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An EPIC Adventure - A Live & Interactive trip report

Mad Dog

Premium Member
Jan 30, 2013
Pittsburgh area
Here are the photos from our day at Kennywood

20180902_165008[1] by UK-Trigg, on Flickr

20180902_165024[1] by UK-Trigg, on Flickr

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20180902_153717[1] by UK-Trigg, on Flickr

20180902_121906[1] by UK-Trigg, on Flickr

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20180902_121727[1] by UK-Trigg, on Flickr

20180902_125035[1] by UK-Trigg, on Flickr
Mark @UK-Trigg visited Kennywood on the day before Labor Day one year ago. Here's his photos.......and Labor Day was the trip to Cedar Point.

Mad Dog

Premium Member
Jan 30, 2013
Pittsburgh area
Day 8 - cedar point

Cedar point is been on my list of parks for years, the main draw for me was always Top Thrill Dragster. We have a version at Thorpe Park back home and it's one of my favorite coasters to ride, ours is only 200ft though.

I'd looked into going a fee times but never managed to factor it into a trip, so this time even though we are still 3.5 hrs away it was too good off an opportunity to miss.

We set off just before 6am @Mad Dog drove and the ride up went surprisingly quick, good company end conversation sure helped passed the time. Before we knew we were crossing the ccausway to CP just in time for opening.

We are soon through the gates and making our way forward towaback of the park, millennium force was only a 15 minute wait so we hit that first, what a first ride of the day. I just love that first drop and it was just the tonic to get is going after the long drive, long by UK standards anyway.

Next we made our way over to steel vengeance, 2 hrs was posted so we skipped by maverick was posting 1.5 hrs so we skipped that too.

Before the trip we had discussed getting the fast pass plus option and it was looking more likely that we would have to put out hands in our pockets.

We headed over to top thrill dragster expecting to be met by another long line. 15 minutes, result. This was it, the ride id so wanted to go in on all these years was now a reality and I could feel myself grinning like a kid as we walked the line. We were soon sat in the car and looking up at the top hat as the train revved up the lights went green and boom,120 mph, 420ft and 17 seconds later it was over, and boy what a ride living up to everything I expected and more. Top Thrill is a solid 10 for me and well up there one of my favorite coasters, so good we went right back round and rode again. Still only 15 minutes and this is how it stayed all day, maybe we wouldn't have to lay down 100 bucks after all.

To be cont.......
Cedar Point Photos Part 2

20180903_140827[1] by UK-Trigg, on Flickr

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20180903_140629[1] by UK-Trigg, on Flickr VIDEO CLICK TO SEE

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20180903_175920[1] by UK-Trigg, on Flickr VIDEO CLICK TO SEE
And....last year to do the Top Thrill Dragster to full fill Mark's Bucket List. Cedar Point, Labor Day, "Epic Trip". Drove from my house in Elizabeth Twp, Pa. in the morning and returned in the evening. A very hot day, with very little shade, on the beautiful Lake Erie shore.
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Mad Dog

Premium Member
Jan 30, 2013
Pittsburgh area

After Top Thrill we hit up Magnum XL, Gemini, and the mine train, with what seemed like half the crowd being inline for Steel Vengeance and Maverick the older rides were pretty much a walk on.
I found Magnum and Gemini to be rough and we came off of these coasters feeling pretty beat up the mine ride was much smoother. The girls had other plans today, good job as I don't think they would have enjoyed the beating we took.

Lunch was calling so we hit Coasters Drive in, the place very much reminded me of Mel's at USH, only problem was this place was a rough as the coasters we had just ridden. The whole ordering process here was a mess with neither staff or customers really understanding the system, once you had figured out how to order you go through to wait whilst they pit your order together, the area is small and also contains a fixings bar which was hard to get to as so many people were already in this area waiting for their orders, also the fixings bar was a mess with empty sauces and salad items. We eventually got our food and sat down at a rickety table to eat what turned out to be the worst burger I can remember ordering in a theme parks, soggy bun and a cold patty wasn't enjoyable at all.

After a disappointing lunch we headed back out into the park. We made over towards the Gate keeper which according to the app was a 30 min wait, this is about my limit for standing in line but when we got there the actual wait was 45 so we skipped it deciding to try and hit it on the way out of the park later in the day. Wicked twister however had only a 10 min wait so decided to that instead. I had little to no interest in this ride before we got in line but what a surprise package it was, it was a fun ride and we both came off having enjoyed it.

We headed over to the opposite side of the park where Raptor was down to a 15 mins, again the app had this wrong as it stated well over an hour. Unlike @Mad Dog I love B&M inverts so whilst John got his 421st soda of the day ( It was baking at CP) I hit up Raptor. Fantastic ride, fast and intense with some incredible Gs round the helix some inversions and a great first drop and smooth, everything you expect from a B&M. After Raptor I hooked back up with @Mad Dog to ride Blue Streak, again we had no wait and we soon found out why, that thing is brutal and once again we came off a ride feeling beat up.

Not long after a huge storm cloud descended on the edge of the park it didn't dump any rain on us but the lightening was close enough to shut down the rides for a while, this gave another opportunity to take on more yet fluids. spent a small fortune between us on beverages but they were needed as it must have been over 100 in the park that day and with all the concrete and steel it felt far hotter. Valrayvn was running well over an hour and as good as it looked I wast going to stand in that heat for any ride for that amount of time. Top thrill however was still only 15 mins when we walked by, would have been rude not to ride so I took my 3rd ride of the day, just as much fun as the first.

