Holy cow, we're at war again. This time I'm living in the US. It's a whole lot scarier on this side of the fence than at home in Canada. There's armed guards at bridges and airports. Super paranoid people were even duct taping their windows. Man, if I even get the sniffles I'm going to go checked out to make sure I'm not the first victim of a bio-terror attack. :(
Back from Orlando finally. I was gone 11 days and it's one of those places you tour and you kinda don't need to go back to ever again. The reality of life in Orlando is a far cry from the artificial perfection inside the gates of Disney -- cars that don't stop for you even when there's a big flashing walk signal, greasy sales people pushing time shares EVERYWHERE (even from our hotel lobby and inside the McDonalds), cab drivers with an open can of some strange Jim Beam-in-a-can concoction in his cup holder -- you get the picture. I'll boil down the vacation portion of my trip to some key highlights and low lights.

- the Medieval times show was surprisingly entertaining and you sure as hell don't go hungry with their feast-sized portions of chicken and ribs (no veggies though unless you count the mush in the vegetable soup). The story of love and corruption was a simple one but it was kinda cool to watch people knock each other off horses. The most exciting part though was watching to see if they could scoop away the horse shit in time before a guy fell in that direction during a staged sword fight. Be sure to get a coupon from their website to get $5 off the $45 entry fee for the 2 hour show. Oh, and the tickets from the timeshare guy also cost $45 so you wouldn't save any money from him anyway.
- The Space Mountain ride at Magic Kingdom. It's not huge, nor does it go upside down, or faster than 30 miles an hour for that matter. But I've never been on a roller coaster indoors in the dark before. You don't know your next turn and that makes it actually kind of thrilling
- Fast passes at both the Disney and Universal Parks. What a great idea. You can pick a ride and take a ticket thing out of the machine. It's time stamped with a half hour range of time that you can come back to get on the ride without lining up. Huge time saver.
- Islands of Adventure rides - These were the best rides ever. My favourite, though, was the Spiderman ride. You get these 3-D glasses and get into this car that takes you through a comic book adventure. Unlike most rides, this thing engages all your senses. Bad guys jump in your lap and shake the entire car. Then they throw fire (and you feel the heat on your face) and ice (yup, you get a splash). At the end you take a really scary free fall (well you're not really but the wind and image of a building firing upwards makes you feel like youre falling) and then Spiderman comes to your rescue. That part actually made me a little motion sick but it was exhilirating, even the second time. Dueling Dragons, Hulk and Jurassic Park were also awesome.
- Shopping. Tax there is 6.5% and the Premium Outlets have a tonne of stuff. East coast stores always seem to have better selection and there were a lot of small sizes(because there sure aren't a lot of small people out in Orlando). We hauled back the most stuff from Kenneth Cole, Max Studio, Banana Repulic, and Nike. Simon and I actually had to buy another suitcase (real cheap from one of the hundreds of souvenir stores lining the highway).

OK now for some low lights.
- So about that Medieval Times show. There was this peculiar sign outside the building that said "If you have allergies please take appropriate precautions". We're thinking, maybe they have peanuts in their food? Well no. As I demonstrated during the show, some people might not realize they're allergic to horses!!
- Magic Kingdom park at Disney World. I don't think they've updated this place since 1979 or so. I thought there'd at least be a couple cool rides but Space Mountain was about the most thrilling one there. Everything else was just a moving story book type ride where you sit in a car and listen to a story as you move past mechanical Disney characters. The Peter Pan one was kind of memorable because you get the perspective of a child flying over a town but that's about it. Oh, and the Asian dolls in It's a Small World still have those exaggerated slanty eyes. If, like me, you've studied any sort of media ideology/deconstruction and the whole Disney thing makes you ill, I'd recommend skipping this and going to the MGM park instead. It's the newest one with some cool rides like Tower of Terror. Remember, each park is $50 a pop unless you get the multi day park hopper pass which costs a big wad of money.
- The promised free shuttle to and from the theme parks. From our hotel, which was further from the parks than it looked on a map, the shuttle took almost an hour to stop at every other hotel on the highway before pulling into the Disney park. And there was no shuttle to Universal. Pick your hotel wisely, it's worth the extra bucks to stay closer so you don't need to take a cab.
- The most memorable lowlight for me happened in the restroom at McDonalds where we ate breakfast before hitting the parks. First of all I must mention that one of the first things I noticed was that there are not a whole lot of non-white or black people in Orlando in general. That alone makes me uneasy but this incident took the cake. I was washing my hands in the rest room when this old white lady turned to me and said "oh, are you performing over at the Splendid China?"!!! I'm thinking, holy shit, are the only Asians you see the ones serving you chop suey at the local Chinese-American restaurant or spinning plates at some cheezy Asian-themed show? I was so shocked by what she said that I simply could not spit back a nasty come back. I guess my really sarcastic "no" was not enough to make any impact on her because after I left the bathroom, I heard her say to her friends, quite as a matter of factly, "see the lady over there. I was asking her if she performed at the Splendid China but she didn't"