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Orlando 2011 Trip Report
Nov. 22, 2011

Flying to Orlando for a weekend isn't something I do with any regularity. However, it had been quite awhile since my last visit to O-town and the list of reasons to go back was getting distressingly long: ...Forbidden Journey; Butterbeer; Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit; Revenge of the Mummy; Butterbeer; Cheetah Hunt; Sheikra; Gwazi with Millennium Flyer trains; Butterbeer, and more.

And then there was the seasonal lure of Universal Studios Florida's "Halloween Horror Nights," which I'd never experienced. And someone we know would NOT shut up about how awesome Busch Gardens Africa's "Howl-O-Scream" event was. (Turns out he was right.)

So when The Season Pass' Doug and Shannon suggested we do this crazy multi-park long weekend, and our great Central Florida-based pals Darrell and Deanna agreed to help set it all up, and score us some heavily discounted HOS tix, and let my cheap ass crash in their hotel room for the few hours of sleep we'd get each night, well, I kicked fiscal responsibility right in the berries and booked an airline ticket.

No Disney (save for dinner at Downtown D. Friday night), and no SeaWorld. (Manta, baby, next time, I swear.) Cry not for me, though: three world-class parks, two massive Haunts, several expectation-smashing new credits, and a ton of old favorites, in 2.5 days. A very good weekend, in other words.

If you'd like to hear a fairly detailed rundown on all the after-dark activities, listen to the Season Pass 2011 "Halloween Madness" podcast. What follows is more of a tapas-style serving of brief observations. As always, please enjoy:

We stayed at the Loews Royal Pacific Hotel which was so nice, I wish we'd had more time to just hang out at the property. Of course, it could have been a bug-infested dump and that would have been acceptable; residence there scores you early admission and front-of-the-line perks at the Universal parks (minus Forbidden Journey and Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit). Pretty sweet.

The "Fantasy Island" environment of the hotel came complete with docked seaplane. (BTW, have you heard that a Hervé Villechaize biopic, starring Peter Dinklage, is in the works? Psyched.)

An afternoon chilling on the "beach" would have been tasty, had we not so much else to do. Another time.

Up ahead? Certain Doom.

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© Robert Coker
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