Corkscrew was up next, Alton towers had a version which was taken out in 2008. As a kid I loved it it but in it's later years it had become painful to ride, because of this I was apprehensive but what the heck, it had no wait so we gave it a blast. My apprehension was correct and once again we came off a coaster feeling like we had been ten rounds with Mike Tyson, this wasn't a fun ride. We headed down to Steel Vengeance but unsurprisingly it was still running over 2 hrs and it neighbor the Maverick not much less. The only way we were going to get these 2 rides was with a fast pass, No way was I going to pull out $100 for these 2 rides, so we decided we would make gate keeper the last ride of the day no matter what the wait. We got there to find it down to 15 mins, in reality it was a walk, winner. I took 2 rides, left side and right side, the left is best but both give a good, thankfully smooth ride. It was now 6 pm so we decided to make tracks and get in the road for drive back down to Pittsburgh. The drive home was a bit slower as we hit a storm and some road works but we got in around 10PM having had a good day out but feeling tired and a little battered and bruised.

Final thoughts on Cedar Park.

A fun coaster park with some decent flats too, the landscaping and planting is a little sparce I thought more could have been done in this area to break up with vast areas of concrete. Shade was hard to come by, especially in some of the lines, luckily we had walk ons for the majority but on busy days this could be a real issue for those who don't like the heat. Some of the coasters, mainly the older ones, are rough to ride and because of this had no re readability for me, the newer coasters were naturally better and I enjoyed Raptor and Millennium Force, however the star of the day and my main reason for going was Top thrill dragster, this was everything I hoped and more and I would have paid the admission price alone for my 3 rides on it. We missed out on 3 of the coasters but whilst I would have liked to have gone on these I wasn't going to wait in line in that heat or fork out for the pass, this didn't detract from the day though as we got in a good ride count for the 8 hours we were in the park

A fun day was had all round and I am glad I went but Cedar Park is one and done for me.

Stay tuned for photos of the day
final part of Mark's Cedar Point story.
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Mad Dog

Premium Member
Jan 30, 2013
Pittsburgh area
Thursday,one year ago, Mark & Samantha's last full day with us. We day tripped to downtown Pittsburgh, and Mark, a career chef, cooked dinner that evening at our home. It was a great week with good friends, good food, and good drinks. Besides trips to Kennywood & Cedar Point, we also traveled through the Laurel Mountains and spent a fun evening at the Hofbrauhaus (photos earlier in this thread). On Friday morning I drove Mark & Samantha to Morgantown West Virginia (WV is @Disneyhead early life tromping grounds), where they rented a car to drive to Dollywood and meet up with @bobwadd ....and....the Epic Trip continued.......
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Mad Dog

Premium Member
Jan 30, 2013
Pittsburgh area
Dollywood Photos

20180909_101105 by UK-Trigg, on Flickr

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Dollywood Cont......

Dollywood commentary and photos from one year ago on UK Trigg's Epic Trip. Mark loved the beautiful park. ....and in 7 more days he'll be back in Orlando.

Mad Dog

Premium Member
Jan 30, 2013
Pittsburgh area
Day 14 – Dollywood, Alpine Coaster and yet more moonshine

Dollywood was the third park of this trip and again one we hadn’t visited before, we had heard many good reviews so it was a day we were looking forward to.

Sam and I had a 3 day pass and Bob and Dianne had upgraded to APs as they are visiting again for Christmas, we got our tickets sorted ahead of time so we were all set. Our cabin is a little bit away from the main tourist areas which works well for us, but all the areas attractions are still only a 20 minute drive away at the most. We hit the park bang on opening at 10am.

The car parks were empty and the weather good so we knew it was going to be a good park day. We were through the turnstiles with no wait and this would pretty much be the same for the rides. First impressions were how pretty the park was and how friendly the staffs were. Lots of well kept, colorful flower beds, trees, creeks, water features and rivers all compliment the themed buildings really well. The park also had a fair amount of Halloween decorations which was nice to see.

We decided as it was so quiet to hit the coasters just in case it did get busy later. We made our way over to the newest area of the park to ride Lightening Rod, denied, this was down and would be down for the duration of our stay. This thing has had a rough time since opening which is a real shame, not just because it looks such a fun coaster to ride but also the whole area, which looks fantastic, is done to compliment this troubled woody.

With Lightening Rod being SBNO we hit up Tennessee Tornado. This 1999 Arrow machine was short and sweet, nothing really special but it was a walk on and surprisingly smooth for an old Arrow Dynamics machine. Next onto Wild Eagle, a beautiful looking B&M wing rider which I was looking forward to riding. This was another walk on and such a fun ride which gives stunning views of the surrounding mountains. This is the 4th wing rider I’ve been on and for me its hands down the best, so good I went straight back round to ride the other side.

Right across the way is Fire Chaser Express, from the ground it looked fairly mediocre but I ended up really enjoying the ride. This Gerstlaur has multiple launches, reverse track, some nice theming in the line and decent little show scene at the switch track all of which makes for a fun coaster and once again it was a walk on.

We were on a roll rides wise so decided to do the next coaster. Mystery Mine is another Gerstlaur, I was weary of riding this as it’s the Euro Fighter design like Saw at Thorpe Park back home, Saw is awful to ride, a real rough head banger of a ride hence my anticipation. I need not have worried, Mystery mine is no Saw, in fact it is an excellent ride from start to finish, this is the ride Saw could have been. The ride has a good story and theme which starts in the line and continues throughout the ride, the façade is also really well done. The actual coaster is pretty smooth and has two really neat show scenes, the ride builds as you go round with the second half being really exhilarating, I really enjoyed this ride and it restored my faith in the Gerstlaur Euro Fighter model, oh and it was another walk on to boot.

