On a bit of a roll

Wednesday was an odd day. Started out lovely and sunny at the Disney Water Parks (we decided we’d had enough roller-coaster excitement for the time being), but ended with a monster thunder, lightning and rain storm which saw all of the water features out of bounds for fear of electrical strike (Americans really could teach us a few things about ‘elf and safety over-caution).

So, back to the villa and then on to Thursday and the Islands of Adventure. This park hosts the brand new ‘Wizarding World of H Potter’, so was expected to be chock-a-block from the off. We opted to start with the other side of the park and THE HULK.

This is frankly a beast. You get shot out of a tube at speed and then rotated and turned upside down through a series of loops – some large and expansive, others very tight – throughout most of the ride. The whole thing makes a nice reassuring roaring noise as you go round, which drowns out most of the screaming….actually, this is a whole lot more enjoyable than the Rip Ride Rockit (despite the lack of Beastie Boys). Massively exhilarating and will be on forthcoming video. 

This was followed by Spiderman and Star Tours. Both are very much of the new breed of ‘simulations’. That means, instead of travelling along an undulating track in a small metal car at speed, you sit in a simulator vehicle which moves up and down and around in sync with a (sometimes) 3D projection in front of you. The effect is pretty devastating, and incurs the same sense of vertigo, panic, exhilaration and nausea as before. It also allows you to do things which aren’t possible in the normal world – like travel at Spider-speed, do battle with Doc Ock (actually, it’s more like get blasted to hell by DO, but there we go) and take on Darth Vader and the Empire. These things have come on in leaps and bounds, especially when linked with all the power of computer syncing of graphics, sound and movement to produce a completely convincing vision of ‘reality’. Sometimes too real.

It’s also interesting the way these things are scripted. More or less every ride, without exception from Jurassic Park to Star Tours, starts off as a standard trip which suddenly ‘goes wrong’ – providing the programmers with the excuse to throw everything bar the kitchen sink into the mix. With Jurassic Park, this is limited to a few animatronic velociraptors and T-Rex alongside a standard river ride. With Simpsons and Star Tours, this means just about every death-defying situation that the ride programmers can come up with. And to some extent, that is the problem. It’s all a bit too much. My overriding feeling at the end of every simulation ride I’ve had this week has been “great, but they could have made it a little bit longer and just a bit less intense”. It’s like there is a limited time (and Disney are the masters of shows which run on time and last just as long as is necessary) and nothing less than total sensory overload will do. 

I suspect it may be an age thing, the ability to handle a certain level or complexity of input before  exhaustion sets in. Not sure about that, though. I’m quite happy to sit through 215 minutes of the Ultimate Cut of ‘Watchmen’ because I think the richness of the story would be compromised by anything less. Likewise with other ‘long’ films, pieces of music or literature. Perhaps what it proves is that it’s unwise to philosophise too much from video games or park rides, attractive though the prospect might be.

Never did get to any of the rides in the ‘Wizarding World of HP’. Just a few good photo opps. Mildly bizarre the concept of the snowy village of Hogsmeade while we are all wilting under the heat of a Florida summer.

Still, there is the ‘Duelling Dragons’ roller-coaster….not too sure about this one as it involves dangling feet. Still, on the plus side I don’t have promising career in football to consider.


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