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Random nit-picks from a week in Orlando

Written by
Published: June 30, 2008 at 10:46 AM

I enjoyed my trip to Orlando last week, but that didn't keep me from finding these nits to pick:

1. Last week, the Universal Orlando crowd was dominated by three types of tourists:

  • Brazilian teens
  • Overweight Americans
  • Sunburnt Britons

    Seriously, is sun block illegal in the U.K.? Does no one there know how to use it? Do we need to set up a tutorial webpage on this?

    2. Seuss Landing really needs a coat of paint. I failed you in not getting pictures of how badly faded the carousel and other buildings around Seuss Landing have become. (We did Seuss on the last morning we spent at IOA and I'd already packed the camera away.) Fortunately, though, I noticed that the stanchions of the Seuss Landing sign appear to have been painted at the bottom. Color testing? They looked good, and I hope that Universal soon gives the rest of the land a fresh coat.

    3. Too much of Dudley Do-Right just looks awful. I love the theme, gags and pacing of this ride, but too many sections of it look circa-2004-Six Flags bad. Again, fresh paint, or a new scheme that doesn't chip and fade so badly, is needed.

    4. Is there no way to hide those "CineSpheres" during the day at Universal Studios Florida? Man, do they kill the sight lines around the lagoon.

    5. Why would an airport grant a concession contract to Chick-Fil-A? The chain famously does not operate on Sundays, due to its owners' religious beliefs. Now, I respect that, and defend their right to close on the day of their faith's Sabbath, as I would for any other business owner.

    But airports operate seven days a week, and I think that airport authorities have a duty to their customers, the traveling public, to award contracts to businesses that will be open for all of those seven days. (It also ticks me off when concessionaires close hours before the last flights of the evening.)

    The food court in Orlando's airport is already light on its diversity of options, and taking Chick-Fil-A away on Sundays makes it even worse.

    6. Florida needs to adopt California's law prohibiting rental car companies from charging an "extra driver" fee for spouses. What a rip-off.

    7. I kept my checked bags under United's 50-lb. limit. But if I had gone over by a few pounds, I would have been steamed to have had to pay a $100 penalty for the bag, while paying full adult fare for my 60-lb. child. Especially when some 220-lb. passenger with a 49-lb. bag did not. If oil keeps going up, I sense the day coming when airlines start weighing passengers.

    8. I did the math, and figured that it would have cost us $505 for gas to drive for Los Angeles to Orlando and back in our Prius, at $4.50 a gallon. That's about what we paid per ticket in airfare.

    9. There is nothing, repeat, nothing healthy to eat at a Cracker Barrel.

    10. And finally... why do so many places serve bad, from-concentrate orange juice... in Florida?

  • Readers' Opinions

    From Gareth H on June 30, 2008 at 11:19 AM
    lol, SunBurnt Brits, yep, I don't think Brits ( I am one, don't bitch) realise how strong the sun is over here!
    From Manny Barron on June 30, 2008 at 11:34 AM
    I was in Orlando last week too, and I completely agree with you Robert. Seuss Landing definitely needs some new paint especially The Cat in the Hat ride and those spheres at Universal Studios are eyesores. They didn't even show Universal 360 so I see no reason for the spheres. Oh and when in the Orlando area on vacation avoid going to the Ponderosa restaurants scattered throughout the area, unless you like eating in a dirty restaurant that serves mystery steaks.
    From Brian Emery on June 30, 2008 at 11:42 AM
    Now that’s off your chest and you vented properly, I hope you feel better now…
    Hahahahahahahahaha.
    From Karin S on June 30, 2008 at 11:47 AM
    I can answer your last question, Robert... Florida's commercial citrus industry is not what it was thanks to severe grove-killing frosts, a canker that infects groves, and the fact that many groves have been sold and plowed under to create those themeparks we love to visit...WDW being first one that comes to mind.
    From Lee Mak on June 30, 2008 at 11:53 AM
    If you are looking for healthy food "on the road"...best of luck...Cracker Barrel is there soley for artery hardening. That is why I go each time I am on a road trip. I do not travel that often, so, it is a welcome bit of greasy goodness. I prefer the old tymer plate. Nothing like dipping biscuits in syrupy grits.

