I: Of Yesteryear
Memories are a strange beast
without visual proof or a word chronicling
they are at times all we can rely on
In 1984, 86 and 89 trips to Disney World
I can prove were real because photo evidence is abound
images of me in front of the castle with mom and dad
standing with characters in costume
my best friend Chris alongside me
Yet, the visit to Universal in Orlando
when I was still a teen in 91 or 92
definitely happened despite no proof
Vivid memories of the queue from
Back to the Future: The Ride
putting my father in a wheelchair
as medicine and science
had not yet caught up
so his Parkinson's which
got worse starting 1988
was wrecking his body
it wouldn't be till 98-2003
that he would get to have a bit of a second full life
It is strange to me to
have no journal of this trip
no photos, no videos
I have to rely on the fact
that I know Jaws attacked me
or that Kong rocked my world
Walking into the park
straight to Hitchcock
experiencing 3-D for the first time
staring at the recreation of Bates Motel
where if you looked tightly
you could see mother peering back
The visions in my head
are vivid as if they weren't
almost 30 years ago
of what I feel
were the last time
I traveled with both my
parents on an actual family trip
Memories are a strange beast
but one we love and cherishII: A Different Time, The Same Place, Years Later
With Wrestlemania 24 at Orlando, my work and finances in an okay place for the time, it was the perfect excuse to finally meet a friend I am to this day still friends with. Although, Mike and I were out of each other's lives for a moment cause of where his life with his then wife on that 2008 trip headed. We refound each other in 2014 at a Chikara event. Mike is also no longer friends with the person who I had to spend the majority of my first day at Universal with.
At the time of the 2008 trip, Back to the Future was now closed and Simpson's Springfield was in construction. Because I wasn't there by myself or like minds (other than Mike) places like Mythos, Seussville, and the like were not explored as much as I'd of liked. Jurassic Park was much more basic at the time and I didn't get to take the river boat ride but did get to appreciate the dinos, fauna and caves making a truly immersive experience. I also got to indulge the Popeye barge and utterly loved it based on my own journals. How I describe Revenge of the Mummy shortly after the trip does not mesh with my memories. I feel a lot of the entire trip was blemished by who I was at the time, who I was with and how I was able to take it all in. I seemed to LOVE Men in Black, but not as much as my fellow mates who wanted to take the ride over 8 times before we stood on line for many hours waiting to get into the free Total Nonstop Wrestling show.
Back then I loved everything about that, and hell, if TNA was happening at Universal Studios now I might look into someone hooking me up with the connections I have now. Still between TNA and also having tickets to Ring of Honor at the time it definitely cut into my time to truly enjoy and explore what was open of Universal at the time. One evening a lot of the time of our day got cut just waiting in line for TNA and not getting in. It was time that could've been used at the park itself. Mike and his then wife had bought tickets to Paramore and had I known that Phantom Planet was the surprise opening act I would've joined them. That night I still got to see Blues Brothers and a magic show, but something was still lacking. The next night/afternoon we didn't have a full day at the park and was rushed with also having a reservation at Emeril's (which was absolutely amazing at the time, days later and in retrospect), but we had the Ring of Honor show to go to and again another one the next day which was also the day where we waited a long time for TNA and because I was with them, had to wait for them to play MiB.
Now I would not give up those ROH (or TNA) experiences for ANYTHING. Larry Sweeney, Jimmy Jacobs, Go Shiuzaki, Austin Aries, Frankie Kazarian, Angelina Love, AJ Styles, Genki Horiguchi, Kevin Steen(Owens), Tyler Black (Seth Rollins), Delirious, Lance Hoyt, and even Sting. This was 2008 and while they were all names they weren't the names they are now, but it still meant the world to me. Knowing I had that experience back then means the world to me now as well. Although if I could get back the entire day we lost to Wrestlemania I would. The less said the better. If I could have that day back to have been at Universal though...
My final day I was completely on my own, but did not have another ticket to Universal. Mike and his company were driving back to Georgia, leaving me to get to my late night flight back to NYC on my lonesome. Lucily I had made plans to meet up with a friend in Downtown Universal and originally he was going to show me around all day before taking me back to the airport, but wasn't able to get out of work. He did get me to a few spots though and then I managed the bus system to get to and fro before he picked me up to get to the airport in time. I had a lot of fun that last day seeing graffiti, going to a local CD store, a comic shop, and more.
When I was done I imagined being able to return to Orlando soon, but as the years passed that felt like it would never come.III: The Future Adventures
At the end of 2018 shortly before my birthday my mother surprised me. She asked me if I would want to go to Universal Studios Florida with her on a mother/son trip. She wasn't sure of how I'd feel because just like I actually did in 2008 we'd be sharing the room. For four nights for the chance to finally go back to Orlando I can deal with a hotel room with my mom just as well as I could with two complete strangers and a friend I only knew via phone and internet.
She also has given me free reign on planning the trip out. I took care of the research, the booking of the hotel, the airfare, tickets, etc. In 2008 other than arranging for cheap tickets for me and Kellen at Universal (which I'm pretty sure I never actually got paid back for which is why I never felt guilty about some of the things they covered cost on that I didn't pay back), Michael arranged everything. Not because I wanted him too, but because he insisted on it and it was easier than arguing and also dealing with his wife who had her OWN things she wanted to do that had nothing to do with wrestling or amusement parks.
By having this complete autonomy for this 2019 trip I've sought out many things that are within Universal since back when and stuff still there that I look forward to immensley. In this modern era though I've also kept up with videos, tips and tricks. I know about the “secret” tours, the way to make $20 by watching a TV show, that Finnegan's is a not miss meal, the idea of single riders, etc. Plus while there a Mardi Gras like event happens at the park once it's dark so it's like two vacations in one. I also have a a new close friend of the past year who works at the aquarium on International Drive, so a visit there as well as I-360 is happening. I asked for advice from other friends of the Orlando downtown area and they suggested Mills50 as not miss, so that is definitely in the cards. As well as West Arts District, Ivanhoe Village and a few other spots that have caught my eye. We won't have a car, but Uber/Lyft would end up costing the same as renting a car that I can't legally drive and my mom would be scared to. I've marked craft beer bars, top rated local restaurants, mural spots, skateshops, tattoo parlors... just all the stuff that whenever I hit a town I like to check out to see local talent. Knowing my mom is either down with whatever I want or if not, being able to separate and she can be at Universal (Main, Citywalk, Volcano Bay, the hotel, any of the hotel pools or wherever she wants) and we don't gotta worry about when we'll meet up or anything just sweetens the pot.
I'm positive this trio will blow 2008 out of the gate and stratosphere and as for 91 or 92? Well, those memories will always be clear, but this time for 2019 I will have photos and journals and video and all that good stuff and maybe just maybe new inspiration and new breath. Possibly even a reboot. written for
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