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Day 19 – Florida 2016

The day that started like any other, could have so easily gone wrong, and could have turned out so many other ways. But didn’t. Or did it? Depends on which way you look at it I suppose. Breakfast was a normal mix of leftovers and oven baked products, so that was normal, we had a bit of a tidy, and decided to go to Universal Studios, so that was normal, so to speak, and we set out having lathered ourselves in sun cream. Normal so far.

On root, I noticed that the vehicle in front was from Pennsylvania which, as Georgia enquired, is not where Dracula comes from. I highlighted this to the family, just as the driver of the said vehicle applied his brakes in an emergency fashion, for no apparent reason, in the middle of nowhere, with not even a black dog in sight. If you’ve never tried to apply an emergency braking system in a vehicle, while wearing flip flops, then I assure you it’s an experience you don’t want to repeat. Nevertheless, I had the adrenaline rush of a teenager faced with his first porn mag. Temporarily.

Having scraped myself off the windscreen, and calmed my family down, I turned to my loving wife to request some lip balm, as my lips were dry due to the aforementioned Man flu, which, ladies and gentlemen, is hanging on like the previously mentioned teenager and his porn mag. I was passed, and applied, the lip balm. I then drove to Universal.

It was whilst on the motorway, that I noticed six of the seven occupants of my vehicle sniggering and stifling heavy laughter. A quick look in the mirror showed the reason for their mirth. My innocent request for lip balm had produced an actual lipstick, and I’d applied it like The Joker. Now, there have only been a handful of times I’ve actually had to wipe lipstick off (The Rocky Horror Show in 1984, KISS tribute show in 2004, and an evening with Chinese Sue in Magaluf) and it’s a bugger to remove, especially when it’s all over you….

On to Universal. My distain for this place started when we approached the entrance. That’s the entrance to the park. Not a franchise car park, but owned by Universal. A place where it’s now $116 for a single ticket. Car parking for a car? $20. And as if that wasn’t enough, when I arrived at the toll booth, operated by Steve, he couldn’t answer my simple questions…”Is the car park space gold plated?”, “What do I get for my $20?” And “Why aren’t you wearing a mask and a stripey jumper?”. Instead he ordered me an upgrade to Preferred Parking, which, for only $40, allows me to park close to the entrance, and allows me to leave the park via a dedicated service road to avoid traffic. So, not only does my paltry $20 spot not get me near to the entrance, it also means I have to sit in traffic for an hour when I leave”. By the way, the parking spot is the same as last year, with no added bonus or gold in sight. I’ve copied a letter of complaint that is winging its way to Universal as we speak, just for your enjoyment….it’s pretty much the same as last years letter…when will I learn?

Dear Sir Madam.

Good morning.I have a few concerns that I wonder if you could answer for me please, as long as I don’t have to pay extra for a reply. I attended Universal Studios yesterday with my family (8 in all including me). We always choose your parks due to the cleanliness, the attractions, and the overall fun day we have. We travel from England, and so you can imagine the money we pay just to get here to Florida every year, let alone pay for the price of admission.

Firstly, when I bought the tickets, I noticed that the price had gone up since our visit last July. I was hoping that the price increase would indicate that the parks have been updated and further rides added, but no. In fact the opposite had happened. Rides had closed since our last visit, so there were less! No Twister anymore, no King Kong, don’t start me on Jaws, and rides that should be closed still carry on, tired and in need of an update. I talk of course of ET, Men in Black, and Terminator 3D. I’ve checked the Universal website, and it seems that your company have made several films since the 90’s, most of which could have a ride made in their honour. Might I suggest a Forrest Gump ride for instance, where the customers run from the Atlantic Coast to the Pacific coast on tread mills, which could also be used to power the electrics in the park. Or perhaps a Hangover ride, where guests are drugged and then kidnapped, having to find there way back to the entrance to meet their family again. When are you going to update your rides? All of these rides existed, making a profit, back in the 90’s when you could get into your park for less than $30 (and I did). Where has the research and development gone?

Secondly, I paid for refillable cups for the family, so we could stay refreshed at your many refill stations around the park. It was 94′ yesterday, and so this was essential. The first station worked, but after that, the next three were out of action, and the third had a wait time of 25 minutes. That’s longer than most of the rides yesterday, in fact, at one of the refill stations I saw a visitor trying to use a fastpass to nudge her way to the front for valuable ice. When I got to the refill station I found that there was no ice, and only water being dispensed. Dunner start me on the queue for Butterbeer, whatever that is. One thing I do know is it’s not beer, and certainly didn’t take the edge off my trauma.

I called customer service, and tweeted, and emailed, and was told it would be addressed, and told to have a great day. Didn’t help my thirst.

Thirdly, your parking charge has gone up. Why? How as the cost of a small parking space on a car park at your attraction become more costly? There has been no change, no improvement, in fact, there appeared to be less staff, and the moving walkways were stationary. It seems that you and Disney are in a war to increase your prices, to see who can charge your customers the most. For no reason. Please explain how and why these charges have increased. I’m coming to your park anyway (at a cost of over $2000 for the day) so why rip me off with an overpriced parking charge?

People will stop coming if you carry on like this. I for one now have to think twice.

I look forward to your comments.

Thank you. Let’s see how far that gets me. My guess is not far, especially if they have my details on record.

One thing I forgot to mention, is when I arrived at the park to pick up my tickets, I asked the man in the booth, “Am I wearing lipstick?”. His reply was, “Sir, this is a theatrical facility….a lot of men wear lipstick”.

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