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Photo TR: A Florida Chrismahanukwanzakah 2010


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After a successful Florida Chrismahanukwanzakah in 2009, it is that time of year again for the festivities of the holidays. With school on break, I've had some extra time to hit the Florida parks.

 

My major gift for the holidays was my new Sony Cybershot HX5V camera, meant to replace my aged but faithful Pentax Optio s5i. The new camera has some incredible features like a Handheld Twilight mode and an intelligent panoramic mode, both of which you will see in use in this photo report.

 

[coastertube]http://www.themeparkreview.com/coastertube/play.php?vid=00000_fojw[/coastertube]

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Backlight correction is a wonderful feature of the new camera...

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The interior of Manta's aquarium is just so unique in design!

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Looking into the main aquarium...

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Leafy sea dragons are mesmerizing to watch in person...

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Looks just like the concept art from way-back-when.

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The school of fish is almost as interesting as the rays themselves.

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The popup is always great for photo ops...

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Yeah, I know. We found Nemo...

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Anemone.

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Of all of the seafoods I've ever eaten, sea urchin is the only one I've disliked.

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I've just waiting for the 7th Chevron to lock.

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Manta's lift hill looks nice at night. Note: At the bottom of the lift, a new themed net cover has been added.

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Pretty!

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It's beginning to look a lot like Chrismahanukwanzakah 2010~

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Be back soon!

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A few days later, we went to Universal, and it was truly packed!

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You know it's busy when Green Eggs & Ham is open.

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Here's the Green Eggs & Ham platter. Looks great, right?

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Here's hoping Mythos survives whatever Potterfication the rest of the Lost Continent may endure in 2011.

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Loving the view...

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The space behind the Jurassic Park Discovery Center was used as a holding/queueing area for guests waiting to enter the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

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Due to the holiday rush, the former Triceratops Encounter has been re-opened temporarily as the Triceratops Discovery Trail.

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For the love of Larry!

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Although the paddocks have re-opened, the former queue for the attraction is not currently accessible.

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A closer look at the former section of the Triceratops Encounter queue.

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Having never experienced the attraction before, it was neat to see the extra layers of detail in Jurassic Park.

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This fence seems to still be active, unlike the ones at the Jurassic Park River Adventure.

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Or maybe not.

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Details are delicious.

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I decided to be a fool and touch the fence. Big mistake!

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I was pretty impressed with Topper (the Triceratops) and how detailed the animatronic was. Topper is supposedly one of three unique Triceratops (one in each paddock), each with a different personality/program for the experience.

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The attraction was completely refurbished for its re-opening, with the three dinosaurs receiving new skins before their debut.

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Another look at Topper...

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Topper's pulse is monitored on the screen on the right corner of the paddock's interior.

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A look at the paddock from the outside.

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One more for Larry...

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Time to play around with my camera!

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Panoramic mode decided to send these riders on a journey...

 

"Lightspeed to Endor!"

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At the intersection of Toon Lagoon and Jurassic Park, Wizarding World ticket distribution was going on.

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Time for some panoramas!

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The main entrance plaza...

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It never gets old.

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I love this one for some reason...

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Here's CityWalk from one end to the other.

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Over at Universal Studios, the park has received a new addition in the form of the Holiday Village.

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Curious George decides to play King Kong for the day. He's just hangin' around...

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The Holiday Village is similar to the Horror Nights and Mardi Gras setups done annually in the same location. Small kiosks and food stands.

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Over at Richter's Burgers across from Disaster!, three new Coca-Cola Freestyle machines have been installed. Wisely enough, there is a checkout booth to the right of the machines for guests to pay for only the sodas or refills--no waiting in the main line just to experience the joy that is the Freestyle!

Edited by jedimaster1227
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(Continued)

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This panoramic came out sort of interestingly...

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Never get tired of seeing this effect...

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No, really. I don't.

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Time for some index-friendly Polar Express-madness!

