I-Ride Trolley

Fourth of Jul-EYE

5:01pm – The pouring rain we’ve had for most of the day is finally gone. I check the radar on TWC and it’s clear through midnight, so I showered, got dressed, unplugged my phone (100% charged) and got ready to do some photographing.

5:35pm – As soon as I open the door to my condo, I heard thunder…or was it fireworks (it’s hard to tell on July 4th). The sky is half blue, half charcoal so it could go either way.

5:48pm – Trolley arrives. Unfortunately, it’s also “FULL.” It’s also raining out, and my rain gear is back in the unit (because TWC said it wasn’t supposed to rain for the rest of the evening). Now the entire state is red/green/yellow again.

5:56pm – Trolley #2 arrives. It is not completely full like the last one, but it was two stops later. Ugh, I hate super crowded buses.

6:08pm – arrive at Coca-Cola Orlando Eye complex, and stop at the Outback near the trolley drop-off. Hopefully, eating will ease my suddenly sour stomach.

6:15pm – as expected, it was crowded (mostly by people waiting out the rain). I was fortunate enough to be seated immediately at the bar.

7:28pm – Leave restaurant, and the rain IS gone. The sky is clear, but it isn’t dark enough for fireworks yet so I decide to take some pictures around the immediate area to kill time. Yes, my stomach feels better.

7:36pm – Decide to get some ice cream and make my way toward the courtyard. It is surprisingly crowded considering the rain ended less than 20 minutes ago (sidewalk and artificial turf are dry too)

8:13pm – post a bunch of photos to the FB page. I probably should have posted them here…. I still can, hold on. Done, I love WP’s “backdating” feature.

8:27pm – Sunset, however my phone is at about 33% so the planned “Live” video of the fireworks show is called off.

8:43pm – The trolley back to my condo arrives… with exactly four other passengers on it.

8:59pm – arrive back at the condo where there is a near constant booming from fireworks that I know aren’t part of some official show. It will probably keep up like this all night.

9:13pm – I log back into FB on my laptop as my phone charges. I feel horrible about going back on the promise to my followers to “go live” with the fireworks.

9:37pm – a loud rumble of thunder puts the noise outside to an immediate stop. I’m hoping for a huge storm so I can get some sleep, but, no, the auxiliary show continued less than 10 seconds later.

9:47pm – Stomach is acting up again. I may end up spending the entirety of SeaWorld’s Fourth show in the bathroom. I never liked fireworks anyway…

Categories: adventures, florida, holidays, I-Ride Trolley, Orlando, Orlando Eye, photography, transportation | Leave a comment

Not even a lollipop

Woke up in a relatively good mood this morning (which is extremely rare for me), and the first post I saw on FB was an uplifting meme listing “positive traits” of people with Dyslexia\ADHD\Aspergers (I’m all three) … and got “Sad-Mad” (to quote the movie Home) as most of them didn’t apply to me.

I look up and it’s 9am, and I can’t leave yet because I need to finish the laundry I started yesterday so I have clean clothes to match my hopefully clean teeth. When the drier finally buzzed, I pulled everything out, hurriedly showered, got dressed and raced downstairs to the approaching trolley.

I’m not a runner, but I didn’t have time to wait “45 minutes” for the next trolley. I get to the corner exactly as the driver gets to the stop and then I really have to move getting within feet of the stop…just to have him shut the door and lurch the bus forward before opening the door again. Hilarious.

“Of course I saw you, dumbass,” he said as if he actually expected me to laugh “with” him. I drop the quarter in the box and could feel everyone staring at me as if their obviously amused smiles would make this less awkward. It doesn’t.

The driver lets me off at Sandlake and International at 10:43am. According to Google Maps, it’s a “21-minute” walk from there to my dentist’s office, but I somehow made it to his door at exactly 11am – hot, sweaty, and exhausted, but exactly on time.

I’m not a fan of going to the dentist – especially after a root canal, an extraction and a prophallactic something (which sounds a lot more fun than it actually is). Fortunately, my teeth and gums are “recovering nicely” (or so the doctor I’ve never seen before told me), but I still needed a half-hour of poking, prodding and scraping that unlike haircuts never actually gets easier (hair is dead, my mouth isn’t). Now I have to schedule a 90-minute bridge installation for either Thanksgiving or my birthday – yah!

