Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Happy Holidays!

Wow, time flies when you break your promise of updating :)

Happy Holidays everyone! I'm here today to tell you that this will be my last post for a while. I've become very busy with shooting & editing videos for WDWNTube & Orlando Attractions that I just never have the time to update. I'm not going to delete this, though, as I want people to be able to look back and be inspired in the future. I will continue to pop in and update every now and then whenever something of importance happens.

My personal weightloss did hit a bit of a snag the past several months. As I was spending time in the parks shooting video and editing, I gained about 10 pounds back. I'm still under 300 at 296 lbs., but that's what happens when you stop paying attention. It's my own fault, but the good thing is that it can be fixed. My New Year's resolution is to continue losing weight, and again, I will periodically update you all throughout the year.

I'm honored that over at Orlando Attractions Magazine, my story ended up being the #5 and #1 most read story of 2010! They were the first to write about my weightloss journey, and also the first to report when I first rode the attraction. You can read about the top 10 most read stories of 2010 here: http://tinyurl.com/2c3zy38

Thank you everyone who have and continue to support me. I'm sorry for not updating more regularly. A lot of you follow this to help motivate yourselves, and I feel I'm letting you down. Since I am not updating very often though, I would like to make you all an offer. If you have any questions about Potter, losing weight, or anything in general, please feel free to email me or friend me on Facebook & Twitter! My information is below. I look forward to seeing what 2011 will bring, and I hope you all have a Happy New Year!

Here's a look at one of the videos I shot & edited the last several months.


Email: bcl0042@gmail.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/bankslee
Twitter: www.twitter.com/BanksLee

Question of the day: What was your favorite memory of 2010?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Fantastic News!

I got word from a comment posted on one of my previous entries that Forbidden Journey has finally added modified seating to its ride vehicles! Only a handful of vehicles have added these seats, and the modified seats are on the far right & left of the vehicle. The test seats have also been modified to display a color when trying them out. After pulling the restraint down, if you get a red light, that means you cannot ride. If you get a yellow light, that means you can fit into the modified seat. Green light means you can ride in any seat.

To me, this is fantastic news! Even though I have lost the weight to get the three clicks in a regular seat, I'm still at a size where it depends on how hard the ride attendant pushes the restraint. There can be times where I can ride it, and then I'll get back in line and not be able to ride. These new modified seats, I'm hoping, will guarantee that I will ride everytime. Also, for a lot of guests who couldn't fit before, this gives them a reason to come back and try again, and hopefully be able to ride!

I am going to go to Potter tomorrow to test out these modified seats myself, and will update this entry tomorrow night with information on how the seats worked out.

Edit: Decided to head out there today and test out the modified seats, and let me tell you, they are a much needed addition to Forbidden Journey! Let me explain the process of riding in a test seat. At the entrance to the ride, and right before the loading area, there are test seats. Used to be every person had to get three clicks in order to ride, and the restraint was not very forgiving for larger guests.

Now, with the addition of the modified seats, the test seat process has changed. When you sit down, there are three lights next to you; red, yellow, and green. As I stated earlier in the post, red=no ride, yellow=modified seat, and green=sit anywhere. If you get yellow and need a modified seat, once you get to the part before the loading platform where the second test seat is, the attendant will put you in the middle line, which is reserved for guests needing the modified seat.

Since there are only around 8 vehicles that currently have modified seating, you have to wait for one to come around. Once it does come you go to the loading platform, and choose either of the outside seats. The two middle seats are not modified. You still need three clicks to be able to ride, but they are now much easier to get, especially with the little extra room you have in the seat.

For the first time since the ride opened, I was able to get three clicks by myself. Granted, it was a modified seat, but it still felt good to not have to ask the attendant to push as hard as they can to make me fit. I'm actually very glad I was able to achieve my weight loss goal of fitting into a regular seat before they added modified seats. I may have stopped dieting if they had them to begin with. Luckily, though, since I've been losing weight for three months I can continue to lose weight. I will not stop!

