Fair warning — This will be a long one! A lot more words than I expected and not as many pictures because well, it isn’t an easy task getting pictures in the dark and of creatures that move too fast for a snapshot. I also apologize in advance for the small amount of photos that may be blurry.
We like to seize the opportunity to get away for the weekend any chance we get. The opportunity doesn’t typically make its cameo appearance in our life so when two events collided into one weekend, we were ecstatic. The reason being is because our original plans included two separate trips to Orlando for two separate pairs of tickets all taking place in the same exact location. That’s when we decided that instead of making the hour and a half drive to Orlando twice within the month, we would both see my favorite band in concert and attend Halloween Horror Nights 2014 in the same weekend.
We started the trip by belting old school pop punk songs from high school that we (mostly me) embarrassingly remember. Once we arrived, we did not have quite the best experience with the hotel we found but honestly, it didn’t quite matter considering it was not the biggest slice of the weekend cake we were to indulge in. Upon arrival, coupons offering free drinks from the hotel’s on site restaurants were bestowed upon us. We didn’t have any intention to participate in much consumption during our trip in Orlando considering we not quite like to follow the bread crumb traps left to lead tourists in and spill their wallet. However, we figured we would take advantage of this opportunity. I received my cocktail before we ventured on and my husband received his pint of beer after returning.
In an attempt to also save costs in the parking lot of CityWalk, we decided to walk the mere one mile from the hotel to CityWalk for the concert. A Day To Remember was headlining their Parks and Devastation tour with Bring Me the Horizon, Chiodos, and Motionless In White. I never really listened to the last band named and Bring Me The Horizon was never high on my list. Chiodos and obviously my favorite were what I was most anticipating. My husband actually isn’t too keen on the type of music I listen to but I figured I would share my experience with him since we shared his favorite band (Streetlight Manifesto) last year, 2013. Although now I have already seen Chiodos twice, Bring Me the Horizon twice, and A Day to Remember four times, it still never gets old.
What made me the happiest was that Chiodos sang songs from their older albums such as the Bone Palace Ballet and the fact that A Day to Remember was just, well, themselves. They always put on the most energetic, fun show that nearly everyone in the Hard Rock concert room was participating in. The lead singer, Jeremy McKinnon, emerged into the crowd in a huge hamster ball and he literally rolled over top of the exact spot I was standing. Their opening and finale consisted of billions of confetti pieces, toilet paper, and colorful streamers. They kept returning back to the stage to sing more every time they disappeared into glowing lights and fog, all for the simple fact that we were the last show of the tour and in their hometown nonetheless. These elements are what made up the show and provided the perfect recipe for the excitement to brew among the hearts of thousands in attendance. The superb props used ended up getting destroyed and thrown into the crowd. The mountain of their faces had lasers coming out of their eyes and there was a campfire beside a tent with smoke coming out of it. All in all, a wonderful experience yet again singing and dancing around with my favorite person and my favorite band.
Although our feet were throbbing by the time we exited the show, we ventured out into the cool breeze of the night to get back to the hotel. With my husband’s pockets overflowing with streamers and confetti I wanted to take home for my scrapbook and a sweet flower in my hand that my husband picked for me, I was golden and I didn’t need anything else. We fell asleep almost right as soon as we fell into our bed do to exhaustion.
When we woke up, we just kept cycling through waking up and falling back asleep multiple times until we were on the edge of “time to get ready” and “check-out time”. We finally sprung out of bed and started getting our things together to head down to the pool for a few hours. The best part of the hotel was the pool of course so this was a more delightful experience. We lingered in the water back and forth from the pool to the hot tub for at least two hours and decided we were done. We enjoyed our time spent together because for the first time in a long time we weren’t running around with a hundred things on our minds. We could actually sit there and enjoy each other’s company, just swimming around, which we both happen to love doing. It certainly brought out a younger, more playful version of the both of us, for we looked like children doing piggy back rides, racing, and splashing about. He even stole the flowers he picked for me originally and put them in his ear. I married a freak. Oh well. <3
While exploring the resort area of the hotel, we found a large garden chess set and although this wasn’t on my bucket list but should have, I actually learned how to play chess. My hubby taught me how to play; although I’ve lost every game we’ve played so far, I’m having massive amounts of sophisticated fun learning with him and might actually be a little obsessed now. I may or may not have started kicking his pieces over every time he tried to win. After my third loss, we had our lunch and then left to accomplish our second objective of the trip.