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The Polar Express Experience is a seasonal overlay of the park's popular Wild Artic simulator. During the overlay, the ride's entrance queue, pre-shows, the simulator's interior, ride film and the immediate post-show experience is altered to fit the story of the film.

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This year, a model of the Polar Express engine was added to the ride's entrance. In addition, they had an acapella conductor group singing throughout the day.

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They were actually pretty entertaining too!

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The from of the Polar Express...

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The first gift of Christmas!

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It is an impressive set piece, even though everyone knows he's only impersonating Hannukah Harry.

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There's a special ornament on the tree. Can you find it?

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I sacrificed my hand's nerves to make this art for you.

 

 

 

Not really.

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A panoramic of Santa Town/Base Station Wild Arctic.

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The belugas were surfacing at Santa Town...

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The Christmas tree is as tall as the complex's ceiling.

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A minor clash of concepts.

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One more look at Santa and his sleigh...

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The Santa Town facade closes at with this themed archway.

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One last look at Santa Town... And into Base Station Wild Artic we go!

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He's just waiting for the Bryan and Adam Show to return...

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They are selling hot chocolate at the exit of the ride for the holidays.

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Added details keep up the theme til the end.

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I don't exactly believe, but its a fun ride all the same.

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The windows have even been covered with a Santa Town view.

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The back section of the park is opened up for the SeaWorld Christmas Celebration starting at 5:00 pm.

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I protect all bears in my flock.

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A site rarely seen these days...

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It should be noted that Sea of Trees is actually on the water.

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This game had guests pulling a candy cane, with the end having a color signifying what prize you get.

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They had nuts.

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Personalized embroidery is fun...

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They had a cart for chocolate-dipped goodies.

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Looks tasty and fun!

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And there's more...

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Drink prices for reference.

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They had a band at the start of the evening, all of whom were students at the University of Central Florida. Go Knights!

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Apparently there is a story behind these yellow poinsettias.

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They had a new character, known as Shivers, out for photos. Never heard of him before this experience.

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They were even giving out samples of the kettle corn.

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Another photo op.

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Looks like I caught a tour group on the ride.

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Another nice sunset on Manta!

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Manta under the full moon...

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"That's no moon... That's a coaster!"

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Woosh!

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Back at the Christmas Celebration after sunset, the path lights up with fall icicles.

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It really is a spectacle to see!

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The photo op lights up at night!

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A nod to TPR past.

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Also new this year is the Sea of Trees.

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Another group of performers came to the path later that evening.

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Looks pretty nice, right?

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(Continued)

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These lit the path back to the main entrance, and were definitely a nice touch!

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The trees perform to holiday music and each has a unique program and sequence.

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Then we got some warm apple cider.

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It was more like molten apple cider.

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"My mouth!"

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"Do you sea the pelicans?"

 

SeaWorld humor.

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Interesting.

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So nice!

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The ice skating show has also returned for the holidays at the Atlantis Bayside Stadium.

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The view from the Bayside Stadium.

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Getting the rink ready for the next show...

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One more stop by The Polar Express Experience.

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The preshow shows a section of the movie's opening, but has a few neat effects, like the steam from the room's heater when the train arrives.

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A photo op in the station.

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You are no longer boarding a helicopter, rather a train on the way to Santa Town.

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The interior of the simulator is completely redressed for the overlay. No trace of White Thunder exists here.

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One more look at the Santa Town tree.

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No human on here... There must be something wrong.

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I fly along with the sea!

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Time to walk through the Sea of Trees.

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It looks really nice at night...

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Just taking in the view...

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The Waterfront is also dressed up for the holidays.

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Same atmosphere, festive feel.

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Artsy fartsy.

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"And scene!"

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They had a new character, known as Shivers, out for photos. Never heard of him before this experience.

 

All I can add to this is that Shivers was definitely around during Spooktacular. But that was the first I had heard of him.

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Shivers, in superhero costume for Halloween.