By this time we were about coastered out and hungry, we decided on Reds Drive – In, a 50s style diner situated in the Lightening Rod are of the park. After my themed diner experience at Cedar I was once again feeling apprehensive and once again this apprehension was dumb founded. Reds was head and shoulders above Cedars version, a large queuing area, clear and simple ordering system and super friendly staff. The food was good and the fixings bar was not only full bit looked appetizing; we all enjoyed our meals here and agreed it was fairly priced.

After lunch we wandered the park looking at all the exhibits and shops. There is plenty here for none riders, lots of craft shops, glass blowing, metal, wood and leather workers all showing off their skills but never too busy to stop and talk, There is also a really neat Eagle exhibit which doubles as care for which cannot be released into the wild due to injuries sustained in the wild. On top of that there are several shows and entertainers around the park; there really is something for everyone here.

They bill themselves as an amusement park but there level of theming although not Disney or Uni standards made me think they were selling themselves short, we all had a really good time here and only left early as we knew we had two more days left on our tickets. Oh and I mustn’t forget the Cinnamon bread, whole loaves baked in store served with apple jelly and icing, we grabbed one to go. I hear our very own @Andy (AKA hatetofly) is a big fan of this bread so we were looking forward to enjoying it back at the cabin later.

We pass by one of Pigeon Forges Alpine Coasters on the way back and these things look so much fun so we decided to stop by on the way back. $15 a ride but look out for the coupons for $2 off. This ride was so much fun even the long slow climb up the lift is fun, up through the mountain to the top once there you push the breaks forward and go, and boy do you, this thing is fast and windy as you travel back down in your single cart. I was laughing and smiling all the way back to the bottom, the ride is a descent length too, well worth the stop off and the $13 paid.

With the Alpine coaster done we headed back to the cabin, as we walked through the door the smell was amazing, Id put in a pork shoulder to slow roast whilst we were out for the day. Rubbed with Jack Daniels Spices and cooked on a trivet of potatoes and garlic. I gave the pork an hour uncovered whilst I reduced the cooking liquors and meat juices for the sauce. It fell off the bone and I had it pulled in no time, served it up with some garlic mash, trail slaw and small Hawaiian rolls. We all enjoyed in with a nice bottle of red wine. We finished up with the Cinnamon bread and @Andy was right, that stuff is delicious.

After dinner we experimented with different Moonshine cocktails, we were all a bit tipsy to say the least. Dianne maintained it was wine and not the moonshine; I’ll leave y’all to decide. We all went to bed a little drunk but satisfied after a fun day and a good feed.
More Dollywood.
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Mad Dog

Premium Member
Jan 30, 2013
Pittsburgh area
Day 20 - Disney Fantasy Day 1 - All Aboard - Part two

So after our short ten minute drive we were soon at Disneys Port arrivals, offloading our luggage and heading through security at the port. The next time you see your luggage will be outside your stateroom a few hours later so it is important to pack a day bag of essentials.

20180915_142737 by UK-Trigg, on Flickr

Once through security you hit check in, a quick and painless experience where you have your security photo taken and your room keys are issued, from here you have a short wait for your boarding time.

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The whole embarkation is smooth and well oiled, we were soon boarding to the usual Disney Cruise Line "welcome Mark and Samantha from the UK" fanfare that whilst can make you feel a little awkward it also has that touch of elegance, you know you are in for something special. and if that doesnt impres the grandeur of the lobby with its stunning chandelier and halloween pumpkink tree surly will.

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Pomp and dignerentries over we were free to explore the ship until they released the cabins later in the afternoon. We headed straight up the stairs to Cabnnas buffet at the top of the ship. We made a pact here that in order to try and keep some of the weight off whilst on the cruise we would only use the stairs, yes elevetors were banned.

20180916_132911 by UK-Trigg, on Flickr

Cabanas is a family buffet restaurant situated at the front of the ship.Here the selection of food on offer is staggering and always plentyful. With a lot of guests filtering staight up to this restaraunt it was crowded though, a better tactic next time would be to head straight to the Adult area and just use the snack food counter options which are also open, and far less crowded. We still had a nice lunch, here a a few photos of a less crowded Cabanas

20180916_103741 by UK-Trigg, on Flickr

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It was crowded and we were in for a more chilled out vibe this cruise so we headed to the back of the ship to the Adults only section but not before having a sneaky go on the aquaduck first ......

20180915_175145 by UK-Trigg, on Flickr

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The adult area was much less crowded, far more relaxed and above all, no excitable kids, yes you really can get away from it all on a Disney cruise if you want to, and we wanted too. We relaxed in the pool, eassed our aches and pains in the hottub and had drinks at the pool bar whilst I room was being readied.

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and one year ago...Mar @UK-Trigg on Disney's the Fantasy....Arrived Sept. came after
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Mad Dog

Premium Member
Jan 30, 2013
Pittsburgh area
Refreshed, relaxed and ready for dinner we headed down to the Enchanted Garden for the first of three restaurants on our dinner rotation. it would also the first time we would meet our dinner party.

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Dinner was really good and our servers, the servers also follow you on your roatation, were lovely and our dinner guests were great too, a couple from Orlando and another from Boston. The food was incredible and the servers really do go all out to make your experience a special one, this is the quality and stadard that used to behold the Delux resorts

After dinner we had drinks in the bar before bidding good night to our new friends and hitting the sack after a wonderful first day aboard the majestic Disney Fantasy.