The best part about the modified seats is how successful they are! Since they started using them yesterday, September 10, only 1 guests has been told they couldn't ride because of size, when a week ago maybe 50 or 60 guests in the same timespan would be turned away! I honestly believe that if you have tried riding Forbidden Journey and couldn't fit this summer, you should plan on coming back and trying again, because chances are that you will be able to experience Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey!

Question of the day: Now that modified seating has been added to Harry Potter & the Forbidden Journey, will those of you who have tried in the past come back and try again?

Monday, August 30, 2010

My Experience

As you all may or may not know, on August 27 I was finally able to ride Harry Potter & the Forbidden Journey after nearly 3 months of exercise and watching what I eat. I have been getting a lot of words of congratulations, and also a lot of people asking how it was, did I like it, and was it worth it. In short, my answers are amazing, yes, and YES!!! I will now go through my experience and thoughts on riding Forbidden Journey.

Beware! There be SPOILERS AHEAD!

So some friends and I made a visit to the Wizarding World this past Friday morning. They were all saying that this would be the day I ride, but I was sure I hadn't lost enough weight yet (also didn't want to get my hopes up and then be disappointed if I hadn't of fit). We wait in the 20 minute line (Yep, it's the slow season!) and we get to the loading platform. It's me, Matt and Zach in an enchanted bench together. Matt takes the far left seat, I'm right next to him, and Zach takes the far right seat. I sit down and pull down on the restraint and get my one click that I can get by myself. A female attendant comes over and pushes down to get the second click. It happens. In order to try and get the third and final click, she calls a male attendant over. I really wish I could remember his name. I tell him to push as hard as he can, and he obliges. He gives the restraint one big shove, no click. I start getting worried. He rears back, gives it one more big shove.....click. It was as if time had slowed down for that third click. I could hear it echoing in my head. I threw my hands in the air triumphantly, and throughout the entire loading area all you could hear was my voice screaming "YES!!!!!" Cheers and applause came from my friends in the bench behind us. I was on cloud 9 at this point. I was finally about to get to experience this amazing attraction I had heard so many great things about. The loading platform is very long, and the whole time we were traveling down before the ride portion I was laughing and screaming, just so excited that I was able to accomplish my I set out to do.

We finally get going in the ride, and it was phenomenal! I do not want to do a scene-by-scene description of the ride and spoil everything, but I will talk about a couple of parts of the ride I was most impressed/scared of. First off, the transitions between scenes are seemless! Very well done! Now there are some scary parts to this ride, and boy are they scary! I had heard that things get close to you, but I never realized just how close they got. SPOILER! When you come across the Whomping Willow and it starts swinging its branched at you, it really comes close to hitting you. So close you could probably kick it if you had long legs! It's pretty freaky! Also, the Dementors are the scariest thing I think I've ever experience in an attraction. When they come at you they really come at you, and it nearly gave me several heart attacks. Just be wary of that if you have children that want to ride, it can get pretty scary in there!

After getting off the ride I was just overcome with emotion. I had to keep laughing and smiling to keep from crying with happiness that I accomplished my goal. I went and bought the picture first thing, and saw my friend Jessie working at Filch's. She has been rooting for me to get on the ride, and as soon as she saw me she knew what had happened. She gave me a big hug and congratulated me, at that point I started tearing up. From there we enjoyed the rest of the park and went on our way.

Overall, this attraction is AMAZING!!! I actually had a tough time deciding where on my all time favorite attraction list this would go. I am a HUGE Twilight Zone Tower of Terror fan, and that attraction is number one on my list. But, Forbidden Journey nearly knocked it down to number two. I really had to think about it, but Tower is remaining at number one just because of the childhood memories I have of it, and all the knowledge I have as well. However, Harry Potter & the Forbidden Journey is right behind it at number two. It is my favorite non-Disney attraction ever though! I cannot say enough good things about it, and cannot wait to ride it again and again!

