Archive for the ‘Florida’ Category

Indiana Jones

After last week’s review, I got worried. Readers were commenting on their low expectations of Prince Caspian and because of my review, might go see it when they otherwise wouldn’t have. That worries me because I went into the movie with low expectations/little interest. If a reader goes to the movie with the expectations of how great I thought it was, they might be let down because they’re going in with a different view. If I had seen the movie where expectations were met, I may not have been raving about it as much. So, this being said – take my reviews with a grain of salt. They will skew your movie watching if you take them to heart and they are skewed by my own perceptions. See the movies with your own thoughts going into them so you can have the most accurate perception of them. If you can’t do that without my thoughts in mind, then it might be a good idea to wait to read my reviews until you see the movie yourself.

Ticket Stub of Indiana Jones More specifically, take this review with a large grain of salt because I haven’t seen all of the Indiana Jones movies, nor remember anything of what I have seen, and therefore wasn’t as big of a fan as some of you may have been…so my comments and criticisms might just be how the Indiana Jones franchise is. But my views are strictly from outside of the Indiana Jones’s following, so don’t get your feathers ruffled up about it.

The movie pretty much met my expectations, which were low. The best way I can describe it is that it felt like I was on a Walt Disney World theme ride. The believability isn’t quite there. Take the safari ride, for instance. Even though you are looking out for poachers and end up chasing them, you really don’t believe it is happening – even with puffs of dirt shooting up around you to simulate bullets. But your safari tour guide sure does keep on trying, doesn’t he? That’s what I felt like in this movie. The story was sub-par and the overall feeling was over-the-top and somewhat campy. I never felt any sense of danger for our hero, Henry Jones, Jr. In fact, there were several moments where I thought, “This reminds me of something that would happen in a Scooby Doo movie.”

I thought Harrison Ford did a good job portraying his character, for as much as I could remember of how he used to portray Indiana Jones. Even in his age, he seemed rugged and tough and ready for a fight. And his character was even pretty close to his age – late 50s, maybe 60s. However, I couldn’t help but wonder – with all the (well-choreographed) stunts, what percentage was Harrison Ford actually in the movie?

Shia LeBeouf and Cate Blanchett’s performances were sub-par. The only thing going for Blanchett was her accent. Otherwise, I couldn’t take her seriously as an enemy. Unfortunately with Shia, it’s hard to keep from thinking about him as Louis Stevens. As much as I try to look past it, that’s just the way it is. Hopefully he’ll make smart moves about his character choices and become a great actor. Last night, I compared his possible future to that of Mark Wahlberg. Assuming he makes the right choices. His character in Indiana Jones, Mutt, was to “Fonz”-like for me and he didn’t pull off the tough guy act. However, I did really enjoy the fight scene in the diner with the greasers vs. the preppies. Nice.

Overall, I wasn’t a fan of the character interaction. Miles put it nicely by saying that it seemed they were more interested in the mystery rather than in their situation. Instead of being concerned that the person next them wants to kill them, they ask questions about what they know. And that person freely gives them the honest answers. It seemed to me, that it would have been more in Indiana Jones’s character to lead Irina Spalko on the wrong trail.

If you weren’t planning on seeing this movie, it’s probably a good idea to see something instead. If you’re a fan of the Indiana Jones movies, it’s a good performance by Harrison Ford as a last hurrah in this franchise.

Some little perks, The Janitor from Scrubs and Charles Widmore from LOST have small appearances.  I give this a 3 out of 5 stars.

A Very Magical Honeymoon

Sunday, Day One: Arrival, Hollywood Studios

Bride and GroomMiles and I woke up at 3:00am to get ready and be at the airport by 3:45 for our 5:00am flight. All went well, except for the no sleep thing. After a smooth connection in Minneapolis, we arrived in Orlando at 11:30. We rode Disney’s Magical Express and checked in at Disney’s All-Star Music Resort, where we were able to upgrade to a King-sized bed and fridge. Even better, it was already available so we stopped up in our room and dropped off our carry-ons. Then we were off to the happiest place on Earth!

We ate at 50’s Primetime Cafe at Hollywood Studios and spent more than we wanted, but the chocolate milkshake was worth it. After some Tower of Terroring and Stunt Driver watching and many other things, we realized how early the park closes and would have to return another day to ride the Rockin’ Roller Coaster. We ended the night with supper at the Sci-Fi Drive-In Theater and though I didn’t care for the food there, it was a great atmosphere.

That night, we decided to take maps from all of the parks and plan our days, because we did a lot of unnecessary walking because we didn’t have a plan. That proved to make our vacation even more magical.

