Saturday, April 30, 2011

Friday, April 29, 2011

It was pouring down rain on Friday morning when I got up in the morning.  By the time the sun came up up it had cleared and we had herons in the yard:



Pickleball was lurking around the house:





After lunch we headed to the airport.  Thankfully, they've moved the Hertz area onto the airport grounds so returning the car was much easier than last time.  Then we headed over to Terminal A where check was blissfully short as was security.  This is the main atrium mid day:



We headed over to terminal A.  We had some food and waited on our flight.  Terminal A seems to be a little emptier than it's been in past years.  The whole airport seemed a little emptier than usual.  I think the sharp reduction in small regional jets in the last couple of years has hit Orlando pretty hard.  The terminal is lovely:



The tram that leads from the pain terminal to the gates:



Mr. Poe in his smart new Harry Potter shirt enjoying free internet access.  Hello gorgeous:



The main terminal/Hyatt:





Our ride:



The gate.  The door alarm wouldn't stop going off and they were working on it while we boarded:



We got on our flight:

4/29/11 Virgin America Flight 305 MCO-SFO A320 Dep 4:40 PM Arr 7:50 PM

The flight was as stylish as the flight out.  We definitely had a screaming baby problem on the flight.  Which was incredibly irritating.  She screamed pretty much the entire flight.  I paid for WIFI again so at least I wasn't trying to sleep.  Mr. Poe wasn't hungry this time so he didn't avail himself to the menu but the food choices looked good.  This was the cabin in flight:



We were flying one of the older A320's and it had this cool bar at the back by the galley.  The newer ones have a different configuration:



Here it is with the flash:



We got in a little late and collected our luggage.  This is the view from the Air Train on the way to BART:



We headed home to the extreme delight of the dogs.  I was starving by that point so I made some dinner and we went to bed.  I was beat.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Thursday Mr. Poe and I went riding around in the golf cart before lunch.  I keep getting lost in her neighborhood.  It's designed kind of like Golden Gate Park in that the designers took pains to conceal the true dimensions of the area by using all sorts of curving roads so you think you've traveled a great distance when in fact  you've been running around in circles.  We headed over to the community center where we totally got the fish eye from the lady manning the desk until I was able to produce the magical guest passes that gave us access to everything.  It's very, very pretty:







Inside:



Glamorous Pool:





Hello gorgeous!





After lunch we headed off to the nursery so Mom could get a few things for her butterfly garden.  The nursery was enormous by California standards with many pretty things in it:



Mr. Poe and Mom at the nursery:

















I learned new stuff.  Spanish Moss isn't parasitic after all.  People just think that because it can have the effect of shading out the branches it's growing but it derives all of it's sustenance from the air:



We headed over to the AT&T store and got Mom and Iphone.  OMG she's joined 2007!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wednesday we went to Universal Studios Islands of Adventure.  Mr. Poe is a total Harry Potter fanatic and was very, very excited when we showed up to go there because of the recently opened Wizarding World.  The theme park is made up of a bunch of different sections, some more successful than others.  The architecture was for the most part beautiful and it was the attractions that kind of sucked or the themes that didn't really have cohesion.  The Harry Potter area was itself mostly recycled from a medieval themed section of the "Lost Continent" island and only the Hogwarts part was new.  But it's gorgeous and fabulous and definitely worth the admission even if the rest of the park falls short.   I kept helping that the attractions lived up the amazing architecture and at the end of the day they didn't.

We got to the park right as it opened which turned out to be a fabulous idea because the we escaped both the hottest part of the day and the long lines.  We didn't have to wait very long for anything and the longest line we were in, for the wand store, was only about a half an hour.  More advice: buy your tickets online and print them out and bring them with you. 

Both of the Universal theme parks are entered from a common public area that has parking, a huge movie theater and a bunch of restaurants.  None of it was opened when we got there at 7:30 and it still wasn't open when we left at 1:30.  But they had a bunch of good choices and higher end stuff than in the park.  I think they'd be really fun at night:



Mr. Poe was almost running when we got into the park because he was so excited about seeing Hogwarts.  It didn't disappoint.  The building is fabulous.  The architects have played with perspective to make it look much taller than it actually is.  It's breathtaking:







Hello gorgeous!:





Me:



We headed right over to Hogwarts for the Forbidden Journey ride.  It's kind of this CGI think that isn't very scary but is really neat and is highly recommended.  I'm not really an amusement park person and I thought it was totally awesome.  The best idea they had was to make the line for the ride a trip through places you'd recognize from Hogwart's.  It's such a great idea because there was always something to look at as you worked your way to the actual ride.  We didn't have to wait in much of a line so Mr. Poe didn't get as good of a look at some of it as he'd like.  It's meticulously detailed and totally fabulous:











They got a lot of the cast to do the filming for the ride before the movie finished so there were a lot of cameos.  In the dim light it was hard to see it was a screen and Mr. Poe thought they were live actors:



The Sorting Hat:



From there we went to the Hippogriff coaster which billed itself as being "family friendly".  It was recycled from a unicorn ride that was part of the Medieval village that previously held that spot.  Although it wasn't very scary, it totally freaked Mr. Poe out and he was screamin' like a baby.  That was the last ride of the day.  This is Hagrid's hut from the ride--  it's very well done:





Then we headed into Hogsmeade.  The villiage was also recycled and although it's incredibly beautiful, it didn't look much like the Hogsmeade from the movie and I wondered about that. 

