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Photo TR: TPR UK Trip


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Time to relive the 2010 TPR UK Trip! I never imagined I would ever get to see London in real life--much less all the sights in one day! However, this being a TPR trip, that's exactly what happened... and as usual, Robb and Elissa did an amazing job fitting everything in and making it fun!

 

Enjoy my take on Day -1: Sightseeing Day!

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Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so why not make it a saucy bacon toastie? For the unintiated, that's a slice of ham-like bacon and a scoop of baked beans all mashed between two slices of toast... yummy!

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Well, I've been to Underground Atlanta before... I wonder if this will be similar.

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If the gap knew what was good for it, it would mind me!

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Cockfosters!

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It's Big Ben and Big Ferris Wheel!

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This fancy building is where the laws of England are made... fancy laws!

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Westminster Abbey was OK... but not as fun as Winchester Cathedral. They wrote a song about Winchester Cathedral.

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This is Middlesex Guildhall Crown Court, which is where England's version of the Supreme Court meets. I wonder if they still wear those big powdered wigs.

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Parliament Square is the place to protest anything... and I do mean anything! There were signs and banners here complaining about everything from labor practices and foreign wars to oil prices and the environment.

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And now it's time for random iconic London imagery! Here we have a black cab...

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...Dr. Who telephone booth...

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...and London letterbox.

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Now that's a fancy statue! I wonder what it could be for.

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Why, it's a memorial to Queen Victoria! And this is where she lived: Buckingham Palace. And they've sent a jolly bobby to greet us!

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The sucky part about becoming a palace guard is, not only do you have to know how to fight and shoot; you also have to know how to play an instrument!

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A gun is not an instrument.

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Nor is a horse.

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"Simon says... hold out your right arm!"

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This is my favorite picture from the entire trip. After trying to glimpse the ceremony through the crowds for awhile, a group of Japanese tourists that had been standing in front of me left, and I suddenly had a front-row seat!

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The band played everything from "God Save the Queen" to "God Bless America" (really). We stayed for about 45 minutes, and they showed no signs of stopping by the time we had to leave.

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I've got to be honest: the palace itself looked more to me like a big library than someplace I would imagine a queen living... but hey, wherever you hang your crown is home!

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Now this felt like London!

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Is it sad that the only reason I knew what the Wellington Arch was, was because I saw it on "Friends"?

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I was sad to discover there were no elephants at Piccadilly Circus.

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During the lunch stop, Mike, Rosie and I dropped into a pub for some fish and chips at my request. Mike informed me these were "pub" fish and chips and therefore not "authentic" fish and chips... but they tasted pretty good to me. This was also where I had my first taste of mushy peas... once I figured out it wasn't advocado and stopped smearing it on the fish.

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Many of the men's rooms in England had machines that dispensed fake Viagra... among other things!

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After lunch, I had a "99." That's basically a soft-serve ice cream cone with a Cadbury Flake candy bar jammed down into the top of it... and it's awesome!

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I spy double-decker buses!

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I was kind of surprised at how short the "Tower" of London was.

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Anyone recognize this site?

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How about now? (Here's a hint: It ain't falling down--that was the London Bridge, which now, conveniently enough, is in Arizona).

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The view across the Thames River was nice.

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Some people call the buiding at the right the "Gherkin." Others call it something else. Like the Sir Norman Foster Building... good God, what did you think I meant?

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Nice port exchange-style building on the other side of the river.

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Way to take pride in your landmarks, London!

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We actually got to stand on the bridge to see it open, which was pretty cool.

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It opened to let this ship sail through. Its mast was actually taller than its hull was long!

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Did I mention that the World Cup was being played while we were in England? It took awhile for the Europeans to understand that, despite the early success of the U.S. team, the World Cup might just as well have been a drink special at Epcot as far as the Americans were concerend.

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The virgin pellican crossing was two blocks up.

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Next up was the London Dungeon, where actors introduced us to some of the most horrifying things in London's history.

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Like stone demons vomiting blood...

