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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Lazy Sunday LXXXII: Universal Studios

As I noted yesterday and this morning, I am at Universal Studios once again this year.  This trip marks my third in 2020, which I find inconceivable.  Oddly enough, The Age of The Virus probably made it possible, as Universal eliminated most of their blackout dates for season pass holders.

This trip has been a good one, and because we’ve already been a couple of times this year, there wasn’t the same push to cram everything in during our three-day stay this time.  Indeed, the park was so packed today that we left around lunchtime to lounge in the hotel a bit, and we’ll hopefully head back this evening when crowds thin out a bit.

More on that when I get around to writing this weekend’s SubscribeStar Saturday post.  Here are some past posts related to Universal Studios:

  • Universal Studios Trip” (on my SubscribeStar page) – This post was a rundown of my first trip to Universal Studios earlier this year, right before The Virus really struck big in the United States.  That seems like an entirely different world.  It was very cool in late February for Florida, which really made the trip more enjoyable.  Also, we didn’t have to wear masks, which is a luxury today.
  • Phone it in Friday VII: Universal Studios” (and “TBT: Phone it in Friday VII: Universal Studios“) – This hasty post, written during my first visit to Universal this year, detailed some of the highlights of the trip, particularly the old E.T. ride.  That ride is probably my favorite in all of Universal, and I fully take advantage of the child swap loophole to ride it multiple times.
  • Universal Studios Trip No. 2” (on my SubscribeStar page) – This post detailed the second trip to Universal back in July.  That was in the full heat of the Florida summer, and during the apex of the summertime Virus surge.  Universal employees were very particular about mask-wearing at the time.  They still are, but I’ve noticed they’re way more lax this time (they aren’t shouting at you for having it off when you’re off by yourself just trying to breathe free for a few minutes).

Anyway, that’s all for now.  My niece and nephews are starting to run wild in the hotel room, so I’d better get back to uncling before they dump any more snacks on the floor.

Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

Catching Up

I’ve returned from Universal Studios, and will be writing the SubscribeStar-exclusive post promised on Saturday sometime this evening.  It was a very fun trip, and was a wonderful opportunity to catch up with family.

Of course, as with any trip, now I’m playing catch up after enjoying nearly a week of good food, good family, and good times.  I’m teaching a new Pre-AP Music Appreciation course this academic year, and begin online training with four Zoom sessions starting tomorrow.  That means today I’ve got to work through some online modules to be prepared for the first session.

I’m also clearing out a backlog of e-mails.  It’s remarkable how quickly it all piles up after just a few days.  My junk account is bursting with solicitations, most of them truly garbage.  But I’m also catching up on some work and personal correspondence, so if you’ve written to me over the past week, don’t fret—I will respond as soon as possible.

Returning from this trip marks the beginning of the end of summer vacation.  I still have a couple of weeks of summery freedom remaining, but the tempo of work-related activities will only increase from here on out.  I will, of course, continue posting to the blog daily, but posts will likely be a bit shorter as the school year resumes.

I’ll have some updates and information soon about how school is resuming in The Age of The Virus.  That was the topic of some discussion on photog’s blog, Orion’s Cold Fire, back on his 11 July 2020 update post.  It will be quite interesting to see how different States and school districts handle the return.  My little private school is planning on resuming as normal, just with way more sanitation and some social distancing and such.  Again, more details to come.

That’s about it for today.  I’ll be getting into some meatier substance soon, but some gossamer fluff is surely allowable from time to time.

God Bless,

TPP

Lazy Sunday LXXI: Road Trips

Well, we’re headed back from Universal Studios after a fun-filled visit (I’m assuming as such; I’m actually writing this post before the trip, so it may very well have been a disaster, but I prefer to be optimistic).  It seemed like a good time to review some of my road trip posts.

Back in Fall 2019—in The Before Times, in The Long, Long Ago, before The Age of The Virus—I was on a festival kick.  Every small town has some obscure but beloved festival (here in Lamar it’s the Egg Scramble), usually dedicated to some local foodstuff or cultural group.  Most of my recent road-tripping has been on those kinds of excursions.

