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Showing posts with label review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label review. Show all posts

January 26, 2019

REVIEW: Hamilton at Dr. Phillips Center Orlando


Can I make a confession? I didn't want to like Hamilton. I avoided the entire subject for a long time for a couple of reasons. For starters - I felt that it had taken on too much partisan significance. I knew many Democrats who simply had to go see it for no other reason than the fact that they felt it was the thing for Democrats to do. I also knew Republicans who never wanted to hear mention of it for much the same reason. I didn't want to claim a stake in it as a political statement on any side. Frankly, I'm trying to decrease my exposure to divisive climates, and I was afraid this could be one. 

My other point of hesitation... I have had a lifelong aversion to anything bandwagon-ish. It took me three years to finally cave in and watch The Walking Dead for this very reason, and today it's one of my greatest pop culture obsessions. Well.... that's kind of what happened with Hamilton, too. My daughter was playing, and playing... and playing... (you get the idea) the Hamilton soundtrack, because the bug had already bitten her. I heard "Helpless" one day, and... well... my heart went BOOM! One thing led to another and I listened to practically nothing but the soundtrack over and over... and over... for a few weeks myself. Then I read up on the Hamilton/Burr story again (it's been a while, after all), and I fell deeper down the historical rabbit hole - and then my daughter and I started discussing the stories. Wow! Crazy how that bug grew into a consuming virus, eh? 

Maybe I didn't want to like Hamilton - but I do, and it really doesn't matter which side of the political divide I'm on or how trendy I don't want to be. In fact, after seeing it live, I completely understand the accolades, and I absolutely appreciate the frenzy. Multiple casts are currently touring with the show, and Orlando was treated to the "Philip Cast". I always feel great admiration for stage performers, but this particular show holds extreme expectations, and I was stunned to see just how well they nailed it... every step and every note. The talent on that stage was simply immeasurable, and every bit suitably evolved from the original cast. This is not a show - it's an experience - and one that far exceeds expectation. A Hamilton performance has it all: history, romance, humor, and a soundtrack that makes it far too difficult to sit still. The first show I ever attended at Dr. Phillips Center was I Love Lucy - Live On Stage, and it was also my favorite of all the performances I've attended there - until Hamilton, which legitimately may in fact be the best theatrical show of all time. 

October 14, 2018

REVIEW: Terror at the Inn - Holiday Inn Orlando Suites & Waterpark



We have some of the coolest hotels here in Orlando, don't we? In October of 2010, we gathered the whole clan for a weekend-long birthday event at the Nickelodeon Suites Resort. It was one of the most memorable family celebrations we've had, and we were all quite impressed with the expansive, useful space, as well as the associated amenities. Eight years later, that same birthday boy returned to this location to enjoy another event with me - Terror at the Inn! A lot has changed, including the ownership of the resort, but we still found a brilliant use of space tucked away in a central area of the theme park corridor.. even more so, in fact - with the creation of this all-original, family-friendly attraction spookily suitable for the Halloween season! Best of all, Terror at the Inn is open to the public, so you can visit the attraction even if you are not a registered hotel guest.

Terror at the Inn consists of a haunted house, 4D movie experience, and more. The haunted house is themed around the curse of an Egyptian crypt. It is devoid of gore and disturbing scenes, making it suitable for younger guests who likely find events like Halloween Horror Nights to be too intense. There are well-conceived scenes routed cleverly in a winding pathway lined with a smart mix of both animatronic and live-actor encounters - providing genuine jump scares without the terrors that may be a bit much for more squeamish guests. I am an easy target in haunted houses, but my son is not. Once I made him go ahead of me in the house for a span, I was amused to see him startled a time or two, so the efforts were effective by non-chicken standards, too! The overall quality of the house was frankly surprising, and the length was more than fair. Definitely one to recommend, and now I will admit that I was not going into this expecting to be impressed! Halloween attractions are very easy to go cheesy... but this one had substance and effort - undoubtedly.


Your Terror at the Inn ticket also includes a visit to the in-house theater for the Panic House 4D experience. This immersive cinematic experience provides a haunted house tour from another, sensory perspective... with a few surprises that you wouldn't expect to encounter from the safe comfort of a movie theater seat. You may have escaped one haunted house during this visit - now you've tempted fate with a second harrowing exploration!

After all these tests of courage, you deserve a reward - and lucky for you, your admission includes 20% off the Lakeside CafĂ©, Hideaway Lounge, Club Candy, and Hershey’s Ice Cream Shop! These are located in the Marketplace area, just beyond the haunted house and 4D theater. Grab a snack and a drink before testing your skills at the carnivalesque midway area for prizes (and bragging rights). Don't miss all the great photo ops along the way, and keep your eyes peeled for roaming characters, too! Now through October 31, Terror at the Inn is open select weekdays from 6pm-10pm, and 6pm-11pm on Friday and Saturday. Admission is just $19.95, with $5 discount available to military personnel, first responders, and Florida/Georgia residents. Parking is complimentary. For more information, visit terrorattheinn.com


REVIEW: UNDead in the Water - Tampa Bay


Thanks to the resurgence in mainstream popularity of zombie culture, the apocalypse is a topic we're able to ponder from a sort of "fantasy" slant. After all, the rise of the undead for a human harvest couldn't really become a realistic event... right?

But, what if...

Work with me here. Even if you haven't considered your survival plan in the case of a zombie apocalypse, haven't we all had a moment to wonder where we would go and what we would do if an apocalyptic event were to unfold? Let's face it - we Floridians have emergency plans embedded in our brains thanks to hurricanes anyway, so maybe it's not a huge leap to throw the potential for flesh-eating monsters into the mix - just in case. (Right about now, you are raising an eyebrow at me, but let me profess - I actually took a course through UC Irvine: 'Survival Lessons From The Walking Dead'... it's a thing, people! But I digress...)

It just so happens - in the case of a zombie apocalypse, those lucky folks near Tampa's Channelside District have a pretty nifty escape option... the American Victory Ship!

August 19, 2017

REVIEW - Sierra's 21st Birthday Celebration at Planet Hollywood


We recently visited Planet Hollywood Observatory for the first time since its reopening. In retrospect, I can confess my regret in taking so long to stop by! From pre-remodeling visits, the whole family had already been huge fans of the blissfully inventive Cap'n Crunch Chicken, so the venue had passed our approval long ago with that alone. Considering our diverse tastes and varied opinions, we don't always have a lot of luck finding a restaurant that we are all equally impressed by, but our post-remodeling pop-in reminded us how much we loved Planet Hollywood before... and it has only gotten better. We were so dazzled by the entire experience that we didn't even have to consider alternative choices for celebrating Sierra's 21st birthday this month. This milestone provided the perfect excuse for a return - and a great reason to check out Planet Hollywood's Stargazers Bar!