I have been underwater with catching up at work and in my personal life, so I apologize for the lack of posts! I also realized I should have been organized and asked if anyone wanted to guest post while I was gone because that seems to be what everyone does here on WP. Oh, well. Next time!
I apologize that this post is so long, but I did not want to break it up into separate ones because there are other Star Wars posts I want to get to!
Now – onto my latest adventure. Unlike Bilbo thinks, this adventure was not nasty, disturbing, or uncomfortable (though my stomach would disagree). I did not get as many cups of tea or second breakfasts as I would have liked, however.
Part I – The Beginning: Star Tours
My adventure started early when I was up at 3:45am (yes, it was awful) to get to the airport for a 6am flight on Monday the 16th. The last shuttle from my hotel to Disney was at 10:45am and I BARELY made it. I’ll spare you the details, but I’ll tell you it involved a lot of toe tapping from me and disgruntled looks toward someone else. After arriving at Magic Kingdom, I took another shuttle bus to the Hollywood Studio Park to get to the Star Tours ride.
Honestly, Hollywood Park is not that fun. I was pretty disappointed and I thought the only good ride there really was the Star Tours ride – and I’m trying not be biased about that at all!
Now, I think my first mistake here was that I ate right before I went on Star Tours. As soon as I got into the park, I ran to find food since I was starving…and then I went on an intense, very motion simulated ride. Not a good combination as I found out.
Mei-Mei commented on my earlier post that I might get motion sickness. I thought, “No way. I have never gotten motion sickness and I have even been on ships during storms and not gotten seasick.”
Well, I believe I’ve changed as I’ve grown older and virtual reality has changed since the last time I went on one (14 years ago), because I should not have eaten right before going on. I felt so sick. But, being the foolhardy Star Wars fan that I am, I thought it was some weird fluke and went on it right after I got off the first time. At that point, it really was too much and I decided to take a break for a few hours. But only after I bought a stormtrooper t-shirt at the gift store! I couldn’t leave without getting something, c’mon.
The OCD part in me was screaming, “But you said you would go on Star Tours 6-7 times! You are not a true fan if you don’t go on at least that much!” Thankfully, my stomach and headached-out head decided to ignore that comment and I’m glad I did.
The remaining hours were filled wandering the park and checking out some shows and rides, and right before it was time to leave, I went on one more time. Yup, even with an emptier stomach, I definitely got motion sickness. Unfortunate, but I guess I have to accept it.
The ride itself was so fun though and the area leading up to it was full of unique things to look at. The actual ride was situated as many small virtual reality rooms that many people could go at once. I feel the entire experience was only 5 minutes (I don’t think anyone could take more than that), but it was 3D and the closest I’ve ever felt to actually being part of the Star Wars universe. I got more variations than I thought I would for only going three times, so that helped me turn down my OCD voice.
There’s something incredibly magical about the experience of feeling like you’re in a spaceship in THE coolest galaxy. We all know Disney and Lucas have tons of money to spend, so the updates on Star Tours had to only be the best they could afford. I felt like a kid again and had goosebumps all through the first ride. Everything was so captivating, from walking into the building, to the inside line area, and it gave me a taste of being part of this wonderful universe. Here are some photos, including a great nerdy one of me on the speeder bike. It was kind of embarrassing to ask a random stranger to take a photo of me on it when there were tons of little kids waiting for their turn. But hey – a fan’s gotta do what a fan’s gotta do.
Here are the variations I got on Star Tours:
- When we take off…Imperial Probe Droid tries to stop you from leaving, but the Millennium Falcon open fires on the stormtroopers, thus distracting the droid (I think). We then went to Kashyyyk where we saw tons of Wookiees! Yay, fun. Princess Leia tells us there is a Rebel Spy aboard our ship and sends coordinates to R2-D2 on where to go. We went through a crazy ride on Coruscant where Buzz Droids attack us (the worst!), and finally land safely.
- When we take off… Imperial Probe Droid tries to stop you from leaving…and it was the same thing until after Leia gives us the coordinates. This time we end up orbiting Geonosis and Boba Fett tries to shoot at us through an asteroid field (just like AOTC). We also end up going through an unfinished Death Star until landing aboard a Mon Calamari cruiser.
- When we take off…Darth Vader force grips us to try to prevent us from escaping. We fire at him and escape. We then end up on Hoth where we almost crash a bazillion times (wait, I feel like we did actually crash once after the AT-AT fires at us), before getting off the planet. Leia once again sends us coordinates and we end up on Naboo, going underwater to visit Gungans and we realize there is always a bigger fish. We finally surface into a hanger bay on Naboo.
I got quite a few variations/planets and I’m happy with that! I wonder if 6 times on this ride would have bored me, so maybe 3 times was perfect. If you want to read the full description, go to this Wikipedia page.
I also did see some of the Jedi Academy training for little kids, which was adorable. How could they not open that up to adults? I mean, c’mon, seriously?!