As such, this edition of Lazy Sunday will have a good bit of overlap with “Lazy Sunday XXXII: Festivals“—I mean, it is Lazy Sunday, after all.

  • SubscribeStar Saturday: Aiken Amblings” – This post is about the annual Aiken’s Makin’ crafts festival, which my hometown hosts every September.  It’s a huge draw, bringing tons of vendors and visitors to downtown Aiken’s parkways.  I have many fond childhood memories of running around at the festival, though it’s shifted its location (to its detriment, I think) and its spot in the calendar (because it’s earlier in September, it’s hotter).  It’s still a great deal of fun, and I always manage to find some fun gifts for my train-loving nephew.
  • SubscribeStar Saturday: Yemassee Shrimp Festival 2019” – Since I was a young boy, I’ve been riding through Yemassee and past Old Sheldon Church on my way to Fripp Island, which is out past Beaufort, South Carolina.  Yemassee is an old railroad town that straddles the line between Hampton and Beaufort Counties.  The Shrimp Festival is fun, sweltering festival with—you guessed it—lots of friend shrimp (and fried everything, for that matter).  I highly recommend making a day of it for reasons stated in the full post.
  • Road Trip!” – This post is about heading down to Orlando (a nice bookend to today’s post, while I’m heading back) and some of my meager backroad explorations around rural South Carolina.  There are a lot of hidden gems if you’re willing to get off the Interstates and look around.

That’s it!  I should probably stop typing while driving (just kidding, just kidding).  This return marks the beginning of the end of summer vacation—the tempo of back-to-school preparation will just pick up from here.

Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

Delayed SubscribeStar Saturday: Universal Studios Trip No. 2

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.

I’m currently on a trip to Universal Studios—shockingly, my second this year.  I’m going to write all about it, just as I did back in February, but it’s likely going to be delayed until my return.

Thank you for your patience.  Enjoy your weekend!

—TPP

This post will be completed upon my return from Universal Studios.

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

TBT: Phone it in Friday VII: Universal Studios

Today I am back at Universal Studios!  I didn’t expect I’d be back so soon, but Universal has lifted their Season Pass blackout dates for Summer 2020 due to The Virus, so my brothers and our significant others and I decided to take advantage of it and come down for a few days.  It’s always fun with the niece and nephews, too.

As my younger brother put it, we’re probably safer strolling around Universal Studios than eating at restaurants (which we’ve all been doing to some extent), as the park is sanitizing everything in hyper drive.  We’re also all masked up, and social distancing is in force—all the usual protocols we’ve come to endure in The Age of The Virus.  Why not enjoy safety and spectacular theming?

This week’s TBT features the first Phone it in Friday to make it to TBT (that I can recall).  I’ve just finished four Sundays of PiiF retrospectives (here, here, here, and here), so readers of “Lazy Sunday LXIX: Phone it in Fridays, Part III” may remember this post about our February 2020 trip to Universal Studios.

With that, here is “Phone it in Friday VII: Universal Studios“:

As I wrote yesterday, I’m out on a rare vacation (other than ChristmasSpring 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.

  • I love Universal Studios.  The highlight has been riding rides with my niece and my nephew.  One of the first rides we rode was E.T.  It’s definitely an older ride, but the nostalgia factor and magic really make it an incredible ride.  Riding it with my niece was probably what I was most looking forward to doing on this trip.
  • That and the Pteradon Gliders ride, which adults can only ride if they have a child with them.  It was a bit more intense than I thought it would be for a little kiddie ride, and is super fun.  You also get to see the entire park!
  • As much as I love Universal, I hate crowds.  I was trained from an early age to stay out of the way.  Apparently, no one else was.  I understand people are confused or trying to figure out where to go next, but folks are absolutely oblivious to what is going on around them.  You’d think someone coming at you with a stroller would at least make a little room, rather than dashing out in front of you like a squirrel (or, worse, plodding along in the exact middle of your path.
  • It’s still jarring for me, even in our multicultural age, to hear different languages, even Spanish.  It doesn’t grate me the same way as when I hear it elsewhere, because I realize there are a ton of tourists, but it still makes me realize how—as I heard someone put it recently, citing (I believe) Mark Steyn—the future belongs to those who show up.  In our hemisphere, the people showing up are Latin Americans.

