Tuesday, November 25, 2014

My Florida Top 5 - by Ali

It was really difficult to narrow down my top five things about this trip, since it originally started with seven items and grew from there, before I had to bring it back down.  As much as I would have loved to explain why I loved every single minute of this trip, I just picked out the very best, in my opinion.

Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley (Universal Studios) 
I was really looking forward to going to Hogwarts.  From the minute I found out that it was on the trip, to the minute we arrived, it was sitting in the back of my mind, jumping up and down with excitement.  When we finally arrived, I was a bit nervous that it wouldn’t be as grand and magical as I hoped it would, but those fears were unfounded.  IT. WAS. AMAZING!!!!  I felt really immersed in the whole “Muggles in Hogsmeade” experience, and the shops, food, and villagers made it even better.  I loved getting butterbeer (it was fantastic), going on the Hogwarts Express to Diagon Alley, and seeing the GIANT DRAGON ON GRINGOTTS THAT BREATHED FIRE EVERY TEN MINUTES!!!!  The clothing shop mirrors that told you were looking fine, or alternatively that it really wasn’t your style.  Even seeing the people of all ages running around with wands and casting spells added to the experience.  Basically, it was awesome.

“Look at its lil’ face!”
Now, I could talk about the manatees all day, but I won’t.  Essentially, they were adorable.  It was so cool to see them in their natural habitat, where you could be swimming along in the surprisingly not frigid waters and one would rise up out of the gloom like a surfacing submarine (yes, the first time one did that, I thought it was a submarine).  It was really different to see them where they actually live, to see a bit more about how they act, as opposed to how they act merely in theory.  Then there was that one sunbathing manatee who just floated by the boat and let everyone pet him/her.  And there was the mom manatee who went drifting by with her baby, and my mind exploded with cuteness overload.  All cuteness aside, they were very beautiful creatures who just drift around happily all day, and that’s a really nice thing to watch.

Kali River Rapids (Animal Kingdom)
“I know this isn’t a picture of Kali River Rapids, or of us after getting soaked, but this picture is important and must be shared.”
I felt like I needed to single out this ride in particular.  I went on it five times with my faithful companion Jacob, who got soaking wet as well, but not as wet as the last time in which I was that ONE PERSON who got drenched... and then I never dried and had to change when we got back.  But anyways, it was so much fun to first play water roulette on who would be that ONE PERSON, and then to cackle hysterically when the newbies got on with their little ponchos and thought they were safe.  After a period of time, we felt pretty much like practiced tour guides, warning them as they looked up and down our drenched frames with horror.

 The rides in Universal Studios
*internal screaming*
Universal Studios, especially the Marvel island, was great.  I got to go on The Incredible Hulk (terrifying), both dinosaur rides (terrifying), and the Spiderman ride (not terrifying).  I can’t believe I survived the Hulk and the dino rides, but for me, the real highlight was Spiderman.  When we went on it first with the lights on so the effects were less realistic, I thought “Wow, this is amazing.  It can’t possibly get better!” and then we did it with the lights off and I thought “IT GOT BETTER HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE?”  After we got to go around the back and look at how the cars and effects worked, it got so much more amazing.  For me, the best part was how the cars only move at one extremely slow speed through the track, and yet the tilting and shaking makes it feel like your speed is changing.  It was ingenious.

Team Physics and Team Geology Rocks!
Finally, I have to mention Team Physics (Becks) and Team Geology Rocks (Mama Kenks).  Throughout many of our activities and almost all our workshops, we were split into two groups, and the sense of camaraderie was brilliant.  When doing the Physics workshops, and the tours at Animal Kingdom, and pretty much anywhere else, everyone on the trip really bonded.  The very first exciting thing for me on the entire trip was Mr. Becker showing up and destroying everyone at Smash Bros.  Just being with all those people was awesome.  We got to learn about each other, compete (I’m lookin’ at you, rover building challenge), and even just hang out like at the African Buffet and Margaritaville.  The people are always the best part of anything, and I’m really glad I got to spend time with such great ones.
Thank you Mrs. Becker, Ms. Kenkel, and Mr. Becker for bringing us on this trip.  It truly was the experience of a lifetime.

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