A few months ago the delightful Mrs. Freak won a vacation from a radio station. Last weekend we cashed it in. It was a nice deal, four days and three nights in Orlando. Free airfare, tickets to both Universal Studios theme parks for the duration and a free room in a four-star resort hotel. Since the trip was for four people we rounded up our daughter and our nephew and headed south. Here’s my report.
Hellsongs “We’re Not Gonna Take It” (Twisted Sister)
We stayed at the Hard Rock Hotel. It had way too much Twisted Sister memorabilia. It was everywhere you looked. In the hotel restaurant the walls were adorned with Twisted Sister platinum albums and pictures of Dee Snyder cooking. By the pay phones there were pictures of Dee Snyder using the telephone. There was a display case filled with Twisted Sister crap next to the elevator. If you didn’t know better you’d think that Twisted Sister is up there in the rock and roll pantheon next to the Stones and the Beatles. I figure that either Mr. Snyder or his publicist gave the hotel large sums of money.
Pearl Jam “Crazy Mary” (Victoria Williams)
The hotel was a vast and sprawling place. To get from the elevator to our room we needed to take a right at the display case with Eddie Vedder’s jacket in it and another right at the picture of Bob Marley’s face. The case with the jacket had a caption painted on the glass. It mentioned that Pearl Jam was famous for their refusal to work with Ticketmaster. The display case didn’t go on to mention how doomstruck Pearl Jam’s little protest was. They effectively prevented themselves from playing in the U.S. for three years and got no cooperation from any other band. Now they’ve learned their lesson and play nice with the ticket brokers and sell their new CD at Target. Ah well, at least they tried.
Less Than Jake “I Think I Love You” (The Partridge Family)
Not all of the rock-n-roll crap stacked up in every corner of the Hard Rock Hotel was authentic. The most curious example of this was a replica of one of the seats from the Partridge Family bus. The plaque on the wall proudly mentioned that Danny Bonaduce had once visited the hotel and that the seat “commemorated” his visit. A visit from Danny Bonaduce is something that I would rather forget or at least ignore, but that’s just me.
Xavier Rudd “No Woman No Cry” (Bob Marley)
Bob Marley wasn’t just a navigational aid, he also figured into a more disturbing aspect of my vacation. We were able to walk from the hotel to the amusement parks and to something called the City Walk. It was a collection of stores, blaring music, neon signs, restaurants and bars. One of the bars was called Bob Marley, A Celebration Of Freedom. Outside was a bronze statue of the man, inside were tourists quaffing overpriced rum drinks. Bob Marley has been reduced to a brand, presumably with the blessing of his estate. I know that Rita and the kids have to eat, but I found the whole concept depressing.
Offspring “You’re A Mean One, Mister Grinch” (Thurl Ravenscroft)
Universal runs two theme parks side by side in Orlando. The movie-themed Universal Studios park was geared toward older kids, there weren’t too many rides that a family with a seven-year-old and an eleven-year-old could enjoy together. The Islands Of Adventure park was a much better place for my family, particularly the Dr. Seuss part of the park. They had a kick-ass carousel and nice rides based on The Cat In The Hat and One Fish, Two Fish. Some guy in a Grinch costume was wandering around posing for photos even though there were no Grinch-themed rides.