    (insert Homer Simpson gurgling noise here)

    Brits can't be blamed for not understanding the Florida sun. Firstly, they would have to know what the sun looks like, and in the UK, the sun is something of a rare commodity. Secondly, they have to have a crash course in the true power of not only the sun, but the "sunshine state"'s special brand of sun that only has two speeds...hell and night.

    As far as the brazilians go, the girls are generally goodlooking, so not seeing the downside.

    Overweight americans...hmmm...you were in Disney. It is pretty fair to say that the majority of people you saw are fat. Our country is over 60% obese...this means that 3 out of 4 people you had seen were overweight and 2 out of 4 were downright fatties. "Its not our fault" you always here...its gladular...not so much. The instance of obesicity by genetics is small in comparison to the two doublecheeseburger meals they had as a light snack as the culprit.

    Ladies and gentlemen, please, if you have trouble reaching across the counter to pick up your extra value meals, try reaching for your toes 1000 times instead. As a former overweight guy, i can say it isn't easy, but you have to fight for it. If you become lazy, your ass will continue to grow and your self image declines. When you don't care is when you pick up those extra pounds...so, please, care about yourselves.

    From Deidre Dennis on June 30, 2008 at 12:48 PM
    That was hilarious, Robert. I know what you mean about the heat though. We were in Virginia and DC during their heat wave and it was so hot there that I swore I saw the Devil selling ice water...

    That Florida heat and humidity is not a joke, either.

    From Eric Malone on June 30, 2008 at 12:59 PM
    I agree wholeheartedly on the Chick-Fil-A thing. That annoys me to no end, especially since I get a hankering for chicken sandwiches on Sundays. When, of course, CFA isn't even open. Annoying. Also, the only thing that annoys me about flying is that to do so cheaply, you've gotta go there when it's early and pay in advance.

    So, generally, NOTHING is open at 6 AM. Then you're usually too rushed to eat at any stops along the way, and it's just one big mess.

    Also, Cracker Barrel may not be healthy, but God the food is good.

    From Joshua Counsil on June 30, 2008 at 3:03 PM
    On my recent trip, I found that I observed everything you did ... with a few minor changes.

    Lots of fat tourists and Brazilians, but no sunburnt Brits. Must have been too early.

    Seuss Landing, Dudley, and IOA in general all need a coat of paint. The park looked terrible - probably wear and tear from all the water they spray around. Dudley also needs a new loading system - it really is terrible. Half-empty logs leave the station frequently.

    My last trip was my first time eating at Cracker Barrel, and the choices were so deep south that the waitress caused the vegan in our group to cry.

    The airport food service in Orlando really blows. When they lost our luggage, they gave us food vouchers, but the only thing open at that hour was McDonald's. We just stocked up on apple pies for the trip.

    Almost every restaurant in Orlando seems to soak their ribs in Coke before cooking - it makes the meat fall off the bone (and the calcium fall off your teeth).

    From Chris Walton on June 30, 2008 at 3:23 PM
    Yeah, speaking of overweight Americans, I like to count the number of bellybuttons I can see through shirts when I'm at a park...quite a large number every time...
    From James Rao on June 30, 2008 at 3:44 PM
    Okay, with tongue firmly planted in cheek, I will add my two cents:

    I kind of like fat tourists (I am not referring to larger or slightly overweight people - like most of us - but I am talking about truly obese travelers). Generally speaking, they arrive at the park late (after breakfast I presume), never miss a meal (including breakfast, 2nd breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner, 2nd dinner, and midnight snack), move slowly (herd mentality), and don't (can't) ride most of the top attractions. In short, they help keep the parks in business (especially the restaurants) and lag behind me while I tour.

