Showing posts with label Universal Studios. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Universal Studios. Show all posts

Sunday, July 6, 2014

What the Art Teacher Wore #105 and an Orlando Vacay

Photo Bomb Monday: Let's not even pretend that this cat is looking at something out the window. She knows when I'm about to snap a photo...and she also knows that she totally makes my photos better. I loved my Monday as it involved two of my favorite things: insane amounts of sushi and good-bye time with this girl. Send your good vibes Rebecca's way, she's heading out to Salt Lake City to teach art! dress: vintage, gift from a friend (thanks, Ann!); shoes: Anthro; hair bows and belt: H&M; daisy brooch: gift from a friend of moms-in-law (thanks, Dean!)
Hey, friends! I trust ya'll had a super fantastical Independence Day (aka just-another-Friday for those of ya'll outside of the states). We're currently in the final hours of our Orlando vacation and, ya'll, it's been incredible. We've done Disney, hiked some trails, visited with fam and, best of all, got to experience Diagon Alley, the newest addition to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios. I gotta warn you, if you plan on going to Universal anytime soon, this post is a serious spoiler, so go no future. But the whole experience was just so amazing, I just can't help sharing exactly One Million Photos of the place. It's just that nutz.

But before I get to all that, the Artsy Book Club winner is (can I get a drum roll? No? How about a Tootsie Roll? Thanks): Printmaking Unleashed! Yay, I'm so excited, I've already purchased my copy! I do hope it's a good one and offers a lotta new ideas for us. Now, for those of ya'll that are new to the Artsy Book Club train, here's how it works: Next Monday-ish, we'll begin dipping our artsy toes into the book. Please post on the Artsy Book Club page any printmaking projects that you attempt based on ideas in the book. This way we can all share ideas and thoughts together. If you can't get your kitten mittens on the book, no worries! You can still join the fun and post what you create. Ya'll! I'm so excited.

But Wait, There's More!
(do you know how many years I've had the blog and wanted to use that line?! Yearz, people.)
Many of you voted for Dave Burgess' Teach like a Pirate...and I've been meaning to restart that book for a while. So! I propose that if you had your artsy-heart set on that book, read it! Just like Printmaking Unleashed, we'll start plowing through chapter one of Teach like a Pirate next Monday-ish. What ya'll think? Who's in and whatcha reading? Can't wait to hear your thoughts and see your creations over at the Artsy Book Club!

Now, without any further jibbery-jab, let's take a look at these endless vacay photos, shall we?

So the hubs and I arrived in Orlando last Thursday evening and zipped straight over to Disney World. Since it was close to closing time and there was a pretty ugly looking storm on the horizon, we thought for sure that the crowds would have died down and we'd be able to easily hope on some rides. 
Whut in the World we were even thinking, ya'll? It's Dis-natch for crying out loud, The Happiest (and most crowdedest) Place on Earth! We did managed to squeeze in some Space and Thunder Mountain time but the throngs of people were just so throngy. One eve was enough.
Sew Awesome Tuesday: A sweet sewing buddy of mine popped over Tuesday and after a lil lunch, we set to work chatting and stitching. She's working on the cutest apron ever and I'm in the midst of what I've dubbed the Fiesta Frock. Fingers crossed I finish it in time to share with ya'll next week. Sewing with a buddy -- such a fun way to spend a summer day. dress: vintage; sandals: Frye
On Friday, we headed over to Islands of Adventure for the real reason behind our trip: Diagon Alley. Now if ya'll've never been to Islands of Adventure (the sister park to Universal Studios), you really should check it out. The entrance to the park alone is pretty amazing and, as an art teacher, I find it super inspiring.
It's seriously been the inspiration behind the way I attempt to create the environment of my art room (I just read that sentence three times and it made no sense. Good luck to you, kind reader). I heard that Steven Spielberg himself helped in the design of the entrance and I can totally see that, can't you?
After a short walk through Seuss Landing and The Lost Continent, we entered the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and were super stoked to see that the Hogsmeade train station was open! The grand opening isn't for a coupla days so we got super lucky that the train was open and had a 10 minute wait time (just to give you an idea, they are expecting thousands of folks for the grand opening with wait times up to six hours!). We practically fell over each other boarding the train.
Now, I'm not so mean and rotten that I would ruin the train ride for you. If you are dying to know, I'm sure a short google search would land you video clips of the experience. However, lemme just say that Universal spared no expense and it went way beyond what I coulda imagined. And I'll just leave it at that.
Totally Botanical Wednesday: One thing that I loved about going all the way to NAEA in San Diego was that I made friends with art teachers that live in my own town! On Wednesday, I met up with one of those fellow art teachers and after lunch, we headed to Cheekwood Botanical Gardens for their Big Bugs exhibit as well as their Warhol. I was so thankful for the indoor exhibit as summer temps in Tennessee can become unbearable in a blink! dress: thrifted, vintage; shoes: DIY, go here
Our train ride delivered us to jolly ole England, chaps! Right in the heart of London to be exact. We strolled through this area taking in the sights and feeling a touch confused: Where in the world was Diagon Alley?! When we asked an employee, her response was perfect: "Diagon Alley? Hmm, I've never heard of it!" In the Harry Potter books, muggles (that'd be non-magical types) are unfamiliar with this magical place. In fact, there aren't even any signs on how to get there...but we managed to turn a corner and found it...
I know, right? We seriously just stood there with our jaws dropped. And then this happened... 

