Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Universal Studios Islands of Adventure (Hogwart's!)

Universal Studios

Truth be told, this was the day I was most looking forward to. I'm a huge Mickey fan and all, but to actually walk inside the pages of a Harry Potter book, well, it was my dream come true! I'm a HUGE Harry Potter fan, have read all the books multiple times, seen all the movies (multiple times) and just could NOT wait to walk through Hogsmeade, and let me tell you, it did NOT disappoint!

First of all, we called a taxi, the kids were probably equally excited to be riding in a taxi as going to Universal! We ate a small breakfast of Pop Tarts and GO energy drinks in our hotel before getting the cab, and headed on our way. Once in the park, I knew from my research, to head straight to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in order to ride The Forbidden Journey without a long wait.

We got to Hogsmeade and there was already a crowd starting, but I saw the Hogwart's Express train, and all the shops, and then, off in the distance, rising up into the clouds, there it was, Hogwart's Castle! I couldn't wait to go inside, to see every room, every detail. First, some muggle told me I had to get a locker for my backpack, so I did that while David waited with the kids. Then, in my haste to see the castle, we walked off, unknowingly leaving Riley behind while he was looking at his cell phone and not paying attention to his parents who had other things on their mind at the time! We got all the way down the line (said to be a 20 minute wait at this point) and turned around and realized Riley was no where to be found!) I started to panic a little bit, but figured he would be right behind us, and we tried to call him but the reception was bad, my phone was in my locker, David was mad that Riley didn't keep up, it really took the enjoyment out of the tour for me.

But, we got a call from Riley, he was waiting for us in the gift shop, so we finished the tour of the castle and rode the Forbidden Journey, and let me just say, it was AWESOME! The castle looks just like in the movies, there are pictures that have people talking to you, and moving around, at one point you see Ron, Hermione and Harry talking about ditching class, Ron tries a spell and it makes snow fall on you in line! You go through the greenhouse where they grew plants for potions, through Dumbledore's office, and the Sorting Hat is there talking to you also. And the ride, I have never ridden anything like that, ever! You are in a row of 4 seats, and it takes you on a trip with Harry, just like you are on a broomstick. You play Quidditch, dodge the Whomping Willow, face to face with giant spiders that spray acid on you, and fly with dragons! It was so cool. Each time I rode the ride I had my mouth open the whole time, in awe that I just flew around with Harry Potter!

I know, I'm a kid. Anyway...after we rode the Forbidden Journey, we rode the Dragon Challenge, and the kids rode the Flight of the Hypogriff, and then we had lunch at the Three Broomsticks. We had the feast, which was grilled meat and corn on the cob and salad, and of course, Butter Beer!! It was SO good too.

Afterward we just walked around the shops, Honeyduke's where they had chocolate frogs and Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans, Zonko's Magic Shop where they had all kinds of tricks, even an Extendo-Ear! They had a Hogsmeade post office where you can send mail with a real Hogsmeade post stamp, a cauldron shop, Ollivander's Wand Shop, it was really like walking through the pages of the book.

As we left Hogsmeade, there was a magic show going on that Riley really wanted to see, so we sat in on that. Riley hadn't spent any of his spending money yet so of course, at the end of the sales pitch, I mean, magic show, he was ready to buy all of the kits! We told him to hold off, think about it, and we would make our way back to that store before we left if he really couldn't live without something.

We finally made our way out to the rest of the park, through the Dr. Seuss kiddie section, onto the Superhero section where we rode the Hulk coaster and Regan and Riley enjoyed it so much that they rode it many, many times while David and I sat and relaxed a bit. Then we went to Dudley Do Right's Buzz Saw Falls or something like that, and we saw how wet the people were getting off the ride, but the kids wanted to ride so bad, so David and I got out our panchos and decided to ride with the kids. We did pretty good, basically got my face and feet wet, but the kids did not fare so well, they were drenched solid!

Then we went to the Jurassic Park area, and that was fun, they had a great ride like you were going through the movie. Regan got scared at the end when the T-Rex jumped out at us just before you go down a big drop, but they rode it again anyway. It was another pancho ride for me and David so we stayed pretty dry, except for the face full of water I got when David bent over at the last second!

By this point, we were magically back at Hogsmeade, where we rode the Forbidden Journey a couple more times, Regan bought another stuffed animal (a unicorn she named Lightning) and had one last glorious drink of Butter Beer (in a souvenir cup this time). We stopped back by the magic shop and got Riley these red lights that he can play tricks with. Then we headed back towards the front to ride any rides we missed, or that the kids wanted to ride again. The crowds were perfect that day, we really only had to wait for a few minutes for the Forbidden Journey but the rest was walk on, all day long! As we walked back through Seuss-ville, we met Cindy Lou Who and a few other Who's, they seemed to take a liking to Riley and he was a little freaked out by their dog-looking faces!

Then we grabbed a taxi and headed to Downtown Disney again, for another yummy dinner at Wolfgang Puck's, and then back to the hotel (after a short walk back to WP where Riley left his gift bag) where we headed down to the pool so the kids could swim in the heated pool while David and I sat in the hot tub soaking our aching feet for a bit!

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