Sunday, October 31, 2010

Day Twenty Four: Islands of Adventure:, or The Harry Potter Experience

As I said in the previous post, I'd never been to Islands of Adventure before.

I am a Harry Potter fan, and I was really looking forward to this part of the trip.  This part of the park opened last summer, and it's still very popular.

We went on Sunday and again on Monday, thinking that Monday would be the slower day - which is exactly what everyone else was thinking, apparently. We ended up not spending a lot of time there because it was so damn crowded.  Instead, we spent our day having lunch at the Mykonos cafe and watching a talking fountain mess with small children. Good times.

But we did get to see most of it on Sunday. We didn't ride the dragon rollercoaster, but we did go on the main ride - and hands down, it's the best ride I've EVER been on. Yes. Best ride EVER. Bear in mind the P. Cash did not think so - he thought it was a very well done ride, but is not a fan of rides that are simulated. This ride is part roller coaster and part simulation, and I absolutely loved it. I used to ride EVERYTHING when i was a kid, but I've found that I don't enjoy anything that goes upside down anymore or things that have really steep drops.  Yes, I've become a huge pussy. True Story.

Once the newness dies down a little, and a bit fewer people aren't making from pilgrimages all over the world - it'll be a great place to spend the day. We did manage to eat at Three Broomsticks, try some Butterbeer (yum) and do most other things but for the most part, getting around in the stores and in the streets was slow and required a good amount of patience.

We also went to the Sinbad Stunt show that day - and big hint that I'm ready to go home at this point - fireworks are going off around me, men are swinging from the rafters, water is spraying every where, and I'm sleeping. SLEEPING.

Oh HELLS no that BEEYOTCH  in the front row is not gonna sleep through MY show

I also managed to pack a couple of other scary incidences in the trip that I didn't even have to pay extra for.

I woke up once in the middle of the night and managed to get my legs over the side of the bed - I'm assuming I either needed a drink of water or to use the bathroom - but I never got any further than that. Instead, I apparently fell back asleep sitting up on the edge of the bed - and if that wasn't freaky enough, I also woke up rocking back and forth slightly.  Just my own little version of Paranormal Activity.  I couldn't get back in bed fast enough.
I also found out that our bathroom floor at the hotel was massively slippery when wet - and almost did a huge wipe out all over it after the P Cash forgot to warn me about the water all over the floor. Thankfully I caught myself and only jammed a thumb - accompanied by the rest of my vacation flashing before my eyes - one of those moments when you just know without a doubt that you've just avoided a trip to the ER.

So I managed to pack a few scares into the trip that I didn't even have to pay extra for!
And that's my last October post - but I've got about three more posts I'd like to do regarding how I spent the last couple days of the month featuring zombie puppets, burlesque, and how I packed my favorite movies of the season in.

It was an unusual October for me - I didn't do about half of the normal things I usually do for the month - but I did get to do something that I've wanted to do for at least the last ten years. I'm glad I did it and it was worth it - but I also enjoy my regular traditions and I kind of missed them - even though the tradeoff was worth it, and I think I still got enough of my usual thing to have it feel like Halloween - even if for about a day or two.

I'll also add pictures to these posts - and announce the winner of the contest.

Mama F.

Universal Studios

I miss King Kong. I do. I found out shortly before we left for our vacation that the King Kong ride was no longer a part of  Universal. I don't know when they took it down - I'm pretty The Mummy roller coaster took its place - but I was really bummed to find out I wasn't going to be able to ride it and I had a little bit of nostalgia when I came out of The Mummy and realized that it used to come out into the King Kong themed store - and unless I'm crazy, there was a place you could pose for a picture inside Kong's hand.  The Mummy ride was fun, but it would have been great to be terrorized by Kong again.

I was at Universal Orlando about fifteen years ago - and only about a half dozen of the rides and shows were the same. Also, Islands of Adventure wasn't even there - I remember the signs for the upcoming Jurassic Park ride - so this was my first trip there.

