A few memorable people Gary and I met on our trip to Universal...
- The Rafting Virgins - One of the rides at Islands of Adventure is "Popeye and Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges", a "river raft" adventure ride where you and about seven other people are in a round raft that floats through a churning channel. Every so often your raft will float by something that's squirting water at you, or you'll hit the side of the walls ensuring someone (or everyone) is eventually going to get soaked.
At one point on Friday afternoon, we changed into our trunks at the hotel and rode all the water rides back to back several times without worrying about getting our regular clothes soaked. So on one of our times around this raft ride, stepping on board are four teens - three girls and a boy. Each has on a yellow t-shirt with the name of a Baptist church in Indiana or somewhere so you can tell they're all in a youth group together. What was amusing is that each of the girls was perfectly coifed - hair perfect, makeup perfect, clothes wrinkle-free and bone dry. They had apparently been airlifted into the park because none of them were sweating in the 85+ degree heat. They all sat down near us and chatted with each other, wondering if they might get wet.
Heh. Why yes, yes they did. They were...shall we say...intimately acquainted with gallons and gallons of falling, splashing, churning and squirting water when they stepped, aghast and shocked, back off the boat.
I felt proud to have witnessed the occasion.
- The Foreign Chicken - Another favorite ride was "Dr. Doom's Free Fall". This one seats 16 people in groups of four around a cylindrical tower and launches them into the air before plunging back down in a harrowing drop. Sitting next to us on this particular time was a father and his 15-yr-old son, who were apparently from....well, we were never sure where they were from because we couldn't exactly place their accents. I think we narrowed it down to England, Romania or possibly Morocco. Well, neither had ridden before but the dad was excited and ready. Smiling, he asked us - who were obviously seasoned riders - what the ride was like. The whole time however, we could tell his son was getting increasingly agitated. He had trouble locking his safety harness which I helped him with, but when the ride attendant came by for the final double-check the poor kid had turned white and stammered to be taken off. We and his dad tried our best to convince him to try it out, that it wasn't so bad...it was fun...he'll enjoy it - but no use. Trembling, he begged the attendant to let him out. Once freed of the restraints he scurried to the exit and disappeared. His father shook his head, laughed, and sat back to the enjoy the ride.
I half expected to find the kid cowering under a table when we got back down.
- The Dominatrix - Saturday evening we crossed enemy lines and ate dinner at Downtown Disney, which is Disney's "public" area of shops, restaurants and small attractions like the uber-arcade, "DisneyQuest". Gary and I ate at Planet Hollywood (and Tommy...looks like you guys missed out on the fun!) and were seated at a small table near the very front of the restaurant.
One side note - if you've never been to a Planet Hollywood, you've missed a major experience because thousands (well, hundreds. Maybe dozens) of articles of movie memorabilia are strewn haphazardly throughout the restaurant. If you're a movie buff and want to see things like John Malkovich's wooden gun from "In the Line of Fire", Herbie the Love Bug - suspended from the ceiling - the bullet-riddled windshield from "Bonnie and Clyde" and other items, this is the place to be.
Anyway, our waiter comes over (a guy, natch) and introduces himself. He then motions to a fairly tall lady standing near him - she has dark hair pulled back into a severe ponytail behind her and is dressed all in black, and he says he's training with this waitress. It's obvious he's the padawan learner here and not the master here - she watches him like a hawk and observes his actions with a piercing eye. "Hmmm..." we say.
Later we glance at the table next to us and the young padawan commits an agregious sin - he places the couple's check down next to the woman. Behind me, I hear someone say, "Mm mm mm....." I glance up and there's the Dark Jedi Waitress, shaking her head and tsking. She leans down and tells us softly, "Did you see what he did? He should never give the woman the check." She then follows the youngling off to, well, we could only assume he was about to be punished.
That's when we determined this lovely dark-haired waitress was not only a Dark Jedi, she was a Dark Jedi Dominatrix.
Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on his attitude) the young jedi didn't fare too well, forgetting two requests from me for just a glass of ice. Each time, his Master kept him under her watchful eye. I could imagine the screams of pain coming from the kitchen as she reminded him of his misdeeds...
So, we're getting ready to leave. We pay the check (carefully) and stand. I glance over and see our Dark Jedi looking at me. She smiles crookedly and mouths to me, "Thank you..."
I wasn't sure if she was being polite, flirting, or inviting me to join her and all her little padawan learners for a night of learning the Dark Jedi Arts.
I blinked, chose the light path, and we escaped with our lives...