Once we arrived to Universal Studios, we were only briefly seated before entering the gates. Soon after waiting in line, we were released into the park for Halloween Horror Nights. Before I get into too much detail, I want to recommend the express to ANYONE planning to go for their first time. With so much to do, even with ample time it is hard to experience everything with the tedious, long lines that present themselves before each house or show (even the bathrooms!) Anyway, both of us vowed that this would be the first and last year we would attend this event but after seeing that it wasn’t as scary as we thought, we might return again next year. Neither of us like scary things so hearing chain saws revving as soon as we entered the gates, we didn’t know what to expect. My gut feeling was not feeling fantastic mind you.
We wandered into the first couple of houses quickly as the lines were not long enough yet to complain. The houses we ventured into were From Dusk ‘Til Dawn, AVP: Alien VS. Predator, Dracula Untold: Reign of Blood, Giggles and Gore, Inc., Halloween, and Dollhouse of the Damned. I made a promise that we would go into the “Giggles and Gore” house while it was still daylight considering coulrophobia is one of the few thoughts that was running through my husband’s head while we wandered looking for our next house. Sadly, he laughed the entire time even though I know he was mortified. The only reason that is sad is because I, being as jumpy and anxious as a person that I am, shrieked, jumped, dodged, and ran out-of-the-way of every little small thing that moved. Considering all of the houses are really dark and people are randomly jumping out of you at all times, it’s a good chance that I’m going to be screaming every five seconds. This happened on the streets as well because scare actors were spread evenly throughout the park in dark, foggy alleys.
Of the street experiences, we walked through Maskerade: Unstitched, The Purge – Anarchy, Bayou of Blood, and Face Off – In the Flesh. All of them were fantastic. Masquerades are one of my favorite aspects so to see the beautiful large dresses spinning about on stilts and the men with their masks towering over people just to lean down and scream “CANDLES!” at me was probably my favorite street experience.
The Purge was amazing as well. There were guys coming up in their chain saws and creepy masks scaring people. At one point, I was sitting on the curb of the sidewalk with my husband trying to figure out where to go next and one of the bent down and shoved his chainsaw right in my face. As we were leaving the area, another one started poking at my face (not direct contact because they’re not allowed to touch you), but nonetheless it amused me.
Bayou of Blood was very creepy because it was completely dark minus green and purple lights. The voodoo witches kept shoving their rattles in our faces when we were off guard. It was simply creepy and they found it amusing; of course it was a part of their job. On the outside of the bayou, stood two very large voodoo kings on stilts that repeatedly bent down to scare people. As I went to run from one I was trying to snap a photo of, the other came and boxed both of us in. He put his large stick out so I couldn’t even get past to get out of it. All the while my husband is telling me to stop running because that’s when they come after you.
Last but not least, the winding road of Face Off – In the Flesh was really cool. They weren’t all that scary because they were simply showcasing horror make-up. Now if you tried to take a picture with them, they might have reached out to you and then out of nowhere comes a guy in a mask at the bottom, to scare you while you’re standing still for that picture.
Some houses were definitely better than others yet we enjoyed every single one of them in their own way. The lines we could have lived without but we now know for next time what to do to avoid them. From Dusk ‘Til Dawn was fantastic because we recently watched the movie and it was a great classic twist on the movie directed by Quentin Tarantino. A lot of the elements were shown in the house so it was a very accurate depiction.
I have never seen the AVP or the Dracula movies so I didn’t know what to look for but I can say the AVP’s cinematic elements were superb in every way. It was the longest line we waited in but it was worth it with all the lights, sounds, costumes, and themes. We had to duck below and semi-crawl through a dark tunnel which wasn’t exactly my idea of comfort. Dracula was one of the lesser of the fun houses but it was still cool nonetheless. Giggles and Gore was creepy and I swear the clowns were going to touch me so I made sure to keep a steady run-walk at all times.
Halloween was fantastic in every aspect. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen the movie that portrays the fifty or so Michael Meyers in the house that I had to dodge to escape murder. I’m pretty sure this house scared me the most just because of how many possible nooks and crannies they found to hide him in the most creepy way under the sounds of murder and strobe lights.
