Monday, 30 June 2014

Universal Studios Florida

I didn't know what to expect when I got to Universal Studios yesterday, I've never been before, but was actually a bit surprised when I got there. When you first enter they don't check your tickets, you walk through a part with a lot of shops, you then choose whether you want to go to Universal or Islands of Adventure, once you get to the gate of one of those, that's when they check your ticket.

I picked Universal yesterday and will be doing Islands of Adventure later today.

It was quite interesting to walk down the street in Universal, it looked like any street you see in the movies, until you got to an attraction, I actually kept walking on the sidewalk and forgetting I could walk in the middle of the road!

Now, I used the Dibb website to find out which parks would be quiet on what days, but as I walked around Universal it still struck me how quiet it was compared to Disney! The lines for the rides weren't as long, and there just seemed to be less people walking around the park. Not that I mind, I was just a bit surprised.

I headed around the park in a counter-clockwise direction, so the first few attractions I got to were Terminator 2 3D, Horror make-up show and E.T.. All good attractions, I haven't watched Terminator but it was quite an interesting attraction, took a while to get to the really exciting bit but it was good. Terminator was timed so that I could get right to the make-up show straight after. They show the techniques make-up artists use in horror films. It was really funny and there were a bit of audience participation. E.T. was a nice little kid's ride where you go to E.T.'s home planet.

I then got to the Simpsons part. It was really cool how they've made it like Springfield. I went on the Simpsons ride, it's a simulator taking you through a theme park (Krustyland) but Sideshow Bob is trying to kill you so there is loads of falling of roller-coasters etc.. I don't like big rides, and that applies to the ones simulating a big ride as well, but, although I felt nauseous when I got off the ride I did enjoy it and I'm glad I went on it.

As I was feeling nauseous I bypassed the Men in Black ride, thinking I would get back to it later, I also walked past  the new Harry Potter part, it doesn't open until July 8th but there were some people sitting outside hoping it would be a soft opening day. I wish it had been open so I could have gone in, but I have better things to do when I'm in a theme park than just sit outside a ride that's not even open yet. I hope (and think) the people that were sitting there had been to Universal before so that they weren't missing out on the rest of the stuff in the park.

I went to the Beetlejuice show, which was quite good. Even though Frankenstein's bride couldn't sing.

I then managed to catch some of the Despicable Me characters in the Party Zone, before heading to Shrek 4D, which was quite fun.When I got out of the Shrek auditorium there was a lightning storm right over our heads. The souvenir shop was packed and some people were standing under the little bit of roof outside. I quite like lightning storms, but when the lightning struck just a few meters ahead and I could feel the instant rumble of the thunder in my bones I decided to watch it from inside the shop. Which didn't last long as the rain started to come down so hard they had to close the doors. They even opened the doors to the auditorium so people could sit in there and wait it out. After about half an hour the rain eased up and the lightning had passed so we could go outside again.

Before it came down too heavy
The only attraction with a really long line, like the ones you get in Disney World, was the Despicable Me one. Understandable. Everyone loves the minions. I had to wait in that one for about a hour before I got in. It was worth it though. It's a big cinema screen with seats that move, you "turn into a minion" and go through Gru's lab on training, and then something goes a bit wrong. It did make me nauseous again, but I did enjoy it.

It was quite amusing to see how different Universal was from Disney when it came to the parade, or rather, leading up to the parade. In Disney people start finding a spot 45 minutes before the parades/firework and the road is mostly kept clear at least 15 minutes before it starts. At Universal most people started finding spots to stand as late as 5 minutes before parade start and people were walking down the road until 10 seconds before the parade got to that section! It was a short and sweet parade with very few characters, a bit of a let down after Disney to be honest. Not saying I didn't enjoy it, because I did, but I kind of wish I had gone to Universal before Disney so I wouldn't compare them so much.

I enjoyed Universal, but I wish I didn't feel sick so easily from going on rides. I should have just gone on the rides anyway, crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. Some of you might be wondering why I go to theme parks when I feel sick so easily; the thing is, I do enjoy them, I don't like Alton Towers or other places with only big rides but with Disney and Universal it's also about the parks themselves, not just the rides.

