a B.


Of course, I also liked Green Lantern. Your mileage may vary.

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Great photos! I've always wanted to check out the place.


There's a similar theater in downtown Orlando called the Plaza Cinema Cafe. I went there once and it looks nicer than the AMC. Plus, they have these big Captain Kirk chairs to sit in. You have to order and pick up your food at concessions. You put your food on a big arm rest on your Captain Kirk chair. I think food was around $10-$15, but I only had a large soda for like $5.


Here's the website: http://www.cobbtheatres.com/plazacinema12.aspx

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The Arclight Theaters in Los Angeles tried this concept for a while, but took a more upscale angle on it. You would pay about $25 per movie ticket and still had to pay for food and beverage. Servers would deliver everything, and it was actually really cool. Unfortunately, it was a $100 date EVERY time so was not very popular.


Eventually, The Arclight ditched the dining concept, and lowered their ticket prices to about $14 or $15. They still have a restaurant and bar in the lobby, and you can still bring the food (and alcohol) into the theater. They have a very strict NO cellphones rule, including simply turning the screen on....one strike and your out. They also have a dude give a little spiel at the beginning about the rules and movie information. Also, they charge full adult price for children under 6 to discourage bringing them! Finally, they offer 21+ screenings here and there, q + a sessions with actors from older movies preceding a screening, and other silly little 'events.'


This concept works great for them and they expanding in the area pretty quickly.


I guess the point is, every time they try this concept out here, it fails. The only place out here that still does this shows 80's movies and its not that expensive of an ordeal. I am curious to see how long the concept lasts out at Disney World.

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There's a Movie Tavern in Williamsburg, but I've never had a full meal there--just beer and nachos (which are of average quality). You order your food before you go in, and they give you a stand with a number on it, then bring the stuff out. Service tends to be pretty slow, but if you tell them at the counter, they'll bring you a second beer in about 30 minutes.

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Interesting concept. Maybe they should have a little display at your table so you could order electronically. Cut down on the server interrupting you. Maybe then they could flash things on the display like Last Call for Dessert! or Need more Popcorn & Soda? to boost sales.

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There's a theatre in Tampa called the Tampa Pitcher Show that's a similar concept. I did it once with a former boyfriend 10 years ago (ironically that ended up being our last "date" as I ended up dumping him a couple weeks later). I remember getting pizza and it was really good. They also do screenings of Rocky Horror with a full (and really good) shadowcast once or twice a month. There's also a similar theatre in Clearwater called the Clearwater Cinema Cafe. Haven't tried that yet.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Located in Tampa, literally right behind The Florida Aquarium, is the American Victory Ship & Museum.


The SS American Victory is a World War II-era ship. But, um, not really a warship, exactly. But it did do stuff during WWII, I think. Possibly even for our side. Or maybe England. Honestly, the history of the ship--which you would think would be on full display--is so little mentioned and seemingly obfuscated as to create some doubt in my mind as to whether or not it's even really even a boat. And, if it is, whether or not it belonged to Hitler.


Let me give you an example. This is from the ship's website, under "History:"


In 1944, 531 ships were built and of those, 414 were cargo ships and the remainder was transports. 272 were 6000 HP engines and the balance boasted 8000 HP. 150 were named after schools and universities, 20 were named after countries and the rest reflected geographic names. On January 12, 1944, the very first Victory Ship, named the United Victory, was launched.


So there you go.


But enough words. Time to let the photos confuse you....


Located conveniently behind the aquarium's dumpsters. Just follow the smell!


If you like things that are boring--and really, really gray--then you'll love the SS American Victory!


The ship's original name was the SS Swastika, and was powered by a combination of goat's blood and children's tears.


Admission is $10. Which is cheap if you compare it to burning a $50 bill for no reason.


Donations? But I just paid....


The USS Saucy? Really?


The exciting knot-tying exhibit!


This is how naval officers used to sit.


I am the devil. And I have gone so fast I've flipped us upsidedown.


And there's a robotic mini-sub. Because that belongs here.


Wait, the "Merchant Navy"? Was this ship part of a Village People tribute band? [Note: I do not actually know what that joke means, but it made me laugh.]


Q: What do you call a guy with no arms and no legs floating in the water? A: Seaman.


And now that the nonsensical seaman joke is over, it's time to introduce mom. Hi, mom!


There was something funny about the lifeboats, but I forgot what it was. Anyway, here's a lifeboat. And also, we're outside now.


Pretend it's a lift-chain. It's not, though. It's rope.


"Smisty, try to pretend that the thing you're looking at is interesting." - "I am!"


Francis always did like to shoot things.


I'm writing these captions as fast as I can for some reason. Can you tell?


Did you see that movie, "The Final Countdown"? That was cool.


...for boredom!


Crew quarters. Note the sissy who sleeps with a hardhat!


Bathrooms haven't really changed that much. And men still don't clean them.


