Monday, March 20, 2017

Spring Break 2017 - Day 4 - Universal Studios!

Day 4: We wished Jennie Happy Birthday, put our bags in the car, and drove just over an hour to Universal Studios Orlando.  We had access to both parks, but began in the Islands of Adventure portion in the Dr. Seuss world.  This was a great area to ease the kids into theme parks.  I should probably mention that they've never been to an amusement park and we're about to spend 4 days straight in them! (Crazy much?) In any case, a great place to begin is with the Caro-Seuss because we already know we love carosels and Dr. Seuss animals.  It was lovely. 
E and Brent rode in this car instead of an animal.  I love the bright colors and fantastic animals that were all familiar from the books. 
Next up - one-fish, two-fish - still a prety low key ride where the fish go up and down and everyone gets just a touch wet. 
We had a little control over the fish, and M got the least wet, but still good fun.  Then we went in to the cat and the hat ride, which was a little spinny on a track through the cat and the hat book.  Then, our first small roller coaster with the Sneetches (also the beginning of our waiting in lines fun). B loved the coaster, M loved the one-fish two fish, and E remains team carousel as we head out to the Lost Continent portion that is between Seuss and Harry Potter. 
 I added Poseidon's Fury to our itinerary mostly because it was about Poseiden, who is one of B's favorite Gods from mythology. This was a show, not a ride.  It was one of those, we're trapped in an ancient temple, we have to find Poseidon's trident and help free him to escape.  There were some cool special effects, fire, water, and some creepy rooms.  It was a little spooky for E, but generally good fun.
 Then on to the main event - Hogsmeade -- We headed straight for Ollivander's and the kids each got an interactive wand.  E chose Harry Potter's. B chose Dumbledore's, and M chose an Ollivander original.  We stopped to scope out where we could use them to do some magic.
 Here is E trying to make it work.  It is a little finicky, that magic, so there is a helper at each station.
 Here is M's attempt.  They are doing ascendio and descendio with the measuring tape in the window of that store.

 Here is the Hogwarts castle
 A big of Hogsmeade street view

 B & Brent went on the Dragon's challenge coaster. This is a segment of it and a great image, but they did the Chinese fireball side (the red line), there is also a blue version.  This is one of those roller coasters where you hang from your shoulders. B thought it was phenomenal and his favorite ride of the entire trip.
 Meanwhile, M wrote post cards with her new quill, E had a snack, and we did a little more exploring before we met up with the boys again.
By this time, we were ready for lunch at the three-broom sticks, which may have been the most insane line of the trip, but one has to have their butterbeer, right? It was delicious, but very similar to what we've made at home, so good to know we have the recipe right.  After this, we all went and rode on the Hypogryph ride. It was probably a solid 30-45 minute wait and the patience was wearing a little thin.  The ride itself was the most real roller coaster E rode this trip and he and I were in the front car.  My head ache began just after this ride and I think, not a coincidence....
We briefly wandered over to the Jurassic Park section and learned about dinosaurs and watched one "hatch."
 We headed back to Hogsmeade for candy at Honey Dukes, especially M's sought after Chocolate Frog.  She got a Salizar Slytherin trading card with it. Everyone got some kind of Harry Potter themed treat.
 Then we decided to switch parks and stood in the Hogwarts "Express" line for ages. It was a sneaky line hidden underground and we definitely could have walked to the other park in less time.  The ride itself as maybe 3-5 minutes with scenes from the movie out the "window" (Tv screen) and shadows of students wandering the halls of the train and whispering at the doors.
 We arrived right near Diagon Alley, which I had a silly difficult time finding as it is literally in an alleyway near the train station. It was fantastically detailed and mostly full of shops.  There were a couple rides that I'm sure were awesome, but with way longer waits than we were able to tolerate.
 Here we are just outside of Gringotts.  We had finally found the "pet" shop and the kids found stuffie friends to accompany us on the rest of the journey.  M chose Hermione's cat, B chose Dumbledore's Phoenix, and E chose a little brown owl.
 Here is Lady M with Crookshanks and her wand as we wandered in the drizzle through the other side of the park, looked at some rides and shops, and had a snack.  We pretty much decided to call it a day and headed back to our car and on to our Disney hotel - Port Orleans, Riverside.
Yes, it was kind of cool and drizzly, but the kids immediately headed to the pool as all proper kids do on vacation. I watch them from under an umbrella while Brent napped.  The swim was fairly short as everyone was tired and hungry with a big day ahead.  We ate dinner at the quick service restaurant in our resort, got our refillable mugs, and headed back to sleep.  This was the night I remembered that M grinds her teeth and sleeping in the same room is a struggle... We procured ear plugs by the next day.

So there we are, solidly in Florida, almost 1/2 way through our trip, and heading in to 3 days of Disney magic!

To be continued....

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