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...and Uncle Fester.

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Actually, this place was a lot cooler than I expected it to be. Among other things, it included a mirror maze dungeon...

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...and a boat ride to hell (where Josh apparently is very excited to go)!

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Instead of visiting the Dungeon, a portion of the TPR group split off and visited the Sea Life London Aquarium... which included its own bizarre statues!

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London may not have hot dogs... but they have plenty of sausages in baguettes!

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Happy 10th birthday, London Eye!

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Getting the capsule ready for TPR... or mopping the floors after we left?

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Each car on the Ferris wheel is bigger than my first apartment!

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The Eye afforded us some amazing views of London, including the Palace of Westminster and Big Ben...

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...the Golden Jubilee Bridge and Embankment Railway Station...

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...and a park full of people.

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These two looked like quite the happy couple. I'm glad I could be part of their big day.

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OMG, someone decapitated Donald Duck!

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While the rest of the group headed for dinner in Leicester (pronounced "Lester") Square, I grabbed a pasty in the tube station and headed out on a separate adventure of my own, passing St. Paul's Cathedral along the way.

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Thanks to TPR's schedule, I had the chance to drop in on a meet-and-greet event hosted by JCI London, an international arm of the civic and leadership organization known as the Jaycees in the United States. I got to present a bumper sticker from my home chapter to London president Solveig Malvik, and I've since been asked to submit this picture to our national magazine for publication. Turns out Solveig and I once lived only a couple hours away from each other in the U.S.

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By the time I got back to the Leister Square area, the rest of TPR was on its way back to the hotel, so I spent a little extra time in the area on my own. I lost two pounds (money, not weight) at this casino.

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One of these things is not like the other....

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On the way back to the tube, I stopped by a French restaurant for a late-night snack of fried Camembert and raspberry sauce.

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I'm kind of glad I didn't decide to go to the restaurant across the street instead!

 

Next up: a real amusement park!

Edited by printersdevil78
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My brother and I were quite amazed when a whole crew of janitors swarmed into each London Eye capsule to clean it out between groups back in 2004.

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For some of us, Day 0 saw the first park of the trip: Adventure Island! This was a nice little seaside park with a good number of coasters and a great dark ride. It was also the day we got to meet our bus driver, Nigel, who was a great person to have at the wheel--despite a few (OK, more than a few) bad jokes! It was a great preface for the official trip.

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Time to start the day with a hearty breakfast of sausages and beans!

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I wonder if Frosties are as grrrrrreat as Frosted Flakes.

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On the way to the park we received our trip bags, which included (drum roll please...) TPR pedometers! Robb announced there would be a prize for whoever recorded the most steps during the trip, but I think that was kind of forgotten once everyone realized that just barely shaking the device for a minute or two would record about 1,000 steps!

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We also got our name tags... featuring bonus descriptor ribbons! Mine was right on, though others ("Dork") drew some raised eyebrows from those not in on the joke. It was a fun add-on to keep things fresh.

 

On another note, the Alveys varied the bag colors this time, going through to make sure no one got the same color bag they had on any other trips in the past three years. That's attention to detail!

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After a short nap, we were at the park!

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Restricted... for everyone but TPR, that is! Can you say "ERT"?

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Rage was an unexpected hit! Many named it their favorite Eurofighter until we got to Saw at Thorpe Park on the last day of the trip.

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Its compact layout reportedly really packed a whallop.

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After ERT, it was time to get our wristbands for the day.

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We got the "Mate's Rate!"

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Oh no... couldn't we have picked a different time of month to visit Adventure Island?

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Follow Peter Pan to the rest of the coasters!

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Are we ready to credit whore?

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Gator in a fedora. Yep, that says "Green Scream" to me!

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I won't embarrass myself and my fellow credit whores by showing the rest of Barnstormer.

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Mighty Mega Mini, on the other hand, was a legitimate, if not particularly interesting, coaster.

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But the real treat came when many of us were able to get the elusive Blue Flash credit!