The first thing I did after escaping the awkward conversation with the receptionist was get lunch (not even a lollipop). I wanted something fast and there was a McDonalds on the way to Wal-Mart (my next stop) so why not? It was fast and it was food so that was all that really mattered to me.

It’s a long walk (with zero shade) from Sandlake to Wal-Mart, but I survived, entered the store and made a beeline for the watch area where the sole woman working there semi-busily goes between unloading boxes to chatting with passing coworkers to telling customers (all of whom arriving at the counter AFTER I did) at the jewelry end of the counter she can’t help them to disappearing into the back room until after 10 minutes of waiting she finally decides to get rid of help me.

“Do you need help with anything,” she said more as a formality than an actual question.

“The battery on my watch died about two days ago.”

“I’m sorry, we don’t fix watches here. Where did you buy it from?”

“Wal-Mart,” I replied knowing full well if I said anywhere else she’d tell me to “just take it there.”

“We don’t fix watches,” she said flatly. “Try some other store. Florida Mall or something.”

“In other words, I came out here for nothing.”

She shrugs and goes back to half-heartedly unpacking boxes and chatting with passing coworkers.

I leave the store empty-handed and I would have walked back to I-Drive, but there was, conveniently enough, a cab parked directly in front of the store.

I get in and give him the address. He looks at me like I’m nuts, but starts the cab anyway.

“I am not familiar with that address,” he said with a soft yet indeterminate accent. “You will TELL me where to go. Where do I go? Left here?”

“Right,” I corrected.

“Okay, I will turn left at exit to store.”

I swear, I’m the only one who listens to me… either that or I’m trapped in the least funny episode of Seinfeld EVER.

“No, I said turn RIGHT at exit to store.”

“So, right here?”

“Yes, then left at the next exit.”

“Okay.”

“You can’t miss it, it’s the building on the left with the bright green metal roof. Of course, I said that to the last driver too and he still…”

“Who it is you [are] babbling at? I need directions, and you are babbling incoherently while I am trying to drive.”

It’s never pleasant being reminded of how others see\hear me. Important? Yes; Pleasant? No as it puts a damper on otherwise polite conversation.

“So you say ‘go right at exit,’” he asked interrupting my brooding inner monologue.

“No, I said ‘turn LEFT at the exit.’ If you go right, you’ll ne…”

He screeches to a halt in the middle of the busy road, turns around and points at me angrily.

“Do you want me to ‘go left’ or ‘go right,’” he snaps. “Which one is it, or do you not know where [the] fuck you [are] going?”

If we weren’t in the middle lane, I would have gotten out, but I’m not partial to getting killed by a speeding car. Moreover, if the big sticker on the window reads “passenger is responsible for all tolls and fees,” who would be “responsible” (I already know who he’d blame) if a car rear-ended us because of HIS stunt?

He starts the cab again and begrudgingly crosses lanes to the rightmost “left-turn” lane just a few hundred yards before the turn and then immediately gets back into the right-turn lane for whatever reason. I ask why he is in the right lane with his right blinker on when the building I requested was obviously to his LEFT so he growls, goes back into the center lane and eventually into the right “left-turn” lane.

Once he got on Westwood, even he could figure out where he was supposed to go (as it’s literally the only “bright green metal roofed building” on the street). I wasn’t planning on giving him a tip, but the fare came to $13.50 (which explains his desire to do a circle tour of I-Drive) and I had three 5s so he was getting a 90-cent “tip” (he forgot to turn his meter off when we were stopped) anyway. I exit the cab, and while he was leaving I traipsed over to the mailboxes and pull two bills and the usual cadre of junk mail that fills the entirety of my tiny mailbox on a daily basis (except Sunday) and head back to the unit.

I came back inside, toss both bills on the counter and open Facebook just to have my “okay” mood spoiled by another uplifting meme about “sharing my thoughts” as it’s a concept which has gotten me in trouble a few times this year (as my thoughts are nothing more than “manipulative lies” designed solely to make people “feel sorry” for me… until they finally realize “the sad fucking joke” that I apparently am).

I look up from my laptop and see it’s pouring rain outside. It’s okay, I had enough sunshine today anyway…

Categories: adventures, dentistry, florida, Health, I-Ride Trolley, Orlando, retail, transportation | Leave a comment

Editorial: Thinking small

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.