Monday, Day Two: Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom After breakfast at the hotel, we headed off to Magic Kingdom and waited in a 10 minute line for Space Mountain. Then we get a fast pass for it. Because Monsters, Inc. is one of my favorite movies (my favorite animated movie), we decided to try out the new Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor. After a pretty lame build-up, we came out of there quite impressed with the show. It’s animated and partially improvised, so you can imagine how much we enjoyed it. And if you can’t imagine how an animated show can be partially improvised, you’ll have to visit it yourself. After lunch, snack, dinner, characters, Thunder Roading, Small Worlding and many other -ings, we headed home mildly early. I was asleep by 9:00pm, which may sound dumb on a honeymoon, but it was quite enjoyable and needed.

Tuesday, Day Three: Epcot, Downtown Disney, Animal Kingdom Lodge

We woke up early and headed to Epcot to get a fast pass for Soarin’ (which stopped giving fast passes by noon), stood in line for Test Track, watched a Finding Nemo show and headed to Downtown Disney for a lunch at Wolfgang Puck’s Cafe. Miles had sushi and I went the safe route with pasta…and hated it. After shopping a little and getting over some stomach sickness, we headed back to Epcot for Mission: Space and walking around the World. After realizing the next day was Ash Wednesday and we would be fasting and abstaining from meat, we changed our Boma’s reservation to this night.

Boma’s is an African buffet at Animal Kingdom Lodge and very enjoyable. As a picky eater, I didn’t have too high of hopes but both Miles and I really enjoyed our meal there. It was a great ending to Fat Tuesday.

Wednesday, Day Four: Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom

AlbieWe arrived at Hollywood Studios at 9:01 (the park opens at 9:00) and made our way to Rockin’ Roller Coaster to finish our time at that park. Everyone else was headed there too. But we still only had a 10 minute wait. We headed to Animal Kingdom (Albie joined us there) and we Mt. Everested, Safaried, Dinosaured, fasted and rained. Came back to the hotel early and ordered cheese pizza and watched our week’s photos in a slideshow. We also walked around the hotel a little and bought hoodies. It was a great relaxing day to end the vacation.

Thursday, Day Four: Departure

We slept in, had a lovely breakfast, used Disney’s airline check-in and waited for the Magical Express to pick us up and bring us to the airport. The flight to Minneapolis was smooth and uneventful. I got more of HP5 read. Then after sitting on the runway, we went back to the gate to replace an anti-skid part. After determining that it wasn’t fixed, we had to transfer planes by walking across the entire terminal to a new gate. Then we had to wait because other planes were in line on the runway and to get de-iced. In any case, we took off 3.5 hrs later than we were supposed and didn’t get to watch LOST at the time we thought we would along with the rest of the world. But we DVR’d it and watched it when we got home. Excellent.

Clam-mobile We were given buttons when we checked in that said “Just Married” on them and so most of the Disney cast members congratulated us whenever they saw us. We felt special. Even a few Disney guests saw our buttons and congratulated us. And it was fun to see people around us wondering why they were telling them congratulations. We didn’t have the heart to rub it in their faces that the person was talking to us. Some told us Happy Anniversary on accident, but most got it right. It happened so many times in a day and sometimes so nonchalantly that I wondered if they get special rewards for saying it, whether or not we hear them.

My camera is still MIA. It has been since I arrived at the church on the Wedding day. So Miles and I had to share his. Our photo sets of the honeymoon will be exactly the same, but you can see photos here. Along with a few that I … borrowed … from their park Photographers.

Thanks to everyone who chose to put money towards our honeymoon as their wedding gift for us. You’ll get formal thank you’s of course, along with photos of us enjoying your gift. It turns out using that honeymoon registry was the best 2nd best [edit] decision of our lives because it nearly made us financially stress-free. If anyone is considering honeymooning to Disney, we say do it, and use their registry!

Enjoy the photos.

Married!

panoramic-stained-glass After a little over a year of planning, we finally did it. Miles and I got married. And we had a really fun weekend! The rehearsal and dinner were fabulous. I wished I had been more hungry because I had about 4 bites of my steak. Then I sat there and all of the sudden the waiters started bringing out pieces of chocolate pie! I had forgotten we had Christina’s Concoctions make some pies for the dinner and I thought, “YES, that is exactly what I want right now!” We handed out gifts and thank you’s and I think people enjoyed them and I went back and packed up a lot more of my house.

