'I hope the rides are big enough for me'

It was a new twist on an age-old issue. While a number of children were hoping they'd be tall enough to make it past the "You must be this tall to ride" signs, several of the players among the busload of Badgers that made the trip to Universal Studios on Thursday were concerned about the size limits of theme park attractions, too.

Just in a different way.

"I hope the rides are big enough for me," freshman offensive lineman Alex Dietzen said after the bus pulled away from the team hotel.

It turns out not all of them were, as Dietzen said on the bus ride back to the hotel that he wouldn't fit on Universal's new roller coaster, the Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket, and couldn't get his harness to latch in the front row of the Revenge of the Mummy ride.

Then there was the heckling. With this being the Sunshine State, there are plenty of locals who will be pulling for the Badgers' opponent in the Champs Sports Bowl. The players hadn't even entered the park before a boy who appeared to be about 10 looked at the group and said, "It's all about The U!"

It wasn't much later that too middle-aged men used their thumbs and forefingers to the shape of Miami's "U" logo. Several of the players then showed them how easy it is to make a "W" with the same fingers.

This was before they even got in line for their first ride, the "Twister" attraction.

"You scared? I mean, you're D-line," junior DB Jay Valai asked senior defensive end O'Brien Schofield as they waited for "Twister" to get started.

"This is a different element," Schofield told him.

In the end, it was Valai who jumped the highest when the floor of the ride dropped toward the end of the show, and he jumped right into Schofield.

"That ride was hot," was Valai's take afterwards. I don't think he meant literally, although the ride includes a pretty big fireball.

From there, it was on to the Revenge of the Mummy ride, followed by a walk along a street that transitions from San Francisco's Fishermans' Wharf to the Amity boardwalk from "Jaws."

McFadden_Jaevery.jpgThe Universal staffer who helped us get the video of the team's trip, Rick, also helped as an impromptu tour guide for the players and gave us a taste of the VIP treatment. There were no takers when the barker running the whack-a-mole game on the Amity boardwalk offered the same, however.

"You always get VIP at whack-a-mole," he said. May have been the quote of the day.

After the Jaws experience -- which included the players' boat captain making the "W" hand sign -- the tour continued to the Men in Black Alien Attack, where the riders get involved by blasting aliens that pop up during the ride. There were varying levels of success with the alien-blasting.

The final stop before we left the group of players we followed for the day was the new The Simpsons Ride (what a creative name, by the way), which was contained in Krustyland and included other Simpsons-themed items like a Kwik-E-Mart and a Squishee stand.

In addition to the group that went to Universal Studios, several players also visited SeaWorld on Thursday. Following practice Friday, the team also has the option of venturing out to either Walt Disney World or the Universal Islands of Adventure.

Hopefully everyone can find something that fits.