Categories: editorials, florida, I-Ride Trolley, Orlando, Pennsylvania, ramblings, SeaWorld Orlando, Universal Studios | Leave a comment

Easter is Universal: Part 2

I follow the path out of Hogsmeade station and up the slight hill to the village proper. I’ve already done the castle ride and believe me I wasn’t about to do it again. I was up for a Butterbeer. I stopped at the rapidly growing line in front of the red wagon they sell them from, and as I was waiting a woman in a HP island uniform came by and asked who was “paying with CASH” which was myself and about three other people. She took our orders and told us to wait with the others in “the shady area” in front of The Three Broomsticks.

Sure enough, the same woman came back several minutes later with our drinks. I sort of wish they’d given us straws as it would make it easier to drink on the go, but since they didn’t I had to find someplace to sit down to drink it. The only open space I could see through all the people was at the base of a small stage outside “Flight of the Hippogriff.”

The second I sat down, I could feel a hand on my back.

“You’re not allowed on the stage,” the voice behind me said sternly.

As I try to recover and reassess my options I can see a young man who was also booted from the edge of the stage. I couldn’t tell if he was a teenager or a college student, but he makes eye contact with me anyway.

“I guess they must be preparing for a sh…dude, what the FUCK is WRONG with you?”

I don’t know why people keep asking me that – it’s never actually a “question,” and they clearly don’t care about the answer.

I’ve never had any real interest in comic books or roller coasters so Marvel Superhero Island had little to offer me. I did decide to try The X-Men themed “Storm Force Accelatron” as it was only a 15 minute wait. However as I snaked through the line, I grew increasingly irritated by a series of high pitched beeps that weren’t loud so as much as persistent and ultimately forcing me to leave the queue just so my headache would go away.

It’s 3pm, and I’m sitting on a concrete wall near Port of Entry watching various families getting their picture in front of the generic “Today’s Specials” statue outside Confisco Grill – the place I decided I’d be eating at when I left this morning – while waiting for my head to clear.

It was against my better judgement, but I went into “Poseidon’s Fury” while waiting for the next showing of The Eighth Voyage of Sinbad. The special effects were pretty cool, but the atrocious “acting” (by both the live host and the pre-recorded deities) made the “story” all but impossible to follow…not that it really mattered. I came out of the temple and realized I wasn’t THAT interested in reliving Sinbad’s “voyage.”

That brings me back to where I started this post – Hogsmeade Station. The line back to London moved just as quickly as its counterpart, but the theming didn’t seem quite as elaborate. Also, the movie on the train wasn’t nearly as good (not that the one into Hogsmeade was great, this was just worse).

Long story short: “Revenge of the Mummy,” “DISASTER,” and “Transformers: The Ride” still had long lines as did “Minions Mayhem” but when I walked dejectedly up Hollywood boulevard I ended up accidentally walking into a “third” line which claimed to have a “5 minute wait” (considering I was the ONLY person in it). When I tried asking staff members (back at the entrance as there wasn’t anybody back where I’d initially seen the sign) they told me there was “no such wait time:” it was either “85 minutes” for regular admission OR “60 minutes” for Express Pass holders. I left again and due to them cornering off the streets for their Mardi Gras celebration, I ended up in the same queue – this time there was someone stationed there.

“Yeah, the sign’s ‘accurate,’” she said with a shrug. “It’s the ‘Stationary’ line, for riders who want to see the film, but don’t want to do the motion sim” (kind of like how SeaWorld does with their “Wild Artic” ride).

“I guess I can handle that,” I said (considering the alternative was nearly an hour and a half wait).

The actual wait was probably closer to 10-15 minutes (even though I was still the only person in line), but aside from some of the usual 3D tricks, the attraction itself wasn’t all that bad. I left the ride into a small minion “dance party” and into the Minion store (meaning it was EXACTLY like every other gift shop in the resort…but with slightly more Minions stuff).

Anyway, now it was getting time to think about dinner so I went back to Kings Cross Station and just as I was finally about to board the train to Hogsmeade, I was pulled out of the front of my row and moved to another line on the opposite end of the platform. No explanation just an ominous “you must come with us” and that the end of the discussion.

Was it REALLY because they were “short” in this other row…or because someone in my original car didn’t want to share a cabin with a “crazy person” – either way I got no complaints from the people in my reassigned car.

I arrive back to Confisco Grill at Port of Entry at 6:09pm and as I go to enter the restaurant, I see a small red sign on the door reading: “open 8am-6pm.”