Ya'll. That dragon (sorry, Potter fans, I've not read the books much to the hubs' dismay, I'm unfamiliar with his name) is simply amazing. I do believe Mitch and I made about twelve video clips of him blowing fire between the two of us. 

You could feel some serious heat when he did. My favorite part was that after every blast, the crowd went completely insane clapping and cheering. 
Leavin' on a Jet Plane Thursday: This here's the day we took off to Orlandoland. And tomorrow (Monday) we return. Le sigh. dress and silver clogs: Anthro; belt: gift from a friend (thanks, Anna!)
Don't let the name Diagon Alley fool you, this place was huge! And every bit of it was so creative that you could spend days (and we did!) just walking around and taking in the sights. Every couple of paces, there was a place for you to wave your wand (given that you picked one at the wand shop...or it picked you, as the story goes) and something magical would happen: a fountain would squirt you, it would rain, lights would flicker and full bodies of armor would come to life. 
All this magicalness can make a magician seriously hungry and dining was super fun. The coupla restaurants have menus based on British fare which is great...unless you don't eat meat. However, they did offer a veg option in the form of a cheese plate that sounded delish...but we decided to test out the crazy ice cream flavors (Butter Beer Ice Cream, anyone?) instead.
One of the key draws to Diagon Alley is the Gringott's ride which wasn't open quite yet. We were bummed about that for sure...but honestly, with this part of the park being as amazing as it was, I didn't really feel like I was missing out. Although, I'll be excited to go back and ride it when we can.
I did warn you of the excessive amounts of photos in this post, riiiiight?
Fourth of July Friday: We managed to catch Universal's fireworks display which was pretty rad. dress: Anthropologie

 I know I should really stop posting photos but, doggone, this place just didn't stop, ya'll! In this area of the alley, you could craft your own drinks with a variety of elixirs, swap your money out at Gringott's Bank, catch puppet shows (and I'm not talkin' Lambchop stuff, ya'll) and 1940's style big bands. There was something at every step.
 This kind of thing ALWAYS inspires me as an art teacher. When I'm here or at Disney, I think: can I make my art room as magical as this place? Can I create a space that constantly has my students curious, engaged, entertained and enthralled (sorry for the Triple E's, ya'll). Seriously. I wish my art teachin' space were Just. Like. This. 
 After our adventures in Diagon Alley, we hopped the train back to Hogsmeade. The train ride is a totally different experience going the other way so when you go, be sure to ride it both ways. 
 Hubs decided to hop on the ride there while I opted to take in the scenery. I've done that ride before and while it's amazing, it's a touch too realistic for me. I've managed to get motion sick the last couple of times I've been on it.
 Saturday Hike: Proof we didn't spend every minute in a theme park! 
 The hikes in the Orlando area are pretty stinkin' flat but they do offer sights like these.
If you made it this far into this super Harry (Potter, people. Harry Potter) post, you are a true fan, my friend. 