I am really looking forward to going to Islands of Adventure today, they have a Harry Potter part which is open and have been open for a long time, so I'm looking forward to seeing that as well as the rest of the things they have there.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

EPCOT and Downtown Disney

As I have been to EPCOT before I decided to take the later bus from the hotel to the theme parks yesterday. I didn't have lie in, but it was nice to have time to write yesterday's post, have breakfast and explore the area my hotel is in.

I walked around the small lake by my hotel, which didn't take very long. There are mostly just souvenir shops, hotels and restaurants near me. Just like last time I was in America I quite enjoyed seeing restaurants that I've only ever heard about on films and TV. I even live within walking distance of Wet'n'Wild. Not that I'm interested in going there, even if it would be nice to cool down.

When I got to EPCOT I only had a short walk around before going through the back entrance to one of the resorts, where I caught a transfer bus to Downtown Disney to meet up with Sophie.

Sophie is a British girl I used to work with in a pub last time I lived in England, about 4-5 years ago, and I haven't seen her since then. She now lives and works in Orlando so it was nice to finally be able to meet up and catch up. We went to Earl of Sandwich for some late lunch, the sandwiched was really good, but the thing I liked the most was probably sitting inside for a little bit, I don't think I would have been able to eat my sandwich if I had been sitting outside in the heat.

Sophie had to go to work at 6pm and so I went back to EPCOT. I had a wander around the world showcase, before finding a spot in Italy to watch the fireworks from. I missed the fireworks last time so it was really nice to finally see them. The fireworks and light-show was absolutely amazing! If you go to EPCOT, don't miss it!

Unless you want to catch the monorail to see the fireworks at Magic Kingdom after EPCOT, I suggest watching the fireworks at EPCOT in the world showcase on the other side of the entrance, that way you get to see some of the countries all lit up before exiting the park.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Let there be magic!

Yesterday I got up with the sun, as I was waiting for the bus to take me to one of the parks I had a little look in the lake outside my hotel and I saw some big fish and turtles, it was quite fun looking at them swimming so close. I wonder if they're used to people dropping bread into the water there or something at breakfast time.

The bus from the hotel only stop at EPCOT out of the Disney Parks, but once you have your Disney ticket you can catch transfers to any of the parks from there. I decided to go to Magic Kingdom as it had said on the Dibb website that Magic Kingdom was going to be the last busy park yesterday, although with it being summer all parks will be busy now.

I got there just as they were doing the opening ceremony.

Last time I went to Magic Kingdom I wasn't exactly stressed out, but I did want to see absolutely everything in the park so I didn't really relax at all. This time was quite different, I was very chilled out as I walked around the park, I have already been on most of the rides and so I just strolled around and got on whatever rides I felt like, I didn't rush to get anywhere on time.

It was quite nice to be so chilled out, as the weather definitely wasn't! It was boiling hot, which I wouldn't have minded so much if it hadn't been for the humidity. Everything was sticking to me, it felt like my kneecaps were melting! If I ever do go back, please remind me to go in spring or autumn, NOT the middle of summer!! Water and ice cream was all I had all day, it was too hot for anything else, I wasn't even hungry thanks to the heat, especially not for the sugary foods they have at the parks.

I did catch one parade, only because I was walking past the castle as they were setting up for it. The Fantasy parade. I'm quite glad I caught it as they didn't have that one last time I went.

After the parade I headed straight to the Princess Fairytale Hall so Olaf could meet Princess Elsa and Anna. Popular princesses they are, I think I had to wait an hour in the queue! Thank goodness for the free wifi in the parks so I could keep myself distracted!

When we came out from seeing Elsa and Anna a thunderstorm had started. There was a big one around the same time last night as well, so I expected a massive downpour like the night before, but actually it was only spitting a little. I loved seeing the lightning tear across the sky and hearing the rumble of it a few seconds later. The lightning lasted the rest of the night. I am guessing it might be like this for the rest of my time here, hot and humid in the daytime then thunderstorms in the evenings thanks to the humidity.

