Posts Tagged ‘Universal Orlando’

Please Note: All photos in this post are mine, and I haven’t had time to properly watermark any. Don’t take any without my consent or proper credit, please.

On that note, prepare for A LOT of photos.

I’ve been going to Orlando once a year for the past three years now, since I first started to get sick. It’s been my happy little escape from the chaos of the world I normally inhabit. But, I normally go in late Spring or Summer, so this was my first trip down when the Halloween festivities are taking place at Universal Studios and Walt Disney World.

I’m going to break this up into at least two posts, starting now with Universal Studios (which was the beginning of and best part of the entire trip.)

So, let’s begin, shall we?

I cannot talk about going to Universal in fall 2014 without mentioning that I FINALLY GOT TO SEE DIAGON ALLEY! And it was breathtaking.

King’s Cross Station, which is where you could board the Hogwarts Express to Hogsmeade.

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If you look around in London, whether you’re a fan of the books or films, you can find a certain grumpy house elf peaking out of one of the windows. This was one of my favorite little details. You had to know he was there to look for him.

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It’s a dream come true to get to ride the Hogwarts Express finally. It’s a different experience depending if you ride it to Hogsmeade or to London. To Hogsmeade was probably my favorite.

Then, there is Diagon Alley itself:

IT MAKES THE SOUND OF THE BRICKS MOVING LIKE IN THE MOVIE AND IT MAKES ALL THE GEEKY OVERLOAD JOY HAPPEN.

IT MAKES THE SOUND OF THE BRICKS MOVING LIKE IN THE MOVIE AND IT MAKES ALL THE GEEKY OVERLOAD JOY HAPPEN.

I don't think I've seen a picture yet that truly does justice to that dragon. Wherever you stand, you think that could be a real dragon. The detail is mind-blowing.

I don’t think I’ve seen a picture yet that truly does justice to that dragon. Wherever you stand, you think that could be a real dragon. The detail is mind-blowing.

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I absolutely loved the Escape from Gringotts ride. I was lucky, because it was dead when I went to ride for the first time, and I was able to pretty much just walk straight onto the ride. And it was a great ride, from the line getting you into the story to the ride itself. I've heard mixed opinions. But I adored it.

I absolutely loved the Escape from Gringotts ride. I was lucky, because it was dead when I went to ride for the first time, and I was able to pretty much just walk straight onto the ride. And it was a great ride, from the line getting you into the story to the ride itself. I’ve heard mixed opinions. But I adored it.

Now, Universal Studios does something at their parks in September and October called Halloween Horror Nights. It’s basically where they set up somewhere around eight houses and, this year, four scare zones. They also have a few shows special for the night. And I was lucky enough to have a VIP pass to get into three of this years houses before the event itself. The houses I visited: Halloween, Dollhouse of the Damned, and From Dusk Till Dawn.

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Halloween: This is, indeed, based off oh John Carpenter’s horror movie, Halloween, about Michael Myers. It’s specifically focused on the first film, though there are nods to the other movies in the series – including Halloween 3, surprisingly enough.

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This seems like a random weird image, but it's from a section of the house that makes you feel like you're in the closet being attacked by Myers, and there are two shirts hanging in the closet paying homage to two former Halloween Horror Nights houses: Freddy Krueger's sweater, and to the right of that, Leatherface's white shirt.

This seems like a random weird image, but it’s from a section of the house that makes you feel like you’re in the closet being attacked by Myers, and there are two shirts hanging in the closet paying homage to two former Halloween Horror Nights houses: Freddy Krueger’s sweater, and to the right of that, Leatherface’s white shirt.

I was having a horror-movie-junkie fan girl moment in the entire Halloween house, but the next house – Dollhouse of the Damned – was probably my favorite house, because it was so visually stimulating. This house was a concept house rather than a house based off of a film.

Also: enjoy Universal's dumpsters.

Also: enjoy Universal’s trash cans.

 

This is probably my favorite picture I took on the entire trip.