Great, now what? There’s a Starbucks and Cinnabon directly across from where I’m standing. I could go back to Superhero Island try Café 4 or Seuss Landing and go back to Circus McGurkus Café Stoo-Pendous which I had lunch at last time I was here.

Nah, I was too tired to backtrack and it was going to get dark soon so I figured I’d just start walking back to the trolley stop. As I approached the stop, I could see the trolley coming from the opposite direction and I knew I made the right decision…

Categories: florida, I-Ride Trolley, Islands of Adventure, Orlando, Universal Studios | Leave a comment

Every night is magic

Four months ago, I signed up for a popular dating app. It’s worked out so well that I’m sitting on my sofa all alone at 6pm on a Friday night. :/

NO! I refuse to sit around and feel sorry for myself! I grabbed my wallet and keys off the counter. I shook $2 in quarters out of my change tube and headed downstairs to catch the arriving southbound trolley.

Perhaps I should have thought this through. I know it’s only a “20% chance of rain,” but I could have worn the jacket on the trolley – you would think by now I’d know those things are ALWAYS FREEZING COLD! Not only that, but according to their own maps there are almost no restaurants south of Sea World.

Wait, it’s also a FRIDAY night so my choices are – well, it doesn’t matter we’ve just sailed past the stop with all restaurants. This leaves exactly two choices and conveniently enough they share the same stop as the destination of the only other passenger on this fake “trolley.”

I could go to CiCi’s pizza…or fall back on Golden Corral (formerly Wood Grill Buffet). I just had pizza the other day besides GC was closer to the bus stop. I enter the store, thinking if I only order water I should be fine.

Water, water, water… “Iced tea” I told the woman arguing into the store’s phone when she finally asked what I wanted to drink. While I was waiting for the drink I accidentally ordered, I pulled $15 out of my wallet.

“That will be $17.87,” she said impatiently as I handed her the money. I opened my wallet and found I had exactly $3. The same $3 I was going to use to get back, but it was too late to put it on a credit card as there was already a line of people behind me.

I found a table, put down my drink and hat and went immediately off to the food bar hoping to not run into my server along the way. I go around the buffet getting a moderate amount of everything in the first section before returning to the table.

The instant I put my plate down, the server appeared behind me, reached across the table telling me he has to “check my table” and proceeds to ask me about anything I need and that I should know his name was “Isaiah” and he’d do “anything he could” to help me during my meal. Though I somehow doubted going to the ATM and bringing me enough money to get back to my apartment fell under his purview.

Great, now I’m not sitting at home alone feeling sorry for myself – now I’m sitting alone in a moderately crowded buffet feeling sorry for Isaiah and the maximum 13-cent tip I had to give him. Now I had all this food in front of me, and I could barely stand to eat any of it.

I felt somewhat better when I came back from my second trip to the food bar to find my plate, napkins and drink exactly as I left them, but the second I sat down the server appeared out of nowhere to clear the table for me and get me a new drink (which he got wrong but whatever as he was back in less than 30 seconds).

I finish my food, and leave the coins on the table passing a smiling Isaiah on the way out of the restaurant. Though I can all but guarantee he wasn’t smiling when he was cleaning my table…

Now, I have to figure out how I’m getting back. I check my phone for nearby ATMs and Google Maps shows that I’m indeed at the Golden Corral… at Sand Lake & International. When I scrolled down to my actual location (the nearest “landmark” I could select was CiCi’s which was close enough for my needs), I couldn’t find any “branded” ATMs listed anywhere within reasonable walking distance.

This meant my only option was the Bank of America at Publix shopping center nearly 2mi away. I crossed the parking lot to get to the sidewalk apparently forgetting this was Orlando and that the sidewalks end where the shopping center does. So  I’d be walking the entire length of international drive on an uneven embankment, this was just perf…drop-drop-drop…

Sorry, NOW it was perfect… and, of course, it ended the second I reached the sidewalk outside the tourist information office on Central Florida Parkway. With the rain gone and semi-level terrain underfoot, the remaining half mile to Bank of America was relatively easy…it was the walk back to International that tired me out.

Fortunately, it only gave me an excuse to get an iced coffee at the Starbucks across from SeaWorld Park, and while I honestly wasn’t all that thirsty, it did give me enough change to take the trolley the rest of the way back to the apartment…

Categories: florida, I-Ride Trolley, Orlando | Leave a comment

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