One more cool thing, and this was a total surprise for me, if you go on “The Great Movie Ride” (total waste of time and completely boring), in the area where you stand in line, they have one of the original Holographic Chess Tables from ANH! That was cool. Here’s a photo, but it did not come out so well because we were indoors, the flash kept reflecting off the glass, and people were jostling me to get by.
Overall, I’m so happy I got to experience Star Tours. Was the entire park worth the money I paid? No, but I now have this Star Wars moment where I got to experience a taste of what it’s like to ride on a ship in my favorite universe that will live with me forever.
Part II – The Middle: The Hard Work
There’s always one part of an adventure that’s boring. It’s usually the time when everyone is getting to their destination and their days only consist of travel and eating meals. There’s not much to say with Part II of my adventure. I worked 16-20 hour days during our conference and was constantly pooped (and I feel like I’m still recovering).
However – best part of Part II was when our company rented out the entire Marvel section of Universal for a night event. I’m not a huge comic book girl, but I did read comics when I was in middle school, so I appreciated more of the park than my friends. I gave up because, like with the EU, I just couldn’t keep up with the storylines when I had so much other stuff going on.
I did go on the Hulk rollercoaster! AH! I’m surprised at myself. And I didn’t get sick, so isn’t that strange? I mean, my neck hurt, but I was fine compared to after Star Tours. What a great ride, though. So much fun and riding it at night was a very interesting experience.
Part III – The Final Leg: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
After all the work is done, comes the culmination in my adventure: ultimate play time! There are no words to describe how much fun I had at Universal’s Islands of Adventure. The main show for me was, obviously, Harry Potter World, but everything else surprised me by being great as well. Maybe I was more jaded than I thought after Hollywood Studios, but the Islands of Adventure blew me away!
I did get to try my long sought after butterbeer and, no, it did not have alcohol, but I thought it was tasty. My friends thought it was too sweet, but I could’ve definitely had another. It tasted like cream soda with a caramel undertone. There was a creamy/“buttery” layer on top, like the foam of a beer that I also thought was delicious.
The best part of The Wizarding World, other than the immersive experience of being in Hogsmeade, was going into the Hogwarts castle. From pictures, I always assumed Hogwarts just had a ride in it and the rest of the building was fluff. Oh, no. You walk through the castle and see the portraits move and talk, walk through the Herbology building, Dumbledore’s office, and – the best part – Harry, Ron, and Hermione appear to talk to you. Yes, they actually show up as a hologram and Hermione does a spell that causes snow to fall from the ceilings (SO COOL!).
The ride. I can’t even explain the ride in Hogwarts. It’s indescribable, but THE BEST RIDE I’VE EVER BEEN ON. Yes – it trumps Star Tours (I feel slightly guilty writing that). It’s a combination of virtual reality and actual reality. One minute you’re watching a screen and following Harry and Ron on a broomstick and then during the next moment you’re flying away from a “real” dragon that blows fire and steam at you, then back to a screen, then to the “real” Forbidden Forest, etc. This ride is one of the newest in the park, and you can tell that they really devoted their time, expertise, and money into it. Needless to say, I couldn’t go on it more than once. I had a headache and icky stomach as soon as I got off.
Afterwards, we went to Ollivander’s where my friend bought a wand, Flourish and Blotts, Zonko’s and Honeydukes. I bought some Bertie Bott’s and U-No-Poo and was quite satisfied. We ate at the Three Broomsticks, but there was no Madam Rosmerta, unfortunately.
It’s very easy to excite me, and I was over-the-top excited through every moment of that park. I mean, think about it, Harry Potter is MY generation. I’ve always been jealous of those who experienced Star Wars when it first came out, but that’s what Harry Potter was like for us. I went to the midnight selling of the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th books and I remember debating with friends during the years between releases about what we thought would happen next. And Rowling consistently surprised us and I relished every moment of reading the new novel for the first time. It gave me a taste of what Star Wars fans must have felt like between each movie in the Original Trilogy.
Oh, I would go back to this park in a second! Other sections were fun, but my muggle heart is still at the Wizarding World.
Part IV – The Conclusion
I’ve only been home for four days after an exhausting last week, but you can tell that I’m a homebody by the way my body breathes a sigh of relief when I walk into my front door. Some people get energized by travel, and don’t get me wrong – I do LOVE to travel, and I get itchy feet after being in one place for over six months, but at the same time…it exhausts me. However – maybe I’m also drained because I was working non-stop for the majority of it at our conference, yet I know that even when I vacation a part of me is excited about the prospect of returning home.
Let me start off by saying that this trip made me realized how blessed I am in my life. Whenever I travel I get those feelings, but just the fact that I can travel with my company to a fun place, and have money to spend on theme parks is a privilege that I’m well aware not many people get.
Star Tours, Wizarding World, and Orlando – Thank you for an enormously fun week and I hope to return some day with my children so that they, too, can experience living in the world of their heroes. Until we meet again, may the Force be with you.