Tokyo with Family (Day 4)

April 5, 2015. A visit to a Disney theme park in one city didn’t seem to be enough for my folks, we just had to go to another Disney theme park in Tokyo, Disney Sea. It would have been the more interesting theme park visit because it deviates from the classic Disneyland blueprint. However, the rains and the cold really dampened the mood, after seeing most of the park’s sections, all we wanted to do was go home and stay dry.

Tokyo Disney Sea, unique to Tokyo, is made up of seven themed “ports of call”–Mediterranean Harbor, Mysterious Island, Mermaid Lagoon, Arabian Coast, Lost River Delta, Port Discovery and American Waterfront.

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Star City with blockmates

Right after having lunch at Tagaytay with my blockmates, we drove back to Manila in under two hours to get to Star City by six in the evening. We didn’t let Enchanted Kingdom’s being closed douse our excitement for rides. For some of my blockmates, it was the first time they’ve been to Star City, while for me it was the second time this year.

Because it was Tuesday evening, the theme park wasn’t too crowded and the lines not long, so we were able to try out some of the rides multiple times. My blockmates and I bought ride-all-you-can tickets so we took advantage of it by going through almost all of the rides, even to all of the horror houses. At the end of the night, we were professing to each other how much more fun Star City was than Enchanted Kingdom.

Because I had just been there a couple of months back, I felt more confident riding the adult rides with my blockmates.

Surf Dance topped our lists of wildest Star City rides. Walang awa talaga. The ride almost literally sweeps you off your feet unapologetically. It randomly twists and turns and throws you off in different directions without allowing you to recover for a brief second. It’s like being on a crashing airplane.

Star Flyer comes in a close second. It is, as of now, the only inverted roller coaster in the country. You ride on seats attached inverted from the tracks, with your feet hanging on air. I don’t remember, though, how many loops it had. My blockmates and I rode it twice. The first one to dispose our apprehensions and fears. We also had a scream-fest at the horror houses.

We also entered Snow World, the park in a giant freezer where there are ice sculptures and ice slides and where temperature is kept at negative fifteen degrees celcius. I wanted to challenge everyone as to who could stay inside longest, unfortunately some of my blockmates were wearing slippers so they rushed out in under five minutes.

As I’ve said in the previous blog entry, I don’t remember having this much wholesome fun in months. Wouldn’t have it again in a couple more as the second semester starts.

Star City afternoon

April 8, 2008. A friend invited me to Star City theme park last Thursday afternoon. It had been more than two years since I last went to Star City. I had just passed my hard-bound written thesis that day, and a trip to Star City was a welcome treat.

You know, it’s a sad realization when you get really bored at some of the tame rides, which were obviously designed to amuse children. We boarded some Little Mermaid boat ride as an appetizer for the better rides. It was really corny. Childhood days are truly gone.

Star City afternoon (Apr. 3, '08) Star City afternoon (Apr. 3, '08) Star City afternoon (Apr. 3, '08) Star City afternoon (Apr. 3, '08) Star City afternoon (Apr. 3, '08) Star City afternoon (Apr. 3, '08)

Make no mistake about it, however. I may find some of the ride such a bore, but I’m dead scared of the other rides because of my inherent fear of open-air heights. It took me a lot of convincing to ride Surf Dance, a “gondola ride that swings upwards, downwards, and sideways” and Star Flyer, apparently the country’s only roller coaster ride that seats its passengers hanging on their seats. The screaming made me feel really exhausted.

I also enjoyed the park’s Snow World, where there wasn’t much snow, after all. It was more like a giant freezer with icy slides frozen plastic trees. Temperature inside is apparently kept at negative 15 degrees Celsius. My friend and I dared each other to stay there for more than fifteen minutes. We couldn’t. After trying out almost all the rides, we decided to have dinner and leave.

US Trip ’07: Universal Studios Hollywood

Universal Studios Hollywood
June 4, 2007. The plan was to spend the day at Universal Studios Hollywood. Before proceeding to the infamous theme park, we dropped by a Catholic church (because my parents felt guilty that we didn’t attend mass the previous day), then, we picked my godmother up in Los Angeles, where she’s working as a caregiver. I actually missed her. It made me feel a little bad that she had to leave the Philippines and work as a caregiver two years ago.

Universal Studios City Walk
Now that I’ve come to think of it, Universal Studios relies much on a century of Hollywood entertainment hegemony for us to desire being there. The rides were okay but not exactly world-exceptional. The backlot tour was so-so. I haven’t seen some of the movies that supposedly used some of the sets we were shown, so it didn’t really feel surreal or special to me when they brought us there.

Universal Studios Hollywood Probably the best thing I enjoyed was the food passes we could use in any of the dining establishments in the park. Boy, it was pigging out galore. I loved it. We had all sorts of large servings of good fried American fast food.