Hello gorgeous:



The architecture is amazing.  Except for the snow which looked dirty and fake.  We waited in line for about a half an hour for the wand shop demonstration and it totally sucked.  It's supposed to look the like wand scene from the first movie but ends up coming off like an informercial.  Not recommended.  Also, I thought the wands were gonna look really cool but they kind of didn't and I wasn't interested enough to price them.  They do have some super fantastic clothing and Mr. Poe bought a few things.  They aren't cheap but they're well made and nicely detailed.  Like!  The gift shop at Hogwarts is a little less chaotic than the one at the wand store. 

Here are some pics from Hogsmeade.  Incredible: 







Hello gorgeous:











This is the inside of the restaurant in Hogsmeade:



This is the view of Hogsmeade from across the lagoon:
 


Then we headed over to the Lost Continent area.  It's part Sinbad and part Atlantis.  The architecture is really fantastic but the area isn't cohesive and the attractions are lame.  There's like a zillion ways they could have made it cooler.





This is the Poseidon's Fury attraction.  It looked so promising but it totally sucked.  I mean horrible.  It's this stupid, contrived tour through a temple led by this actor that was so bad that the living were envying the dead.


 
From there we went to the Seuss Landing which was very imaginative and incredibly well executed.  They had a couple of rides that looked promising but I wasn't up for a repeat of the Hipogriff drama so we just walked around:













Hello gorgeous:





This is the view of Seuss Landing from across the Lagoon.  It seemed like they should have put a beach there but they didn't and I wondered if it had to do with water quality:



Then we headed over to Marvel Super Hero Island.  I love comic books and had been looking forward to that area.  It was OK.  There were a couple of decent looking rides although the Hulk and Dr Doom one looked too scary for me.  I was hoping they'd have some merchandise I hadn't seen before but they didn't have anything you don't see in comic books stores everywhere.  The coolest thing I saw were these little painted structures that had all these Marvel heroes many of which you don't really hear about anymore.

The original X-Men



60's - 70's montage:



80's montage:



60's looking Fantastic Four:



The original Avengers:



The Invaders:



This awesome looking Phoenix was part of the the display at one of the stores:



Then we headed over to the shit show that calls itself "Toon Lagoon".  It was awful.  Is this really the best they could do??  I love how they designed it around a theme that nobody has cared about for thirty years.  Brenda Starr??  Seriously?



A spread-eagled Kathy does not make me want to eat ice cream:



Just when I thought it couldn't get any worse I saw a line of of Marvel heroes who were randomly riding ATV's for some reason.  Look, I got the point from Captain America!:





We headed over to the Mythos restaurant for lunch because the map indicated that they had vegan options.  Which they did.  I had pad thai which was kind of terrible. It was as if the guy who made it had never eaten it before and didn't know what he was doing.  I figured it was gonna be like that and wisely ordered french fries too and they were really good.  But they get big points for having a vegan option in the first place.  And look how cool the restaurant was.  It was amazing:







This is me and the view of the restaurant from across the lagoon:



Then we headed over to Jurassic Park which was really awful too.  The worst part of it was that they were billing parts of it as educational but it wasn't educational and it was just really stupid.  And they kept making references to the movie but the movie came out a long time ago and I didn't remember it very well.





By far, the stupidest thing we saw all day was the Triceratops.  We thought it was a garden and got stuck in this group and were too polite to bolt.  They have these fake game wardens that assemble groups and send you in to see a fake veterinarian who shows you a fake triceratops that growls at you and pees.  I don't know how many drugs you have to be on to be a fake veterinarian at a triceratops exhibit but I bet it's a lot.  Still the fake vet was super cute:








It pees!  I was so hoping it pooped:



We headed back to Harry Potter world and bought some stuff and headed for the exit.  We'd been there more than five hours and that was about our limit.  The Port of Entry area doesn't have any rides but the architecture is so special.  Gorgeous:











This is the lighthouse at the entrance:



They have a seaplane that looked real to me:



The view of their other theme park:



We got home a little earlier than I'd planned which was fine because we hang out in the pool for a while and then had dinner.  I can report that Rocky's feeling a whole lot better and has resumed his delightful behavior of insisting that he get a cookie everything you pass by the place in the kitchen where the cookie box is kept.  Good times.