Now! Got get yourself one of those (or both!) Artsy Book Club books and get to reading/creating. I can't wait for our bookish adventure!

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Saturday, October 20, 2012

Weekend Adventure: Halloween Horror Nights

So for the past, I dunno, 7-ish years, hubs and I have made the trek down to Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida to attend their Halloween Horror Nights. We cannot get enough.
 Don't hate me, but I as I write this here blog post, I am on this magical and amazing thing called Fall Break. That's right, for a whole week, no more pencils, no more books, no more kiddo's dirty looks. Nothin' but pajama parties and craftathons. That is until hubs and I take off on an adventure to Lalaland. I'll fill you in on that trip in another post. 

In the meantime, here's a slightly belated post on a trip we took a couple weeks ago to Tampa and Orlando. Every October, we travel down there to attend Busch Garden's Howl-O-Scream and Universal Studio's Halloween Horror Nights. This year we also visited Busch Garden's Williamsburg's Howl-O-Scream and I chatted about that trip here. Because we attended Universal's event several nights, I thought I'd share that spooktacular experience with you.
Just like the Walmart Greeters, these creepy dudes met us at the entrance of HHN (because I'm too lazy to type out Halloween Horror Nights, I'm abbreviatin'). They towered over the crowd at about 14' tall.
 So, lemme tell you how HHN works. It takes place at Universal Studios (not Islands of Adventure, aka Harry Potter World). At around 5pm, they kick everyone out of Universal to prep the houses and the scare zones. If people have paid to "stay and scream", as it's called, then they get to hang out in a holding area until the gates of doom are open. Those lucky folks get to enter a pinch early and experience the haunted houses first.
'Bout as friendly as a Walmart Greeter too.
 That's how we did it. My hubs is crazy about going through these houses, so he has our whole route mapped out: skip all of the houses at the front where the crowds head first and run straight for those in the back. There were seven different haunted houses to go through, with lines up to 45-100 minutes long. So it's good to have a hubs with a plan. And a front-of-the-line pass, if you can swing it.
 One of the most popular houses (though not my personal fave) was the Walking Dead. This haunted house was created by the dude behind the AMC show. I've only caught snippets of the first episode online (we don't have a telly) and this house made you feel as though you were walking right through the set. It was frighteningly amazing. 

These zombies were not in the actual haunted house as they won't allow photography. They were apart of something called a scare zone. Scare zones are areas within the park where scare actors continue to frighten people...which means no where within the park is safe. This zombie-themed scare zone was right outside of the Walking Dead house.

We had the most beautiful weather while we were there. During HHN, all of the rides continue to run. Which means you can stop screaming at spooky stuff long enough to go scream on The Rip Ride Rocket or The Mummy.
Only during HHN do they change the sign to read Mel's DIE-IN. Love it.

Most of the haunted houses are in sound stages, meaning they are inside buildings used for filming. Universal Studios is an actual working studio. Those particular houses are usually the best...but lack an outdoor entrance worth photographing. This particular house was designed by the magicians Penn and Teller and was not inside a sound stage. It's theme was that a nuclear meltdown had happened in Sin City. Best part? The casino girl with three ta-ta's.

Alice Cooper also designed a house called My Nightmare. This entrance was hands-down the best. Alice's songs were blasting through this house along with some very nightmarish things.
Me and a super cute Jell-o Shots girl. They sell the shots in those hilariously nasty blood bags.

Did you notice I'm wearing The Horror Flick Dress? We went with some friends and family to HHN and I shamelessly wore the dress Every Single Night. The joke became that the scariest thing about HHN was the smell comin' from my dress. Thank you Jen of Peachy Tuesday for crafting me a matching headband!
Oh, my bad. They were friendly enough to stop for a photo.
 Hubs just looked over my shoulder at these photos and said sadly, "I can't believe our trip came and went so fast." It's truly our favorite thing. If you can't make it to such an event, then get yourself to your local haunted house. You seriously won't regret it!