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(Continued)

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Went over to Epcot for some short evening fun...

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Spaceship Earth is so photogenic!

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Playing with my camera is fun too...

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Leave a Legacy...

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Starting off our Christmas day at Disney, we wanted some breakfast.

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The day began with Animal Kingdom.

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Prepare for a good deal of Tree of Life photos...

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I love sloths!

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Details a la Rohde.

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I took a first-timer to It's Tough to Be a Bug! It's always nice to see an attraction through the eyes of a general guest.

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This show is full of poo.

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The backside of the Tree of Life, as seen from the exit of the show.

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Even with a new camera, sun shots are still a must in my reports.

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Always Koka-Kora!

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Monkeys!

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Intentional blockout.

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It's a beautiful day in Nepal...Only took 20 minutes to drive there from Orlando!

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Index ready...

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Burst mode is the best!

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Everest, though not very intense, is definitely a great addition for the park!

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Everest in widescreen.

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Details I hadn't noticed before...

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Steel drum bands make every park better!

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Hiya Joey!

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Let's all gather around the Magic Walrus Tree!

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Lovecraft in the wood...

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Jambo everyone! My narration has been cut down repeatedly since 1998!

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Only you can prevent ivory poaching. Be responsible.

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Welcome to Harambe!

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Oh, the elusive White Rhino...

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Lueben! Be like zee ippo Lueben!

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Jungle Trek construction!!!

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Its the RCT3 tree!

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Close to the new Jungle Trek platform...

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No Mrs. Jobson! Terbies!

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Just grazin' the plains...

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Horny oxen...

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Blending in with the crowd...

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ZOMG!

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Elephants!

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More Jungle Trek!

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The savannah platform!

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Time for sleepy...

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Oh boy...

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  • 2 weeks later...

(Continued)

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After Animal Kingdom, we decided to wait for the capacity-filled Magic Kingdom to clear with some time spent at Epcot. Our visit started with lunch at the new La Hacienda de San Angel table service restaurant at the Mexico Pavilion.

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So fancy you could eat from it!

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These shrimp tacos with cabbage and lime aioli were amazing. Hands down, the best Mexican food I've had at a sit down restaurant!

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The meal came with unlimited chips and salsa--the green salsa was so good, we finished two of those side cups.

 

Plus there was rice!

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My big brother got the flank steak with chimichurri, which was also incredible. That beige thing? That's an excellent tamale covered in a deliciously tangy white sauce that added some extra flavor to the dish.

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The restaurant was built out onto World Showcase lagoon, allowing for what I'm sure will be a great viewing location for Illuminations: Reflections of Earth.

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The restaurant is spacious and comfortable in its design...

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Delicate touches such as these wall accents help to keep the Mexican flavor present in this classy eatery.

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More details to take in...

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Looking into the lobby from the main area of the dining room.

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Lighting and extra touches in the room help to keep the flavor alive in this new addition to Epcot's dining offerings.

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Did you know that the pineapple is the international symbol of hospitality? #ThingsILearnedinSchool

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The restaurant even had a special New Year's Eve offering, despite it being so new.

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Here is the entrance to the table service section of the restaurant. The counter/quick service area is off to the right.

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After dinner, we quickly moved to the extremely packed Magic Kingdom. I think this picture says it all.

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And on this note, we made our way to the exit of the park.

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On our way out from the Polynesian, the free (Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party) cookies that were available for visitors of the lobby were all gone. No more cookies for Adam.

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The next day we stopped by Downtown Disney to see True Grit. While there, I checked into the back corner of the former Pleasure Island to see demolition had already begun.

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While the front (main entrance) of the Rock & Roll Beach Club has not been touched, the backside (as you'll see a few photos later) has been ripped up.

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One of the few remaining (accessible) plaques detailing the "complete and dubious history of Pleasure Island," located on the side of Fuego by Sosa Cigars.

 

Note: The typhoon referenced is the same one that landed Miss Tilly on top of Mount Mayday at Typhoon Lagoon.

