What's not approved you ask? Well, Universal for one. But there's a story here, I swear to you there is.
I've actually been to Universal...once. I was three. I don't remember it. I don't really care. It was for an AGCO convention that was in Orlando that year, and my parents and I made the trip down for it. I can't recall much about the trip aside from being sick, stubbing my toe and staying at the Grand Floridian (oh yes, my brother is jealous that I have stayed there and he has not). But I did go to Universal that trip, and that's just about all I need.
The rest of this story, however, doesn't really have to do with any experiences in the park, but for some reason I have an extreme grudge against the place. A number of years ago, there was this commercial on TV though, and it was for Universal of course. Why we get such commercials here in Wisconsin (on our local channels that weren't like ABC or FOX) I really don't know, but we did for some reason, and boy it didn't sit well with me.
I don't remember much about the commercial except for two things. One, there was this girl that I distinctly remember saying something like "If I see another Princess I think I'm going to puke" and two, it was 100% against Disney. I just spent a few minutes on YouTube trying to find it, but came up with nothing. Either way, I remember it, and I remember not liking it.
It's one of my pet peeves in life honestly, to make yourself look better by downgrading someone else. We're all at different levels, and yeah I complain about people too, but I'm not going to like walk into my audition for Wind Ensemble and brag about how many scales I have done compared to my peers. And if I do run a business someday I'm not going to gain business through that negative sort of advertising. The point is this, I didn't like the commercial because it was downgrading on Disney, and that's something that, as far as I can remember, Disney has been very good about with their own advertisements. Granted, we all know they're the best to begin with so it's not like they can do anything else, but they don't complain about the competition, right? No commercials talking about how we're never going to ride a broomstick again or something.
So since then, whenever that actually was, my #1 rule in life has been this: never step foot on Universal Property. That's the basic rule, and there are a few exceptions, since I AM actually a Harry Potter fan and wouldn't mind heading to the Wizarding World sometime. But other than that I have no real desire to go there. I'll stick with my Disney, thank you.
But sometimes, and especially when you're on band trips, you don't have a choice in where you want to go, and for me, that meant I had to break that number one rule and head to Universal City Walk for lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe. Now, I also happened to have a terrible experience at a HRC in New York, so I wasn't really thrilled about going back to the restaurant, even if it was in a different city, but I tried to make the best of it. Generally some of the stuff there is pretty awesome, like Elvis' Pink car, or a guitar from Pearl Jam (Colin's Favorite band) and sometimes a Les Paul guitar or two. Granted, we found no Les Paul this time, but we did get to go into the one special room where all the famous people go. The cast of Harry Potter was there once...the John Lennon room...and I remember reading the article about how they were there and we got to sit on those same couches. Plus, our waiter at Hard Rock this time was a guy named Jeff and he was just spectacular.
All in all, the experience at the Hard Rock Orlando was much better than the one in New York, and, for the most part, helped regain my trust in the chain. Not that I want to go eat there again. Once was more than enough for me, and the walk through Universal was enough to last me for a number of years. Maybe, once I'm down there for the college program (hopefully), I'll take a trip over there, since I'll be spending so much time at Disney that I'll feel I can afford a day or two to somewhere else, but until then I'll be happy in Epcot and Magic Kingdom. There's plenty to see there.
But just for the record Mr. Alban...this is not saying I LOVED my experience. I enjoyed it. Not loved it. Those are two different things.
Also thanks to Megan for that picture of Lizzie in her (almost) natural habitat. No Disney, not natural. But still a great picture.
Have a magical day!
(Note: This blog post was written on August 1).