The kitchen. Or, as it's called on naval vessels, "The Starmast."


The captain gets his own room, and the finest porn of that era.


Note the antiquated computer. At sea, it could take up to 4 days to download one tranny porn video!


The map room. Sadly, all they had back then was one map. And it was a map of Iowa.


The radio room. Also, where you went if you wanted to practice your typing.


Here's where you can volunteer to wear a goofy hat FOR YOUR COUNTRY.


Let's review what WWII-era naval personnel drank while at sea: rusty drinking water, "emergency" drinking water, something labeled "Discard," and lighter fluid.


Damned hippies.


And, I guess, kind of a gift shop. I want some drinking water and a coffer dam!


All proceeds from admission to the American Victory Ship & Museum go directly towards shooting disadvantaged children.


If you found this update entertaining in any way, then you might be Merchant Marine material!

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Going back to the theatres, there's a new theatre by me (Galaxy Theatres in Atascadero, CA) that has 10 screens and two of them are sectioned off as VIP screens for the 21 and over. These VIP screens have extra wide leather seats with very wide armrests to fit popcorn bags and other snacks and a bar-concession stand between the two screens serving beer and wine and making its own popcorn (separate from the main concession). I decided try out the VIP theatre with mom back in June (the opening weekend for X-Men First Class). The VIP screens were showing The Hangover Part II and Pirates of the Caribbean 3D, having already seen Pirates, we decided to see Hangover. The Galaxy Theatres was doing a free popcorn promotion weekend where every ticket gets you a free medium popcorn (normally $7). Sometimes the VIP screens will do bar service to your seat where you pay for a drink beforehand and tell them how far into the movie you want your drink delivered but not on the day I went as there was only one person staffing the bar. All the beers they had were bottled (Bud Light, Corona, Newcastle, Guinness, Heineken, Pyramid Haywire, Sierra Nevada, Firestone Double Barrel Ale) and they were all $6, so decided to get a Firestone (our local beer) for the movie (I don't normally pay $6 for beer but such they gave me free popcorn so what the heck). The VIP screen matinee was $10 ($2 more then a regular matinee) which what we did, after 5PM the VIP is $13 (Mon-Thurs) and $15 (Fri-Sun). The seats were great and comfy, the movie was hillarious, so the VIP was worth trying out, though I wouldn't do it very often as the regular screens also have stadium seats and really comfy chairs.


Another thing our Galaxy Theatres has is D-Box seats on one of its screens. I finally tried out D-Box last Friday for the first time. I saw Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II in the D-Box seats (an $8 upcharge). The D-Box effects were interesting and definitely kept you focused on the movie the whole time (as opposed to almost falling asleep in a previous Harry Potter movie). The D-Box effects were more noticeable when you lift your feet off the ground during its movement. There is a scene where Harry is riding a roller coaster in Gringotts Bank, so I got a virtual credit . D-Box is worth trying once if you use it on a movie with good special effects and one you know you'll enjoy, but I wouldn't try it again for quite awhile. Maybe I would do D-Box once every few years as $8 is too much of an upcharge to do it often. If D-Box was a $3 upcharge instead, I'd do it more often. Anyways I don't think the Dine-In Theatre is coming to my area anytime soon (or maybe ever) but with VIP screens, D-Box, and really nice stadium seats, I feel like I have a "big city" theatre in my relatively small town.

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The USS American Victory: pay $10 to see a rusty and dirty ship. Yay! This has to be the oddest of the Oddventures. Strangely, now I want to see its skankiness for myself.


I showed a friend the photos of the Presidents Hall of Fame. His response: "It looks like an attic vomited."

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  • 5 weeks later...

Before I begin this update, let me just say that we did have a lot of fun at this attraction. Of course, I'm still going to eviscerate it. It's just what I do.


Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens


(You have no idea how badly I want to put quotation marks around the words "botanical gardens.")


The entry sign is nice....


There is a zoo back here somewhere, right? Well, at least they have plenty of room to expand.


The parking lot. Well, not the whole thing. But this is in it.


The main entrance. I like trains and carousels, so that's nice.


Entry is $11.95 for adults, but we got 50% off due to already being members of a partnering zoo. The train ride cost us another $3.00 each.


You've just seen the best thing here.


There's a lot of space between the ticket booths and the actual zoo, as well. Much of which is filled with ropes courses and zip-lines. Which is cool, if you're into that sort of thing.


As you can see, this is not a terribly large zoo. The map was nice, though.


But before we enter it properly, let's check out the insect zoo!


I think this was what Smisty was most excited about, going in.


Grasshoppers gettin' it on. Oh yeah!


Which is more interesting: the giant ants above your head, or the fact that you can play dress-up?


And make sure to check out all the other fun thing you can do in the Sanford area!


(Not a typo, for once. Not pluralizing "thing" was the joke, you see. Oh, forget it.)


14 photos into the TR and we finally get to the zoo. That's pretty sad even by my standards.