But Universal still has Jaws - fun, although it's showing its age- the Beetlejuice show, and the Horror Makeup Effects Show - which is a lot of fun. Even the P.Cash agreed that it was one of the best things at the park.

Cuttin' on Grandma.

The Monster Cafe is still there - it was closed down during the day and open during HHH - I'm not sure why, since they didn't do anything special with it at night. I did go on purpose and had a soda, just so I could see inside and hang out. There was an old horror movie playing on the screens and there are a few old movie posters. When I was there years ago, Frankenstein was wandering around, doing his thing.

The Alfred Hitchcock movie/interactive experience and the facade of The Psycho House (why??????) are gone, as is the Ghostbusters show. There are some other changes, but those are the biggest horror related ones that I noticed. I loved Universal the first time I went, and I still think it's a great park.  I was just disappointed to find that so many things that I enjoyed the first time were gone.

Halloween Horror Nights

The first scary thing I encountered in Orlando happened before I even got in the park - and that was trying to figure out what tickets to buy and in what kind of package.  I ended up buying a frequent fear pass for HHH - which meant we could have went any Wed, Thurs, or Sun during the entire run. A more expensive pass was available that included Fri or Sat nights as well, but since everything I heard and read prior to going said the weekend nights were crazy, we decided that we'd avoid those nights.

I couldn't even buy tickets before we left because the whole thing was so confusing that I got paranoid that I'd buy the wrong thing for the wrong times - but a very nice and experienced person in our hotel was a huge help and steered us in the right direction. We also bought a four day pass to Universal Studios/Islands of Adventure, since it was only an additional $5.00 to upgrade from a four day to a three.

I'll talk more about Universal in another post - and the horror related things they have during the day - every day of the year - at the park.

HHH had six haunted houses, six 'scare zones', two live shows - in addition to a handful of regular rides that were open. I would have liked to have ridden Jaws at night - but it really took us all of two nights just to do what we did.

Since Grandma Firefly is the Queen of HHH - she goes every year - I took advice from her and also paid the extra $$ for the fast pass - which allows you to skip ahead of the lines - and believe me, even on a Wednesday night, they were amazingly long. However, most of them said a half hour wait - if that's true, I can't imagine how long they were on weekend nights. So we focused on the haunted houses that first night, which were spread over the park.

It took pretty much all of that first night to cover those houses - we didn't see any shows and missed most of the scare zones so we could take advantage of the fast pass and see all of the houses.

One of the houses was a tribute to the first 20 years of HHH - this one was jam packed with all kinds of great props and while it looked really cool - this was the last house I made it to, and, honestly I was too exhausted to really enjoy it. I wish I'd started on this side of the park and went the opposite way.

Out of the other five, there was one haunted house called The Orfanage (sp) that we thought did a good job on creating a creepy ambiance using props, music, sound effects, and costuming. 

Otherwise - I thought the haunted houses were all very similar - and an awful lot of walking to keep repeating the same experience over and over.

However, the scare zones were a lot more fun - and we literally spent hours in them, hanging  out, having a drink, and watching the actors do their thing.  Zombie Gras was probably my favorite - and I really do have some pictures - I'm just having a terrible time downloading them.

Zombie Gras had a float sitting off to one side, mardi gras music playing, and it was as the title suggested - Mardi Gras given over to the walking dead. Zombie musicians, partiers and more than a few dead clowns stumbled around, growled, played with body parts, and terrorized people walking through.

Other scare zones had an area where monsters from years past and present (representing the last twenty years) wandered around and terrorized guests.  One particular monster - a pig demon guy dressed in overalls - decided he'd make me one of his personal favorites one night. On the second night I was there, I went through this section about three or four times, and every time I did, this guy would stop what he was doing, point at me and then stalk me for a while.

Yes, he is pointing at ME.