More reflections to come—and a more complete account of the trip—to come.

Happy Friday!

—TPP

Road Trip!

Your portly is hitting the road for sunny (and humid) Florida for a few days at Universal Studios (more details on that tomorrow).  I’m convoying down in my 2017 Nissan Versa Note with my girl and my younger brother and his family, with plans to rendezvous with our older brother and his girlfriend at the airport in Orlando.

I am very much a homebody by nature, which has come in handy during The Age of The Virus.  That said, I’ve tried to get out more over the past year and see more of my great State, South Carolina, as my various festival trips from last fall indicate.  I’ve also developed quite a fondness for taking the back roads, though my desire to get where I’m going usually overrides the romance of driving down barely-maintained rural routes.

Recently, I did take an extended back path from Columbia to Aiken, South Carolina.  I was willing to add twenty minutes to my drive to see some nature.  The route took me through a forgotten triangle of countryside, bounded by I-20 to the east and north and I-26 to the west (there’s no “bottom” to the triangle, so it’s more of an right angle).  That took me through Pelion and New Holland, the latter of which was largely cattle ranches and huge, open swaths of green pastures.

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Lazy Sunday LXIX: Phone it in Fridays, Part III

We’ve celebrated another #MAGAWeek with the #MAGAWeek2020 posts (here, here, here, and here).  Now we’re on the long march toward the 2020 election, which will hopefully be a triumphant landslide for GEOTUS Donaldus Magnus.

For now, it’s time to continue our month-long review of past Phone it in Friday posts.  This week makes for an odd trio:  the first post, “Phone it in Friday VII: Universal Studios,” looks back to a family trip to the Florida theme park at the end of February, on the eve of The Age of The Virus.  Only dimly did I realize at the time that we were living in the twilight days of The Before Times.

The next two posts both deal with The Virus, which dominated blog discussion in those early, fretful days of The Age of The Virus.  If we’re basing the quality of the posts on the lightheartedness and fun of the posts, then these match up nicely with their counterparts in the new Star Wars trilogy:  one good, fun movie (because it’s basically The New Hope) followed by two dreadful SJW escapades.

You can decide (especially you purple-haired schoolmarm star fleet captains out there):

  • Phone it in Friday VII: Universal Studios” – This post is the ultimate example of a “Phone it in Friday” post, as I slammed it out on my tiny netbook computer while babies were screaming (probably) in the hotel room.  It regales readers with some highlights from my family’s trip to Universal Studios, a rare during-the-school-year vacation.  It was worth burning through my three annual personal days, that’s for sure.  My brothers and our significant others and/or children will be heading back there later in the month, in fact.
  • Phone it in Friday VIII: Coronavirus Conundrum” – I wrote this a week after the Universal Studios post, when everything was still up in the air regarding The Virus, at least here in South Carolina.  We’d had very few cases by that point in SC, but the Pacific Northwest was getting hammered.  Ten days later, we transitioned to distance learning.  At the time, we didn’t know much about The Virus, other than it was China’s fault; as I wrote at the time, “My hope is that after all is done, China will be a pariah, no longer vaunted as a power on the rise, but maligned as a malicious, mendacious regime.”  We’ll see.
  • Phone it in Friday IX: Coronavirus Conundrum, Part II: Attack of The Virus” – The title of this post actually drew from the second episode of the Star Wars prequel trilogy, Attack of the Clones.  That afternoon, we had a huge, emergency faculty meeting to figure out distance learning.  Two days later, on Sunday, 15 March 2020, Governor McMaster announced that schools were shutting down through the end of March, and they ended up staying shut for the rest of the year (with distance learning, of course).  I also filed that day to run in Lamar’s Town Council election, which was supposed to be 12 May 2020, but will now be this Tuesday, 14 July 2020.  Wish me luck!

That’s it!  I would like to note that today’s post marks eighty weeks of consecutive posts, and the sixty-ninth edition of Lazy Sunday.  Wooooot!

Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments: