Sea World, Orlando, Florida – October 6, 2011

I’d been to SeaWorld once before. When I was around 12 years old. Of course much has changed since then. SeaWorld started out as a “filler” destination after Disney World and Universal Studios. But it still ended up a pretty cool experience. Seeing the Orcas, Dolphins, Sea Lions, and Seals perform was just awesome!

View Sea World Orlando in a larger map

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This theme park is obviously not as grandiose as Disney or Universal, but it still has something to offer.

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Since many of the shows run a schedule, we checked the shows and targeted the big show with Shamu and the other Killer Whales.

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Like a little kid, I was so excited. And boy… it was awesome!

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Here is a brief video of one part of the show…

Of course there is more than just Killer Whales… I was surprised to see land animals as well, like this otter…

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and birds…

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We later watched another show featuring dolphins

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And later… a comedy routine featuring seals and a huge walrus

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Ooo… Penguins…

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Ooo… more dolphins.

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Universal Studios, Orlando, Florida – October 5, 2011

Ok. So I went to Florida just to go to Universal Studios, and just to see the new Harry Potter attraction “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter”. But of course, as we were there, we did go around as well.

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Chris Yap joined me on this Theme Park hopping adventure. He flew in from Sothern California to wander Disney, Universal, and Sea World with me.

Because our main objective was just the Harry Potter attraction, we spent our time at “Islands of Adventure”. We didn’t bother going to the Studios itself this trip.

Thanks to my sister, Kathy who brought us into the park gratis. She had this special VIP pass which allowed her to take in two guests at a time (and some nice discounts at the shops).

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After Chris and I wandered around the Harry Potter attraction, we leisurely went around the park.

Poseidon’s Fury.

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Dr. Seuss

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Naturally I enjoyed the comics/cartoon area. This was at “The Incredible Hulk Coaster” which we didn’t ride because Chris experiences motion-sickness.

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At one of the shops. You can actually buy that statue!

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Marvel Rules!

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Whoa! Rogue!

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Fun fun fun!

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w00t! Beatle Baily!

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And of course we kept on going back to the Harry Potter section.

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Universal City Walk

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The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Orlando, Florida – October 5, 2011

On Day two of our Theme Park hopping adventure. Chris and I (courtesy of my Orlando-based sister Kathy) spent the day at Universal Studios, Orlando. The main objective… to go to the newly opened attraction… “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter”… (for now) only at Universal Studios in Orlando.  In actuality the whole trip to Florida was just to see the Harry Potter attractions.

Ok. I admit it. I am a Harry Potter fan. Get over it.

The attraction in in the second of two theme parks at Universal Studios… Islands of Adventure.

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While we are relatively late… 10:30am… the park was almost virtually empty.  As explained in my previous day’s post on Walt Disney World, we flew to Orlando after the summer season which partially explains the empty park. Then again, The Harry Potter attraction was the newest addition, so most folks proceeded there first.

En route we passed through the Doctor Seuss attraction.

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After passing a few other deserted attractions we end up at the entrance of the attraction, where else but … Hogsmead.

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Hogsmead is like a little old English town perpetually in winter.

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Hogwart’s Express

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First thing’s first… I had to have a serving of Butter Beer.

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Butter Bear tastes like root beer with some vanilla crème on top.

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We then proceeded to Hogwart’s for the main ride.

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Hogwart’s Castle is actually quite impressive…

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The line through the greenhouse went quickly… our total wait time, around 10 min.

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Their stairway to the headmaster’s office

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Oooh… talking paintings… there was a discussion between Godrick Griffindor, Helga Hufflepuff,, Rowena Ravenclaw, and Salazar Slytherin…

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The sorting hat!!!

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Ok, that’s about it for the pictures inside Hogwarts. I tried to take pictures inside Dumbledore’s office and with Harry, Hermione, and Ron in the classroom of the Defence Againsit the Dark Arts professor, but they came out blurred.

Anyway… the RIDE WAS AWESOME!!!

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It was about lunch so we went to Three Broomsticks for lunch…

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I had the fish and chips. And another glass of Butter Beer.