Universal Studios Hollywood Universal Studios Hollywood All in all, Universal Studios Hollywood is a nice place to spend time with friends and family. It would probably feel more special and spectacular if you were a heavy consumer of American entertainment. Otherwise, you’d feel weird when people around you seem to be so amazed at some set or attraction you don’t recognize.

US Trip ’07: Stone Mountain, Georgia

May 26, 2007. After our Rock City stop, we decided to pass by Ruby Falls, which was also on Lookout Mountain. By the time we got there, however, the lines were unbelievably long. It was Memorial Day, so it wasn’t very surprising. We decided against falling in line and just posed for some pictures then headed back to Metro Atlanta.

We were thinking of passing by CNN, at last, but again, we didn’t make it to the last 5 PM tour. To make most of the day, we just went to Stone Mountain Park in the outskirts of Atlanta.

Stone Mountain Park, Atlanta

Stone Mountain is a theme park that’s home to this large natural protrusion of granite rock called, well, Stone Mountain. At one side of Stone Mountain is a large carving of three American historical figures on horses. This sculpture is touted by some as the “eighth wonder of the world.” Until then, I always believed the Banaue Rice Terraces was really the eighth wonder of the world, then I realized that the label is a common term used to glorify various magnificent structures around the world.

Inside the park, we checked out the various attractions. Foremost, is of course, the granite mountain itself. To get there, we had to ride this skyride cable car to the top, where there was a station. It really was a large piece of white rock. It was quite amusing and breathtaking at the top. And because it was the beginning of summer, it was surprisingly warm too, even though it was also windy.

We also checked out the 3D theater, walked around the (American) South-inspired theme park, and rode this old locomotive that traversed a track around the mountain.

At the end of the day, we sat down with hundreds of Americans in the big lawn in front of the mountain to watch a laser light show and a fireworks display commemorating America’s “brave heroes.” Hm, well, it was Memorial Day, so what did I expect? It turned out to be a large pep rally glorifying America’s military strength and bravery. We left the venue halfway through the beautiful fireworks display. Well, not because we couldn’t stomach the rabid nationalism that made us feel a little isolated (pero p’wede rin), but because we wanted to avoid the traffic out of the park.

Stone Mountain Park, Atlanta

US Trip ’07: Rock City and Lookout Mountain

May 26, 2007. It was a sunny Saturday. We left Loganville, Georgia with my aunt, her husband and their kids (my second cousins) at past nine in the morning. It took us a long four and a half hour drive north of Georgia to its border with Tennessee. It was our first long drive in the US.

Rock City is a private theme park of sorts on top of Lookout Mountain–a garden of sorts with many boulders and rocks, hence its name. The space between these boulders and rocks served as the park’s intertwining paths and walkways. The park is divided into various attractions, which children might enjoy more. The walkways in between large rocks are cool, literally, and passing through them is a brief but welcome relief from the heat of American summer. After walking around the park, we met our relatives outside and had lunch at the park’s pubic picnic area near the parking lot.

US Trip ’07: World of Coca-Cola

World of Coca-Cola

May 25, 2007. After going through a brief tour of Georgia Aquarium, we were supposed to drop off CNN for the CNN studio tour a couple of bocks away. Unfortunately, it was past 5PM already, and the last studio tour was at 5PM. Instead of trying our luck, we just walked a few meters across a large pond with eccentric street performers to the World of Coca-Cola. At first I thought that was it and was surprised at how many people were there. It turned out to be World of Coke’s opening week, which explained the crowd. Even my aunt was surprised that there was a “new world”.

World of Coca-Cola

One doesn’t need to go to a World of Coke to realize how such a powerful brand Coca-Cola is. It’s one of the most-recognized brands in the world. Imagine building a memorial and multi-media museum for a product, that people have been lured into consuming for decades.┬áIf this is a manifestation of what phenomenon, what do you think it is?

Anyhow, the highlight of the World of Coke tour is of course the room filled with tens of soda dispensers of all the various Coca-Cola sodas around the world. At the entrance, you get these cups which you can use to taste everything. It’s all the Coke you can drink! Too bad I didn’t see that coming. I would’ve built up a good thirst before getting there, to make most of the entrance fee.

Which monkeys?

That trip to Subic was part of my dad’s office’s outing. It was another moment where I reaffirmed to myself how I really dislike traveling with a big bunch of people. As in a hundred. Imagine touring Ocean Adventure with one tour guide screaming her lungs out to a hundred chattering adults and children. Before going to Ocean Adventure, we spent time at a nearby beach resort. Anyway, more pictures…

Ocean Adventure Camayan Beach Resort