10:01am – Orlando Weekly is reporting that all state offices are closed, all tolls are lifted and that some hospitals in coastal areas were evacuated.
10:03am – The University of Miami is officially on “emergency lock down” – all classes are cancelled, and all retail and offices are closed for the day. Limited dining service is available in the two campus dining halls as long as weather permits, MREs will be available in the Residential Hall lobbies for times when the cafeterias close.
10:20am – Orlando International Airport announced it will be suspending all flights in\out of their airports at 8pm.
11:15am – Sunrail suspends all service through Monday (they don’t offer weekend service)
11:20am – Universal announces it is closing all parks including Wet N’ Wild and CityWalk at 3pm. Disney parks are apparently still open as well with guests going about enjoying their day despite the weather (at the moment is light rain with relatively calm winds).
11:30am – Theme Park Tourist posted that all Disney Parks will close at 5pm, Legoland Florida will close at 5pm as scheduled and SeaWorld will close at 2pm.
12:14pm – TWC is predicting 5-7” of rain through Friday night with wind of 40-50mph with gusts of about 60-65mph. It is not expected to make landfall over Orlando, but we are still under a “Hurricane Warning.”
12:43pm – Not currently raining out, but the winds are strong. The proverbial calm before the storm.
One year from the end of this month, Universal’s current water park Wet-N-Wild is set to close. The question swirling around various rumor sites is: What will Universal DO with that parcel?
People say that at a scant 30 acres Wet-N-Wild is “too small” to build a theme park on. I was looking up information on “SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration” when I happened to come up with an idea for that parcel.
The land is NOT “too small” for a theme park – the naysayers are just thinking too big. I’ve said for a while that I don’t think parents should be taking children under 5 to WDW… but what if there was an alternative park built just for children that age?
Fortunately, such a park already exists in my home state of PA – it’s called Sesame Place and it occupies a mere 14 acres of land in suburban Philly (it’s only location) meaning a clone park wouldn’t be that hard to do. Even better, it wouldn’t be all that expensive either as it is mainly flat rides and shows. But the best part is: SP is owned by SeaWorld Parks which has a marketing agreement with Universal which essentially means that everyone wins.
Bonus: SeaWorld Orlando is connected to Aquatica, Universal and the current Wet-N-Wild park via Mears’ operated I-Ride Trolley so getting to the hypothetical kiddie park from either SeaWorld OR Universal is relatively easy for already harried parents – AND is keeping in-line with both parks’ conservation efforts.
As you can see from this blog, I don’t generally do “event photography,” but when I saw the listing for “Volunteer Photographers” for the American Lung Association’s LUNG Force Expo at SeaWorld, I jumped at the chance. Sometimes opportunity really does come to you.
I checked-in just after 7:30 and started snapping photos… until my camera battery died an hour after arriving (which somehow only happens when I have an event to cover).
Fortunately, I live only two blocks from SeaWorld so I was able to go back and charge my battery and phone for 20 minutes or so until the actual program started (at 10am – which is when the “other” photographers were supposed to arrive). It also gave me a chance to change clothes and get some of the pictures I’d already taken off my SD card (all 15 of them).
The irony is, the brightly lit “Docks” (21-23 plus the entire 2nd pavilion) was “too dark” for the flash on my camera, but my Motorola took fantastic pictures of the mostly empty meeting rooms without a flash… until it too died about 2½ hours after returning (despite having the same 20 minute recharge as the camera, you know, just to be safe). That left me with exactly one option – I had to leave early even though the volunteer coordinator told me that two of the other photographers’ shifts had ended.
I arrive back at the apartment at 1:30pm, changed clothes (again) and plugged in my phone while taking the other photos off my camera. I wasted the next hour or so trying to salvage something vaguely useful from my pictures.
Finally, I went back into the living room to begin the arduous task of sending the pictures on my camera to my computer. My phone does not let me send multiple photos per message so I was forced to send all 46 of them individually. Now you know why I keep taking my dinosaur camera (a graduation gift from my mom) on assignments…