This is probably my favorite picture I took on the entire trip.

 

I should probably take a moment to acknowledge my awesome guides through the houses: Alex (left) and Kyle (right). I adored these two, and it was such a blast to wander around behind the scenes with them. I wanna write their bosses and tell them they did a fabulous job.

I should probably take a moment to acknowledge my awesome guides through the houses: Alex (left) and Kyle (right). I adored these two, and it was such a blast to wander around behind the scenes with them. I wanna write their bosses and tell them they did a fabulous job.

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Alex and Kyle demonstrating a scare.

Alex and Kyle demonstrating a scare.

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There was another special guest from a former Halloween Horror Nights house hidden in Dollhouse of the Damned. Chucky from Child's Play.

There was another special guest from a former Halloween Horror Nights house hidden in Dollhouse of the Damned. Chucky from Child’s Play.

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The last house we visited behind-the-scenes that day was From Dusk Till Dawn, based off of both the original movie, but also very heavily inspired by the newer TV series. While it was a very cool house, it was probably my least favorite of the three.

Obviously, the bar was a bit censored from the original name.

Obviously, the bar was a bit censored from the original name.

I have less blurry pictures of her, but for some reason I really like the slightly blurry feel of this.

I have less blurry pictures of her, but for some reason I really like the slightly blurry feel of this.

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Someone isn't having a good birthday.

Someone isn’t having a good birthday.

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So, that night, after all the house photo-taking goodness, my mother and I got to attend Halloween Horror Nights 24. There are two shows, one is a Bill & Ted Halloween show, which we didn’t attend. But I did go to the Rocky Horror Picture Show live, and it was AMAZING. I love RHPS and the show was incredible. Probably one of my all time favorites I’ve seen.

Not the most incredible shot on my part, but I was way too distracted by the awesome.

Not the most incredible shot on my part, but I was way too distracted by the awesome.

There were also the four scare zones set up in the streets:

The Purge

The Purge zone

The Purge zone

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The Bayou of Blood:

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FACE OFF: In The Flesh (Make-up looks from the show, recreated by some of the artists from the show!)

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One of my favorite parts of Halloween Horror Nights was the MASKerade: Unstitched zone.

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I think it’s super underrated, because a lot of people were claiming it was boring. But I loved it. Yeah, I wasn’t shaking in my Stormtrooper Vans over people in gowns, on stilts, wearing masks. BUT it was so beautiful and eerie at night in such a fantastic way. It sent my artsy brain into overdrive. I was sketching a day or two later when I was doing laundry:

This will eventually be a super awesome spooky painting.

This will eventually be a super awesome spooky painting.

 

So, there you have it. The epic wonderful highlights of my two days at Universal. I will have a post in a few days about Disney World itself. Plus, lots of health updates – not the best of them, either. So stay tuned.

~Angel

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Let me take a moment to explain some of my insanity to you:

People tell me that I’m disconnected from everyone around me. My own boyfriend occasionally tells me that even if we’re in the same room, it feels as though I’m a million miles away. That’s just how I am, I tell them. I’m in my own head a lot. I’m a writer. It happens.

It’s harder to tell them that, especially as of late, I’m usually wishing I was anywhere but where I am. The past few years, I’ve become a recluse that hides away from the regular world. Especially after the start of the Mysterious Sickness of Doom, aka Sjogren’s, started to take control of my life. Between that, and work, and trying to be realistic, a lot of my fire had died out. I’ve become bitter and jealous of the life I was living not that long ago.

Just a few years ago, I was trying to get my first novel published. I had been to New York and met with literary agents, I even nearly had one become my agent. I rubbed elbows with other writers at the Algonquin, went to book signings and releases and had so many advanced signed copies of books from the author friends I had made, that I started doing my own reviews along with other bloggers, leading me to some extra writing gigs. I’d had breakfasts, lunches, and dinners with authors, both New York Times Bestseller’s and Indie writers. All before I turned 18 and started my senior year of High School. I was voted Most Likely to Write a Novel, president of Book Club, and felt like an unstoppable force.