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Time for some flat rides! So why is this the "American" Whip? Do they not have whips in Europe?

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Devil's Creek Gold Mine was... interesting.

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I'd never ridden a spinning tub ride before. Mike said it was reminiscent of an old-time Virginia reel.

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Jack?

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"Hi, I'm Beelze Bob. Get it? Welcome to my gold mine!"

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"I'm scary hell hound! Go ride the helter skelter!"

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AKA the slide o' death.

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At least the view from the top of the slide was cool. Hey, there's the Crooked Old House!

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And what's inside the Crooked Old House, you ask? Why, there's the Crooked Old Man eating dinner...

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...the Crooked Old Man going to bed...

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...the Crooked Old Man shaving...

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...and an all teddy bear band. WTF?

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Hi, Moose!

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Prior to ERT, we got a brief tour of the park. I have to admit that I wasn't able to hear much during most of the park and backstage tours we received throughout the trip--you Brits need to learn to speak up and enunciate! But I did hear enough this time around to know that this was the park's new dark ride, and it had a surprise ending.

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I won't spoil the surprise, but I will say that it, like most other scenes, involved this guy, the Undertaker, and it was thoroughly enjoyable. In fact, Over the Hill was my favorite dark ride of the trip because of it.

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Blackbeard's Pirate Adventure was the best cheesy 2-and-a-half-D (not quite 3-D) show evar!

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Creepy!

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The seasick turtle swings were the second best swings of the entire trip!

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Hi Rosie!

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Many of the flat rides were really well themed. Take Pharoah's Fury, for example.

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This skater dude version of a Rockin' Tug looked pretty cool in motion.

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Mike and I rode this dragon, which turned out to be a themed version of the Himalaya.

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The kiddie rides were pretty amazing, too. Like this viking boat ride that inexplicably played "Yo Ho, Yo Ho, a Pirate's Life for Me."

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These are the Flying Jumbos. They're pink, they fly and they're elephants.

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Told you so. Also, onride pink elephant photos!

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"Grrr, I'm crazy triceratops! Gimme some candy!"

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Like most of the other seaside parks we visited, the area around Adventure Island was full of arcades and other amusements.

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However, the non-park amusement we were most interested in was Southend Pier.

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The terminal offered a unique view of the park.

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At 1.33 miles, Southend is the longest pleasure pier in the world.

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It was so long, we had to take a train to the end.

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Er... this train!

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The tide was pretty low while we were out there.

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This talking telescope was programmed to tell you what you were looking at while you viewed places across the shore.

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At the end of the pier was a Royal National Lifeboat Institution museum and gift shop (emphasis on "gift shop").

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This was one of the few exhibits in the museum. What was there was nice... if sparse.

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After about a half hour, we needed to get back to the park...

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...because it was time for lunch!

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Turns out I dress casual smart almost every day!

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Our dining accommodations afforded a great view of the beach.

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We dined beneath these tents, outfitted with outdoor heaters that made the place feel like 100 degrees F when they were on and 30 degrees when they were off.

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Now that sounds good!

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The Caesar salad was amazing and a meal unto itself.

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The fish and chips was also good, but Mike informed me it was "posh" fish and chips and not "traditional" fish and chips, and therefore not really fish and chips at all. I really liked the mushy peas seasoned with what tasted like mint, but I think I was about the only one.

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I was curious to find out what balsamic ice cream tasted like, but 'twas not to be. Not only was dessert not on the menu, but a couple minutes after I received my fish and chips (and about half our table had yet to receive theirs), Robb announced that we had to leave in the next five minutes or risk being late for our dinner stop. Suffice it to say the service was a little slower than originally expected!

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I slept most of the way back to London; this was the view when I woke up. It took us only a couple hours to get from the hotel to Adventure Island, but more than twice that long to get back thanks to what Robb called "ERT on the M25." This was also the only time it rained during the entire trip.

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Robb was right, of course; had we spent even five minutes more at lunch, we would have been late for our welcome dinner at Sipson Tandoori Restaurant.