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When I would get bored, I’d whip out my wand… yes! I bought a wand!!! So beware… ADAVA KEDAVRA!

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Olivander’s

Speaking of wands, we were able to get into Olivander’s for the brief “show” where he chooses one member of from the audience and presents three wands. Just like in the movie, the old wizard (he did not exactly identify himself as Olivader himself) would pick out a wand, hand it over to the selected audience member and ask him/her to give it a wave… naturally the first two attempts were a tad disastrous. On the third try… like in the movie… the audience member is mystically surrounded by wind and light with the matching music playing. The last wand would be one of the wands you can actually purchase in the adjoining shop upon exit.

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Hogsmeade is where all the shops and restaurants are located.

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Anyway… the whole Harry Potter attraction was super incredibly awesome!! While we were there, we actually went back to ride again and buy stuff.

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And of course… we did see other attractions while in the park.

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Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida – October 4, 2011

I scheduled a trip to Orlando, Florida late last year with my good friend, Chris Yap. For those who follow my blog, you know that my trips have singular objectives. What the heck is a singular objective? I don’t visit a place (a city, a state, a country) and pressure myself to see everything in that location. I plan to do specific tasks. That way, I don’t pressure myself into trying to see and do everything and end up not enjoying. Anyway… that is the way I do things.

My singular objective for the whole three day trip to Orlando takes place the next day (see the next blog post for that). On this day, its DISNEY WORLD! Woohoo!


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I scheduled my trip to Orlando rather strategically. First of all, I hate crowds. Hate hate hate. But Disney World?  I scheduled the trip to Orlando he first week of October. Summer is done for the Americans. School has just started, so there should be no American school kids lingering around. Second, it is hardly a holiday for other countries as well. Perfect.

Chris and I got to Disney from our hotel a little past 10am. Below a picture showing the first time I saw the Disney ticket booths relatively empty!

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We decided to go to three parks roday. Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and finally Epcot.

So we started with Magic Kingdom! Woohoo!

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Main Street had a fairly good number of people. But this was still not as much as if it were the height of summer.

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Give or take… my 6th trip to Disney World

To my recollection, this is probably my 6th trip to Disney World. My last two trips were separately with my friends of officemates Deo Co and Norman Jose when were still with Microsoft. Previous to that trips ranging all the way to my first trip several years ago (never mind the actual year… hehe)

Cinderella’s Castle. Each Disney has a castle based from one of the characters. The one in Anaheim, California is Sleeping Beauty’s.

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No luck with King Arthur’s sword!

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Even though I have been to this ride several times in the past, it is still one of my favorites!

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Animal Kingdom

After several hours in the Magic Kingdom, we hopped onto a shuttle bus for the Animal Kingdom. This was relatively a newer attraction and I have never been here.  So at least for me, it was new.

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While in the Animal Kindom, I was so hungry we went to eat and got some generic theme park food!

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Dinosours! Rawr!!!

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No, we didn’t eat here.

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From the Animal Kingdom, we made our way to Hollywood Studios.

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Star Tours!!! They revamped the story!

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Me and Chris outside Star Tours. We just missed the song and dance of Darth Vader and the Storm Troopers. Yes, that is an Imperial ATAT behind us. (If you didn’t know what that was, shame on you infidel!)

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New York City (fake back drop)!

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The Muppets!

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Ah… Disney Travel

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And finally we ended with Epcot!

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I had a mission while at Epcot. In front of the Spaceship Earth Dome are these huge monoliths with metal etchings on them. These were called “Leave a Legacy”, where for a small price, you leave your mark with a photo of yourself or leave a quote behind. Lucky for me, I am immortalized twice here.

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Here I am!!!

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In 2004, I have a picture with Deo Co

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In 2005, I came back with Norman Jose… ouch that metal was hot!

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Anyway, back and inside… Chris I made the long walk around the world…

Morocco

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Japan

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USA… of course

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Norway

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Eventually ending up in Mexico

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It was a long tiring day at Disney World…

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Back to hotel and to forage for food.