February 2008:  Florida

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My buddy Hans Christianson recently relocated to the Sunshine State, so I took advantage of the President’s Day weekend to head south for a few days of hanging out in a warmer climate.

We both love theme parks, so having Orlando nearby gave us a chance to visit Universal Studios.

On President’s Day itself, we headed west to Tampa for a thrilling day of rides at Busch Gardens!

It was a beautiful day for visiting Universal Studios.

Hans enters through the City Walk.

A view of the park from across the bay.

The famous Universal globe!

Heading straight for the T2 attraction...

...where Hans will be performing as the Terminator this spring!







The Creature from the Black Lagoon was most welcoming.

A look at one of the amazing backdrops.

Hans finds us a cab.

The popular “Revenge of the Mummy” ride.

Heading over to Islands of Adventure.

First up was a spin on the Incredible Hulk coaster.







Followed by a ride with Spiderman.

Hans leads the way into Jurassic Park.

We were warned.

A pleasant boat ride precedes a terrible soaking.

The Dueling Dragons inverted coaster.  We rode both Fire and Ice.

Outside the Sinbad show.







One of the park’s beautiful vistas.

Sun setting over Seuss-Land.

Darkness comes quickly...

...and a concert by Sara Evans begins.

Hans checking out some of the Mardi Gras stuff.

Mardi Gras jester.







Hans visits the King and Queen.

The Mummy ride all lit up.

Hans explores the park after dark.

Outside one of the beautiful art deco buildings.

Subway ride?

Taking a break.







The Mardi Gras celebration included plenty of Voodoo Punch!

The studio entrance at night.

Another look at the Universal Globe!

The City Walk at night.

Welcome to Busch Gardens.

Hans makes a new friend outside the main gate.







Leafy Lion!

Our first ride of the day is a wooden coaster called Gwazi.

Hans seems to have survived it just fine.

Baby elephant statue that I thought was kinda cute.

What would a trip to Florida be without these guys?

Hans and the red Macaws.







Another botanical work of art!


Hans at the bird garden.

Another reminder that I’m not in Colorado any more.

Luckily, I do love flamingos.

Pretty cool, huh?







Even the squirrels were friendly!

Busch Gardens living up to its name.


Riding the Komodo Dragon.

A talking blue Macaw.  He said “Hello” a lot.

Native birds were everywhere.







The park’s newest thrill-ride is coaster called Sheikra.

Through water...

...and loops...

...and tunnels.

It’s a pretty impressive sight.

The first drop is a stomach-clenching 90 degree plunge straight down.








The trains are floorless, which gives the illusion of flight.

One last look...

Then it was off to Kumba...

...which was so fast and loopy it shook all the fizz out of my soda!

The loops of Kumba.







One train flies by.


Waiting for the pirate 4-D movie to start and get us wet.

It didn’t, but a sudden rain shower did!

Hans dries out while I check out the Scorpion.

The Scorpion!







Off to the Edge of Africa.

Where we see a couple of residents.

Getting ready to take the Rhino Rally jeep ride.

From the jeep.

YOU try taking a picture of a rhino while bouncing along a dirt path!

Hans attempts to warm up.







The Serengeti Plain.

From the train.

Another denizen of Florida!

Hans at the Clydesdale Wagon.

Heading over to Egypt.

Hans plays around with a pharaoh.







Inside the tomb of King Tut.

King Tut’s sarcophagus.  Can’t wait to see the real stuff this September!

Hans thinks he’s a phraoh.

Heading to the BEST ride of the day...Montu.

Hans at the Montu Express.

Proof that it was a fun time!





If you make it to Universal Studios in Orlando this year, be sure to stop in and say hey to Hans!