Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Blast From The Past - Grinchmas 2004

Sometimes we tell of parks that are small.
Out of the way, far from the mall.
Parks that are near, parks that are far.
Parks that charge nothing to park your car.

Parks that don’t cost you a leg and an arm.
Parks that are full of tradition and charm.
But, this exception we must make to our rule.
To tell this tale of Grinchy Yule.

Twas the season of holiday cheer.
So, we’ll tell this tale of memories held dear.
Of odd creatures, both the tall and the small.
Who celebrated Christmas, with no presents at all.

By now, a guess you may wish to venture.
This week we write of Universal’s Islands of Adventure.
At the Landing of Seuss was a joyous celebration.
The festive sounds of a Whoville Whobilation.

The perils we did dare of the Mount Crumpet Ice Slide.
In our sled we did slip and we did glide.
We entered the slimy lair of that creature of green.
Not a who. No! This one was smelly, gnarly and mean.

Mr. Grinch, you know, hated the Christmas season.
Please don’t ask why, there’s probably a logical reason.
Some thought his head wasn’t screwed on just right.
Or, perhaps his shoes were a little too tight.

But, the reason most thought, myself included.
Was the size of his heart, as Dr Seuss has alluded.
Please read on and don’t fuss all that much.
As we tell the warm tale of IoA’s Grinchmas.

Islands of Adventure has been one of our favorite parks since our first visit, which was the ACE Preview Day way back in April of 1999. In December of 2004 we visited Islands of Adventure and while the park and Seuss Landing are wonderful places to visit any day of the year, from just after Thanksgiving until just after the New Year, Seuss Landing dons a flavor of holiday cheer. Citizens of Whoville are roaming about and the Grinch is slinking around, so you better watch out! Sorry, it seems that anytime I talk of Seuss, my words seem to rhyme much like Mother Goose

Anyway, a 24-hour toll-free Grinchline was set up from 12/8 to 12/25, for the green one to dispense his “unique” holiday tips. Those that called may have received the following words of wit and wisdom.

*If you have a friend who is going through a tough financial patch, pay a bill that he or she owes. You will be loved and revered for your generosity. Did I mention I owe a bundle to whoBay?

*Get organized and get done early. It’s really hard to steal Christmas all in one night, trust me.

*Rent one of your favorite movies. I highly recommend, “Dr Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” Every time you watch it, it’ll put you in touch with the true meaning of Christmas….. and I get a check for eight cents.

Skip Sherman, Senior Vice-President of Entertainment for Universal Orlando saw the Grinchline as a way fans all over the world could connect directly to the Grinch and enjoy his particular brand of wisdom and humor.

Anywho, since 2000 Seuss Landing has been transformed into Whoville and the citizens of Whoville celebrate a holiday that’s anything but ordinary, Grinchmas! Having snow in Central Florida is a rarity, but not in Whoville, Universal used eight snow machines to create a continuous snow flurry and a special ice-shaving machine to create six tons of snow per day. The decorations are 1st rate and plentiful, there are 55 shining stars on Mulberry Street, more than 35 wreaths scattered around the Landing and if you connected all the garland in Whoville it would stretch for more than a mile. But, the focal point of this Whoville celebration is the Seussian Christmas Tree that stands 35-feet tall and is decorated with more than 2,700 light bulbs and 500 ornaments. The finale of the last Whobilation show of the day is the lighting of this Christmas Tree and what a wonderful finale it is.

But before we get to the end, let’s start at the beginning, The Mount Crumpit Snow Plummet. This ride is an actual 60-foot ice slide made for family enjoyment. Guests sit in a rubber raft and plummet down the slick, twisted course. Our ride may have been a faster than when the kiddies ride (more weight equals more speed.) In fact, we spun around backwards and bumped off the “stopper” at the end of the run. And, even at that it fun, not scary and it was especially cool to ride the slide wearing shorts.

After our Mount Crumpit Snow Plummet experience, we were off to investigate the Grinch’s Lair. Much of the Grinch’s Lair’s decor, such as the rickety bed, the dilapidated sleigh, Max’s doghouse, the ancient appliances, and the tattered recliner were used in The Academy Award winning Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Brave souls walking through the Lair will encounter some of the many booby traps the Grinch has set. Although, he has disguised them (very cleverly) with warning signs that one cannot resist, such as “Don’t Pull This Rope!” And of course, you must pull it. The result is a horn blares and a blast of air surprises un-expecting guests several places along the cavern path. The adventure climaxes with meeting the green one, and his little dog Max, face-to-face, making for a perfect photo opportunity. The Grinch was slightly obnoxious and very funny and Max, a real live dog by the way, was as ever, his obedient servant. True to himself to the end, the Grinch even follows you to the door and yells for you to quit bothering him as you walk away across the midway.

Our final stop on this Grinchmas tour was center stage, for the Whoville Whobilation! We were pleasantly surprised with the warm-up act, a four member acapella group who sang some Christmas songs, with a special Whoville flair. The main attraction was a 20 minute musical loosely base on part of the Grinch movie, including the Grinch sneaking into town, the Cheermeister scenes and the joyous ending where the Grinch has a changed of heart, both physically and literally. There were Whos of all sizes, the big and the small. The Mayor, Martha-Mae, Cindy-Lou and a dozen or so citizens of Whoville lead the celebration. But, the star of the show was definitely, the one and only Mr. Grinch! From his first entrance, in disguise, to his grand entrance in a 19-foot sleigh, decked out with seven wreaths, all the Whoville presents and Max, that kicked off the finale, the green one was all that and a green eggs and ham sandwich!

Check Spelling

A lot of behind the scenes work goes into a production like the Grinchmas and makeup is just one aspect. According to Universal’s Supervisor of Makeup, Jim Udenberg, it took nearly eight months to make the 1000 Who noses, 600 sets of Grinch appliances and nearly 30 sets of lace hairpieces and eyebrows used in this years Whobilation. Not to mention 34 sets of Grinch dental appliances. In 1995 Universal Studios Florida started it’s own makeup department and Jim was one of the four original artist hired to start that department. Within a year, he was chosen to lead the team. And now some eight years later, Jim supervises the 2500 square foot Makeup Effects Shop, as well as a year round staff of 15 makeup artists and hairstylists. During peak seasons artist staff increases to 30-40 artists and stylists, for the Grinchmas his crew consisted of 37 talented men and women.

And he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before.
“Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.
“Maybe Christmas … perhaps … means a little bit more!”

Fah Who Foraze! (Welcome Christmas!)