Monday, June 27, 2011

Video Roll Call

Disclaimer: pretty much everything in this post has already been blogged about by almost every member of Drew's blogging family. So this post is for all two of my readers that are not related to him, hah.

Videos! Let's watch some funny ones.

First up, Drew's sister Elise came for a surprise visit last month and during the ensuing festivities we made this video. It was all her brainchild (and her editing job). Normally I would be running the other direction from doing this sort of thing, but heck, there must have been something in the water that day. Funtimes!

Next. Also during Elise's trip she introduced us to the next doozy. It's a dramatically read review of an intentionally silly and easy flash game called Press Space to Win (play it, it will take about 4 minutes). And wow, just wow. It's one of those things that makes me laugh so hard I can't control my face.

And for something totally different: FROGS! Well, A frog. I swear, one day I'm going to be this frog for Halloween. Probably the year after I'm Mama Odie.

Last but not least, just because I was listening to some Michael Jackson today and thinking fondly of Disney parks. Hooter!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Land of Harry Potter

So, to pick up where I left off, during our big Florida trip we planned to spend a day at the Universal theme parks. I'd been there once before and even without Harry, I wanted to go for a day just to take Drew on Spider-man (long held as my favorite ride) and Jurassic Park. With the addition of Harry Potter land, there was no way we could pass Universal over. When the day arrived, the bus service picked us up at our resort (about a half hour later, mind) and off we went. It was a bit of a drive and everyone on the bus was a bit annoyed when we had to stop at Sea World to drop off TWO people, but in the end we arrived and we were gleeful and excited.

We could see Hogwarts from the park entrance, but, correctly assuming everyone would rush there and leave other areas deserted, we first went to Spider-man (and walked on). I loved that ride so much when I went before, and luckily it was just as much fun as I remember. We then went along to the Jurassic Park area, which is always awesome, and walked on to that ride as well. Unfortunately it wasn't *quite* as exciting as I remembered (I swear the t-rex used to move). BUT it was dinosaurs and stuff so I was hardly disappointed. I will add that it was also wetter than I remembered, which caused me some trouble with my bangs. They dried all flippy and weird. Exciting, right?

Anyway, our detour hardly took any time at all and soon we made our way to Harry Potter and it was just like a dream! Everything was so...REAL and right there. It was crowded, but honestly, I didn't even notice the crowds because it was exhilarating to be there. Seriously, there was nothing that disappointed. NOTHING.

The food: We ate lunch at the Three Broomsticks and for a bonus, our lunch was Cornish pasties and shepherds pie. It felt like being back in our beloved England. We tried both the regular and frozen butterbeer (regular wins), and naturally got the commemorative mug. We also bought a bottle of pumpkin juice that was DElicious (the juice, not the bottle). When we were in the Disney parks we were quite thrifty with our food. We refilled a water bottle the whole time and we brought a lot of snacks with us. But here? We were ready and willing to give them any amount of money necessary for such authentic fare, and the same went for souvenirs. Luckily the food was pretty reasonably priced, but really, I would have happily paid $20 for a cup of butterbeer. I mean, how often does the opportunity come along, right???

The rides: The family-friendly Buckbeak-themed coaster was fun. You go right by Hagrid's Hut and Buckbeak bows to you. The much wilder Dragon Challenge roller coaster is also fun. I went on it before, and really, not much has changed except the queue theming--which on its own makes the ride worth it. The real gem of the place though is the all new ride housed in the Hogwarts castle: Harry Potter and the Final Journey. No, that's just what I always THINK it's called--it's actually Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. It's amazing and SO much fun. First, the line goes through the castle, which is a treat on its own, and you see classrooms, talking portraits (including the founders), the Fat Lady, the sorting hat, Dumblydore's office--so many things! The ride itself is an amazing concoction of characters, creatures and places and is also a mix of video, motion and actual creatures (I mean like things that are real that you could touch [if touching were allowed]. Is there another way to describe that?). Truth be told, my head was spinning a bit after but it's totally worth it.

The shops: There are bunch of very authentic shops to explore. You could spend hours just in the shops (we did) checking out all the goodies they have. You could also spend a LOT of money, very easily. We spent a tidy bundle ourselves, but again, how often do you get the opportunity?? They're very clever to sell a lot of things you never see anywhere else, which makes it seem all the more like you MUST buy it, haha. Naturally we both got wands at Ollivander's but we also got a set of playing cards, a magnet, a photo frame that looks like the mirror Erised and various other little goodies.

Okay, that's a lot of words. Time for pictures!
I would like to take this moment to say there was a total lack of anything BSG related! I made up for it by ding-ing the prologue music as we stood in front of the globe.
It's a pretty sweet entrance. What do they got in there, King Kong?
I'm happy to report that Drewbles liked this ride a lot too. So fun!
Hogsmeade! Do please note the shirts we bought in advance especially for this day.
Hogwarts!!!! Seriously, it was so exciting to look up throughout the day and see it there, looking down on us benevolently.
Don't touch it! It's a portkey!
This makes me look like a huge Sirius fangirl, but really, I wanted to do this to pretty much everything. (Though also I just love Gary Oldman and this movie.)
Oh please take us to Hogwarts! Never mind, we can just walk there.
Little bitty Cornish pasties! Oh Harry Potter, you really are magical.
It just looks so real. I mean, it is real. But REALLY real.
Lemon drop!
ANY AMOUNT OF MONEY. (No, that second straw is not going up his nose.)
Drew tried on Voldemort's wand for size.
I was a little taken with Sirius's (again with the Sirius, but I mean look at it!).
In the end, we had to go with Hermione's and Harry's. How could we do otherwise?
(When we go again, I might definitely have to get Sirius's.)

