Tuesday, May 19, 2009

There's Wet, and Then There's … Drenched

I'm in Orlando this week for the grand opening of SeaWorld's "Manta" roller coaster. More on that in a few days.

Since I'm here, I dropped by Universal Orlando this afternoon to get a look at the progress on the Studios' new coaster, "Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit," as well as the construction for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter over at Islands of Adventure.

A few thoughts on each:
• "Rockit" is going to provide tremendous views not just from inside the Studios, but especially, surprisingly, outside. It comes right past the Blue Man Group theater and out to the main sidewalk beside the big Studios entrance. The track makes some twisty maneuvers right there in front of everybody—you can even see the loading station. It should be the equivalent of a big sign that reads: "See those turnstiles over there? Go through them and get over here."
• The Hogwarts castle building back near the Jurassic Park section of IOA is just gigantic—and it doesn't even have any towers on it yet.

The real reason I'm writing, though, is to tell you it's absolutely POURING in Orlando today. The locals tell me they're pretty happy (with apologies to tourists), because it hasn't rained much at all for awhile and they're desperate for some sky liquid. Still, this is a lot of rain—you know, the raining-so-hard-it's-bouncing-off-the-street-type downpour.

Your humble correspondent decided to head out into the storm anyway, armed only with a windbreaker and an umbrella (ponchos rarely work for my 6-5 frame). I'm here, I have spare clothes, how bad could it be?

Uh, bad.

I was soaked from the knees down in five minutes; from the waist down within about 15. After taking a look at the "Rockit" track and wandering by "The Simpsons Ride" (50-minute wait! Yes, that ride's a hit, in any weather), I hid out in the Hard Rock Cafe for awhile as the rain died down. It was just kinda sprinkling when I went over to IOA.

In all my visits to that park, I've never ridden "Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls," because I'd heard it's a water ride in the true sense of the word—it gets you wet—and I've never been in a position to get soaked. Well, what better time than now? I was already drenched, so I presented myself before the friendly employee at the front of the queue:

"Can I get any wetter than this?" I asked.

"Well, I don't want to say no, and I might want to say … yes," he gamely replied. "But if your feet are already wet, you might as well."

So I might as welled.

Let me tell you something, ladies and gentlemen, I now know there's "rain wet," and there's "water ride wet." I walked off that ride soaked—and it wasn't even the big final hill, I don't think, that really did it, but one of the little ones inside the structure which sent water pouring over the sides of my boat.

On my way out, I went back over to the nice fellow in front of the queue to let him know he now has his answer: You may think you're drenched, but a good water ride—like, for instance, "Ripsaw Falls"—can always get you, uh … drencher.

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