We’ve been here for 4 days now, and so far I haven’t written a thing. This isn’t because nothing has happened, but mostly because the time available for doing stuff like writing and thinking has been taken up by eating, resting and sleeping. That’s it.
Most days have fallen into a pattern. Awake at around 6.30 am and out of the villa by 8.00 in order to beat the queues for the biggest rides. So far this has involved Rip Ride Rockit (Monday, Universal), Tower of Terror and Aerosmith Rock n’ Roller Coaster (Tuesday, Hollywood Studios), The Hulk and Spiderman (Thursday, Islands of Adventure). I’m finding this very exhilarating (and I’ll talk some more about the roller-coasters later) but hard on the digestion. Being turned upside down 5 times at excessive speed does very little for Shredded Wheat only eaten 30 minutes previously. It also means that the days are very much front-loaded. By the time we’ve got to around 2.30 – 3.00, we’re knackered and ready to head back for a swim (the villa has a pool, oh yes) and then tea and then slowly drifting off to bed at around 8.00 or so when it gets dark (Florida is quite near the Equator). If, like tonight, what seems like a full-on tropical storm is raging outside, complete with lightning, thunder and lots and lots of water, then the options are even more limited. So apologies for the lack of activity on the blog front.
It’s not really going to help much if I try to go through each day in sequence – that’s a diary, not a blog and I’ve got one of those already. So let’s pick a few key points.
Universal Studios pretty much invented the modern horror movie. And by modern, I mean anything after 1920 or thereabouts. They gave us all of the iconic movie monsters in their definitive forms – Frankenstein’s Monster, Dracula, Wolfman, Mummy as well as others like the Phantom of the Opera (Chaney), Jekyll and Hyde and so on. James Whale’s ‘Bride of Frankenstein’ remains for me one of the best films ever made. Ever. Fact. I think the only studio to rival Universal in the early days of horror (1930’s) – and certainly the only one with anything like an icon to rival any of the above – was RKO with, of course, King Kong. But the point about all of this is that, from a very early age, I was captivated by these films and have continued in that love for the rest of my life.
So spending the first day in Universal Studios was a pretty good start to the week, although it’s less about Vasaria and Transylvania these days and more about Springfield, Amity Island and wherever ET calls home. Still, there are still echoes and it recalls its heritage proudly in some of the theatres and at least one of the shows we watched.
The main item on the agenda first thing was the Rip Ride Rockit. A roller-coaster of especial brutality. Indeed, queueing for the ride I reckoned I failed on at least 5 of the ‘not suitable for’ restrictions. It’s been a while since I went on a roller-coaster of any sort, and the thought did cross my mind that ‘perhaps you are really too old for this’. However, looking at the age and physiques of some of the other people, I decided things weren’t too bad in that department. The USP of the ride is that you get to choose your own soundtrack from a number of tunes which is then blasted into your ears as you go round. Well, the Beastie Boys ‘Sabotage’ seemed like a good tune to get me in the mood for the ride, and that sense of well- being lasted as long as it took us to be dragged up the vertical incline to the first summit, where the cars then plummeted down what looked like another sheer vertical wall and then back up again before turning upside down and so on…you get the picture.
I don’t intend to give a blow by blow account of every ride on this holiday. However, I think I learned a valuable lesson on this first encounter. For me, the big scare factor is the loss of control – the sure and certain knowledge that, once that car starts to move up that first slope, there is absolutely nothing I can do to stop it or change it in any way and, whatever happens, I’m just going to have to ride it out. For someone like me, the surrendering of control is far, far scarier than any of the physical ‘thrills’ that will follow. So, this being the first ride, I braced myself against the whole thing, to try and survive it rather than enjoy it. I can’t say it was entirely fun, but it was just on the right side of endurance. Subsequent rides – Aerosmith, Hulk – have been much more enjoyable because I have been able to relax into the ride rather than fight against it. There is still that nano-second of panic when the whole thing accelerates away, but then it just becomes huge fun and massively exhilarating. Lesson for life ? Perhaps.
Right – a bit like ‘Dracula’ this will have to end as the dawn is coming up. Well – it’s 8.00 am and today is the Magic Kingdom. Wimpy or what ?