20180916_195934 by UK-Trigg, on Flickr

20180917_001419 by UK-Trigg, on Flickr
Fantasy liner food photos.
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Mad Dog

Premium Member
Jan 30, 2013
Pittsburgh area
Day 21 - Disney Fantasy Day 2 - At Sea

Having a first day at sea is always nice as you have no real timetable, so we enjoyed a lie in followed by breakfast at Cananas then we just spent some time exploring the ship and relaxing in the sun, dipping in the pool and some alhchol may have been consumed too. The temeperature gods were still being kind to us so we were taking advantage of it. we really had been blessed with good weather so far.

20180916_111413 by UK-Trigg, on Flickr

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Rest and relaxation over, it was time to get ready for a mixology class we had booked earlier. The class runs a few times over the cruise but as it was a sea day today seemed as good as any. It was hosted in the Skyline bar in the entertainmant district of the ship, down on deck 4.

The class was full but we had a blast making, learning about and drinking all the delicous cocktails. The group was pretty quirt at the begining but an hour and 5 cocktails later we were all best friends. Mixology was so much fun but also really insiteful and you get 5 cocktails, it is an upcharge of $20 for the class but I doubt you could spend a better $20 anywhere else with Disney.

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Drinking on the Fantasy..............note... @Disneyhead favorite photos of the trip. :lol::toast:......and @UK-Trigg (Mark) should be arriving in Orlando, in a few hours, for his 2019 vacation, albeit much shorter in time ans distance traveled.
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Mad Dog

Premium Member
Jan 30, 2013
Pittsburgh area
Day 28 -Aventura @ Universal Orlando Resort - Express parks tour

Slept well after our late night at HHN but we had to be up reasonably early today as we were checking out of RPR and into Aventura and we hadn't packed yet.

We were all set in plenty of time and called down to bell services to take our luggage, I explained we were checking out but could we have our luggage transfered over to Aventura. Luggage sorted we were all set, today we were hitting the parks as it was the last chance to use our RPR Express, so far we had only used it once for F&F so we needed to hit up some rides today.

We made the garden walk and started our day in Islands of Adventure, it was mid morning but seemed pretty quiet in the park, we skipped Hulk but did do Spiderman, used express and walked straight on, standby was only a 10 min wait too. We had a good ride the screens were crystal clear and all effects were in good working order, was nice to see Spidey in such good shape.

We hit up Kong, again using express but wish we didnt, the line was so short anyway and we missed the scare actors. Again we had a good ride, I remember chatting with a staff member, I told him how Kong was a much better use of the ride system, he agreed and also replied "that most get on fast and come off furious" LOL.

Jurrasic was next up, we missed Raptor Encounter, I think the line was long but River Adventure was more or less a walk on, even so we still used express. The ride was held up for about 10 mins before we boarded, wasn't sure what the issue was but did wonder if they were taking a boat off as it was so quiet in the park. Eventually we got going, I was disspointed that the big gate wasn't working, I love the music and reveal when the gate opens but it was already open and staying open. The movement of one or two of the dinos was off too, little to no movement. Back at unload the ride was again stopped stopped and we were told to sit tight and we would be moving again in 7 to 8 minutes we sat standed for about ten minutes.

Next up was potter and my first ride on Forbidden Journey since the projectors were updated, whilst I did notice the difference it did little for motion sickness, I still felt a bit queasy when we came off, gone are the days when I could do multiple rides back to back. Shame as I love the ride and it is the only one that really gets me like this. We wanderd through the rest of Hogsmeade and nosied at the impressive looking new coaster before riding the Hogwarts Express over to Universal Studios. Was a nice bonus that the Potter rides now have express.

Through the brickwall and into Diagon, IOA had been quiet but Diagon was still pulling them in with the crowds stood on the cobbles, cameras poised waiting for the roar and the fire, we skipped passed them all and headed straight to Gringotts. I love this ride and again with Express we breezed through the line and were soon through the pre shows and strapping in. A good ride that still amazes me at the amout of tech the ride needs to work, even more amazing is how it all works together in sync.

Lunch time had gone and we were hungry but decided to do the rides we wanted in USH then eat at City Walk. We were done in Diagon so we did Tranformers, another great ride, I always switch between which I prefer, Transformers or Spiderman, this trip Spiderman had it but really they are neck and neck for me.

Sam had never ridden Rip Ride Rockit, the lift hill had always put her off but at HHN the other night she said she wanted to ride it this trip, she was drunk I think. As we were walking by I looked at her and asked if she was still feeling brave. She was, and she had her first ride on RRR, I think she enjoyed it but it threw her around a bit. To be fair it was a decent ride, pretty smooth and if you ride then bends its a decent coaster.

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It was way after lunch time so as it was getting late and we were out to dinner later so we opted for more of a snack than lunch. I really like NBC and knew just the thing to tide is over. Whilst I knew what I wanted to eat I couldn't decide on a beer, I wanted a Sams 76 but turns out that a Samual Adams conference was in town and they had drunk them dry. No Florida Cracker either, this was a barmaid on the ball though, she knew both beers I had requested and brought me 3 samples of brews she thought I may like. I forget the beer I choose but this was great service, we also ordered the giant pretzel and some parmessan fries, both were delicous. I had an Oktoberfest type beer, again suggested by the barmaid, before we decided it was time to go check in at Aventura but not before picking up some donuts from the amazing Voodoo, first time here since it opened so we had to try it and we loved it, perfect addition to City Walk.