The Dollhouse of the Damned was one of my favorites even though it was not one of the main houses. I absolutely loved how creepy the dolls were and although demented babies reached out at me in cribs, I managed to play it cool the entire time so I could see the bloody baby dolls, the ripped teddy bears, the dark ballerinas, and so on. We were surprised because the wait line was shorter than expected but some how the people behind us had a balloon and started throwing it as if the grass were made of lava. Random strangers were coming up to help them and save the balloon if they overshot. My husband saved the day by going out of line to get it and come back. Somehow we decided it was going to go all the way up the line and according to them, go on before us. They were saying some of the funniest things I ever heard. Then when it got up further, someone let it go over the fence to the point of no return and they kept screaming at them “who did that!?” We had about two yards of line yell “oooooh!!!” in disappointment when it finally went over. That was one of my favorite parts of the night.
The two we didn’t get to see were Roanoke: Cannibal Colony which I heard was awful from everyone who went in and then The Walking Dead: End of the Line. This so-called line was about two hours of pain in our feet, backs, and pangs of thirst and hunger. After waiting almost two hours for AVP, we decided we wouldn’t wait through another really long line especially since by then it was already 1 AM and time to head home. The excruciating pain we were feeling from the entire weekend on our feet and lower backs truly decided when we were done for us.
The cherry on top of the cake was the fact that the rides were open the entire time HHN was going on. We made it a goal to ride The Transformers ride – 3D. The ride is brand new and we figured why not if we had time for a ride. Since we did, we decided on this one. It is the equivalent of the Amazing Spider-Man ride at Islands of Adventure across the way. Bumblebee was in it and he is and always be my favorite Camaro!
While we were there, we explored all the new additions that have been added since our first wedding anniversary and crazy enough, is a lot. Springfield, USA for the Simpsons was expanded massively since the last time we were there. So many elements of our beloved yellow-human cartoon were present for our entertainment including all the main stops in the show. We made a stop at Moe’s Tavern for a refreshment for hubby. He got a Duff beer and I tried it. It was actually pretty good and now we can officially say that we’ve had a Duff Beer and I don’t know why but that’s the coolest part to me.
The second cherry on top of the cake was that I was able to run into two of my dearest old friends from high school and have them finally meet my husband and vice versa. I could not have been happier to see them but eventually we all parted ways again and I just spent the rest of my evening with my love.
Although we had such a late drive back, we made the best of it. When we stopped to grab a bite of eat before hitting the long road, I felt like I was dying of dehydration so I asked for a free cup of water and instead I was given a cold, fresh bottle of water on the house with a smile. It was the most kind deed anyone could have done at the time.
And just as a sweet addition, one of my favorite parts of the entire weekend was completely separate from Orlando but it went along with everything: it was called Brews by the Bay. Anyone who has ever seen the movie “Yes Man” can take away a fine piece of advice here. If ever a random opportunity appears in front of your face: say yes. Although I am very adventurous and ready for the next experience, I sometimes don’t feel like going out and especially on Friday nights after work. A fellow friend on Facebook mentioned having some tickets for an event going on and we had no idea what it was so we decided hey, why not? We had a great weekend planned and the timing was perfect to have a little fun on a Friday night. It was a sold out event and we had never heard of it. Now that we know about it and experienced it for the first time, we plan on going back again next year possibly. Everyone that knows me knows that my main niche in life is of the aquatic nature. To my surprise, the event was to take place at the Aquarium after hours with glowing tanks as contrast against the dark night sky for all present to enjoy. I could not possibly attempt to describe the feeling of euphoria that overcame me when I had maybe a little too much of the endless craft beers to drink while standing face to face with a shark in a tank the size of the entire room. Even more so indescribable was the eternal happiness of hearing there would be mermaids performing in the next tank over and being too attached to the tank to part from them.
Now mind you, this event was for my husband mainly since he’s a craft beer connoisseur but I ended up being the one that enjoyed myself a little too much and I don’t even drink beer. However, since there were over 100+ flavors to choose from, I found one that had chai tea in it and it was one of the most heavenly liquids to ever hit my pallet. Along with the unlimited refreshments came the unlimited amount of food from all types of vendors. We pet stingrays, we walked through the entire aquarium at nighttime, got a semi backstage tour from our friend who works there and hung out with her husband briefly, all the while with someone we had never met before! It’s always pleasant to make new friends and spread your social footprint since we hardly get out in that sense. We didn’t quite get to spend too much time with them but we were so very grateful they just happened to have extra tickets and to see them in the brief moments that we could. The night was truly what we needed with all the stress that has built up and I’m so glad we jumped on an opportunity.