It's kind of funny considering the week before we went to Orlando, the P. Cash and I were driving around Milwaukee late at night, looking at houses for sale, and drove by one that I remarked looked like 'Jodi the pig demon was probably sitting up there, rocking the night away in her little chair'.  Of course he didn't get it, but anyone of a certain age will probably get that reference from the original Amityville Horror.  At this time in my life, I think the Lutzes were probably running more from a mortgage they couldn't afford, but the idea of Jodi the pig demon in her rocking chair will always give me the heebie jeebies. Add to that seeing Motel Hell at an impressionable age, and you've got enough to have Mr Pig Demon Dude stalking me to make me more than just a little freaked out.  So thank you, Mr Pig Demon guy.

The costumes and the actors that were in the other scare zones -a creepy, dark, foggy area filled with witches both ugly and beautiful - and a kind of day glo Day of the Dead -did a terrific job.  And if you don't like being chased by men with chainsaws, well, then consider yourself warned- because that is one thing that the park definitely doesn't skimp on  - and when I can not only download my own pictures, but access P. Cash's as well, I'll showcase some of my favorites in all of these places.

I also enjoyed the Bill and Ted's Adventure show - more of a comedy thing making fun of pop culture and celebrities - and the Magic show.  Had I known that the Magic show featured two different shows, I would have went to both. Unfortunately, I didn't realize this until we actually saw the show - which was the last one we could attend.

All in all, I'm glad I finally got to see and do this - I was slightly disappointed in the haunted houses - I think I'd have been fine with maybe just going through half of them - but I also realize that Universal has to get people through these houses fairly quickly - and so that limits what they can do and how interactive they can make them.  The big houses I used to go to in Flint as a kid were long (they took about an hour to go through them) and also followed a storyline and used lots of actors and made you completely stop in certain rooms so they could terrorize you and bring you into the story.  These lines are amazingly long as it is - if they slowed down the amount of time it too to go through them, people would spend most of the night in line and not get to see a lot of the park - which would be very frustrating considering you're paying one price for everything.

And - unless you're young, full of energy, and walking all day and night doesn't tire you out, it's REALLY tough to go to the park all day and then go back and do HHH till midnight. So pace yourself accordingly. We only did two nights - although we could have done another one with the pass - it was the same price as buying two nights individually, so we didn't lose out on any money - AND with the pass, we were also able to choose which night to go back.

Here's a short video on YouTube showcasing the scare zones. 

What you see just before they get you.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Update on Contest , Zombie Puppets, and Pretty Much Everything Else

Hi, we're home and I'd really LOVE to post some pictures from my trip - but once again my computer does not want to cooperate and download hopefully I'll be able to use another computer to get that done so I can get to some blogging.

I'd also like to change the rules of the contest - due to, ahem, really low response - if you want to enter, then just leave a comment in that post. Or this one. Or whatever. Believe me, at this point, barring some major onslaught of entries - you've got a pretty good shot. So in that vein, if you really don't want it - don't enter, because chances are good you'll end up with it. Lol.

I have a lot to say about my trip and what was good (and what wasn't) and I think we got some good shots of the festivities and the parks.

I don't want to go back to work, but I am glad to be home. I missed my cats and my Autumn Wisconsin weather. We had a long hot summer and I was all, 'Enough already with the sunshine and the hot and the bright already!'.  I just wasn't far enough away from summer yet to appreciate it.

I am hoping that I can make this a yearly tradition and seek out some new Halloween Haunt every year to try - when I was a kid - and we lived far away from EVERYTHING - we always made excursions out to other places in the state to go on haunted hay rides, Haunted houses, you name it. I'll talk more about that when I blog about the haunted houses.

When I moved to Milwaukee, I thought I'd be in seventh heaven, finally living in a big city around Halloween time - but the truth of it is - we seem to have a dearth of good Halloween options in this town. Unless I'm just looking in the wrong places, the things I have tried are just well, okay. (With the KILLER exception of the Night of the Living Dead Zombie Puppet Show going on tomorrow night, of course!). I did find a great haunted asylum a few years ago on the South side but I haven't seen them since so I'm assuming they never reopened.