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Day 28 of @UK-Trigg Epic Trip Report (Bucket List)...1 Yr. Anniversary.
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Mad Dog

Premium Member
Jan 30, 2013
Pittsburgh area

Seeing as we had a big pink box to carry we skipped the garden walk and took the boat to Saphire Falls followed by the short walk to Aventura. We checked in with no problem and was remided we had a food credit on our account. Over to bell services to claim our luggage and it wasn't there yet so we went upto the room which was clean, tidy and had everything we needed for a 4 night stay, everything except clothes that was. We had arranged to meet Ron for dinner so decided to head back down and have bell services follow up with RPR, sure enough it was still sat there. We checked out the pool area and food court and were about to head up and see the bistro when we saw our luggage being delivered. They had made an error in forgetting to transfer our luggage but they sure fixed it in double quick time. We only had time for a quick look at the roof top bar, the views were stuning we didn't have time for a drink but we knew we'd be back.

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Luggage here we could now get ready for Dinner, we were meeting Ron at Smokey Bones on the 192 before going to see Nicole at Star Island where she working the bar. We got an Uber over and Ron was already waiting. We were soon seated and served, I ordered the ribs with a side of mac and cheese, whilst I did enjoy it Id had better ribs elsewhere. The service was good, an English guy who had moved over 6 years ago, I was more than a little envious of him. This was my first visit to a Smokey Bones and I did enjoy it I feel there are other places to try before I got back.

Star Island was only a five minute drive away, good job as Ron only had a small car, he got us there though and we were soon sat at the bar enjoying cocktails and catching up. The night had gone by quickly but we had had fun, and a lot to drink. We bid our good byes and promised to stay in touch with our new found friends. The Uber back was quick and easy as it was on the way and he soon had us back at the lit up Aventura where I finished my leftover ribs before going to sleep for the first time in this hotel.

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Part 2
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Mad Dog

Premium Member
Jan 30, 2013
Pittsburgh area
Day 29 -Aventura @ Universal Orlando Resort - Part 1 - Volcano Bay

Was up and ready for our first trip to Volcano Bay, I'm not really into the waterparks so much but I was looking forward to this one and staying at Aventura made it super easy to make use of the mornings early entry, you literally walk out of the gate by the pool and you are at security.

We were about 15 mins from opening and about 4 deep at the turnstiles, not very busy at all. We were soon open, through the tutnstiles, strapping on out Tapu's and loading up our lockers. I usually know my way around every corner of the parks but being new here this wasnt the case but the park is easy to navigate and we were soon heading over to the first slides and plunging our way into the pool after riding oh yeah. A good start to the day and that plunge was helping to shake off the alcohol from the night before.

Next up was the water coaster, Krakatau, this is great fun and we both loved it so much so we had a second ride straight off the bat. The only thing vaguely like it is the Aqau duck on the Fantasy, note I did say vaguely, Krakatau is great fun but next up was the big one, yep I was taking the 125ft Ko’okiri Body Plunge.

Sam sat this one out and waited at the bottom, I remember thinking I wish this Tapu Tapu would track my steps and floors as I was getting a good workout thismorning and my watch and phone were stowed in the locker. Finally at the top and savouring the view back towards Aventura. it was my turn to load into the cabin and wait for the floor to drop and release me into the verticle drop. The trap seems to take an age to release but when it does you dont even have time to think about before you are at the bottom, a really adrenlanine and any lingering hangover was long gone only to be left with an ass that felt like it had been spanked a hundred times, it doesnt half smart as you hit the water and skim across it at the pace of a small speed boat. Fun slide though but certainly not one for the faint hearted.

The raft slides Honu of Honu ika Moana and ika Moana of Honu ika Moana were next up, I could mot wrap my head around the names of these slides whilst I wasa there and I still cant whilst writting this now, any how both were good fun and we had little to no wait for both. By now we had done all the slides that were open so we took another go on Krakatau as there was still no wait..

By now the rest of the park was open so we made our way over to our next slides, Taniwha Tubes we rode both Tonga and Raki and again had no wait we also rode Maku and Puihi Round Raft Rides, where once again our hikes to the top were rewarded with no wait to wind our way back down these to the bottom on the big yellow rafts, not as thrilling as the rafts on the Big Pigeon but a fun way to get down to the bottom non the less.

It was only a little after 10am but having skipped breakfast we were getting hungry but we decided to ride Punga Racers as this was the last slide comlex we had to visit, this one had a small wait but no more than 5 mins, one of the slides was closed which didnt help but we soon got on the slides non the less. We had completed all of the slides we wanted to, I think we only missed Kala and Tai Nui Serpentine Body Slides, we had done well in getting in rides on at least one slide on each complex , as well as three goes on the water coaster with little to no wait, but now it was time to eat.

We grabbed some of our things from the locker and decided on a simple lunch at Kohola Reef Restaurant & Social Club, although we were both hungry we were still feeling a little delicate after sampling nearly everycocktail on the menu the night before so opted for light and healthy, I had a Cobb salad and Sam could only just about manage a fruit bowl.

After our quick lunch we hung out in the wave pool and ventured inside the volcano to fing the mysterious Vol, a fun feature and the inside is nicely done. Next up was the star of the show, TeAwa The Fearless River. We both had such a blast on this, especially if you hit the wave generatot as just the right time, wow that thing shifts some water but its so much riding along it, I think we made 4 laps before we got out.

We had had a great morning at Volcano bay, early entry allowed us to easily achieve most of the rides in the park and if we had have spent more time we could have done everything in the park whithout so much as a walk up the stairs. We had plans in the afternoon though So headed back to the and lockers one last time before doing another lap of the park to snag those all important photos.

