Rowyn (rowyn) wrote,

Florida: Wonderworks (Friday, April 4)

Other than the peculiarities with my sidekick, the flight to Florida was uneventful. koogrr picked me up from the airport at about 10:30. John gave me a few presents: a new Matthew Ebel album (<3) and two Tom Lehrer albums. One of which was "An Evening ^Wasted with Tom Lehrer", which my parents had on vinyl. I listened to it a lot when I was a teen but haven't heard it in 20 years, so that's really cool too. We crashed not long afterwards.

I seem to need a lot more sleep when I'm travelling. We slept too late to have breakfast with the Blooms, and got out the door too late even for breakfast at McDonald's. John called bard_bloom, and John told me "they want to go to a museum today. We're gonna meet them at their hotel." ladyperegrine called later and I answered this time. She told me, "I wanted to let you know I've got two-for-one coupons for Wonderworks, so that if you get there before me you'll know to wait before buying tickets."

"Wonderworks? Is that the name of the museum we're going to? That sounds a lot more fun than 'a museum'."

At around 11:30 or noon, we met up with bard_bloom, beetiger and projectmothra in the lobby, and Bard drove us over to Wonderworks.

Wonderworks is styled as an upside-down building, with bits of "ground" and "lawn" and whatnot dripping off where the roof should be, and shingles facing the sidewalk with cracks running down the sides, as if the building had been uprooted in a hurricane, flipped over, and deposited on top of another building. It's pretty neat to look at. I was disappointed to find that the upside-down motif didn't continue on the inside. The entranceway did have the facade of an upsidedown staircase, windows, and doors up by the high ceiling, none of which you could actually go or see through.

We waited a few minutes for ladyperegrine there, then bought tickets and went in.

The excuse for why the rest of the place doesn't appear upside down is that visitors go through an "inversion tunnel" that puportedly turns you upside down. The tunnel has a walkway suspended in a dark cylinder with lights set in it that rotated counterclockwise. Once I started walking down it, the effect was such that it looked and even felt as if the lights and the cylinder were standing still while the walkway was rotating clockwise. I found myself listing heavily to the left in an effort to orient myself towards apparent "up". It was pretty cool and somewhat vertiginous. I lingered in it for a while, but never really got the sensation of being turned all the way upside down: more like I went aout sixty degrees and then stopped.

Inside, were various edutainment exhibits. In the first room were earthquake and hurricane simulators, and a bank of monitors set up to run quizzes on various catastrophes through history. It also had an "anti-gravity demo", which was nothing of the kind: it was a strobelight trained on a descending shower of water, and by varying the frequency of the strobe you could make the water appear to flow up, down, or stand still. Neat illusion. There were a lot of optical-illusion based exhibits at Wonderworks, including a gallery of Escher-esque paintings.

Subsequent floors had various different activities: several games based on interactive video technology and other high-end arcade games, a walkway keyboard, various video transformation equipment, and so forth. Vicki and I both tried the "bed of nails", which was interesting to try -- it raised the nails up through holes in a thick layer of plexigless, so you could get the senasation of doing it without the tricky part of figuring out how to get on and off of it. It was distinctly uncomfortable; I wouldn't want to sleep like that or ecen stay on it longer than the minute or less that I did.

One of my favorite exhibits was a live video fx machine. It took video of the people standing in front of it, and displayed the video with whatever transformation was selected. One was "scatter", which turned moving things into scattered particles while stationary ones remained crisp. Gave a transporter look to people if they jumped from one spot to the next. My favorite was "mirror", which discarded the left half of the video and displayed the right half as a mirror image of it. This made for a neat four-armed effect when I faced left and held one arm high, one low, and moved just them into the camera field. Peregrine gave me a round of applause when I finished goofing off with it. :) We also all assembled to try to do something like the thousand-arm dance, which was goofy and fun.

