Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Disney Day 7: Universal Studios Islands of Adventure

Whew! Are you still with me? Are you thinking that these guys stayed in Orlando for a long time?  Hey, man... we decided to go all out on this vacation! Well, Day 7 was our last full day in Disney, and we didn't stay on the Disney property all day long for once. 

My one request for the vacation was to see the new Harry Potter park at Universal Studios, which is part of the Islands of Adventure amusement park (yes, I'm a Potter nerd, too).  So, we rose early (again), got breakfast at the resort, then took a taxi to Universal Studios.  We waited in line for the park to open, and my daughter was a little confused watching some visitors enter at the side entrance.  I explained that those visitors had stayed at the Universal Studios resorts were able to enter the park an hour earlier than everyone else.  She defiantly announced "That's not fair!" Then I reminded her that we got to enter the Disney parks early for the same reason.  "Ohhh..."

At 9AM, we entered the park, and made a B-line for the Harry Potter section of the park.  Daddy separated from the group to pick up the double stroller rental. I commanded the kids to "follow the crowd!" They were a little frustrated and confused as we passed by the Dr. Suess area, but I was determined to get us into the Harry Potter ride line as soon as possible (just like everyone else who entered the park!).

We entered the Harry Potter section, starting with Hogsmeade, and WOW!  It was stunning. Just like you were transported into a Harry Potter movie.

I wanted to stop and stare at everything, but we were on a mission to get to the "big" Harry Potter ride -- the Forbidden Journey.  We turned the corner, exiting Hogsmeade, and BAM!  There's Hogwart's castle!  So amazing!

We queue up for Forbidden Journey (it's inside the castle), but then we find out that there is a height minimum for the ride!  My littlest is too small to ride.  Doh.  So, we wait for Hubby to catch up, and decide what to do.  The attendants inform us that we can do a "child swap" at the ride -- my oldest and a parent can ride while the other parent waits with the younger child, then we "swap" so the other parent can ride.  My son is not pleased that the first wait in line is pointless for him, but he is a good sport, and we promise to find him a good ride after this one.  

The Forbidden Journey was an amazing ride, and even the wait in line (we waited about 45 minutes) was impressive.  It was quite scary, and I'm surprised my daughter opted to take the second ride with daddy (parent #2 in the swap), though she admitted she hid her eyes a bit the second time.

After our indoctrination into Harry Potter, we found a good ride that my son was tall enough to ride: The Flight of the Hippogriff.  It's another Harry Potter ride, a small roller coaster.  Bonus: while standing in line, we got to see Hagrid's house!

After two Potter rides, we decide to investigate Hogsmeade a bit more.  My hubby had on his list to sample some Butterbeer, so he stood in line and we checked out the square.  I had low expectations for the Butterbeer, thinking that Universal Studios was going to charge us $5/cup for a cream ale.  However, the Butterbeer was quite unique!  It was an extremely buttery and extra creamy ale with a vanilla flavor.  Very tasty!

After we had enough of the crowds of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, we wandered our way back to Dr. Seuss Landing.  First, the kids rode the carousel, then we stood in line for One Fish, Two Fish.  However, we realized the line was NOT moving, so we left the line, and decided to head to lunch.

We walked over to Marvel Super Hero Island, and had lunch in Captain America's Diner.  After lunch, Spiderman was available, so we stood in line to get to meet him.  While daddy and I took turns standing in line, the kids shopped around, and my son found his latest souvenir: a Spiderman blaster!  He spend most of the rest of the day shooting bad guys. Pew! Pew!

After meeting Spidey, we wandered through Toon Lagoon and Jurassic Park.  The lines seemed to be getting longer, and the kids were getting whinier.  So, we decided to divide and conquer.  Daddy and daughter went left toward the water rides; Son and momma when right toward Suessville.

My son and I stood in a very long line, and rode the Sky Suess Trolley Train Ride.  While in line, we saw a kid with a face painted like Spidey; we thought that looked like a good idea.  The boy directed us to the face painter back in the Marvel Super Hero area at the arcade.  No surprise -- we also found daddy and daughter at the arcade!  My son decided he wanted his face painted like the Hulk, and the artist did an amazing job!  Hulk boy attracted a crowd, and more business for the face painter, including my daughter who decided she wanted a unicorn mask.

By now, we were all thoroughly exhausted.  We all got some treats, and headed toward the exit.  I managed to find a Harry Potter sweatshirt at the gift shop on our way out, and then the rain started.

We grabbed a taxi, and had it take us to our next destination: the Pirate dinner theater!  The downpour started during our taxi ride, so we were happy about our timing to leave the park.  At the Dinner theater, we timed our dash to the door in between downpours, but we were not washed away.

While checking in, we were talked into "upgrading" our experience to "VIP." After we entered VIP waiting area with free appetizers and nice comfy seats, and then sat in our front row seats, we decided it was worth the upgrade.  The show was very entertaining and interactive!  My son LOVED the show with all the action and sword-fighting!  Plus, we all got to be part of the show (part of the VIP package!).  The kids were sworn in as pirates on the pirate ship stage, then got to shoot the "bad guy" with muskets to win the day!  Hubby and I got to be swabbies, assisting in pirate-y duties like carrying gold, hoisting sails, and flexing muscles!

After the show, we were invited onto the pirate ship stage, and took some pictures with a couple of the pirates.

It was a great end to the evening, but we were all very tired by the time we got back to the resort.  Everyone but daddy fell asleep in the taxi!


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