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Both the quality and quantity of food were amazing! A few people refused to try most of it, but I was in heaven! Because almost no one else I know shares my love of Indian food, I rarely get to have it.

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Proof that ACErs aren't the only ones who can put away a large amount of food in one sitting!

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We ended the meal by munching on some sweet, sugary balls.

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Back at the hotel, I wondered how Imperial Leather was made. I would find out a few days later at Bubbleworks!

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No better way to end the evening than with some nice, relaxing British QVC!

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Ring the bell if you had a good day!

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Thank you, Adventure Island. Thank you very much!

Edited by printersdevil78
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  • 1 month later...

OK, I know I'm a little late on this... but things got a lot busier for me this summer than I anticipated. I'm hoping to take some time while I'm off the next two days and update some neglected TRs (including this one), then do some sort of year in review with the TRs I haven't even started yet the next time I have a long stretch of time off, in December. I have lots of photos from this summer to share (SFGAd, Knoebels, Dollywood, Lagoon, some random ghetto fairs and a whole lot of offbeat roadside attractions for the Random, Random, Random board)!

 

At any rate, Day 1 of the UK Tour took us to Chessington World of Adventures. It was a pretty nice park, and the TPR perks (backstage tours, etc) were great! I don't think I would have navigated it quite as well without the help of my roomie, Mike Moody, however, so props to Mike!

 

On to the photos!

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Welcome to Britain's wildest adventure!

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Bubble Works ERT? Well... why not?

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Mystery! Suspense! Bubbles!

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Foam party!

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It's like World of Color... the Ride!

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What's that, duckies? You want us to go on a backstage tour of Bubble Works? OK!

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Three men in a tub... or Turkish bathhouse?

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I'll bet the Cadbury Bunny was born in a similar facility....

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"Do you expect me to talk, Mr. Bubblehead?"

"No, Mr. Duck... I expect you to die!"

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OMG! Theme park references on the Bubble Works ride! OMG! OMG!

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Duckie-go-round!

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OK... so not *quite* as original....

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Jeff Johnson credit...

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...for duckies!

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Say hello to our backstage tour guide. Go on, say it! Say it now!

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I spy TPR colors!

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"Oh, so *that's* what water looks like!"

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It's just like the last scene of the Hershey's Great American Chocolate Tour... only with soap!

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We sure will! Thanks, Bubble Works!

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Who's up for some Vampire ERT?

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Why are monsters always so fascinated with pipe organs?

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I'm a fan of Arrow suspended coasters, and Vampire did not disappoint, especially with its new cars. Neither did the backstage tour/photo walkback!

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They did a really good job with the themeing in the park's Transylvania section.

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Even the bathrooms were themed!

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To put this photo in perspective, we visited Chessington the morning after the England soccer team experienced their first loss in the 2010 World Cup. The sign was gone by the time the park opened.

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What, *more* ERT? You're kidding, right?

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OK, so what exactly does a dragon need with treasure, anyway? It's not like he can just stroll into Walmart and spend it.

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"Foolish mortal! I shop on Amazon!"

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Spinnnnnnnn!

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The Roller Coaster Club of Great Britain was at Chessington that day, too!

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Soon enough it was time for the park to actually open (after we had already been there about two and a half hours). Since we were right there, we wandered straight into Chessington's newest land, Wild Asia.

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Tuk-tuk... goose!

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Unfortunately, the Temple of Mayhem, one of those foam ball play places I've come to really enjoy at parks, was closed :(

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We were originally slated to have ERT on Kobra later that afternoon, but technical difficulties kept it closed all day.

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Looks like an ordinary chair swing ride, right?

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Well, beyond being a traditional swing ride, the Monkey Swinger had a water spout that splashed unsuspecting riders!

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This was the only costumed character we saw all day, but it was a cool one!

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Um... does Busch Gardens know about this?

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Being fans of "scenic" and dark rides--the older and cheesier the better--Mike and I thoroughly enjoyed this!