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Volcano Bay is brilliantly themed and for me they have every right to call it a theme park but which ever side of the fence you sit on with that their is no doubting it is a beatiful park From your first view of the massive volcano when you enter to the small intricate details scaterred troughout the park the attention to detail is clear to see not only that but the lush landscapping really gives a feel that is a long way away from the I4. The slides are fun, the water coaster is a blast but it was fearless river we enjoyed the most, Im not really a water park guy as I said at the top but I couldn't deny that despite our hangerovers we had had a really good time.

I can't report on Tapu Tapu as I had no need to use it, like I said though if they could implement a step counter and maybe show the time it would have been of much more use to us.
Day 29 Epic Trip One Year Anniversary. A nice Volcano Bay review....with photos.
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Mad Dog

Premium Member
Jan 30, 2013
Pittsburgh area
Day 29 -Aventura @ Universal Orlando Resort - Part 2 - Bar Bistro 17

Back at room we showered and got changed before making our way to the boat at Sapphire to City Walk, @Mad Dog was unexpectedly in town for a few days so we hadd arranged to meet up. We headed to Marghettaville for 2pm and sure enough @maddog was sat at the bar , cocktail in hand. A nice surprise though was that @Skubersky was with him. We sat and enjoyed a chat and a cocktail or two before Seth had to dash off. Seth, If you read this, it was a pleasure to meet you again my friend and good luck with the new issue. Before he left Seth recommended Bar Bistro 17 for sunset he also suggested the cheese plate was really good, as you have seen Im a sucker for cheese so I was sold.

Fate had thrown us back together with @Mad Dog, we had some time so decided to hit Universal Studios. With it being Hallowween we took in the Horror Show, I hadn't seen it in a while and it was the first time for Sam, @Mad Dog was just glad of the air con. The show is good and I hope it continues to run for the years to come.

We hungout in Diagon for a while and made use of the single rider and walked straight on Gringotts. We also rode Fallon. We had quite a wait in the lobby here but eben though the Ragtime Gals wern't playing it was fun watching the clips from the show and Hashtag Panda fool around with the kids. The lobby eventually turned our colour, so it was our time to ride, or so we thought we still had a good 15mins in line before they loaded us into preshow. Eventually we got to ride and immediatly noticeable was how bad the frame rate was, I mentioned it to @Mad Dog during the ride. I don't mind race through new york but this wasnt one of my better experiences on it.

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I did want to get the Mummy in but if we were going to make Bar Bistro 17 for sunset we needed to leave now. We hit the boat back to Sapphire and made the already familiar walk to Aventura and took the express lift up to floor 17. We had more time to take in the stunning views this time and took our time taking in the 360 panoaramas before taking a prime seat for the sunset. We ordered drinks, I had my usually Sams 76 and seeing as I was going to be having the cheese plate I also ordered a glass of red. The others had cocktails and we orderered our food, we started with chinese steamed buns and along with the cheese plate we ordered the fried rice and @Mad Dog had, was it duck? I forget. Whilst the service was a little sketchy, we put this down to being new, the food was really good, everything looked appealing and tasted great.

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The views get even better once the sun goes down and the lights of Orlando take over, we sat for a while drinking and chatting. Sam was tired so went to bed, @Mad Dog was getting picked up at Portofino so we decided to go for a beer at the Thirsty Fish, so it was back on the boats but it took less than 30 mins before we were Sat on the patio at the Thirsty Fish with another beer in our hands, not bad from bar Bistro 17.

Johns brother turned up as planned and I saw him off at the Portofino entrance, It was late, I was tired and I was at the wrong side of Universal Orlando. The boat wasnt there when I made it round to the port so I decided to walk, I made the garden walk all the way back to Aventura in less than 30 mins. I did contemplate one last beer before bed but it had been a long day so I decided to give it a miss and went to bed.

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More Day 29 story & photos.

Mad Dog

Premium Member
Jan 30, 2013
Pittsburgh area
Day 30 -Aventura @ Universal Orlando Resort - Four Parks One Day - Part 1

This was one of those unplanned days that often turn out to be some of the best, this was the kind of day to really put epic into an already epic trip. Warning this day has the potential to be the longest post of the trip.............

We started the day with a quick breakfast at the pastry I had a croissant and Sam wanted pancakes with syrup. They only sold the pancakes with two meat options but after some persistence we finally managed to get pancakes and syrup without the meats and they only charged us $5. The 3 pancakes were huge and with the meat sides too it really would have been too much. They weren't the best pancakes but with enough syrup anything can taste good.

We were now waiting outside the Aventura waiting for @Mad Dog to arrive, we were heading to Epcot to meet a friend who had got us some 1-day park hoppers. Now we had no intention of doing Disney this trip but when the opportunity arose we took it, and so from there are was formed.

Seeing as the tickets were hoppers I decided to make good and do all four Disney parks in that one day. The rules were that in order to qualify a park we had to ride two rides one of which was to be something new, I also wanted to visit friends who work the Uzima Springs pool bar at Animal Kingdom Lodge.

@Mad Dog had arrived and we got an Uber over to Epcot to start the day Tickets in hand and we were soon through the turnstiles and in our first park of the day. World Showcase wasn't open yet but Frozen was and this counted as an attraction I hadn't seen yet, on the way we grabbed a fastpass for Soarin, this would be our only fastpass of the day.

Frozen was only 15 mins, the queue was nicely themed and moved at a steady pace, those chain rails can be hard to see in the dark though. The ride was nice although I still think it's in the wrong place and a waste of a huge IP but that's boats sailed and enough been said already. The animatronics were good as were the sets but those wooden seats and back supports are a little on uncomfortable.