I thought I wouldn’t remember much of “the big day” (mostly because that’s what everyone said) but the only thing I don’t recall is if I shaved when I showered that morning. I did. *phew* I know people thought we were weird for having the reception and dance end so early, but I really didn’t want people waiting around for the reception to start, as many people wouldn’t have a house or hotel room to go to in between the ceremony and reception. It helped me, if no one else, to have no down-time. And we had a lot of fun! It seemed like a lot of others did too. And Marissa and Bryce – we loved your speeches. As for the decorations, the Playhouse seemed to have transformed. If you’ve ever seen it before that night, you definitely know how different it looked. Even the caterer and servers commented on the impact color in there had. My aunt is amazing at what she does. And our hosts/esses did an excellent job of keeping things flowing smoothly. Bryan, Heather, Debra and Jackie – you rock!

loungeWhenever we get the chance, we’ll post the first-dance video. My dad got it on his camera when the DJ requested it as the last song, but it’s mostly our silhouettes and so I am hoping Bob got our facial expressions and stuff. I know that he got the first half the first time and probably the second half the second time (he was in the entry way when we started it that last time and someone went out to get him).

Anyway, we moved me the next day (thanks to all who helped, we really needed you!) And it was a great weekend. I’m still working on putting the apartment together and even though I’ve made a lot of progress, it doesn’t look like it.

The photos are already up and if I didn’t get an email to you with the username and password, let me know and I’ll hook you up. The photos look great and I’m so excited to have them in our home! Thanks to everyone who was there, who played a part in our special day, and who thought of us this weekend. We’re off to Disney World on Sunday and as bloggers, there will probably be a post or two while we’re there. If not – deal with it!

But seriously, there probably will.

Having our kicks in 2006!

Saturday
Doug smiles big with the manatee. We left the house at 5:45 AM to make our way to a river off the Gulf of Mexico and swim with sea manatees. When we arrived, it seemed we might not be able to do it because we didn’t have a reservation made in advance, but two groups cancelled and so that freed up space on a boat for the six of us. We had 5 minutes to get our gear and put on our wet suits. That was an adventure in itself! The girls decided not to squeeze in the bathroom and put them on, but just quickly do it in the main entrance. We all were given mediums. Well…our bottoms and our tops aren’t necessarily the same size. We were squeezed in pretty good. I think they just wanted to see us struggling to pull the things on ourselves. Anyway, we make it on the boat along with boy scouts from Tennessee and head to a little bay area off Crystal River.

We lower ourselves into the water with our scuba masks and flippers and start swimming to the area where manatees lounge. It took a while for us to see our first manatee. I have to admit, I was a little nervous to see my first one right next to me…but not as nervous as I thought I would be. My first time ever in Florida, as a youngster. We petted them and looked at them. They aren’t the most gorgeous creatures in the world. But our captain described them as dogs wrapped in a giant baked potato. They were much friendlier than most dogs I’ve run across. We saw close to 20 different sea cows, along with some other varieties of animals. I wish we would have run across some colorful fish, but we weren’t in the colorful fish area, I guess. We were in the hour for an hour and a half and then headed back to the boat. It was a great experience and we took pictures with an underwater disposable camera. I considered opting out, but thanks to Miles’ convincing, I did it. I thought they’d be bringing us to deep waters in the ocean. Shows how stupid I am.

We relaxed all afternoon and evening. We had a Cinderellabration, just like in Disney World. Ours was better. Heather, Jackie, and Bryan slept almost up until the ball dropped in New York. I worked on pictures we had taken to make them look prettier and such. I called Miles when it hit midnight in Orlando and he called me when it hit midnight in the Midwest. I was already sleeping at that point. Then we got some sleep for our last day in Orlando.

Sunday
At Universal Studios. We headed to Universal Studios’ Islands of Adventure for some fun in the sun. We got there before the park opened, so we beat the crowd. Apparently New Year’s Day morning is the least busy time, so we rode 7 rides before noon rolled around. Rides ridden today include: Dueling Dragons roller coaster(twice), Hulk roller coaster, Spiderman, Flyin’ Unicorns (by accident), Jurassic Park River, Dr. Doom’s Fearfall, and watched the stunt show The 8th Voyage of Sinbad. Dueling Dragons and Hulk were favorites, while Jurassic Park scared the crap out of us, and Dr. Doom was a huge disappointment. A good day, all in all. We shopped for a little bit and ate a snack at the “#1 Theme Park Restaurant in the World.” Then the boys decided it would be a good idea to watch King Kong in the cinema at Universal Studios. The girls weren’t all that interested in seeing the movie in theaters mainly because it was 3 hours long, but decided to humor them and tag along. I was asleep by the end of the previews and for the first hour of the movie. I must be getting sick because I never get so tired so fast, nor do I sleep during movies. I woke up at the first appearance of King Kong and apparently didn’t miss out on any of the plot line. The last two hours of the movie were pretty decent. But I could have been just fine if it were cut down to being not so long. Some things were a bit ridiculous, but also humorous at times as well with Kong’s jealousy and what have you. Turns out, all three boys had seen the movie already; this irritated me, but am still glad to have seen it. We returned to the house and are cooking, packing, and putting Heather’s pictures on my computer. We’ll probably consume the last episode of The Office as well. We fly out tomorrow morning and brace ourselves for the weather. See you all soon!

