Raptor Does Orlando

I realize that I’ve updated in even longer than I usually do, and while I apologize for that, there was definitely a reason: I was out in Florida, turning 18. That’s right, I had a birthday celebration and it was awesome! As always, there’s more JW news under this post and I understand if you don’t want to look at vacation photos, but this is on topic, I promise.

My adventure began the day before my birthday; I went to CityWalk, the shopping center in the Universal Studios complex. Doesn’t mean I didn’t get at least a bit of the Universal’s Jurassic Park experience, though. For instance, the lot we parked in:


In the area between parking and the actual park area, there was a giant screen where a virtual reality simulation was playing. It was sponsored by Chase cards, I think, and it involved projecting computer-animated scenarios onto a certain area. One of them was an alien abduction, and one of them was Jurassic Park. That person you see kneeling next to the compys is me, as if that weren’t evident enough from the Ian Malcolm costume and the aura of total dorkiness.


The scene also involved a special visit from the queen:


What you don’t see in those pictures is me cooing happily and reaching out to watch myself pet the triceratops on the screen. You also don’t see me throwing my arms out and yelling “Come at me, Rexy!” Yep, I’m a mature adult now, all right.

I didn’t get to go to any actual Universal parks although I would’ve liked to, but that’s not to say I didn’t have an awesome time while I was there.


For instance, I’ve said before that I got to visit Margarita Guy’s house, but this time I think I actually got to step into his permanent residence, since the official Jurassic Park theme park is less than a mile away from the place.


And the guy has a sense of decoration that’s, well… unique.


Did he kill all those stuffed sharks with alcohol poisoning?

That was all of the especially JP-themed stuff at that particular place, other than the stuff at the Universal gift shop, where I found a beautiful, well-made, Universal-exclusive Blue plushie. We had some good times, her and I.


She’s such a flirt.

To go slightly off-topic, the mini-golf course at CityWalk was truly phenomenal and if any of you live near there, I recommend checking it out immediately. It was like a theme park ride in golf form. The theme was “alien invaders” and the designers truly went insane with it. And when I say insane, I mean giant ****ing robot and Area 51 set insane.



They also have an extraordinarily detailed Forrest Gump-themed restaurant there called Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. (Some of you may have been to one, but I’m told they don’t exist outside of this country.) Here’s my awesome dad outside of it.


The next day (my actual birthday) I went to Downtown Disney, which is also a shopping center on theme park property. They did have a couple of JP screen-used props, and while they aren’t too momentous, they are pieces of original-trilogy canon.


They have a map of Isla Nublar that was used on screen. Surprisingly, it isn’t as detailed as the maps made by fans such as the encyclopedia people at JPLegacy. It showed dinosaur paddocks and locations of facilities, and not much else.


They also have a brochure used in the film. I think the art on the front might be one of the original, unused ideas for the movie poster, and I believe the art on the inside is what would eventually become the mural on the Sorna production facility’s wall (the one Nick Van Owen finds).

There were a lot of awesome props there (lots from The Hunger Games) but a couple of them stood out. For instance, the miniature for the alien ship in Independence Day:


As well as a Brundlefly puppet from The Fly:


I gotta say, seeing that Goldblum monster in person was a huge highlight. It was so detailed and so wonderfully scary. Here I am grinning like an idiot next to it.

Doesn’t mean I’d wanna meet it in a dark alley, though.

The last major, awesome thing I got to see was the T. Rex Cafe. It’s like the Rainforest Cafe except bigger and with dinosaurs, and it’s exactly as awesome as it sounds. I must’ve spent two hours there, marveling in the sets and cooing at the baby dinos. I normally don’t advocate for touching animatronics, but it was my 18th birthday and I was going to pet some freaking baby dinosaurs.


The whole place was beautiful in general– it did a great job of replicating a prehistoric forest, complete with pteranodons on the ceilings, prehistoric trees and dinosaur families hidden among the foliage. The prettiest part of it, though, was the ice cave. It shifted colors and everything, and it really drove home the Ice Age feeling of one section of the restaurant.



There was also a very lovely aquatic section, featuring a giant octopus with moving tentacles.


I’m, er, not the biggest fan of giant octopi.


This was my personal favorite baby: an apatosaur. I named him Fred, and what we had was special.


His mother wasn’t as happy, but I managed to earn her respect with an offering of side salad.


The dinosaurs, flying reptiles and woolly mammoths there may not have been the most accurate, but they sure were amazing.



There were several tyrannosaurs and the same went for them, but c’mon, who can argue with a life-sized T. rex that bellows at you?




Or a cute little rex baby, for that matter?


I made a few good decisions regarding proximity to the animals–


One of the little paras turned and honked at me. My heart melted.

— and some Sarah Harding decisions.


But considering who I was, there was no way I wasn’t going to take care of the animals Ellie did. Specifically, the adorable triceratops, of which there were many.






The fact that I was dressed as Ellie also afforded me some awesome cosplay photo opportunities, such as:

…showing off my specimens…
…and feeling conflicted as a feminist.

And that, friends, leads me to my final photo and story. At the beginning of the day, when my dad was getting a coffee at Starbucks, a man walked behind us who looked just like John Hammond. Beard, white shirt, hat– all that was missing was his cane. I whispered some sort of joke about wanting to tell the guy off about not recognizing the power of this place, and I thought that would be it. But what did my father do? He flagged the guy down and asked for a picture. Luckily, the man was very sweet, and that’s how it came to be that my Ellie costume came in a lot of handy.

God bless you, unintentional Hammond guy.

Special thanks to my parents, who got me Jurassic World on DVD and a set of 15 blindbag dinosaurs for my birthday; and to Fourth Mrs. Malcolm, who is an angel/ precious cupcake/ all-around wonderful person and who sent me a set of vintage JP hatchlings, an Ellie figure, a lego Malcolm and the JP soundtrack on CD, along with all sorts of other awesome things, for my birthday. You rock, guys.


16 thoughts on “Raptor Does Orlando

  1. I think I’m way overdue for a trip to Orlando… And Legoland, but that’s nowhere near there. Glad you had a good time, and happy birthday!

    Pretty sure the ‘map’ is simply the other side of one of the JP1 brochures flattened out. There have been a couple runs of fan-made replicas. The real prop brochures were quite detailed, for something never opened on screen. They have some stock photos on the inside, two illustrations of the gates (open and closed), and a small amount of text in English and Japanese. On the back is an ad for Kodak film.

    -Mike J.


    1. Thank you! It’s pretty likely that it was, I wish they’d put it in a case that showed the other side. I’m curious now– when were the brochures ever shown on screen? Was there one in the VC?


  2. I’m so glad you liked the stuff! It was fun making Lego Malcolm at the Lego Store.

    These pics are awesome, I think my favourites are the two with the dino skeletons in the background!


  3. IIRC, you only see the fronts of the brochures when they’re rifling through the contents in the back of the Explorers, and on the muddy ground when Ellie and Muldoon are examining the T-Rex paddock.



    1. Wow, that’s really incredible! I would play with that for hours and hours, no shame here.

      Yeah, I wanted to go to those again (I grew up in Orlando and I’ve been to both of those things countless times) but it was too expensive for me, sadly. One day…


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