Frozen done and our time slot for Soarin was ready, Soarin could have counted as a new attraction as Sam had never ridden and it was the first time seeing the new movie. After a short wait we were removing our ears and buckling up. I liked the new video, I thought it worked well and was a nice change after riding the old version dozens of times., Sam loved it too. So, we had made good time and achieved our target in the first park within an hour. Next up would be Disney's Hollywood Studios.

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We exited Epcot via the International gateway where we waited at the lighthouse boat stop to get the friendship boat over to Disney Hollywood Studios, the boat took forever to arrive, it was a baking hot day and we waited and waited, this service was far inferior to the ever-reliant boat taxis we had been using at Universal, and once we got the boat they travelled oh so slow. We did eventually get to Disney's Hollywood Studios area and made our way through construction and security and into our second park of the day.

As I mentioned today was a hot day and after waiting for the boat for so long we all needed a soda, we waited in line at the kiosk only for the soda fountain to go down as we made front of the line, the poor girl behind the counter looked like she was about to melt and had clearly had enough that day, we grabbed sodas elsewhere and carried on with our quest. The plan here was ride Slinky as our new ride and then try for Tower of Terror. We got to Slinky to be greeted by a manageable 50 min wait. I usually have a 20 min limit but it was new and I needed to ride something new to qualify the park. The line went pretty quick although it was hot hot hot in the outside portions of the queue, the ride was OK, a fun kid’s coaster that adds some good kinetic energy to the land. Would I ride it again? Sure, would I wait 50 mins? absolutely not.

New ride out of the way we only needed one more in this park so we made our way down Sunset Boulevard to the Hollywood Tower Hotel. We arrived to happily find only a ten-minute wait posted. we were straight inline and soon making our way through the doors to be transported into another dimension. Tower of Terror is a great ride and still one of my favourites and all the better for not having much of a wait, we were back on track after losing time using the friendship boats and standing in line for Slinky but the quick ride here had made it up and we could move on to our next park.

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Day 30, One Year Anniversary....Four Disney Parks, 2 Disney Resorts, 1 Universal ONE DAY.....Not planned in advance
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Mad Dog

Premium Member
Jan 30, 2013
Pittsburgh area
I don't understand these updates. Am I the only one? :look:
I year anniversary of probably the most comprehensive trip report ever on IU. We have lots of new members and readers since last year and it gives them a chance to read some interesting descriptions of the parks and photos that they wouldn't be aware of since these threads kind of get buried and forgotten after a while.
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Mad Dog

Premium Member
Jan 30, 2013
Pittsburgh area
Day 30 -Aventura @ Universal Orlando Resort - Four Parks One Day - Part 2

It was early afternoon as we made our way out of DHS and towards the bus stops, this whole area in front of the park is currently a real eyesore what with the construction, car parks, bus terminals and gondola stations are all well under way. I'm pretty sure it will be nice once complete but, on this day, it was a hot mess. Nonetheless we made it to the temporary bus stop for Animal Kingdom. The bus arrived in good time and the ride over was pretty quick too, we were at Animal Kingdom in by mid afternoon and we were now getting confident we could pull off 4 parks in one day, although those lines for FoP could hold us back.

Animal Kingdom would be our third park of the day and I was looking forward to this one as I was yet to see Pandora so with that in mind Flight of Passage was top of the list for new ride and Everest was an easy choice as the second.

Inside the park we made it straight over to Pandora, we had concerns about how long the line would be for Flight of Passage, this was heightened when we saw that Navi River Journey was down. Would everyone from river journey now be in line for FoP, would it be 120+ like has been the regular, would we be able to complete 4P1D? We need not have worried as amazingly FoP was running only a 40 min wait and what an amazing experience, the detailed theming in the queue line is top notch, with so much to look at the line moved really quickly and ride itself is amazing, yes it's screens but this is about tye whole package, the Queue and the pre show set up the story before mounting your banshee and feeling it breath beneath then the screens transport you and you are faced with the most stunning visuals making you feel fully immersed in the new surroundings you find yourself in. The whole thing comes together to give wonderful ride and I came off having really enjoyed the attraction. I stated at the time that this was Disney's best ride, I’ve had time to ponder this and whilst better attractions are around FoP is certainly up there with them and the best new edition from Disney in a long time. The whole land was far better than the photos led me to expect with the floating mountains far exceeding my expectations, Disney did a good job here and I look forward exploring Pandora again in the future.

Whilst we were on a mission we did need to drink, oh and maybe some food too, so we stopped by somewhere else I had wanted to see for a while, Tiffin’s. We sat out on the Patio of The Nomad Lounge. It is a lovely location and we enjoyed good food and drinks here whilst we chewed the fat went over the plan for the rest of the day. My phone was running low on battery and Tiffin’s had a charging facility so I was able to leave my phone on charge whilst we had lunch. The food and drinks are very good here and I could have happily stayed all day but we had plans and a mission to complete.

Next was Everest another of my favourite rides and it was nice to find it with only a five minute wait. it was also nice see most of the effects working that had been missing on previous trips, the waterfalls and steam were all working such a shame the same can't be said to the yeti, even so Everest remains a great ride and remains firm favourite of mine for me it shows some of Imagineerings finest work I see it as a modern day classic. With Everest ticked of the list we were all done in Animal Kingdom and we were making good time, next up was the short ride over to Animal Kingdom Lodge for a drink and the hope of catching up with an old friend or two.

