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Amusement Musings: Universal bonding in Orlando

by Banks Lee

By Linda Taylor

You know, it’s really about bonding. Taking a trip to Florida to visit Universal Orlando with our boys was one of the most fun things I can remember doing. Our daughter went to Orlando with her school band to march in the Disney parade (she was part of the color guard), so my husband and I decided to take the boys there as well.

The last time I had been to the Orlando theme parks was decades ago when I was in college. A carload of friends and I escaped the ice storms of upstate New York during spring break to the sunny warmth of Florida. So when our kids’ spring breaks came up and our daughter was heading down in a busload full of noisy band members, we decided to get some plane tickets for us and our boys and follow her. (I daresay our travel experience was much more enjoyable.)

We left cold Chicago and got off the plane in the warmth of Orlando. There’s nothing like stepping into that sunshine. I remember our older son saying, “Look! A palm tree!” I realized he had never seen one before. And so began our Florida adventure – beaches, Everglades, spaceships, seashells, parasailing and, of course, theme parks!

Having planned ahead, I knew to purchase the special tickets that would allow us to jump the lines. We arrived 30 minutes before Universal opened, got in line, got our tickets and literally ran to the back of the park in order to be in the first group to ride the newest ride that year – The Revenge of the Mummy roller coaster. And we made it! The brand new ride was ours to conquer, and we did it, dodging the fireballs and scarab beetles. Because we had run to the very back of the park to ride the Mummy, when the ride finished, we were still virtually alone in that part of the park. So we got into the short line and rode it again! How cool is that?

From there on, we made our way to every other coaster in the park, happily jumping the lines to ride Shrek 4-D and Twister (those are the ones I remember), and then we let the boys head off on their own while we enjoyed the Blues Brothers’ Show.

There’s something about screaming together on a bouncing roller coaster that just bonds you with your kids. Maybe it’s the kids seeing mom and dad lose it that brings them closer . . . or maybe it’s just that mom and dad are willing to be silly with the kids.

Whatever it is, it’s worth it.

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