SubscribeStar Saturday: The High Life at Universal Studios

Today’s post is a SubscribeStar Saturday exclusive.  To read the full post, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.  For a full rundown of everything your subscription gets, click here.

Last weekend I embarked on my latest Universal Studios trip, and it was truly unlike any other park-going experience of the last year.  It was one of those brief moments where I glimpsed, however briefly, how the other half lives.

Thanks to the extreme generosity of my girlfriend’s mother (and the various discounts and perks she receives with her two-park Premier level Annual Pass to Universal Studios), we stayed at the Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, a hotel that starts at $300 a night, and that offers water taxi service to Universal City Walk.

We didn’t spend much time at the room—which, given the nature of it, was a bit like ordering a hamburger at a seafood restaurant—but that’s because our room keys also doubled as Express Passes for rides.  Right now, during the peak operating season, Express Passes go for north of $300 per person, per day.  That means one night at the hotel essentially paid for Express Passes for our entire party of four for the duration of our stay—one of the most compelling perks of shelling big money for the hotel (not to mention riding a boat into the parks is super fun and convenient, and hotel guests get early park admission to Universal Studios).

To add to the decadence—which, admittedly, was a bit of overkill—we had access to both nights of the June Orlando Informer meetup, which grants after-hour admission to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure parks, as well as unlimited food in the parks.

From an optimization standpoint, as my younger brother pointed out, it was not ideal.  If it was one of us footing the bill, and assuming we wanted certain perks, we’d go for either the hotel, with its built-in Express Pass perk, or the Orlando Informer event, which eliminates the need for Express Pass as attendance at the park is limited to meetup attendees.

From a standpoint of going all out, though, it was truly amazing.  I doubt I’ll ever have such a decadent and wide-open Universal Studios experience again, but I am grateful for the opportunity.  So for this edition of SubscribeStar Saturday, I’d like to dive into the eighteen-hour day my girlfriend and I put into the parks, followed by a far more reasonable twelve-hour day last Saturday.

To read the rest of this post, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.

Delayed SubscribeStar Saturday; Universal Studios Update

Today’s SubscribeStar Saturday—like last weekend’s—will be delayed.  Subscribers, you’ll have two posts to look forward to next week:  one detailing the perils and opportunities of small-scale entrepreneurism, the other offering a detailed rundown of the TJC Spring Jam (what was intended to be today’s post).

One reason for the delay is that yesterday I spent eighteen hours in Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure.  I walked around 30,000 steps, or 12.3 miles, according to my iPhone’s pedometer.  Because of the hotel where we’re staying, we have Express Passes, so we managed to ride pretty much everything we hope to ride—including the new Velocicoaster, which doesn’t officially open until 10 June.  We managed to get in after a two-hour wait and some technical delays.  The attraction is running in rehearsal mode at the moment, so some elements might not be present, but the coaster itself is definitely complete.

More details to come in a detailed post—probably next Saturday.

Thank you for your patience, subscribers.  I’ll get caught up soon!

Happy Saturday!

—TPP

Back to Universal Studios Again; Summer Vacation Updates

I’m back in Orlando, Florida, for another trip to Universal Studios.  Tomorrow’s SubscribeStar Saturday will likely be late again, but Lazy Sunday should be good to go.  I’ll post in a bit more detail about our adventures down here later on.

Next week I’ll be making up last week’s SubscribeStar Saturday and tomorrow’s in great detail.  Apologies to subscribers for the delays.  Even though it’s now summer vacation, those final teacher workdays were doozies, with a flurry of end-of-the-year items to complete, not least of all accurate report card grades and comments.

It looks like this summer’s run of History of Conservative Thought will be cancelled, unfortunately, due to low enrollment (one student signed up—d’oh!).  It actually works out, though, as I’m hitting a whopping ten students for private music lessons over the summer.  If everyone continues into the next academic year, I’ll have twelve students in total during the school year—the highest ever.

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TBT: Lazy Sunday LXXXII: Universal Studios

I’m on the road—yet again!—to Universal Studios, heading out this afternoon after a long day of mind-molding.  This trip will be my fifth in the last year, and my first of the calendar year.  I’ve certainly worn the magnetic strip down on this Season Pass.

Seeing as it’s TBT, I figured why not look back at the Lazy Sunday dedicated to my first two Universal Studios excursions of last year (you can read about the fourth trip, too)?  When I go out of town for a long weekend, I try to file posts in advance, and a catch-all Universal Studios TBT seems like a good way to go.

Here’s hoping I make it to Orlando alive—or, at the very least, awake.  Here’s “Lazy Sunday LXXXII: Universal Studios“:

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Universal Studios Trip No. 4

Against all odds, I recently took an unprecedented fourth trip to Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida this past weekend.  The occasion was visiting my girlfriend’s family, and to take advantage of an Orlando Informer meetup.