I did not catch the fireworks show at Magic Kingdom last night. The fireworks didn't start until 10pm and the last bus to my hotel left from EPCOT at 10.05pm... Work that one out! It's a bit rubbish really, I realise I'm not staying at a resort hotel, but it would be nice if they had some later busses so people could stay until the fireworks show was over even if they're not staying inside Disney World, maybe just one extra bus from each park to the hotel after the park closes. Had I not seen the fireworks show at Magic Kingdom last year, I probably would have stayed and then forked out for a taxi back to the hotel, so in a way I'm glad I saw it last year.

Today my first purchase will be a hat! My face got very sunburned yesterday. Oops!

Wednesday, 25 June 2014


Hi guys!

Thanks for voting for my name. The votes were counted, and my name is Olaf. Olaf VDubb.

I am totally excited to be going on holiday to America!! Maybe I'll even meet that famous snowman that I was named after?!

I have been really busy packing and finding some holiday money today, I can't believe I fly out tomorrow afternoon!!

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Sophie said it

"The thing about settling down that freak me out it that you're being honest, [...] you're saying this is me. This is what I can do. I am a teacher, or I am a doctor, or I am married with five kids. This is it. [...] Whereas while you're travelling, nobody really knows. While you're travelling you still have the potential to do anything, be anything. Its only when you stop and actually try to do those things that you discover your own capabilities [...]"

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Friday, 20 June 2014

600th post - Name the van!

I have been collecting Yeokens on the yeo valley website for a while. A couple of weeks ago I managed to exchange them for a mini VW camper van, and today it arrived!

I have decided it will be my travel buddy for my America trip. There is just one problem... It doesn't have a name!

Any suggestions?

An ounce of home

You're embarking on a yearlong round-the-world adventure, and can take only one small object with you to remind you of home. What do you bring along for the trip? - The Daily Post

My phone. It has all my pictures on it and I can use it to call/message/e-mail home if I want to.

Yes, I'm a smart-arse.

As if I'd go on a yearlong trip without it.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Instant celebrity

If you could be a famous person for a day, who would you be? - The Daily Post

As it doesn't stipulate that it has to be a live person, I would want to be Jane Austen.


  • see how people lived back then
  • to see how much of herself she put in her books
  • get to wear some really pretty clothes
  • find out what went through her mind as she wrote her books/where she got her inspiration

Monday, 16 June 2014

Familial feast

Yesterday was Father's Day in many countries. If you could dedicate a holiday to a more distant relative, who would it be - and why? - The Daily Post

Father's Day in Norway was not yesterday, it is on the second Sunday of November, while Mother's Day in Norway is on the second Sunday of February. - Random info for you.

A lot of holidays for other relatives actually already exist; Siblings Day (10 April), Grandparents Day (first Sunday after US Labour Day) and Cousins Day (24 July)! There really is a day for pretty much anything and everything! Of course, none of these days are really celebrated world-wide like Mother's and Father's Day.

The day I would want to become official out of those is Siblings Day. Often our siblings is our first friends. Not all siblings are close for some reason or other, and I think in a way that a National Sibling Day (or International for that matter) could help bring some siblings closer together.

Just like your parents will always be your parents, whether it's birth-, adoptive-, foster-, or step-parents, your siblings will always be your siblings. 

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Favourite mistake

Is there a mistake you've made that turned out to be a blessing - or otherwise changed your life for the better? - The Daily Post

Renting this house.

I had seen a flat on the letting website that I liked the look of. When I went into the estate agent's to borrow the keys to view the flat I could only remember the name of the road it was on, so the lady gave me some keys and said there was a sign on the side of the house. I didn't realise until after I had left with the keys that it wasn't supposed to be a house.

I decided to just have a little nosey at whatever she had given me the keys for and then, when handing the keys back, explain the mistake and get the keys for the flat I had meant the first time.

I easily found the agent's sign on the front of a terraced house. I opened the door with the keys I'd been given.... And I fell in love with the house straight away! It was old but at the same time had a modern feel to it as most of the walls were white, with only one wall in each room a different colour. There was an electric cooker (I can't deal with gas) and there was no carpet in the kitchen or bathroom, and best of all; it was quite big for a British house.