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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Weekend Adventure: Wicked in Williamsburg

This webby bridge is one of the only means to enter or exit the spookiness of Busch Gardens Williamsburg's Howl O Scream. A family that was desperately trying to leave the park (their wailing children just couldn't take it anymore) was getting no where fast when their little girl refused to exit the park via the "scary" bridge. Knowing the will power of a wee one, that fam might still be there.
 A couple weekends ago, hubs and I took a weekend trip to Williamsburg, Virginia, aka Colonial Williamsburg. And while I'm mildly interested in history, we didn't go there to see how butter was churned or how America came to be. 

Oh no, we went for something much better than that:

Haunted Houses. 

Particularly the ones found at the Busch Garden's Howl O Scream event.

Now, I'm sure you've heard of Busch Gardens...but did you know that there are two? The one in Tampa is probably more famous because of it's proximity to Disney. It has an African theme. The one in Williamsburg has a European theme. This Big Ben-esque clock tower can be found at the front of that park. I love the spooky bird decorations. Hitchcock woulda been proud.
 We decided to hit the park first thing on a Saturday morning. They have a brand new roller coaster, the Verbolten, that we wanted to check out (and by "we",  I mean hubs and a reluctant me). I actually had a pretty embarrassing scream-fest-freak-out on the ride when it zipped into a dark tunnel. I just knew it was going to blast off from zero to eighty miles per hour (it didn't), so I flipped the Crazy Switch, complete with high-pitched wailing and arm/leg flailing. Hubs kept yelling, "What? Am I missing something?" The dad and his kid in the seats in front of us turned around and laughed at me. 

So embarrassing.

After that experience, we hit the coaster Griffon, which is easily one of the most frightening (at 205', it's one of the tallest coasters in the world) and best roller coasters I've ever been on. For a look-see, check out this youtube video (particularly minute 1:15) to get the idea.

 I love that every corner of the park was decorated for the occasion. Inside the building on the left was a fantastic dinner show that was like a spooky cabaret set in the 1920's. On the right is the French area of  Busch Gardens that looked as though it was been taken over by a rat-infested plague.
I debuted my Horror Flick dress at Busch Gardens. I was thrilled when folks complimented my dress. It was such fun to wear.

 After a short trip back to the hotel for some rest (we knew we would need our energy for the half dozen haunted houses and shows that evening), we returned to find a pretty spooktacular event. It was great fun and the perfect start to our tour of Halloween Haunts.
Hubs and I waiting for a show to begin.
 I just hollered up the stairs to hubs, "how long have we been going to these Halloween things, anyway?"

"Hmm. Not sure. A long time. Maybe 10 or more years?"

You'd think after that amount of time, being chased by a dude in a leatherface mask wielding a chainsaw would get a little, I don't know, redundant. And, to be honest, the chainsaw dudes don't actually freak me out anymore (but just to be kind, I do give 'em a good scream. It's the right thing to do). But there's always something that does. Freak me out, that is. That's what keeps us coming back for more.
We did do our time in Colonial Will'burg the following day. The weather was perfect and the sights were so sweet...the complete opposite of the previous evenings horrors.

Like this cute shoeless milliner crafting a hat. In a haunted house, he would have been creating the hats out of faux flesh and wielding a chainsaw. Just sayin'.

Or these lovely Colonial style hats...that would have been worn by zombie Colonial girls slashing the air with axes and carrying headless dolls. For example.

Precious scene of a carriage ride from long ago, you think? In a haunted house, the carriage driver would be headless, the horse would be a skeleton and the passengers would be fluffy McDonald's-eating tourists. Hey...wait a minute...

Delightful debutantes out for a Sunday stroll? That's what you think. Just wait until they turn their green witchy faces around and...

 Oh, my bad. Musta been thinking of those other demonic debutantes. Sorry, ladies. How 'bout a picture?
We came upon this fun farmer's market, complete with an impromptu hoedown.

...Little did we know, they were playing "The Devil Went Down to Georgia", waking up this beauty of a beast. Dude, maybe we should play "Devil Went Down to the Dentist." Just sayin'.
 Wait a minute...are you STILL reading this blog post? Now that is frightening. 

Thanks for dropping by. I hope this has inspired you to check out your local Halloween haunts or even the bigger ones at places like Busch Gardens or Universal. I promise, you won't regret it!

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