Over the winter, I went on a trip to Florida with my mom, dad and brother. Poor Paul had to stay home and be a responsible working man. We did one of those time share promo deals, where we get to stay at the hotel on the cheap if my parents listened to a sales pitch. It was a really fun time, and it was great to get some warm weather in the middle of winter. It was the first time in a while that I got to spend significant time hanging out with my brother, which was something I had missed. I only took 2 pictures the entire week we were there, for whatever reason.
We went to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. I had been there before, with the high school band/chorus, but the rest of my family hadn't. It was fun to share a new experience with them.
It's really interesting to compare the Universal Parks with Orlando's other titan, Disney World. They have such startlingly different "feels". Disney is all about creating an alternate reality, which is park of the reason I love it so much. It's this crazy, hyper-managed space, where everything is magically clean and friendly. They go through these secretive, pain staking efforts for you to feel like you're in another world, where characters from your favorite movies live.
The Universal parks, on the other hand, don't care if you feel absorbed into an alternate reality. They're not about the worlds that exists inside of their films, they're about the production and promotion of the films themselves. The place is designed to make you feel like you're on a set, like you're on the back lot. They also make no secret that they're trying to sell things to you. All over Universal, there are ads for other companies and brands and movies, emblazoned everywhere, and every ride dumps out into a massive gift shop. At Disney, you would never see ads like that in the middle of the park, and gift shops are designed to look like quaint little store fronts in Agrabah. They don't want to sell you their products, they're in the market of "experiences".
I guess my other gripe/ point of comparison is that at Universal, almost every ride is a motion simulator, which tend to make me nauseous. I think they don't have enough space to build rides that actually move around.
I also wish that we were taking this trip next year instead. They were building this while I was there, and I dearly wish that I could have enjoyed it. It looks like its going to be pretty cool. By the way, the poll question on the site this week sucks! Who wouldn't pick a personalized Olivander wand that chooses you? It seems a little obvious that that would be the most popular...