Posted by: Willem | March 21, 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen… Mr. Anticlimactic!

So, after much anticipation and weeks of procrastination, here is the first post from Kate’s significant other. In advance, I make no promises about my frequency in this capacity – this is Kate’s egg and I’m just sitting on it for the next 4 days. First of all, I’m not a very good writer. I’ve learned how to write lengthy essays on mathematics and education, but I haven’t developed the finer skills of writing from the hip. Also, I find it very difficult to properly express myself without swearing. For example, as I gaze out my living room window and look upon the feet of snow in my front yard which has become a frozen mass of jagged ice that may still be here on Memorial Day, it is a monumental challenge to not develop an unprecedented case of spontaneous Tourette’s.

I thought long and hard about what to write about in this epic post. After considering many topics, I’ve decided to do a simple recap from our recent vacation. Kate gave her point of view, but I’d like to add my thoughts about each of the places we visited. This is meant to be informational for anyone who might be considering a similar trip, but really it just gives me an excuse to give out arbitrary ratings.

Before I get started, let me say that I enjoyed all of the places we visited. I recommend that you see each of them, whether or not you have kids. If you have been before, and it was at least 5 years ago, I recommend that you go again. That being said, there are still important differences that make each destination a unique experience. Overall, they each get a passing grade, but some are far more memorable than others.

Let’s start from the bottom and work our way up.

4. Sea World

It’s worth visiting Sea World for the Shamu show alone – it’s simply amazing to watch trained killer whales. However, the show is rife with puke-inducing hokiness. Having the whales jump and splash and do tricks is great, but including a story about some deranged kid who is so obsessed with whales that he spends every waking moment meticulously whittling necklaces in the exact shape of a whale’s tail gets really old, really quick. Despite this, the show is quite memorable and it is included in the price of admission.

Which brings me to my major complaint. Sea World is amazingly over-priced. It should never cost over $200 for a family of 4 to simply enter the park. If it is going to cost this much, they certainly shouldn’t price-gouge at the concessions. Charging $2.89 before taxes for a bottle of soda is robbery. Asking $4.00 for a paper tray containing 6 sardines for the purpose of feeding the sharks is ludicrous. They even wanted $1.00 for the privilege of operating a remote-control monster truck for something like 60 seconds. To do this after charging $50 per person at the door is unconscionable and stupid.

They do allow you to return as many times as you want for the following year at no extra charge, a policy that we took advantage of during our final day. But I still left with the bitter feeling of having been ripped off. This was amplified by the fact that several of the employees were less than pleasant and far from enthusiastic, something that solidified Sea World’s last-place finish in these rankings.

Overall Grade: C+

3. The Kennedy Space Center

I was really looking forward to this experience because it was our only non kid-specific destination. But, of course, we brought the kids, and so it was difficult to take full advantage of all that the KSC had to offer. It’s much more historical than interactive in nature, which makes for bored children in a hurry. However, it was very impressive even to the kids mainly because of the shear size of the displays. Unfortunately, it is the size of the entire center that may be its one flaw.

The KSC is enormous. I highly recommend the bus tour more out of necessity than anything else. Distances between the major attractions are measured in miles, and the bus trips take 10-15 minutes. But the friendly drivers are loaded with information and there are many interesting videos to watch during the ride. Additionally, the surrounding area is teeming with readily observable wildlife, including alligators and colorful birds of all sorts.

The best thing about the KSC is the price. Only $38 for adults and $28 for kids made it much cheaper than any of the other attractions on this list. But if you are planning to go and you have kids, make sure that they are able to entertain themselves. Our kids did a great job, but it was hard to get the full experience without feeling the need to keep moving.

Overall Grade: B

2. Epcot

We spent our last day at Epcot, and it was highly anticipated by me since I hadn’t been there since my childhood. I was happily impressed by its wide range of attractions. It really does have something for everyone, and many of the rides were tailored for the family instead of a single age group. This made it much easier for both kids to be experience all of the rides, something that was wildly lacking at Sea World.

Epcot also has a lot of interactive displays, and just plain neat-stuff-to-look-at, including the World Showcase – a walking tour of nearly a dozen nations complete with full-sized buildings and authentic food and souvenirs. I was very impressed to see that the people who worked in each of these “nations” were, in fact, from the actual nation. It added a real touch of authenticity, for example, to hear the boulangerie employees speaking French to each other.

Probably Epcot’s only flaw is that it’s not the Magic Kingdom. Even though it costs the same to get in, it has fewer rides and is less grand in nature. That being said, it is possible to do Epcot in a single day, so you don’t feel the constant drive to see more before the sun goes down.

Overall Grade: A-

1. The Magic Kingdom

It is simply impossible for me to find anything that I didn’t like about the Magic Kingdom. I found myself constantly thinking, “they thought of everything here!” The rides are fantastic, and have held up in their intensity for years without major changes. This allowed me to recall experiences that I had as a child, and in many cases I was just as impressed.

Two examples of this are the Haunted Mansion and Space Mountain. These rides haven’t changed much (or at all) from their original inceptions, yet they are infinitely cool. The Haunted Mansion is definitely creepy, but is also appropriate for all ages. Many of the effects are very convincing and the ride is quite enjoyable. As for Space Mountain, this was unequivocally my favorite experience during the whole vacation. I laughed like an idiot, mainly because I was convinced that I was going to die. But I didn’t care, because the ride was so much fun.

Top it all off with the nightly parade and fireworks show, and the Magic Kingdom was the complete experience for our family. Everyone left feeling quite satisfied and fulfilled by the day’s entertainment. However, we missed a lot, and those planning to visit the Magic Kingdom should schedule more than one day in order to get the full experience.

Overall Grade: A

So, that’s all for now. I’ll try to come up with something this weekend so that you poor fools have a reason to live until Kate returns. For now, I hope you enjoyed this review of our vacation, especially the fact that I managed to write it without swearing once.

I have no promises about future posts.

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Responses

  1. Welcome Willem…we don’t mind swearing. Okay well at least I don’t 🙂 Glad the vacation was fabulous and had fun for all ages.

  2. Swear away! My husband says that I sometimes am struck with Tourette’s Syndrome myself, so I can relate.

  3. But . . . but . . . there are no equations in this post. How do we know it’s *really* you? Matrices, integrals, sums of those evaluations at least!

  4. I saw all the price per ride divided by true value of the experience going on. Good job Mr. Math. Glad you had a nice time.

    Now the big question…I’m taking algebra 2 for the third time spring quarter…………is it possible for a non math minded person to get a 2.0 in this calss without going cukoo, cukoo for cocoa puffs?

  5. Well done Willem! I agree with the Disney experience although I’ve only been to Disneyland in LA. Hard to fault other than the huge queues. Coming from a country with less than 20 million people, we rarely queue for anything!

  6. Well shit, Willem! What the hell’s wrong with you? We’re all adults here and nobody gives a flying rat’s ass if you swear or not. Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, glad you had a nice time. I’ve also done that trip, once many moons ago in high school marching band (played “The Yellow Rose of Texas” on a piccolo solo during the afternoon parade), and again 9 years ago when my daughter was 7. Loved Disney & Epcot but the rest? Not so much – for the same reasons.


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