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Unfortunately, unlike the Disney version, this ride didn't take us straight to hell :(

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"Roger dodger! A-vroom-a-zoom-zoom!"

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This weather thingamabob was pretty cool to look at. Too bad it didn't work. It was actually bright and sunny that day and every day for the rest of the trip!

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Oooh... scary!

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Tomb Blaster was pretty awesome!

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So... Egypt is known for its fried chicken? I had no idea!

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And apparently it's fresh!

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There's something very RCT-ish about this....

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Onward to Rattlesnake, quite possibly the most comfortable and non-PC wild mouse ever!

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Drunk Mexican sitting on a barrel of rum = themeing, and no one is threatening to sue? We're definitely not in America anymore!

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More non-PCery!

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So what made Rattlesnake so comfortable? They let us sit in the middle of the seat and straddle the lapbar instead of squeezing two people onto each bench. Not sure if any U.S. parks do that, but I'd be willing to bet not. The lawyers are watching, people!

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We had front-of-the-line passes for most of the rides, but between ERT and light morning crowds, Runaway Mine Train was the only one I actually needed to use it for.

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Next up: Safari Skyway!

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Sea lions...

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...and the regular variety!

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Chessington had a great carousel, with pictures of its attractions represented on the upper panels.

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Vampire with Arrow trains!

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No TR would be complete without Mike showing off his giant hairy balls!

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"I say, guv'ner, how 'bout some lunch, oy?"

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Buf-fay!

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A little from column A, a little from column B.

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There is something very "Bryan and Adam Show" about this table....

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OK, is everybody ready to see the most bizarre Burger King ever?

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"Velkom, Velkom... to my death-themed Burger King!"

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Enter the Servery... of death!

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Nothing like eating your Whopper in a coffin-themed chair beneath a giant vampire bat!

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Coffins, tombstones, a creepy anthtropomorphic tree... and onion rings!

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Vampire bat sucking on the neck of a skeleton... appetizing!

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"Yep, I definintely should have stayed away from the Chicken Fries!"

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Be sure to save room for dessert at the crypt-themed ice cream stand outside!

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Noted!

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Nearly every park in the UK seemed to welcome picnickers--bringing in their own food, no less--in unregulated open green spaces. Try doing that at 99 percent of U.S. parks! In the background is Hocus Pocus hall, a real home on park property that, after the interior burned, was transformed into park offices and a 3-D funhouse.

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Let's have a closer look, shall we?

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Basically, the premise was that this was an institute for wizards, only these little gremlins had gotten inside and were wreaking havoc on the place--and its visitors.

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"Ze goggles... zey do nozhing!"

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Having ridden everything in the park that I was interested in at least once, I decided to check out the Chessington Zoo. Also... penguins!

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This little guy was just hanging around.

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Fun fact: The capybara is the world's largest rodent.

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So many gorillas... not enough kitties to go around.

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"If only my wife had never checked my Blackberry...."

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Looks to me like he was pushed.

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Witness the first of many park-based Sea Life Aquaria we saw on the trip.

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"Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming...."

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I always enjoy finding arcade game types I've never seen before, and this one was new to me. Basically, it was a sort of combination of air hockey and pinball that, depending on which targets you hit, moved the pigs on top like of of those roll-a-ball derby games.

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To make up for the lack of Kobra ERT, the park gave us soft drink and animal ERT (no, really)!

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Zebras! (Pronounced "zeb-bras").

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Up close and personal!

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"I'm a ferocious animal... and so is the Guinea pig!"

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This is the park's new Holiday Inn, set on a pretend African savannah, complete with roaming wild animals. It's sort of like Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge Lite.

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And we end our visit to Chessington with... meerkats!

 

Coming up... super surprise bonus park No. 1!

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The next park on the schedule... wasn't really on the schedule! On our way to the hotel for the evening, we took a detour to the wonderful, enchanting land of Coney Beach. While it wasn't the most... savory area, it was a fun little detour with a couple kiddie credits, bathrooms and dinner. Enjoy!