Apparently, Orlando Informer is a blog dedicated to the major theme parks in Orlando—Disney World, Universal Studios, Sea World, etc.—and various deals and special events in the parks.  In scrolling through their website on our trip, I found, for example, a post about a one-day-only Beetlejuice haunted house that Universal slapped together for Halloween (I was able to get to the other two, longer-running houses on my last trip).  For theme park enthusiasts, it seems like a great website.

The publication also organizes vacation packages, as well as twice annual “meetups,” special after-hour events that give guests extended park time and—and this one is huge—unlimited concessions.  We had passes for the 12 December 2020 meetup, which meant we could stay in the park until 1:30 AM.  Access with the passes began at 3 PM, so we used our Seasonal Passes to enjoy the park beforehand.

It truly made for an unforgettable—and long—park experience.  We hit Islands of Adventure around 9 AM Saturday morning, and did a long stretch there until we went to get our meetup passes (we did manage a late lunch at Mythos, a must-visit on any trip to Islands of Adventure).  As we were essentially in Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios for fifteen hours—essentially two park days—we managed to hit up almost everything we wanted to ride and see on Saturday (other than the ever-elusive Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, which is virtually impossible to get into via the Virtual Line feature).

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(Belated) SubscribeStar Saturday: Universal Studios Trip

Today’s post is a SubscribeStar Saturday exclusive.  To read the full post, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.  For a full rundown of everything your subscription gets, click here.

Today is Super Tuesday, and the Democrats are circling the wagons around Biden in an attempt to stymie Sanders.  Tonight will tell us a great deal:  will Bernie prevail, as polling suggests, over Biden?  Will—as I predict—Biden hang tough, scooping up the black vote and, by extension, the Southern States?  Will Bloomberg’s untested strategy of just focusing on these fifteen jurisdictions pay off, or (as I also predict) he flame out spectacularly, effectively blowing those ad dollars (a la my good friend Tom Steyer)?

We’ll know more tonight.  In the meantime, here is my account of my recent trip to the happiest place on Earth, Universal Studios.

To read the rest of this post, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.

Lazy Sunday LI: Just for Fun

I got back from my trip to Universal Studios just a few hours ago, so I’m slamming out this week’s Lazy Sunday before midnight so as to appease the WordPress Counter.  In the spirit of the fun-filled trip, here are some fun blog posts:

  • Happy Halloween” – Boy, I sure do love Halloween.  It’s even more exciting that it will fall on a Saturday this year.  What’s more fun than carving pumpkins, dressing up in weird outfits, and eating lots of candy?
  • The Joy of Autumn” – Speaking of Halloween, the whole autumnal feel—sweaters, crisp cool nights, college football, staying indoors—is inspiring and reassuring.  I find the coolness intellectually enlivening, and it’s a welcome break from South Carolina’s oppressive summers.  It’s still hot on Halloween here most years (and, I have found, oppressively muggy), but it’s not too far from the crisp cool nights.
  • Joy to the World” – One of several posts I wrote about Christmas carols, “Joy to the World” is one of my favorite Christmas tunes.  One plan for this summer is to expand my Christmas carol posts into a short eBook, hopefully to be available this fall.
  • Dawn of a Decade” – On the subject of long-term plans, this post kicked off 2020, spelling out my plans for the blog.  Talk about a rapidly-advancing year!  It’s already March 1st, and the year continues to zip along.

Well, that’s it for a hasty installment of Lazy Sunday.  Here’s hoping you have a fun week!

Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

SubscribeStar Saturday: Vacation Delay

Due to travel, this weekend’s SubscribeStar Saturday post will be delayed, likely until Monday morning. Likewise, Sunday Doodles may be delayed, depending on my schedule tomorrow, although I will try to have it ready before the end of the day. Lazy Sunday will depend on tonight and tomorrow’s schedule, too, but I should have it up.

In the meantime, thank you for your support, and enjoy your weekend!

—TPP

Phone it in Friday VII: Universal Studios

As I wrote yesterday, I’m out on a rare vacation (other than Christmas, Spring Break, all summer, and every second- and third-tier holiday that falls on a Monday in the winter).  I’m down in Florida visiting Universal Studios Orlando with my family, and it’s been an amazing, tiring trip.  I tried filing away blog posts for while I was away, but couldn’t get enough done to have every day of my trip covered.

That said, we got back from Day 2 in the park a little while ago, and I’m slamming something out while playing with Mario Kart Hot Wheels with my almost-three-year old nephew.  Here are just some observations from my vacation.

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