OK, bye bye!

Walking Zombies

Thursday
We slept in because Wednesday was so tiring on our bodies. It was decided to be a good idea to spend a little time in the hot tub. However, when they got there, the water was bright yellow. So we decided it wasn’t a good idea.

Doug loves hula girls!We took off for disc golf near noon. We went to Turkey Lake Park for nine holes. It was a good time. We got distracted by a turtle, an orange tree, a lemon tree, a mango tree, and white sand aka Florida snow
We went to some gift shops downtown and enjoyed spending money on ourselves and others. I bought a post card for Miles, but realized I needed to call him for his address. So it wasn’t going to be as cool and surprising as I first though. After two hours of shopping, we decided to spend a lot of time getting ready for Pirate Dinner.

We returned to our house and each had a bowl of ice cream outside by our pool. The boys decided to be boys and jump the brick wall to see what’s on the other side. A golf course and some backyards were over there. There also was a giant snow globe. Bryan claimed that at Disney World when it snowed fake snow of bubbles, it was like we were in a snow globe. He explained that since we were on Earth, also called a globe, it makes sense. Heather pointed out that wherever it snows then, must be considered a snow globe. Bryan decided his thoughts are way above ours and we couldn’t possibly understand.

The pirate dinner was insane on many different levels. Bryan, Doug, and Aaron were a part of the show along with 15 other boys. That was pretty cool. But the craziest thing of all was what happened after the dinner/show. There was a disco dance pirate party in the main lobby. We entered, and there were flashing lights, a screen with psychedelic patterns, and a pirate DJ. We decided to not partake in the festivities. We came home and took a family portrait because we looked nice and decided to go to bed rather early for Friday’s big day.

Friday
We woke up early and went to Epcot. The five of them waited in line at Test Track (car testing ride) while I took their tickets and got fast passes to Soarin’. We rode Test Track, and went to Mission: Space. At Mission Space. This ride was the most impressive ride at Disney World. We were in capsules by fours and assigned jobs such as navigator, pilot, commander, and engineer. We were launched in to space (the contraption was spinning super fast and made the skin on my face push back) and it really felt how I would imagine it to feel like in space. We took a bus to Animal Kingdom and waited 2 hours to ride a Safari thing, which wasn’t too great. By that time, we needed to head back to Epcot to ride Soarin’. This ride was pretty neat as well. It rose you up like a hang glider while your feet dangle and you’re in front of a movie screen so big that it is all you can see. You fly over different scenes like the ocean and forests and mountains. A cool and sweet smelling breeze rushed across our faces. The only thing to make it better would have been a mist when we got close to the ocean. It was good.

We took a bus to MGM studios and prepared to get fast passes for the Tower of Terror. Five of us got our passes, but when Aaron stepped up to get his, the machine broke. The attendant gave him six free passes (!) to the Tower of Terror for anytime. We got in line for the Aerosmith Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and two hours later were riding the best roller coaster we’d been on. We used our fast passes at the Tower of Terror and enjoyed the ride there as well. We then realized we had 5 fast passes for 6 people (from when Aaron didn’t get his pass along with ours). Someone suggested giving them away to a group at the end of the line outside. We found a party of three and a party of two who looked like they could use a free pass and gave ours to them. It was a good feeling.

We didn’t make it to the Driving Stunt Show, or Indiana Jones. But we went to the Who Wants to Be a Millionaire show and that was exactly like the TV show, only the winner gets a cruise, not a million dollars. It was neat. I wasn’t smart enough to make it in the hot seat though. We went on Star Tours, a Star Wars simulation. It was exactly like the Body Wars ride we all hated and got sick from. Just a different video playing in front of us. Mistake. We headed to Magic Kingdom to see the fireworks, but missed the monorail to make it over there. We watched them from further back and it was still pretty sweet. By this time though, my body had turned on autopilot and I was not functioning correctly. We thought it best to head back early and get some sleep for our big day at the Gulf.

A quotes page was added to the right, Fun Quotes From Florida. It’s being added to daily, so keep checking them out.

Saturday: Swim with the manatees, New Years Eve Sunday: Universal Studios Monday: pack up and head home

OK, bye bye!