The full title of the article is really “Pack Your Bag That Says ‘Going to Grandma’s”, but that was a bit long. The trees are green, it’s not snowing, traffic is heavier, it’s a million degrees outside… it’s summer. Of course, we had completely forgotten that until we read this week’s homework from the League of Extraordinary Bloggers, “summer vacation.”
As it turns out, every summer we had as kids was amazing and memorable. The adult years, not so much. So, we are planning our ideal summer vacations.
I must go to Japan. Most geeky people will tell you they want to visit because of tech toys, anime, or Zelda, but not this geek. My geeky reason takes me to Osaka on an adventure through Hollywood as remembered in 1993. Despite opening in 2001, Universal Studios Japan boasts an impressive list of attractions that should appeal to anyone who remembers fondly the early days of Universal Studios theme parks.
Sesame Street characters welcome visitors.
For starters, Jaws is still popping out of the water, scaring or delivering giggles to hundreds of park goers every day. Attractions include a Waterworld “Live Sea War Spectacular” and a Backdraft pyrotechnics show. Let’s cut to the chase, though. The number one reason to visit Universal Studios Japan is to re-live Back to the Future: The Ride one more time. That’s right, a Japanese dubbed Back to the Future: The Ride still remains on the other side of the globe from where the films were produced. Want to know what Biff sounds like calling someone a butthead in Japanese? Better book a flight, buddy.
The good doctor’s work still carries on at the Institute of Future Technology in Japan.
Though the Wild Wild Wild West Stunt Show and E.T. Adventure have closed, the park still has other attractions worth checking out. Namely, a B&M mega coaster named Hollywood Dream – The Ride, in which you can choose to listen to The Beatles or Bon Jovi during take off. Sign me up!
I’d also be sure to check out Nagashima Spa Land in Mie Prefecture to hop aboard Steel Dragon 2000. Aside from the awesome name, the epic thrill ride still ranks pretty high on the list of roller coaster records. Would I like to drop 307 feet at 153km/h on Steel Dragon 2000?
So, there you have it. Amusement parks. My geeky reason for wanting to visit Japan.
When planning my dream vacation, two things came to mind—a trip to California to visit Universal Studios (okay, to stalk Conan O’Brien) or to Phenix City, Alabama.
Wait, why Alabama? Lee gets to go to Japan and ride roller coasters, while I’m sweatin’ my Canadian butt off? Did I lose a bet? No, I want to go to Phenix City to visit the (now shut down) Showbiz Pizza Zone.
I think having a Rock-afire in my basement fulltime would give me nightmares, but they’d be awesome nightmares.
As featured in the Rock-afire documentary, Rock-afire superfan Chris Thrash opened his own Showbiz in 2008. While the Showbiz Pizza Zone facility closed in 2010, Thrash still maintains the show and puts on private performances.
See more about Smitty’s here.
Perhaps this vacation will also involve a detour to Smitty’s Super Service in Little Improve, Mississipi to visit Damon Breland’s fan-owned Rock-afire.
Illustration of the Creative Engineering warehouse by Thomas Thorspecken of Analog Artist Digital World.
And I’d definitely need to stop off in Orlando, Florida where it all began. Aaron Fechter still has the Creative Engineering warehouse and I’d love a tour of that.
So yes, I would like to travel to Alabama and eat pizza with some robots in a stranger’s basement. I’ve never been very good at vacations.
Where are others in the League headed?
More links coming soon (once they’re posted!)