I enquired about the price, which was out of my budget, but not by much as the owner had apparently just knocked the price down to try and get someone to let it. As I couldn't afford it and I knew Joe wasn't happy about living so far out of town, I asked him if he wanted to share it, I wouldn't need 3 bedrooms on my own. He had a look at the house as well and liked it, so we moved in together.

I am really happy there was a misunderstanding and I got the wrong keys. If I had gotten the flat I would have lived there on my own as it was only one bedroom, and, as it turns out, it would have still been out of my budget. I thought I'd be able to get a full-time job when I moved back to England, but as it turns out I'm still in a part-time job, getting less overtime every week due to budget cuts, and so I would not have been able to afford to live on my own.

Right to brag

Tell us about something you (or a person close to you) have done recently (or not so recently) that has made you really, unabashedly proud. - The Daily Post

I am incredibly proud of my little sister Caroline for having the courage to follow her dreams.

She has just finished a year as an exchange student at a high school in Wisconsin. I remember thinking about doing a year abroad when I was her age but I wasn't brave enough to travel alone until later. Caroline decided a long time ago that this was something she wanted to do, she worked hard, saved her money and did it!

In Norway she would still have one year left at school, but in America she was a senior and so she also got to have an American graduation ceremony, with the cape and hat. I wish I had been there to see it. Even at university level Norway doesn't have the whole hat and cape thing (Only a couple of them have started doing it in the last couple of years, by student request), so it was also a special experience for our mum and her husband who went to the ceremony.

She is now doing a coach trip from LA to New York to see more of America before going back to Norway. How I wish I could join her!

The gallery gang

I recently joined a Meetup group. It's a nice way to meet new people and get some new experiences, and most importantly; get my arse off the sofa and go outside!

Yesterday I went on my first meetup. It was at the Millennium Gallery in Sheffield. There were only a few of us, but it was quite nice as it was a easier to talk to each person and get to know them. I was a little nervous about going but I'm glad I did, I had a really nice time.

I think I've been to the millennium gallery once before, the first time I lived in Chesterfield, but other than the metal sculpture in the hallway I can't really remember much from it. Not that it matters too much, apparently they change the exhibits every few months.

It was really nice to see the exhibits and learn a bit more about Sheffield. I wouldn't mind going back to the galleries, it was a really nice way of spending the morning. And it was free!

I also took a few pictures on my way back to the train station.

Friday, 13 June 2014

Verbal ticks

Is there a word or a phrase you use (or overuse) all the time, and are seemingly unable to get rid of? If not, what's the one that drives you crazy when others use it? - The Daily Post

Erm, I start pretty much every sentence with "erm", like I'm not really sure about what I'm about to say.

Erm, and after Australia I tend to say "no worries" a lot. If someone thanks me for helping them out I always to say;"'yeah, no worries".

Erm, when I was younger I said "like" a lot. And now it just like really annoys me when people like say "like" all the time. You know?

Erm, I also think I say "you know" a lot. You know?

Erm, there are probably other words and/or phrases that I use a lot, but, erm, it's all subconscious you know? Erm, like, people don't really think about the words they actually use when they speak, we just talk.

Erm, this was an interesting question, I think maybe I'll notice more about how people actually speak now, which could help in creating different characters when I write.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

City planners

If you could clone one element from another city you've visited - a building, a cultural institution, a common street food, etc. - and bring it back to you own hometown, what would it be? - The Daily Prompt

I would import something I've seen in a few cities. And I would want to bring it to all cities and towns. An outdoor skating rink. They have one in Oslo, they have one in New York, they even had one on Bondi Beach in Sydney! I haven't been skating since I went to school, but if I knew there was always one there in winter, maybe even a free one, I think maybe I would get some skates and go more often.

Spikersuppa, Oslo, Norway

Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia

Rockefeller centre, New York, USA

Another thing I think would be really nice to clone is the street art culture in Melbourne, Australia. I wouldn't want it on the old historical buildings of course, but in alleys between newer buildings it can really liven it up, make it seem less scary.


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