Just inside the gate, Smisty spies two Mold-O-Matic machines. One of which craps her out this pink, moth-eared kangaroo-looking thing.


Toucans eat fruit. So that whole Froot-Loops endorsement thing is fine, really.


Heading left, we find a children's water play area. But that's not what's interesting. What's interesting is....


What the hell? "Re-shoe"? People used to do that to horses, right?


Worst zoo ever.


...possibly. Like, if one just happens to wander by here and like it.


There's a big birdhouse on a stick that any bats who might be in the area could chose to land in whilst flying by, if they felt like it. This zoo is a lot like my backyard, which also could have animals in it at any given time.


But what's this? A herpetarium! Looks like it's time to pull out my iPhone and look that word up so I'll know whether to be excited or not.


Oh, it means snakes and lizards and things! Awesome!


This is a pointy-nose snake. Yes, that's what it's called. No, don't look it up. Just trust me on this one.


"Let me outta this crappy zooooooo!!!"


Who the hell named this thing??


Well, okay, it is pretty. But I'm more about a snake's personality.


(And also, that's a different snake. Shut up.)


Heading back outside, we find more theoretical exhibits.


There's a long "nature walk," made of boards paid for by people like you. And by people who like to shoot animals. Hey, the zoo's not picky.


Oooh, nature....


Not an exhibit; he just happened by.


Hey, Central Florida Zoo, I have a suggestion. Maybe you could put your walkways a tick closer to the exhibits. I'm just saying. (Not that it matters. That little blue sign says that there's nothing in there, anyway.)


These kind of look like animals. That counts, right?


A real animal! Quick, get it!


Actually, there were several animals out like this with zoo employees, which was quite nice. The employees were very friendly, too.


"Orangutangs are found only on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo. Which is why there are none here, dumb-ass."


Tamarin: "Do you have any idea how dull it is to have a sloth as a roommate?? We're playing Scrabble and he hasn't moved in three days! Actually, he hasn't *moved* in three days. You may want to go get somebody. I think he might actually be dead."


"We were just flying by and thought it looked nice. You say this a zoo?"


If I had to pick one photo to sum up our zoo experience, it would be this one.


"This is so embarrassing."


And now for the petting zoo (and gift shop).


What I like about this sign is the zoo's unwillingness to commit on the issue of whether or not goats enjoy climbing and jumping.


Animals with horns like to stab things with them. Enjoy!


And back outside the petting zoo, another animal to pet!


Again, I really liked this. If you're small, make an effort to wow your guests. (Actually, do that no matter how big you are.)


So...there *are* animals here...but we can't see them?


"Dude, quit your whining. I'm right here."


"Can you jump like a kangaroo?" Yes, yes I can.


I then caught this bird mocking my kangaroo jump.


I wonder if these trees are traumatized by this? Is it like being surrounded by a bunch of dead bodies? Anyway, this is pretty.


This was cool. Would've been cooler if we would have seen any cheetahs, but hey.


Read that sign. No, stop looking at my shoes. Read it again.


Misty has wings. Except there's a dude there. Checkmate. I'm losing my mind.


Who had anything to do with this and didn't find it horrifying?


A butterfly house is the outside, you see. I do hope some happen by.


I have no caption for this, but I just remembered that there was a boardwalk plank with the name "Shitums" on it.


I'm not sure why.


How about a snack? I wonder what's in that compost bucket? I hope it's corn dogs!




This is the single biggest animal enclosure at the Central Florida Zoo. And, appropriately enough, it houses their star animal. There's even raised seating here in case you just want to sit for a while and observe.


Sadly, whatever their star animal was must have died, because the only thing here is a camel.


Based on this sign, I'm no longer even sure that it's *their* camel. It might just be a rental. You know, until that big giraffe grant finally comes in.


You know you're a crap zoo when your star animal is a camel.


Florida's Amazing Amphibians. That's what the sign says. Oh yeah? Go and take a better one, if you're so awesome.


It's not even, like, 50 camels. One frakking camel!


This is a Children's Python. Which I assumed meant it would be a good pet for a child. Turns out, it was discovered by a man named John George Children. And I am no longer allowed near my nephew.


"Wait! Don't leave! Please? We'll let you kick a monkey."


Why would a camel need a big concrete drainage pipe thing, anyway? And what are those things even called?


It doesn't *look* like laser tag, but okay.


"I'm angry because I'm being chased by a demented skull monkey! Continuously!"


Hurray! A train ride that doesn't look at animals! What a perfect fit for this zoo!


It sounds (and feels) like a lawnmower. We enjoyed it, though. It was fairly long, and had some good wilderness moments.


Ladies and gentlemen, the botanical gardens!


If you ever find yourself stranded in Sanford, and you've no means to kill yourself, check out the Central Florida Zoo! It's camel-tastic!


Tune in next time, when Erik & Smisty go to outer space, possibly!

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