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At look at Motion from another angle.

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Over at the Adventurer's Club, not much has changed.

 

Oh, I just noticed... The tiles are supposed to represent dominoes.

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Either they are expecting a hurricane, or they don't want us to see what's going on in there.

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A few new door covers have been added to the entrance of the [former BET] Soundstage Club to prevent guests from looking in.

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But one door to the side within guest access offered this view. Not much has changed here over the last year.

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The same goes for the exterior of the club.

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And it doesn't look like anything has changed on this side of the Soundstage Club either.

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As for the Rock & Roll Beach Club, the windows have been pulled out giving a clear view of the interior of the former Pleasure Island hotspot.

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A closer look at the damage...

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On the following day (my birthday), we went to go walk around the Gaylord Palms before a nice dinner at home. Here's the Key West area.

 

Is that a real sailing ship Chris?

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A panoramic of Key West. I always thought it was bigger.

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It's five o'clock somewhere...

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Little known fact: The Gaylord Palms features actual wildlife from each region in their themed environs under the atrium.

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The Smokehouse has been one of those restaurants I've not yet tried, but have wanted to for years. It looks awesome!

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The resort also has a full service spa that I intend to gift a visit for someone at some point in the next 50 years.

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In the Everglades section of the hotel is a little animal exhibit.

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Knights are not afraid of Gators, Snakes, Bulldogs or Seminoles... Knights are fearless!

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Snakes. Why'd it have to be snakes?

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Why does this always happen when I'm around?

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This seems like a great place to close the update...

Edited by jedimaster1227
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Great photos!

 

There was a 4 hour wait on Big Thunder Mountain? I would have never thought. The line moves rather quickly on it. I suppose they were out of Fast Passes too. I wonder about the family that stood in line...

 

Friend: "Well, what did you do at the Magic Kingdom?"

Dad: "Well, we rode two rides in 8 hours. We were in 4 hour lines for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Space Mountain."

Friend: "Holy cow!"

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So for the last day of Chrismahanukwanzakah 2010, we visited Busch Gardens Tampa Bay for the first time since Howl-O-Scream 2010. Since my last visit, Cheetah Hunt has been announced and has grown from a mere set of trenches to gigantic expanse of green track and unique yellow support structures. While there, we stopped by the other coasters, except for Gwazi which is closed for a rumored additional re-tracking and the possibility of the long-awaited Millennium Flyers being installed.

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Immediately inside the entrance is Santa's Christmas Workshop, occupied previously by the Shop of Horrors during Howl-O-Scream.

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The stilt performers were out around the entrance during the park's opening.

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In keeping with family tradition, we had lunch at the fantastic Crown Colony House restaurant... Sooo good!

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And here was our view from the restaurant.

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Now it's time for the good stuff!

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This is new!

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The Tampa skyline will never be the same!

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The wall between the former monorail station and the skyride building is gone...

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I see you, hidden footer!

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LSM's!

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Magnetic brakes or something else?

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And here's the turnaround. I really do love how they kept the old Clydsedale stable for this project.

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Edgy!

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An overview of the Crown Colony plaza under construction.

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Stonework within the trench has begun...

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A bridge in the plaza that crosses the first trench.

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And the framework for some of the initial launch's theming has been put up.

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As part of the construction, the main entrance to the Crown Colony Restaurant will be slightly reworked.

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And a shot of the turn into the station and the transfer track.

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There's some interesting mechanics going on at the foot of that ascent look pretty interesting...

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A close up on the turnaround.

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We found this little gem of a photo op in the elevator area of the Crown Colony.

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Time for some Montu!

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That's actually us in the back row.

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The other side of the turnaround...

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Work is going on inside to prepare this building for its rebirth as Cheetah Run.

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The tower can be seen from just about anywhere in the main center of the park.

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A few new images have been added to the construction walls around the area.