Except that I wasn’t as unstoppable as I had believed, and by the time I was entering my third semester of college, I started to burn out on everything. I wanted to keep my grades up, but I also needed a job, and thought I could magically balance the two out with writing. I did manage it for a little while, until work became my main focus and even school started slipping. Before I knew it, BAM! I was sick, and the rest of my life began to crumble around me. I wasn’t slowing down or losing speed, I had come to a halt altogether.

Just after I recovered enough to return to work, I was already burning out all over again. To cheer me up, my mom and I went to Disney World and Universal Orlando in May 2012, and even though it wiped my energy out, it revived some of my spirit. For a little while, I was starting to get myself back. Yet, just as quickly, it started to fade, because work would eat away at my happiness and I couldn’t find the time or energy or clarity for writing. So I started to do the only thing I knew how to do: I found something useful to do with the money I was making and started planning more things to do.

When I think about it, even though I don’t know the exact moment it happened, that decision was the catalyst. I started out small in December 2012 by going to see Batman Live! and Wicked at the Fox Theatre, both of which stirred up something inside of me that I’d felt after my Orlando trip. I was desperate to hold onto this feeling, and quickly planned a surprise trip to see Wicked again for my best friend and myself.countmeamongthysaints

It didn’t take long for me to be stir crazy all over again, even with my rheumatology appointments keeping me a regular at a few hospitals. So, I went to my first ComicCon in March and met some personal heroes, like Stan Lee, James Marsters, and Tom Felton, to name a few. Again, I was pumped up afterwards, but soon after the excitement started to fade and I was back to the same routine: Work, Sickness. Repeat. I needed something else to distract myself, and so I schemed until I came up with a game plan to go on a real trip. June came, and I returned to Disney and Universal, hoping to reclaim some of that magic that I had the previous year. Packing my bags, heading to the airport, knowing I had all of this excitement ahead – it all revived me. By my last day in Florida, though, I felt like crying. I wasn’t ready to come home. The thought of returning to my previous schedule made me nauseated.

Again, I began to scheme a way out.

Now, by this point, other people were starting to notice I was “blowing” a lot of money. I say “blowing” in quotation marks because I don’t agree with what they’re saying, but they said it all the same. As soon as family, friends, and coworkers learned of my plans to fly to Chicago the weekend before my birthday, I started hearing their concerns:

“Well, Angel, don’t you think you should be saving your energy and money?”

Or, “I don’t understand why you need to run off so much when you never have time for anyone around you.”

I packed my bags, left for Chicago, and ignored everyone else. I had too much to do in such a short period of time; I didn’t care what anyone else said. So I enjoyed a few days of a con, met some more awesome people, went to my first concert, and even went to James Marsters birthday party. For a few days, I was right back at the top of the world. I had a break from being Angel Young, miserable office monkey and Sjogrens slave. I needed that break. Coming back to reality was a slap in the face and I didn’t take it very well at all.

This explains why, before we even boarded the plane to come home, I was plotting one final escape for 2013. I needed one more fix to get me through until the new year of new adventures. Because this is what I am: I am The Wanderer.

Now, I need to slow Story Time down a bit for you, because that final Big Adventure of 2013 needs to be it’s own post. Because seriously, THIS happened:

theboys (1280x935)….But that story is for another day.

The point is, ladies and gents, that I am dealing with a lot of stress, and a lot of self-reflection. I am coming to a clear realization that I am running from something, likely myself, and that I won’t stop running until I feel like I’ve done whatever it is I need to in order to sleep again. No matter what anyone else has to say about it, I know I have to keep packing my bags and searching for whatever it is out there that I need. Because it isn’t here in small town Missouri. It’s out there in that great wide world I love to explore. And since I’m such a big fan of experiencing life instead of just living day-to-day life, it all seems to work out just fine.

So I’ll continue this line of thought another night this week, hopefully, before catching you up on everything else.

~Angel