Another neat thing: one section was devoted to giant bubbleblowers: ones that were two feet or more across, ones about a foot wide, and one that made an enourmous soap-film sheet you could blow through to distort patterns onto. Very silly and pretty. John got some nice giant bubble-tunnels going.

One of the sections had a collection of "arcade quizzes" which were basically ginormous machines that each administered a single meme-type quiz. "You don't even get a block of code at the end to put in your LJ," Vicki noted. Despite their vast inferiority to their Internet cousins, we did one anyway before moving on.

Around 2PM we went to Johnny Rocket for lunch: chocolate malts all around! Peregrine really enjoyed hers.

When we came back after lunch, Vicki, John and I all went to play Lazer Tag. Lazer Tag was very fun! A lot like a live-action death match FPS, actually. There was a dark "maze" with lots of panels to provide cover, and various targets on the walls that gave bonus points if you shot them. You also got points for shooting other players, and losat points for getting shot yourself. Also, your gun deactivated for maybe fifteen seconds after you got shot, so shooting people was an effective fore of self-defense: it gave you a few seconds to slink off in, anyway. You couldn't get shot again immediately after being shot, either, so there was little reason to hang around a person you'd just hit.
Anyway, it was much nicer than getting tagged out, because it meant that you still got to play even if you got shot.

I did better than I'd expected to, although I'm not sure how well compared to the whole field. Your gun could display your total score after the fight, but it didn't show things like your number of kills or times killed. That data was supposed to show on an overhead board after the battle, but the scoreboard wasn't displaying properly: out of 10 or 15 scores displayed, a bunch had scores of "0" meaning those guns hadn't even been in play that round. Still, I had a higher score on my gun than any of the ones displayed, so that was neat. (And no, it wasn't a "lowest score wins" game.) Lut and I have talked about going to a Lazer Tag place in Emerald City: now I really want to do that.

We only played one game of Lazer Tag. I might've talked John into another, but I was wearing sandals that were starting to give me a blister: not ideal footwear for the activity.

After Lazer Tag, John and I went on the virtual rollercoaster, which was pretty cool. It's an enclosed two-person car on a big metal arm that could lift the car and rotate it 360 degrees in any direction. Inside it had a big plasma screen to display the virtual track. You get to "design your own track", although with only 8 track types to choose from and no control of the scenery (on one version it was sf rollercoaster themed, and on the other an airplane with the 'cockpit' image blocking half the scenery) it wasn't as neat as that sounds. Overall, not as much fun as a real steel rollercoaster, but more fun than a wooden one (for me -- I don't like the vibrations in wooden coasters, though some people prefer those.). And the wait wasn't long by theme park standards. So, not bad. One of these trips to Florida I need to go to an actual theme park. So, worth doing, certainly.

Peregrine said goodbye to us as we were waiting for the rollercoaster: she was recovering pretty well from her surgery, but still ran out of energy quickly and she was trying not to overdo it. So much standing and walking was tiring for all of us, in fact, and the rest of us left not long afterwards, at around 4:30.

We headed back to the Blooms' hotel to hang out for a while, until the Blooms were going to meet Peregrine and her family for dinner around 6:30. Rhys wanted to play with his markers, so Bard got them out. After establishing that Rhys could draw on a piece of paper on top of the bed, but not draw directly on the bed, somehow the subject of drawing on Vicki came up. She told Rhys he could draw on her arm. I thought this sounded like fun, and she was wearing shorts so I asked if I could draw on her leg. She agreed, so I spent a little while drawing Beetiger in washable marker on beetiger's leg. It wasn't great art, but not bad for washable marker on a person. Bard got out their camera and we took a couple of pictures of it. I like drawing on people: there's something about it that makes it more fun than regular art.

After they headed off to dinner, John and I went back to his place and more or less crashed. It was only 6:30 but I was still tired enough to nap. We slept for a couple of hours, woke up to make dinner, talked a bit, then went back to bed for the night.
Tags: life, trips
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