Bienvenido a los Estados Unidos

Posted: January 21, 2010 in Pre-Disney

15 Jan 2010

I departed Dunedin a little after midday following

1. Visiting my Grandmother (and getting her entire life story)
2. Hot Chocolate with Greg on the world’s steepest table outside Everyday Gourmet
3. Finishing packing my bags

We were running a little late (note to self, never try to pack for a year and a half away in under 2 days again), but we finally picked Mum up from the Commerce building and hit the road. 4 hrs of road, to be exact.

Fortunately there were only a couple of minor freak outs before we got to CHC Airport (not running late! yes!), and at 19h30 I departed the South Island for Auckland. 2hrs in Auckland was more than enough (I’m so sick of that city, you have no idea), and following

1.Buying a neck pillow (Best. Purchase. Ever.)
2. My entire carry on luggage being searched through (Poor, poor security lady)
3. A segregated waiting line culminating in a full body pat down
4. Numerous other security checks

I finally found myself at the boarding gate, once more playing the waiting game. I sat in that room, surrounded by a priest, a backpacker and a baby (among others), apparently being watched by cameras monitored by security guards trained to notice ‘nervous, sweaty people’ (thanks Dad) for a half hour trying not to dread the 12 hour flight ahead. It didn’t work.

I knew ahead of time that I’d seen all the movies, read all the audiobooks and probably wouldn’t get any sleep. What I didn’t know was that my neck pillow was a miracle worker, the baby two rows back and one seat across would actually sleep through the night and I would have a free seat beside me. Things worked out pretty well, all in all.

12 hours flew (excuse the pun) and I finally found myself in the hell-hole that is LAX, where it was 2pm, and I was almost completely discombobulated. It was still the 15th of January. Ugh.

Customs seemed to me a million times easier in the USA than in NZ. Especially the food bit. It went something like this:

Customs guy #1: Which school do you go to?
Me: Er.. Otago University (and in my head “why did you hesitate?!?! they’re going to strip search you!!”)
Customs guy#1: And you’re here for a year? What are you doing at Disney?
Me: Lifeguarding and Attractions
Customs guy #1: Well, sure sounds like you’ll be having fun *stamp, stamp, staple, stamp* You’re good to go!

[collect bags, head for exit && hand over customs declaration form to sole Customs guy at exit]

Customs guy #2: Says here you have some food?
Me: (expecting instant crucifixion) er.. yes. Chocolate.
Customs guy # 2: All good, walk on.

How easy was that?!?!?

Anyways, after asking a million people how to dial NZ from my cellphone I got through to my parents and told them I was alive (very important) then I called Chloe and asked where she was. Unsurprisingly she was stuck in traffic. Welcome to LA. In any case I didn’t really notice the wait, as it was quite warm that day and people make for excellent entertainment – before I knew it, Chloe and I were reunited.. this time in her country!!

From then on in, I think we were both set on four days of fun – and I just hoped Chloe could learn to block out my constant exclamations of “Squirrel!!!?!?!” (it’s a novelty we don’t have in NZ) and “That’s just ridiculous!” (either referencing stupid drivers, immense vehicles or something we don’t have in NZ).

That afternoon, after arriving at her place and securing my bed-on-the-floor, she took me on a tour of the USC campus, which (and I’m not lying to you here) seems to be a complete replica of Universities pulled straight from American movies. There was even a huge track with people running on it and everything. It was slightly unnerving, but also insanely cool to know that I was in the land of movies, so to speak.

16 January 2010

Today? Well, today was spent with Chloe and her friend, Ashley, at the happiest place on Earth (or at least California’s version of it) – Disneyland!! Accompanied by California Adventure Land, of course. We started the day off at the latter, moving our way from Soarin’ through to Screamin’, before finally making it onto Main St, and taking the train round to Tomorrowland..

I have to say, it was brilliant being a visitor, because I don’t think I’ll be getting that feeling for a while from here on in! I took full advantage, and we went on all the famous rides, even Big Thunder Mountain seating three people in a seat that was definitely only meant for two people!

The day came and went like nothing else – it got dark so quickly, around 6pm, and then suddenly it was time for the fireworks.. and boy, were they good! They projected images on the castle, accompanying it by fireworks and audio clips from different rides around the park. It really was a special experience, and I hope to see many more things like it!

17 January 2010

Six Flags Magic Mountain day – only marred by rain at the end. Chloe and I spent hours climbing the mountain and trying to avoid the paying lockers around the park, whilst going on almost every rollercoaster (the ones that were open in any case) once, and then others (such as Viper, for example) more than once. Despite the razorblade rain at the end of the day that started lacerating our faces on the rollercoasters, it really was a brilliant day.

Oh, and who could forget the dippin’ dots?! 🙂

18 January 2010

Originally supposed to be a day of visiting LA, it was instead mostly occupied by cursing the torrential rain that caused LA to have a flood warning that lasted until 4.15pm. Just. My. Luck. However, I did have the chance to discover the delights of ‘In and Out’ (forgive me if I spelt it wrong, Chloe), and was suitably impressed. Good burger, good fries. 🙂

That night we went to a birthday party for one of Chloe’s friends at a 50’s diner called Mel’s Drive In, located on Sunset Blvd (awesome!), which took us about an hour or so to get to.. and 10 minutes drive to get home from. Average food, excellent sights to see on the drive! Will add photos later, when I remember, or put them on my Facebook!

19 January 2010

Flyingflyingflying. I’m seriously getting waaaaay sick of flying. 4h50 minutes from LAX, and I found myself at MCO, Orlando’s International Airport. It was a welcome relief to the grumpy, mean people of LA – everybody here seems so nice! Ready and willing to help, with actual smiles on their faces!! I think the best thing about this airport was the monorail that connected the terminal I was in to the main terminal. Brilliant. I don’t think I’ve had this much fun in an airport terminal since Singapore!!

Anyway, pretty much caught a shuttle straight to the hotel (tipped the driver. Ugh.) and then relaxed until my theme park buddy Scott arrived, at which point we went to explore Universal CityWalk, and then decided on eating dinner at TGI Fridays in order to get an early night for the big day tomorrow at Universal..

20 January 2010

Ok, so I’ve finally reached today. Today was Universal Studios, as Scott and I are saving Islands of Adventure tomorrow. It started off with our free breakfast (awesome. Oh, and I love Cheerios.) and then we went and got our Annual Passes to Universal and Islands – very exciting moment! We got the Residents special, which was excellent, and then it was on to the park.

I think in all we rode the Mummy rollercoaster about 6 or so times, and the Rockit 3 times (You get to choose your own music and Evanescence works amazingly well with this ride!), then we did a round on the MIB ride twice (Scott beat me both times 😦 I suck at it) and did things like the Jaws ride, the Terminator ride, the Simpsons ride and so on once.

Had dinner at TGI Fridays again, accompanied by a Mojito (mmm..) and right now I’m in my room watching True Lies (go Ah-nold!).

Now, you’re up to date and I can leave you hanging for a couple more days..

Until next time!

Disney doesn’t own me yet, but I’m counting down the days.. !

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