Wednesday 28 December 2011

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Best of 2011 - Biggest Disappointment

They can't all be perfect. When we decide to take a trip, I usually do a fair bit of research online before we get going. It's partly to give me a better idea of what we're getting into, and partly to get me out of doing chores around the house. "I'd love to honey, but I've really got to get those last things booked in San Diego or we'll be stuck in the hotel room with the kids" always works like a charm, or at least it did up until I wrote that last sentence.

Sometimes though, no matter how many chores I avoid much research I do, I get it wrong. It's not always my fault. If we're among the first people to try something, all I can read ahead of time is the promotional hype, and we all know how accurate that usually is. Once in a while I'm just so excited to see something that even a few negative reviews aren't enough to warn me off. Most of the time though, I blame it on the crazy people who write about places in their blogs. Those people are shifty. I wouldn't trust them.

Today's Category - Biggest Disappointment

The nominees are:

Green Lantern Ride - Six Flags Magic Mountain introduced three new roller coasters this year, but the one that grabbed most of the headlines and all of my attention, was Green Lantern: First Flight. It's a dazzling looking ride that I hoped would satisfy my craving for adrenaline while possibly generating a bonus side effect of scaring the heck out of my children. Instead it turned out to be a slow moving ride that bored my kids while inflicting an inordinate amount of pain on anybody of the male persuasion. There's plenty of great rides at Magic Mountain, but my desire to ride Green Lantern again is about the same as my need to try out Yosemite Sam's Flight School. Possibly a little less.

Santa Monica Pier - It sounds really cool. An amusement park on the end of a pier seems like it should be a fantastic combination of two of our favorite things, roller coasters and the ocean. Unfortunately, while the ocean lived up to it's part of the bargain, the amusement park on the pier is a total dud. There is a roller coaster, but my driveway has a steeper slant than any of it's hills. The Ferris Wheel was fun, but it set us back $25 to do a couple of rotations. After that, the only thing that interested my kids were the ice cream vendors and the homeless lady trying to sleep on one of the tables outside the restaurant. Despite what you see on TV, you probably won't find the Jonas Brothers performing a concert on the beach, nor are the people from Beverly Hills 90120 representative of the kind of crowd the pier draws these days. The rest of our visit to Santa Monica however, was a lot of fun.

Hollywood Walk of Fame - When you have really low expectations for something, and it still doesn't meet them, that's a bad sign. Everything I read before going to the Hollywood Walk of Fame said that it was a rundown, scuzzy area of town, crammed with people trying to make a few bucks off the tourists. Hard to believe that's an understatement isn't it? It's also almost impossible to fathom that this is where they hold the Oscars every year, as it looks so glamorous on TV. Every time I watch it from now on though, I'm going to envision the stars walking the red carpet and the tour wholesalers yelling at them "You! You wanna go see Jack Nicholson house? Only $30!"

Hyatt Grand Cypress - First, half of my family had no idea why this hotel was on the list. It actually got one vote in our Best Hotel of 2011 poll. It's certainly not a terrible hotel, and it probably wasn't even the worst hotel we stayed at in Florida. What it was though, was a hotel I had very high hopes for. It markets itself as a high end hotel, but while the property is very nice, the service levels in the hotel were questionable at best. I've written about some of my problems with the hotel before, so for now let's just say I regret the decision to not stay at one of the Disney hotels, even if the 3am music choices wouldn't have been as good.

Test Track - Disney's website describes Test Track as "a high-speed vehicle-simulation ride in which big kids, teens and adults test their mettle in one of Disney's longest and fastest rides." Sounds exciting doesn't it? Combine that great write-up with the fact that lines for the ride were routinely clocking in at around 100 minutes, and I assumed that we'd found a serious thrill ride. What we found was something that might entertain the Amish, assuming they'd never hooked up anything faster than a mule to one of their carts. I think our drive to the park was more exciting than this so-called "major attraction". The only saving grace is that we did manage to use fastpasses for the ride, so our wait was short. If we'd had to wait an hour and a half for this ride, I'd have been ticked.

And the (sort of) winner is......

Green Lantern: First Flight!!!

Perhaps the victim of built up expectations as the ride had only been open a month when we got to ride, so no general consensus had been formed in the online community, and the few who had gotten the chance to ride early were apparently easily entertained. Winning the most disappointing award against such tough competition as Test Track is hard to do, however while the wait for Test Track (with fastpass) was only 10 minutes, we waited over an hour for Green Lantern. That's an hour that would have been better spent doing pretty much anything.

The voting results:

Steve - Green Lantern
Lori - Test Track
Talon - Green Lantern
Neve - Santa Monica Pier
Leeds - Hyatt Grand Cypress

Congratulations to our Biggest Disappointment of 2011 -
     Green Lantern: First Flight