Universal Opens Sci-Fi Golf, Gatorland Fun, Sea World Update and More
by, 03-05-2012 at 09:19 PM
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Today's Orlando Parkhopper is filled with Universal Orlando Mini-Golf Madness, Gatorland goodness and SeaWorld silliness. That's right, the new Drive-In Mini Golf project that we have been following for months has FINALLY opened and we were there to cover every bit of this fantastic new Orlando attraction. Next, we visit the quintessential Orlando destination, Gatorland, for a bit of backwoods fun. Then we swing by SeaWorld for a look at the latest news there and to check up on Turtle Trek and Antarctica construction. Let's hop . . .
DRIVE-IN MINI GOLF OPENS:
The new, highly anticipated, brilliantly themed, Hollywood Drive-In Mini Golf course finally opened to the public this past weekend. The premium priced, dual 18 hole golf course is themed to the schlocky 50's horror and sci-fi films that were all the craze in the age of the drive-in movie. Big, bold, outlandish scenarios of alien robots attacking and haunted houses overrun with ghostly inhabitants are the order of the day here. Of course, it all comes with a price. Let's find out if it is worth the time and money.
The going rates at the Drive in Mini Golf are as follows.
One 18 hole course
Adults - $13.99
Children (Ages 3-9)- $11.99
Both 18 hole courses
Adults - $24.49
Children (Ages 3-9)- $20.99
Spendy indeed! But let's take a stroll through the courses and see what they deliver for that price.
Invaders from Planet Putt:
The first course we will visit is the sci-fi themed "Invaders from Planet Putt." Think aliens, Area 51, giant mechanized robots, and massive slug monsters and you have a good idea of what to expect. The design, the look and feel of the whole course is really on par with the best (pun fully intended).
A bungling bovine banishes boredom at this hole.
Each hole is a progression in a very silly story of martian invaders and their attempt to take over Earth.
What kid, or kid at heart, wouldn't love this?
The signs are clever and full of corny one-liners.
So THAT'S what the inside of a space slug looks like.
It's a COOK BOOK! We hear that Mankind tastes like chicken.
Jeepers creepers, scarecrow's got some peepers
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The Haunting of Ghostly Greens:
The second course is a haunted house themed jaunt into silly mini-golf fun. The Haunting of Ghostly Greens tells the story of a haunted house, a mad scientist, killer hedges, massive spiders, spooky trees and tombstone epitaphs that would make Master Gracey green with envy.
Mansion-esque tombstone puns
The dramatic lighting of these courses at night really makes a difference
All of the courses are lined with light to make night time play easy.
Overall, we really have to say that the new Drive-in Mini Golf course at CityWalk is impressive and fun to play. The prices are expensive, but in our opinion, the cost is validated by the excellent theme and storytelling going on here. How many mini-golf courses make you chuckle and tell you a little tale as you go along? The down-side here is that they've just opened and are still working out the kinks in the course and operation.
That's the way King Eric experienced the new course, let's see what Kevin Yee thought . . .
It seems that Kevin Yee had a different experience with the Drive in Mini Golf team. As was mentioned before, the courses are great, but they are certainly working out some opening day bugs.
THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF SPIDERMAN:
As mentioned here before, Spiderman will be upgraded and receive high definition, digital projection throughout the attraction. Included in the upgrade will be additional elements including a cameo by Spiderman creator Stan Lee. EXCELSIOR! The attraction is currently closed and is set to re-open Thursday, March 8th.
If liking Gatorland makes you a red neck... then color my neck red! This kitschy old-school Florida attraction still has charm and thrills for its visitors. The Orlando Parkhopper was invited to visit Gatorland and check the place out. What we found was charming.
ENTRY AREA, KIDS PLAYZONE AND GATORLAND TRAIN:
Gatorland operates at a pace that is much slower than the big theme park that surround it. Gatorland is not a theme park, but instead a real authentic Florida and American experience. Upon entering the park, you quickly learn that part of the charm of Gatorland is discovering their quirky and hilarious signage.
Click to see larger panoramic image
Either that's a big bird or those are small gators.
OPH Team Member, Andre, shows off
Of course, KingEric knows how to wrastle himself a gator
These big boys are well fed but always looking for a hand out!
The Kids play zone offers a swampy way to cool off for those willing to run around in the spraying water.
They offer changing rooms for those who really get drenched.
There ain't no toilet in here
CLICK FOR LARGER PANORAMIC IMAGE.CLICK FOR LARGER PANORAMIC IMAGE.
I like Turtles!
Again, the signage really plays up the bayou vibe to humorous effect.
As with any good park, there is a train. The Gatorland Train takes you deeper into the bayou and around to see some of the wilder aspects of the park.
A photo op near the station. lol.
Gatorland allows you the ability to experience "WILD Florida" in a beauty, peaceful controlled environment. The Breeding Marsh is home to hundreds of gators, and it's purpose is in the title. A stroll around the breeding marsh will allow you to get close to native Florida birds, and giant alligators.
CLICK FOR LARGER, PANORAMIC IMAGE.
The new Zipline goes right over the breeding marsh. Should we force Eric and Andre to go back and ride it with video? Let us know and we'll strap these two chickens to the line!
If the breeding marsh isn't close enough, you can get inside the marsh itself with the help of their friendly, funny, and well trained staff. Gatorland will allow you to feed the gators close up, and even take pictures with them. This was a RUSH! Throwing the meat, and then hearing the snap of their jaws triggers a primal response deep inside that begs for you to run away screaming! But with the friendly handlers near by, you feel safe and protected... Just don't cross their line of death they drew in the dirt.