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While the rest of the tower awaits its finish, a cable has been placed between the entrance and exit of the element.

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More theming has gone up in a corner previously occupied by a small gift shop.

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The underside of Cheetah Hunt.

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I'm not gunna say it, but somebody will get the concept behind this photo.

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A portion of the sky ride's building has been stripped while Cheetah Hunt construction continues.

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Intamin drop... Yum...

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The last trench is being prepared and concrete is starting to be poured.

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Starting to take a basic shape...

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Over near the former water portion of Rhino Rally, the final launch track is being raised into place by this crane.

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The turn out of the brake run...

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Even from Rhino Rally, Cheetah Hunt's tower element can be seen clearly.

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The much, much shorter Rhino Rally.

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More construction on the Edge of Africa.

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The former water portion of Rhino Rally has been repurposed for a "twisty" section of Cheetah Hunt.

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The entrance to the last launch was the focus of today's construction.

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Some sort of spring beneath the fin... Someone care to explain?

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Waiting for the first upward piece of the third launch...

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This little disclaimer has been posted at the entrance of Rhino Rally.

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Notice that local road in the bottom right corner of the map leading to the river? That's where the ride used to go with the Vekoma raft track. Now that belongs to Cheetah Chase, forcing Rhino Rally's story to end abruptly.

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I see you!

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Elephants are fun...

Edited by ernierocker
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(Continued)

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Thompson's gazelle? Wrong park.

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I see supports!

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More supports in the area that used to be Rhino Rally...

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"And to the left, we have the other half of this ride, which no longer exists..."

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What's this?

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During our ride on Rhino Rally, the initial piece for the hill from the third launch was dropped into place.

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Then, someone came around to secure some launch fins.

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This is the best view of the "twisty" I could find.

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I'm sure this area will be done soon...

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Time to take Rhino Rally into my own hands!

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Or get hit by a parked car...

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Scorpian still garners a line over in Timbuktu, and still runs extremely smooth and forceful.

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Best buddies in Walkabout Way.

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This isn't what you think it is. Really!

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"Kan yoo phead mee pweaze?"

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"Hello. I'm a marsupial, not a rodent. But I still hope you'll love me all the same!"

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Nice day for a white wallaby!

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He's got a rough life.

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Walkabout Way really is another great addition to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay!

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Gwazi is closed for refurbishment.

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Yes, I do believe Millenium Flyers are essential at this point.

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For those of you hoping to see some Millenium Flyer photos in this report, I'm sorry to say no luck. Maybe next time.

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One last set of glances towards Cheetah Hunt from entrance of the park.

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One more look at the turnaround...

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Cheetah Hunt towers over the Nairobi Gate.

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The first launch can be seen from the entrance of the park, and boy does it look great!

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We'll close this trip report with a final look at the yet-to-be-finished tower element.

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This report and the photos are great, I can't wait to see what happens next with this ride and Gwazi. By the way, I don't think that drop from the tower is a drop (photo with the caption "Intamin drop... Yum.."), I think it's an upward spike.

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Nice report! That coaster is really looking effing AWESOME. Was nothing but a bunch of mountains of dirt when I was there in early November. Amazing how fast this is thing is going up.

 

I was told about the re-tracking on Gwazi when I took the Montu coaster tour in November. It needs it BAD. Last time I rode it, I had a horrible headache afterwards (could still feel my brain rattling in my head hours later). Hoping the Millennium Flyer trains become a reality. Could be exactly what this coaster needs to get it back on track (no pun intended). Gwazi was a great ride when it first opened but holy hell it just got way too rough.

 

The shots of the kangaroos and wallabys killed me. I love those critters to death. I want one! I hope one day they expand Walkabout Way a little and add some koalas and wombats. Australian critters are so messed up but most of them are beyond cute.

 

I can't wait until I go to Busch Gardens next Saturday... my first visit using my shiny, new 2 year pass (well, once I redeem my voucher that is). Woo-hoo!

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