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On the way to Coney Beach, we experienced the return of the "Snack Song!" Seriously, this thing deserves both an Emmy and a Grammy!

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Here we are!

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To the park's credit, the entrance from the beach looked a little better than the street entrance.

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Of course, there was also this....

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First credit at Coney: Nessi!

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Josh is incredibly excited about riding the butt!

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The second half of Coney's still-existing credits: Go-Gator!

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Some of us were too proud to ride the Go-Gator. Others couldn't wait to be first in line....

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The guy who owned the rides at Coney was very modest. He only put his name in lights on about 2/3 of them.

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Also, this park absolutely does NOT use sexual images to draw potential guests. Not at all!

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Who knew that the latest in simulation rides (from 1982) could be found right smack dab in the middle of Coney Beach?

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Apparently the doors fell off this train at one point. But that's not a problem....

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OMG, nudity on the rides!

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No, seriously... nudity on the rides!

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The Waltzer must be the official theme park ride of the UK--you're not allowed to operate a park without one.

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Pretty neat to see this old Chair-O-Planes ride revamped (Pat Evans' name was on the other side of the canopy).

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The guy running the Orbiter saw my name tag as I was taking this picture and asked me to make sure to tell everyone on here that Coney Beach is better than Botton's. And since I don't want to be knifed (which would *never* happen at Botton's)... Coney Beach is better than Botton's!

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This ride contains over 80 years' worth of Disney copyright infringement!

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I've mentioned in past TRs that my soon-to-be stepdaughter Lauryn's favorite Disney princess is Ariel. On an unrelated note, I also took a picture of this random painting, whoever it's supposed to be.

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I've been to dozens of theme parks in the U.S. and beyond, and I've never before (or since) seen one rip off "Star Trek" in an attempt to bring in customers.

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I've also never seen one rip off "Family Guy." Including this.

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I'd also never heard of Coconut Shy before this trip, but saw it at a number of UK parks. For the uninitiated, it's kind of like those games where you have to knock over a stack of milk bottles with a softball, only instead of milk bottles, the objective is to knock over a coconut.

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Not content with merely infringing on the copyrights of cartoon, movies and TV shows, Coney breaks new ground in being possibly the first amusement park to infringe on a chain store copyright.

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Only in England!

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I decided not to waste my money on this particulary dark ride, but Mike did. He said it was pretty good... for not having any sound.

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"Grr... how dare you make fun Coney Beach!"

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Neither of us bothered with the second dark ride next door.

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Photos... now in colour!

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We also skipped the head-bouncing ride.

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We did not try the faggot and peas for dinner.

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Nor did we stop at the seaside seafood shack with no visible means of refrigeration...

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...though they did have jellied eels.

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Instead, we elected to stop at Wimpy, and I was excited to try a fast food chain not available (to my knowledge) in America.

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This was arguably the worst meal I had on the entire trip. I think I would have been better off eating the wrappers.

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Guy at the American Donuts stand: "Do they have donuts in America?"

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Strolling down the boardwalk in search of a non-pay toilet (which I did eventually find), I stumbled into an arcade with several antique coin-op games.

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I thoroughly enjoyed playing these!

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The gambling laws in the UK, at least when it comes to slot machines, seem to be more lenient than in the U.S.

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Once at the hotel that evening, it was time for one of my favorite TPR trip traditions: the snack exchange!

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Fran gave freely of himself!

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My favorite "new to me" food at the exchange this year was the Idaho Spuds.

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Basically, each one is a dollop of marshmallow, enrobed in dark chocolate and covered in coconut. They were awesome!

 

Up next: Oakwood and the dear, departed Crystal Maze!

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Great TR but just to be picky and FYI Dr Who lives in a blue phonebox not a red one.

 

I always thought Dr Who lived in a blue Police box, but there ya go!

 

Actually he lives in the TARDIS! Which has a broken chameleon circuit which means the exterior is stuck to look like a police public call box.

 

Hows that for some nerdyness!

 

-Craig

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