Joe Llorens wraps up 'Persister' with some thoughts on his October in Orlando.
Having just gone through my 6th annual Halloween Horror Nights weekend, here are some notes from it.Come December I will be moving to Orlando from Miami, so pretty much everything’s going to change for me. This is the last year that Horror Nights will be an actual event for me. Think about it; from now on I won’t have to make a choice between going to Horror Nights, Howl O’ Scream, or Mickey’s Not-So-Scary... (Shut up, maybe sometimes I’d like to go see the Mickster in a ghost costume. Stop laughing at me.)
Anyway, it’s strange. It’s the end of an era. This is a trip that my friends and I look forward to each and every year, and I’ve somewhat been taken out of that mix. I’m still looking forward to next year’s event, but it’ll be in the way a socialite looks forward to hosting their next big party. I don’t know if that analogy makes sense to anyone, but it made sense to me. I’ve also been under heavy medication since Monday.The attention to detail in this year’s Horror Nights was spectacular. The scare zones were put together very well. Our favorite was Field of Screams. I ended up having a nightmare about that hanging pumpkin-headed guy. We talked to a couple of people who were working the event and asked them what they thought about it. Turns out that the night we went (Oct. 23rd) was the busiest night of the month, with more than 50,000 people scurrying around the park. They even had to open up parts of the parks that were supposed to be closed off (including the area around MIB, which meant that the ride was open for business. YES!!) A couple of the female employees we spoke to admitted to liking working the event because of the extra money (one was a server at Finnegan’s), but they also said they were still unnerved by all the costumed people walking around, even though they were officially a part of the “behind the scenes” aspect of the event. The lesson, as always, women are funny. I can’t believe these chicks were actually scared of these people in masks with the fake chainsaws and the cans filled with pennies. It’s not like I was scared. At all.
(I lost my voice again this year from all the screaming I did while I was up there. I came back home sick as a dog, because I think my immune system told me to go fornicate myself halfway through the night. Jesus, was that scary.)We had people in our group who didn’t get express passes, so they went their separate ways when we got into the park. We were able to finish everything by 12:30 thanks to our passes. Our friends crawled in to the room after 2:30 and told us that they were able to hit 5 out of the 7 houses and even got to go on Revenge of the Mummy. (A ride which boasted a stand-by wait time of 120 minutes one of the times we passed by it.) The lesson, as always, express passes are worth every penny. Those of us who had them were able to enjoy the houses and ambience without having to scurry along to the next house, all the time looking down at our watches, cursing father time. Yes, my friends did get to do plenty without their passes, but you should have seen them when they walked in. We were able to sit down at Finnegan’s and have a terrific meal (I STRONGLY suggest the shepherd’s pie), and I don’t think they got to eat anything at all.
And how do you follow up on what could easily have been the best Horror Nights you’ve ever been to? You hit the International Food & Wine Festival at EPCOT, of course.Food, food, food. Three of my four favorite things on earth. While I couldn’t possibly get into too much detail about the layout due to the fact that I had my face buried in a different plate every five minutes, I will describe the delicious dishes I devoured. I like alliteration. Greece: Mini Gyro w/ Tzatzizikkizitizitkizazikki: I still don’t know how to spell that Greek dip made of cucumber and yogurt and some other stuff. This could very well be my favorite dip of all time. I’ve eaten at Greek restaurants several times and it has never disappointed. The little pita it was mounted on was somewhat chilled, which was a nice contrast to the heated lamb on top of it. Delicious.
Florida: Why they would set up a stand based on Floridian cuisine when the park is located in Florida is beyond me. What a colossal waste of space. I can’t imagine anyone in their right mind spending money in that stand. The shrimp salad sandwich was delicious.
UK: Fish & Chips. I know; it’s there all the time. It’s just so good, it warrants mentioning.
Spain: Paella. The rice was somewhat overcooked, but it still had a nice kick of spice and was flavorful.
Germany: Goulash. For some reason I always associated goulash with the Soviet Union. It was a delicious beef stew with pieces of bread soaking inside it. Yummy.
China: Dan Dan Noodles & Sa Cha Chicken. The noodles were the only thing we went back to eat twice. Cold noodles with something resembling peanut sauce on them. The chicken came on a skewer and was cooked to perfection.
Australia: Aussie Lamb Chop. In my opinion there was too much fat on the chop and not enough meat. Still, it was very tasty.
France: Ham & Cheese Crepe. Wow. Melted, cheesy goodness inside a baked crepe.
But the piece-du-resistance came from the good ol’ U.S. of A. in the form of the Lobster Corn Chowder soup. Simply amazing. They also offered mini crab cakes which were delicious as well, and I fantasized the rest of the day of buying one of each and “accidentally” dropping the crab cake into the soup. Then, seeing as how I had no choice in the matter (wink,wink,nudge,nudge), eating the whole thing up as what could probably become the Greatest Stew Of All Time.
So that was my overall experience this past weekend for my 6th annual Horror Nights experience. I’m paying the price for it now with my 102 degree fever, but believe me when I say that it was worth it.
Now if I can only muster the strength to go down to the kitchen and try and make myself some shepherd’s pie, my life would be complete.