I've had several people ask what's going to happen to the blog now that I got on the ride. The answer is nothing! I'm going to continue posting on here, because I'm not stopping my weight loss! My new goal is to get down to 250 lbs, after that I want to see if I can possibly get the three clicks by myself without help. I will continue posting about my experiences at Potter, because I plan on riding it many times!

I do want to thank every single one of you for believing in me and giving me all the words of encouragement and love! Without your support I may not have been able to do this, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Question of the day: If you have gotten the chance of riding Harry Potter & the Forbidden Journey, what are your thoughts on the attraction?

Friday, August 27, 2010

I DID IT!!!



I finally got three clicks today and rode Harry Potter & the Forbidden Journey!!!!!! I will post my thoughts on the ride in detail later tonight/tomorrow, but for now just take a look at the on-ride picture. I feel so amazing right now!

Edit: Thank you everyone for all your congrats and well wishes! I am still on cloud 9 right now about getting to ride Forbidden Journey! I am still planning on doing a full report on my experience and what happened, but this weekend has been a busy one for me. Expect me to post my review sometime tomorrow morning (Monday) before I go to work.

Friday, August 20, 2010

My Healthy Future

video

Spaceship Earth gave me a look at my future in health! Maybe one day it will be this easy.

Things are moving forward. Really starting to feel better, both mentally & physically! Gonna try to ride Forbidden Journey again next Friday when some friends of mine come into town for WDWNT: The Weekend. Will update everyone on how it goes on my Twitter and Facebook!

This past week I also won a free 2GB iPod Shuffle at work! It has been the perfect thing to take on my walks. Really glad I got it!

Question of the day: What do you like to take on walks?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Progress

I recently made a trip over to Universal this past weekend to attend a taping of Family Feud. I met up with some friends and we decided to hit up Islands of Adventure before the taping. We didn't go to Potter, but we did ride Hulk & Dr. Doom. With Hulk, I have to sit in the modified seat, and with the seats on both Hulk and Doom, I've always had to wiggle my butt to slide into the seat, as my hips were too big. Well when I went to sit down on Hulk, I was amazed to find that I fit just right in the seat, no wiggle required! Same thing went for Doom, sat right down with no problem! Both restraints also have to have a seat belt buckled, and I was able to buckle them with no assistance for the first time in a while! So progress is being made, ladies & gentlemen!

Question of the day: If you have attended a taping of Family Feud at Universal this summer, or have seen the previews on their YouTube, what do you think of Steve Harvey as the new host? Personally, I like him! He is very funny during and between tapings.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Two Milestones!

Two great things have happened the past several days! First, when I went to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter this past Saturday for a local Tweetup, I was able to get one click of the restraint at Forbidden Journey BY MYSELF for the first time!!! Usually I had to have the attendants push to get that first click, so what a great feeling it was to be able to pull down and get it myself! Still had to have help getting the second click, and could not get the third click, but this is definitely progress! Here is a picture of me in the ride vehicle after getting that one click by myself! Picture is courtesy of Matt Roseboom from Orlando Attractions Magazine.



The second milestone comes in my end of the month weigh-in. As you recall at the end of June I weighed 305 lbs. As of this morning, I am at 299 lbs! That is another 6 lbs that I've lost, 12 since I started the blog. What makes this a milestone for me is the fact that I haven't weighed under 300 lbs in several years. I am so grateful for all of your support! Without you, the supporters and followers, I may have quit weeks ago. It's been hard, I get cravings all the time, especially where I work. But it's your constant love and motivation that is keeping me going, and to that I say Thank You.

Press is starting to pick up again for this blog. A couple of local NBC affiliates in Florida ran the story, and now I'm hearing word of others in Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, and Los Angeles running the story. Even MSNBC featured this in the Travel section! So to all the new readers and followers I've gotten as of late, welcome!

Question of the day/Shameless Plug of the day: Are you a Disney fan? You should check out www.wdwnewstoday.com! It's a great site that covers all of what's happening at the Walt Disney World Resort. I actually work there as a Reporter, and am also one of the co-hosts for the WDW News Today Podcast, which you can subscribe to on iTunes. Check us out!