So easy, even a kid could do it.
Eric gives it a shot.
Excellent work guys. WHAT'S THAT BEHIND YOU?! (lol)
If feeding Gators close up isn't your thing, then you can attend the Gator Jumparoo Show. This show is part of what made Gatorland Famous in 1949 when it opened. Here, you have 2 "Florida Natives" who are vying for a newly opened position as Gator Wrestler. In this show they use chicken as bait to get the Gators to jump out of the water.
Kids all around were going crazy with excitement as the Gators jumped out of the water and snatched it prey. This show is engaging, hilarious, and educational.
UPCLOSE ENCOUNTERS SHOW:
In the same engaging, hilarious and educational vein, you have the Up Close Encounters Show, which puts you the audience sometimes uncomfortably close to animals we normally run away screaming from!
You get close to Tarantulas, Pygmy Rattle Snakes, water moccasin and an albino Burmese python. Why you might say "that seems scary!" Well at first it is, but the show does a tremendous job connecting you to these often vilified animals, and by the end you find yourself wanting to become an advocate for them in the wild.
Eric got called up for a close encounter.
Now tell me you didn't see that coming.
Gator Wrestling truly is the marquee attraction at Gatorland! This is the reason why you really come! You wan to see a man vs. beast show down! You want to see a 6 foot tall man go toe to toe with a 6 foot long Gator!
This show is high energy fun, the Gator Wrestlers are knowledgeable, funny, help bring an understand about animals we often associate with extreme danger.
This show is high energy, and a good time for the whole family!
After the Gator Wrestling show, if you are feeling parched, or hungry you can stroll over to the smoke house next door, and enjoy some Gator Bites for lunch! I lived in Florida for years before trying Gator, and I must say it is delicious! Two thumbs up!
Fried=Good (in this case)
SCREAMIN' GATOR ZIPLINE:
In 2011, Gatorland debuted a new attraction, the Screamin' Gator Zip Line! Sure we have seen Zip Lines before, but NEVER have you seen Zip Lines take you over and dangle you above hundreds of hungry Alligators (and we know they are hungry we just got done feeding them). The Screamin' Gator Zip Line is an up-charge experience, one we sadly didn't have time for here on our first visit! (EDITORS NOTE: he was really just scared).
EDITOR'S NOTE: What do you say folks? Should we make Eric and Andre go back and take the zipline over the marsh?Adults - $21.99
If you are looking for a wonderful diversion from the hustle and bustle of the big parks, then Gatorland is a must visit, and will truly give you a sense of the real Orlando.
Children (3-12) - $13.99
Train - $2.00
Zipline - $69.99 (includes park admission)
There are more ticket options available for purchase directly
from the Gatorland Website here.
Tell 'em MiceChat sent ya!
At SeaWorld Orlando, they announced last week that the opening for Turtle Trek 4D would be April 27th. The project is coming along nicely and, with two months left to go, the project seems to be on track.SEAWORLD ORLANDO PICS:
Sometimes we get so caught up in reporting the news for you that we tend to forget to soak in all of the beautiful surroundings. Here are a few pics that Eric took while covering SeaWorld this week.
The beautiful Blue Horizons dolphin show
It's a little early for Christmas, but Busch Gardens Tampa has announced that they are getting ready to launch a huge Christmas celebration. Christmas Town will transform the park into a nighttime holiday wonderland of wintery surprises and all things Christmas, filling guests’ senses with seasonal sights, sounds and flavors, and creating a beautiful new tradition for Tampa’s families.
For the first time in the park’s 53-year history, visitors to Christmas Town will experience all-new evening attractions, shows and shopping every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night, Nov. 30 through Dec. 23. Guests can look forward to special entertainment, live music, festive treats, holiday shopping and thousands and thousands of twinkling Christmas lights around every turn.
“When Christmas Town opens in November, it will be the beginning of a unique holiday tradition for Tampa Bay area,” says Jim Dean, Busch Gardens Tampa’s park president. “We are creating a season-long celebration for family and friends unlike any other event our guests have ever seen – the kind of Christmas fun only Busch Gardens can provide.”
Similar to the park’s popular Halloween event, Christmas Town will be a separate-ticketed night event, and regular daytime Busch Gardens admission is not required or included. Discounts will be available for annual pass members, and families with children ages 3 to 9 will enjoy special ticket prices for their youngest members.We're looking forward to seeing what Christmas magic Busch Gardens has in store for us this year.
Kevin Yee is putting a group together to go inside the vehicle assembly building at the Kennedy Space Center. The tour, offered by the space center, is an additional $25 on top of admission ($48).
Kevin also suggests, "If you're buying annual passes, do it before March 7 to get the special $50 rate! (it's $56 after that)"If you are interested in join up with the group, follow the link HERE for more info.
Cogratulations to Melonballer for guessing last week's Hidden Parkhopper by posting..."If I'm not mistaken, that is from the Lobard's Grill at SeaWorld."
Good job! Let's try this again. Look into the magnifying glass below and see if you can figure out where the park hoppers are this week. Post your guess in the comments area below. If you are the first to answer correctly, you will be featured in next week's update. GOOD LUCK!
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- Eric M. Davis
- Kevin Yee
- Editors: Fishbulb, Dustysage
Thank you for reading, we hope you have a wonderful week and are inspired to explore the amazing variety of attractions on your next visit to central Florida. We'd love to hear your comments below.