Wednesday, March 23, 2011

(Almost) Even Better Than The Real Thing

One of my friends recently wrote me and said that, when looking at my photos, she can’t tell when I’m actually on vacation versus at a theme park that’s designed to look like somewhere else. In a way that pretty much sums up what it’s like living/working in the theme park capital of the world – reality can get a bit fuzzy.

I’ve told you before about the haters. But personally, I love it. I mean, in one trip to Epcot I can drink a litre of authentic German hefeweizen in a bier hall with a rousing oompah band, sample pizza with dough made from water imported from Naples, sway along with a Moroccan belly dancer and round out the day with a croissant in front of (the mock version of) the Eiffel Tower. And while a true African safari is a bit out of my budget right now, it’s no trouble at all to don all the gear and head out on a trek to see zebra, giraffe, hippos, gazelles and more at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. It might not be the real, deal but let’s be honest – how often do you actually travel to Kenya?

And if you can’t readily tell from my photos if it’s real or fake, then I say I’m getting a pretty good deal. We’re not totally fake like Vegas (where I’m also visiting this year – it seems I love synthetics). No one would ever mistake the Luxor for the Pyramid of Khufu (though given the turmoil in Egypt a poor representation is perhaps the best way to go … for now anyway). So until I can get the money and time to visit all these places in reality, I’ll settle for dining on authentic cuisine in a decently accurate replica.

Which brings me to this weekend – GAR and I will be visiting someplace that’s new to me, New Orleans. While I’ve eaten my fair share of crawfish etouffee and dined on more than a few shrimp po’ boys, I’ve never experienced it “for real.” And I’m curious to see how it compares. Currently Universal Studios is hosting their Mardi Gras celebration and I couldn’t help but attend last week (and sampled some of their beignets … as a point of reference, of course). Here are some of the photos I took that show off the “fake” representation of New Orleans offered in Orlando. I’ll let you know how they compare to the real “Big Easy” upon my return.

Café Du Monde – here I come!
I won't actually be in New Orleans for Mardi Gras, so I can't compare floats. But I will say that on these Universal Studios floats they were tossing the most beads to children, not large chested females. So that part I can assume is inaccurate.
We did manage to get our fare share of beads though – sans flashing (again, I'm assuming that is also not how things would play out at "real" Mardi Gras).
New Orleans is known for their jazz music. While they did have lots of that at Universal (as well as stands with yummy Creole cuisine), they also had this concert, which featured the Neon Trees.

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