Last year i watched the Travel Channel's specials on the Best Haunts in America - great specials that made me want to visit all of these places around the country. I also found out that the Detroit area has the most haunted houses/attractions in October per capita (or something like that, anyway, there's A LOT) so that probably accounts for my disappointment upon moving to Milwaukee.

I wuz spoiled.

But - there is a great website on America's Best Haunts - and I'm happy to say that Wisconsin did make the top 20 this year - although this place is not in Milwaukee. It may, however, end up being my Halloween destination next year.

Wisconsin FearGrounds

And here is the promo for the NOLD:TPS at the Oriental tomorrow night. Can't wait!!!!

Also a very cool article can be found online here

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Day Nineteen: We Made It

And I'm kind of surprised.....there was about ten minutes when I was sure we were going to miss our flight. As much as I planned for this, there's always things you can't anticipate - and a couple of those almost waylaid us too much.

But we made the flight -and of course, the advantage to running behind is that you don't have to wait to board or to take off.

And hey, if you don't mind the panic attack, high blood pressure, and headache that go along with it, I wholeheartedly recommend it as a way of travel.

We also made a last minute decision to rent a car, went to the wrong hotel, and of course we only had two hours of sleep last night. Which meant:

A) By the time we made it to the right hotel, it didn't make any sense to go Universal today; and

B) By about 330 pm I was completely and totally exhausted - a feeling which was accompanied by the  distinct sensation that I was leaving my body. It was simultaneously scary, giddy, and kind of interesting all at once. I napped for a couple hours and woke up feeling like I was oriented  back into the mortal coil again. Of course, that wore off, and I'm verging on crashing in front of this - so I'm going to sign off for now and sleep.

We did manage to eat lunch at a great Chinese place while we were waiting for our room to be ready, and had a nice late night dinner at Fish Bones a couple of hours ago.

Other than that, we've both just been napping and trying to prepare/map out our plan of attack for the week...I'll post as I can and hopefully there'll be more pictures. Unfortunately there were none today since I didn't want to add anything new to my camera until I was sure what was on there was going to come off.

Have a great Wednesday - even though I thought I was going to float away today, it beats the HELL out of work. So freakin' glad to get away.

-Mama F.

Day Eighteen: Contest!!!

Well, evidently I had to travel about 1200 miles away from my home to FINALLY  be able to get some time to post on my contest.

My computer in Milwaukee refused to download my photos, but my notebook is actually  behaving very well here in Orlando.

The prize is a print of a watercolor painting I recently did:

I apologize for the quality - I had to photograph the painting (and didn't do a great job) since I don't have a scanner.

I've never seen The Brain Eaters (1958) and apparently, it's not available on DVD at the moment. But I needed a black and white photo for an exercise in my painting class, and when I found this, I used a black and white version to create my own version.   I would never sell this, of course, since it's obviously just an art exercise using someone else's work - but I can give a print away.

I'm also considering using this technique to create some original work - but of course time is a huge factor - and while I'm still at my current job (please, Jebus, not for too much longer!!) then that may hamper my efforts.

The exercise was to paint this picture using only two colors. I cheated a little bit and put a touch of pink and yellow in it. But the rest of the painting was done using only two other colors.

To enter the contest, you can do one of two things:
1) Guess which colors I used and guess correctly - I'll take very generic color names. Pink and yellow do not count, since I already named them, obviously.  I'll also tell you that 'white' is not an answer - any white on the painting is just unpainted background. But you have to get both correct, which gets you an entry into the contest.

2) Post a link to my contest on your blog and post that link in the comments.

Do both and you'll get two entries in the contest.  I will then draw one winner from those entries.

I moderate the comments, so I won't be posting them until I pick the winner of the contest on October 31st. 