A short over and we were in the Lobby at Jambo House, one of my favourite Disney properties and having used it multiple times since 2009 this place really does feel like coming home. Over the years we have made friends with the couple of the bar staff. We send Christmas cards and always stop by when were in town but with this being an unplanned Disney trip I thought I would surprise them. Unfortunately, we turned up at the pool to find it closed and fully under construction, this was heartbreaking to see that beautiful pool in that way and furthermore it meant the pool bar where my friends work was closed too

. Plan B was quickly put into effect and before we knew it we were sat inside enjoying Martinis at the bar of the Victoria Falls Lounge. We got chatting to the bar staff and turns out one of my friends had gone off shift an hour before, we haf just missed her. We left a note with them to let her know we visited. The drinks and the bar staff were good here and we had one or two before I surprised @Mad Dog with some shots of Jim Beam. We finished the bottle and those of you who have been following since Pittsburgh will know what happens to emptied Jim Beam bottles. I explained the story to the bar staff who allowed us to keep the bottle and kindly gave us a bag to transport it. We had a nice time at Jambo but it was time to be getting on and after all we still had one last park to visit.

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part 2.....4 parks in one day

Mad Dog

Premium Member
Jan 30, 2013
Pittsburgh area
Day 30 -Aventura @ Universal Orlando Resort - Four Parks One Day - Part 3

The bus gods were once again on our side and we were soon making our way to the Magic Kingdom, this would be our fourth and final park of the day. The bus was pretty quick but we did have a problem, there was no way security was going to allow us through with the empty glass Jim Beam bottle from Jambo House. There are lockers in the park but thats after security, we could have left it at bell service at BLT but we were pressed for time so I managed to talk my way through it with security who agreed to escort me to guest services where I could leave it to collect later. Security here were actually really cool and most helpful.

It was dark when we got to MK and it was nice to see all the Halloween lights on main street, whilst we were on main street we grabbed a photo to mark the 4P1D challenge, we were not quite done yet but we had nearly two hours to do two rides so whilst we werent quite home and dry we were pretty confident. MK hadn't had anything new since my last visit so any two rides would do here and first up was Pirates of The Caribbean with only a 5 minute wait. It was nearly time for fireworks so with everyone staking their claim for a spot on Main Street we found ourselves making the most of the unexpected short lines. We had a good laugh on Pirates, the buzz of Jim Beam was still with us as we resited ""dead men tell no lies" and sang yo, ho, yo, ho all the way round, arghhhhh.

We checked Splash next, 35 mins, so we tried Big Thunder, 5 mins, that was better. We had a great ride on Thunder, more or less a walk on and we timed it perfect as we had fireworks for our whole ride, this is always a coaster in the dark and even better when you add in the fireworks too . This second ride meant we had completed our four-park challenge with time to spare, the park was still open and the lines still seemed to be short so we decided to see what else we could get on before closing.

Splash was now down to 10 mins so we hit that, we were on a roll. Splash is another classic and it was nice to see everything working as should. Haunted Mansion was reading 15 mins but the line looked much longer when we got in it, so we skipped it, I guess everyone had filed in after the show had finished so the line had got longer but the wait times hadn't caught up yet. Pan was 45 mins as usual but Little Mermaid was only 5 mins so we made this our next and final ride of the day.

We hadn't done bad, 4 parks in one day and two rides in each, 4 in the MK, it was time for a well-earned drink. We headed up Main Street and out of the park towards the BLT, I had my DVC card with me so we decided to the top of the world bar to have a drink and enjoy the view. I started with an IPA 4, it seemed fitting, and I also tried the Apple Pie Martini, both were good. The views from BLT are beautiful and if you go out of the back doors behind the bar you can see right over to Unis Property and I Drive.

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An Uber was 4 mins away, just enough time to settle the bill and get the elevator back down to ground level, we made it down just as our Uber turned up. The trip back was quick and we entertained the driver with some slightly drunken carpool karaoke. The Uber's are pretty reasonable, this one only cost around $15, I have used Uber a few times now and find it to be a fantastic service for getting around. When you consider you can get to most places for the cost of parking at a resort you have to ask is car hire worth it anymore?

Back at Aventura and we hadn't quite done yet, we decided on one last drink at Sapphire Falls but the Bat was packed full with Microsoft employees so we ended up Back up the top of Aventura looking back over at the BLT where we had just come from. Sam went to bed whilst @Mad Dog and I had one last drink, it had been a long day and we had earned it.

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We had an absolute blast doing this challenge, having done the parks many times I enjoyed this different spin on doing Disney. I think I wore both Samantha and @Mad Dog out but I'm pretty sure they both had a day they will never forget, I know I did.
Part Three....Four Parks in One Day

Mad Dog

Premium Member
Jan 30, 2013
Pittsburgh area
Back to the Future Labor Day Weekend: Thought it would be cool to revisit what amusement parks were like on Labor Day weekend 'before covid'. Photos and text from our United Kingdom good friend Mark's, @UK-Trigg ,
visit to the states in 2018.
Our Labor Day visit to Cedar Point (text & photos) is on Pg. 8 of this trip report. Our Sunday before Labor day visit to Kennywood Park starts at the bottom of pg. 7 and continues on pg. 8. Damn, parks were sure fun before
covid, and not nearly as crowded on Labor Day weekends as this year.
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Mad Dog

Premium Member
Jan 30, 2013
Pittsburgh area
We sure miss our UK friends @UK-Trigg @Scott W. , and all the other fine people from the UK, being able to travel and visit Universal.. Especially at this time of year,
the UK'ers came to Orlando in droves, and clearly helped the parks during a very slow time of the year. Three years ago our friends Mark & Samantha visited us. A great trip report and great memories. We're
looking forward to the day the Brits & Scots can come back.