The wonderful world of Justice and Mommy aka Mary!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Macy's parade in.....Florida!

There were two things we were really looking forward to this Christmas at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure- The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and Grinchmas. One of the things I miss the most about Philadelphia is the parades. From the Mummers to the marching bands Philly sure knows how to put on a killer parade, unfortunately the southerners down here haven’t quite mastered that art; however, Universal Studios has proven to be a close second to my favorite parades.

We decided to go to Universal Studios first, so as soon as we finished up at Gaylord Palms we headed over to the park. As soon as we got there we looked at the time and the map to get an idea of what we could do with the time we had. I let Justice pick the first attraction which was Jaws. He always looks terrified as we boat through Amnity and jumps every time he sees the shark coming towards us. It’s something I have yet to catch properly on camera, but I did get a small shot of the trepidation in his face.

After that we played the balloon game, won a stuffed bear then decided to squat in front of Disaster! A Major Motion Picture Ride. Disaster is a totally new attraction which is still in rehearsal. Basically, that means if you are in the right place at the right time you will be asked if you would like to ride the ride. I’m not the kind of girl that likes to be told no and Justice is not the kind of kid that likes to be told no, so we decided to wait for the golden moment.

Our perseverance paid off after about 20 minutes and we were shuffled into the pre-show room with a large crowd of park goers. They picked a few people out of the crowd to participate in a short skit, which relied heavily on PG rated comedy to entertain us as we waited for the real show to start.

Next we entered into a standing room only theater and waited for the next part of the show. To my utter amazement Christopher Walkin hosted this part of the show….in the form of a 3-D hologram! He spoke and interacted with a real life actor on stage and completely blew me away. If you ever want to know what the cutting edge entertainment technology is you have to look no further than the major theme parks on Orlando. The really pull out all the stops to entertain is for about $70 a day.

The rest of the attraction was suspiciously similar to the previous attraction Earthquake, yet was still largely entertaining. In the final leg we were led to subway cars and taken for the ride of our lives. At the first underground stop the car began to shake and the ground around us seemed to roll and peak with unseen waves. The street caved in and asphalt tumbled towards us. Sirens were going off and the cacophony of sounds was deafening. A gasoline tanker lumbered towards us and exploded into flames while water mains and pipes burst flooding the landing and car with water. Then, suddenly, it was all over and we were returned to safety.

At this point there was not much time before the parade would begin. We hightailed it over to New York and quickly found a place to sit on the curb. Of course Justice was hungry; however, we didn’t have a-lot of food options as we couldn’t leave our seats unattended. Across the street I saw a vendor selling turkey legs and decided to purchase the barbaric meal for him. Like any good Barbarian Justice grabbed hold of the oversized leg and sunk his teeth far into the flesh. It was so cute to watch him wrestle the turkey with his kindergarten sized teeth.

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The original Macy’s parade in New York City was started by Louis Bramberger in Newark, New Jersey, but was moved to New York by Macy’s in the early 1920’s. Many Americans were first-generation immigrants at that time and wanted to celebrate Thanksgiving with some traditions from the old countries. In Europe they often celebrated major holidays with festivals and bright costumes, so the parade was a perfect marriage of the cultures…a melting pot if you will.

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The parades popularity grew solidly over the years; however, it wasn’t until it was features in the 1947 film “Miracle on 34th Street” that it became a permanent part of Americana. Now, it is nationally broadcast on CBS, so every American can share in the holiday magic, no matter what city or town they live in.

Universal studios could see what an icon this was and found a great way to capitalize on it. In 2002 they partnered with Macy’s to bring a portion of balloons and floats to the park for several weeks leading up to Christmas. Of course, it also includes the infamous Santa Claus float which no Thanksgiving Day Parade would be complete without. We may not have the money to go to New York right now; but, thanks to Universal Studios we could get a small slice of the action and that’s exactly what we were waiting for.

Soon we could hear the music getting closer and the first snippets of oversized balloons were peeking over the city buildings. The parade had begun. This was our second year viewing the parade; however, we were still equally entertained. Balloon handlers walked the massive figures down the streets with grace and seemingly little effort. Rollerblading characters threw candy out to the children and stilt walkers offered high fives to eager kids. The crowd was brimming with excitement.

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The parade culminated with Santa on his sleigh and Justice screaming, “Hey, I want a skateboard!” It was so cute I could hardly keep my face from breaking with the hugest smile from ear to ear. The crowd disbursed and we decided to pick just a few of our favorite attractions to ride before calling it a day.

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From the ICE to the gigantic floating balloons, we had had a great day. After a long walk back to the car we drove back to our hotel and laid our heads down to get some much needed rest for the next day.

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posted by Mary Gerber at 1/19/2008

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