*As I mentioned in a later post, you can enter the contest just by leaving a comment.  However, either guessing the correct colors or posting a link will get you additional entries*

Good Luck!
-Mother Firefly

Monday, October 18, 2010

Day Seventeen: Delays

Well, as good as Mama's intentions were and as much as I tried to plan in advance, it turns out that working 50 hours a week, planning for a vacation, and trying not to lose my damn mind are not very conducive to blogging every day.  I've been sort of bummed about it - I did manage to blog every day last year and I had a blast. I was even in graduate school last year - so imagining that I'm even busier now then I was then is kind of sad.

But I can't get too down - because this year I get to do what I've wanted to for YEARS and that's go to Universal Studios Horror Nights in Orlando.

I'm going to attempt to blog from down there - they may be short posts but I'll try to do updates as I can - providing the Wi-fi works well and I can wrestle the lap top away from Papa Cash.

Wish me luck.

I was also going to start the contest tonight, but I'm having HUGE technical difficulties, so I'll attempt again tomorrow to download what I need to download.  Also I'm discovering in the last week that Mama REALLY needs a new computer.

See you tomorrow,
Mama F.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Day Fourteen: Ghost Adventures

I've talked about my love for the Ghost Hunter guys many times, especially on my other (neglected) blog, Old Spooky House.  But I'm not the only nutcase responsible for that blog, so I can at least do the American thing and blame other people for it. (Hee)

Who were also here in Milwaukee last night, and I wasn't there.....sigh....just too much going on recently.

I've also talked (or drooled) about my crush, Josh Gates, from Destination Truth, on that blog as well.

I've got a destination for you, Mister......It's called MAH BEDROOM

I think, however, I have neglected to mention these dudes very much - and maybe it's because I'm slightly embarrassed to admit my fondness for this show. Then I realized that it totally belongs in my huge stack of other guilty pleasures, like Road House, Showgirls, American Idol, and any VH-1 show that features slutty drunk women competing for some washed up recording star. (What happened to those shows, btw??)

These dudes, my friends, are my guilty ghost-hunting pleasure.

I heart ghost hunting shows (I even have my own K-2 meter - all the ghost nerds will know what I mean) and I can't say I would recommend the Ghost Adventure guys methods, or even that I believe all of their results.  (They find something every single time????)

But there is something that is so all-fired craaaaazy about how they go into a completely dark place, get locked in, and start calling the ghosts out.  And these dudes don't even stop there, they invite the nasty stuff, the demons, the what have you, to get up all in their faces, and at least one of them has to fight off a mini- possession at least every other show.
And I don't even think I believe in that stuff. 

I know - it's the National Inquirer version of paranormal research. And I'm sure that what they do makes the other guys who have a more systematic and well, reserved, method of research want to hold their heads and cry.

But there is something about watching these three get locked down, even though you can pretty much predict what will happen.  We have our  'Oh Chick, Chick-Chick-CHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIICK' guy who provides the scared reactions(Fans of a certain comedy team will get that one), we have the guy who's kind of in the middle as far as reactions and provocations, and then we have Zach:

I can't decide if this guy is sexy or just insane.....or maybe both.
 Who likes to yell and intimidate the ghosts into giving him paranormal evidence.

Then someone has to fight off possession.

 I don't even BELIEVE in possession.  (I believe more in the influence of our own minds) but I can't say I secretly hope that one of these times, Zach's head will spin completely around and he'll spray green vomit all over his compadres. Which will then cause the poor man's Lou Costello to cry and pee his pants simultaneously.

As silly as this show may feel at times, it's still more entertaining than the slew of remakes and sequels in the horror genre - at least you get some good spooky stories and history before their lock downs - and they do often revisit places they've gone to before. They also have some of the weirdest equipment out there. 

So if you're home on a Friday night and have nothing better to do, tune in the Ghost Adventure boys and watch Zach and his crazy hair yell at dead people in the dark.

Mother Firefly

Day Thirteen: Dark Candles

As I said a couple of days ago, I started using scented oils instead of candles. One of the best places I've ever bought oils is Dark Candles.

Not only do the bottles look great and have fantastic artwork, the oils smell AMAZING.

A few of my favorites are Dracula, Corpse, and Haunted House.