    What's not to like?

    From Mark Hollamon on June 30, 2008 at 6:26 PM
    I will go one better on the sun burned Brits. How about sun burned Brit men that insist on wearing Speedo type swim suits! OUCH!! It is to be noted that they really don't work on very fit people let alone those that suffer from "done-lap" disease and fear of sun screen! Please don't use the excuse that you are on vacation and will never see us again! We have to suffer looking at that EVERY DAY!!! Spare us!! :)
    From Marc Ricketts on June 30, 2008 at 6:32 PM
    "Other Drivers? Your whole business is based on other drivers!" (Jerry Seinfeld)
    From Danny Melillo on June 30, 2008 at 7:07 PM
    I think you could tell from the outside that Cracker Barrell would have nothing health. I could go for their Chicken Fried Chicken w/ dumplings right now. lol
    From Robert OGrosky on June 30, 2008 at 7:10 PM
    I for one applaud Chick-Fil-A for closing on Sunday's. It is nice for a change to see a company not putting making money over everything else in life.
    From Anthony Murphy on June 30, 2008 at 7:40 PM
    Chick Fil A is actually the healthiest fast food option out there (except Subway), but you know what I mean.

    Fat tourists should not suprise you that much. I bet they are in CA though Disneyland tends to cater to the home CA crowd vs out of towners.

    From Larry Zimmerman on June 30, 2008 at 8:48 PM
    Thanks for your observations, Robert.

    Should you have chosen to drive from LA to Orlando, your round-trip food and lodging expenses would have pushed the driving cost well above what you paid for your airline tickets. That's at least a three-day journey each way with 12-14 hour driving days.

    That doesn't even begin to count the mental cost in "are we there yet?" every hour or so, "I gotta go to the bathroom" every 2 hours (or a half hour after eating/drinking/waking up from a nap), or "I'm hungry" every 3 hours. So, before you start waxing nostalgically about the good ole roadtrip days, consider the TOTAL cost...you'll agree you made the right decision.

    From tim burton on July 1, 2008 at 7:19 AM
    In this day and age, who can afford to go to any of those parks in Florida. I go to Florida once a year and would never spend the money to go to any park in Orlando. No interest. I guess it is because I live in the center of TRUE ROLLER COASTER UNIVERSE, OHIO. Between Cedar Point and Kings Island, why go anywhere else?

    I am sorry, but the best coasters in the world are at Cedar Point, and once Kings Island opens it's floorless coaster next year, I think both parks together will be tough to beat.

    From James Rao on July 1, 2008 at 8:29 AM
    9.5 Hours to King's Island, 12 hours to Sandusky, or 18 hours to Orlando....each of those destinations is a long excursion for me. At the end of a long trip, there better be something more waiting for me and my vacation dollars than a bunch of coasters....
    From Robert OGrosky on July 1, 2008 at 11:12 AM
    While Cedar Point/Kings Island are nice amusement style parks, they cant compare in the least to the big parks in FLA. When Cedar Point/Kings Island give us rides like TOT/Spiderman/ROM/HM/POTC as just a few examples then the comparsioncan begin. But they cant compete at too full fledged theme parks!!
    From Anthony Murphy on July 2, 2008 at 11:58 AM
    I mean if we are talking about coaster history, you can also argue Six Flags Great America, one of the first parks after Disney and Universal to get its act together. Let face it, there are great parks all over the US. Orlando does give you a nice variety of parks.


    Also the prices of all the parks are both expensive and crazy

    From Joshua Counsil on July 2, 2008 at 4:37 PM
    Good point about the fat folks, James.
    From Kathy Whitaker on July 2, 2008 at 7:19 PM
    OMG..go often..never missed seeing a sunburned Brit on any trip...They can't help it though, as someone pointed UK always hazy

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