We tried on some robes at one of the Universal stores. Not only do they assume you will, an employee will even offer to take your picture with other goods! Nice.
Ah, beautiful.

I'll admit that I was a little sad to not be going back to Hogsmeade the next day. But going on Dinosaur first thing did lift my spirits.
We took hundreds of pictures at Hogsmeade, many of which I've posted on Facebook. If you would like to see them and don't have Facebook, I would be happy to email the link to any interested parties.

Until next time, Harry!

Thursday, June 09, 2011

A World of Disney

So, for those two or three of you who may not have heard, last month we took a big trip to Florida to Disneyworld. Mr. Graham has done a very thorough trip summary on his blog, but, in the spirit of my first-time Disneyland post, I'm just going to list some of the highlights here.

Favorite ride(s): DINOSAUR. It's like Indiana Jones, except with dinosaurs! I wanted to go on it again and again and everytime I squealed with delight. Another winner was Expedition Everest, also in Animal Kingdom.

In general, I preferred the Disneyland version of the rides that the parks have in common (like Pirates, Splash Mountain, Space Mountain etc.), but the Disneyworld tweaks on Tower of Terror and Haunted Mansion where were pretty good cool.

Least favorite ride: I actually have one this time! Journey to Imagination, at Epcot. Wow, what a snoozefest! I was a little bit insulted by its lameness. A runner up to this would be Maelstrom, also in Epcot. As soon as it matches the Maelstrom in At World's End, let me know.

Favorite show: As at Disneyland, it's a tossup between Captain EO and Bug's Life. I find this interesting because I'm not a huge fan (or even a medium fan) of Michael Jackson or a Bug's Life. But man, I could go to those shows over and over. Thank goodness they're in California too. I also really liked Mickey's PhilharMagic, the Indiana Jones stunt show and the live Lion King show.

Tastiest food: We ate so much food! The turkey leg is always a winner, but the pizza we had in Italy ('Italy') was SUPER good. I mean, I even ate the crust, that's how good it was. We usually got breakfast at our hotel in the morning, and they had this super delicious breakfast pizza. Basically everything we ate was delicious.

Favorite souvenir: I looked EVERYWHERE for the Nightmare bath toys, but they were not to be found. I consoled myself with some pink flip flops instead. We also got a magnet to match our Disneyland one, and a pin, like we do on each trip. Drewbles got me a shirt in England ('England') as well as a very expensive pack of Jammie Dodgers. He also got me a Claddagh ring which I, along with pretty much every other girl who ever watched the early years of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, have always wanted. Well done, husband.

A few of my favorite things:
--The different countries at Epcot. We walked through them many times, and I think you could spend hours exploring all the nooks and crannies.
--Did I mention Dinosaur?
--A week with no work and time with my honeybuns! It's always a delight.
--Speaking of Mr. Graham, he auditioned for the American Idol Experience in Hollywood Studios, won his first show and placed second at the finale show for the day. He did so great, and I was so proud. You can see my contraband video of him in the second show here (you can also see his first performance too, but I like the second better).
--Drew's sister Cami and her Disney cruise-bound family were in Magic Kingdom for one day and it was fun to rendezvous with them. It also led to a really great picture on Splash Mountain (see below).
--I liked that in addition to the rides, shops, shows and Disney stuff there was also a lot of stuff was, like, educational and informative. There was a cool aquarium in Epcot, a safari and nature trails in Animal Kingdom and other things scattered throughout. I had fun and I also learned that a rhino's skin is an inch thick! It's the best of both worlds.

In the end, I will miss some of the things you can only find at Disneyworld, but I'm excited to go back to Disneyland and go on Indiana Jones and walk across the street to the hotel. Both of them have really cool, unique things. Props go to Mr. Graham for planning the whole thing!

Okay, picture time!
At the Tree of Life in Animal Kingdom. It is quite the impressive big, fake tree.
Oh England! Such a beautiful castle. Bonus: (almost) not a single other soul in the picture. Double bonus: Dumbo.
It is always kind of weird experience interacting with characters, especially ones who don't talk.
Those side-by-side seats on Splash Mountain are handy! Thanks, Cami, for making this picture extra special.
Oh hello there, girlhood crush of mine. You seem to be lacking a body.
The delicious pizza! We bought it from a lovely Italian boy named Alberto.
DINOSAUR! Need I say more?
(And apologies for the punk behind me.)
(Especially since you probably wouldn't have noticed him if I hadn't pointed him out.)

In France! Pretty much the same as the real thing, right?
A huge (flasher) fruit bat in Animal Kingdom! They were fascinating and had such cute little bat faces.
Farewell for now, Disneyworld! We'll see you again.

Stay tuned for the rundown on Harry Potter land. Pretty much everything will be filed under "Coolest thing ever."