Day 5: Orlando (Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios)
With only two days budgeted for Universal Orlando, we had to decide where to begin: at Universal Studios or at Islands of Adventure, home to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Anticipating massive crowds at Harry's (and knowing we would love all things HP), we decided we should visit that park first so we could come back the next day if we needed more time there.
That turned out to be an excellent plan. Besides, I of A opens earlier, and we knew it'd be easier to get up at the crack of dawn on our first day of touring the parks and not when we are uber-tired.
We did just what the guidebook said: Arrived at the gate an hour before opening and made a beeline for Hogwarts as soon as we got through the turnstiles. And as promised, we were able to walk past all the twisty-turny queue ropes and walk right into Hogwarts for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.
Waiting in line is a huge part of the experience. Before riding, you walk through Hogwarts, seeing all kinds of cool props.
I never thought I would wish for a longer wait! Truly, there's so much to see in there, but the line moved a little too quickly for us to take it all in.
|Hall of portraits (and yes, some talked and moved!)|
|So unbelievably cool to see Harry, Ron and Hermione|
greeting us! On a return visit, Hermione cast a spell
that made it snow on us. Absolutely magical!
After our first ride, we all agreed that we had better get another turn before moving on. Our second time through the line took a little longer, but it was still worth it. Next we took on Dragon Challenge, a suspended coaster. (By the way, I left my "real" camera at home for this first day at IofA, which saved us tons of time. Having everything in pockets meant we didn't have to use ride lockers, and the locker banks were pretty chaotic.)
With three rides under our belt, we were ready to see the rest of the park, but first, we had some business in Hogsmeade.
|The frog choir|
|Butterbeer: Surprisingly delicious!|
|Walking into the village = instant goosebumps.|
It was tempting to spend more time in the Wizarding World, but we knew we needed to see more of the park before lines got to be too long.
|This Seuss sign made us feel a little closer to home.|
One of our longer waits of the day was for the 3-D Spider-Man ride. Fortunately, the queue took us through the offices of the Daily Bugle, and TVs kept us updated with Spidey's escapades. It's amazing how quickly time passes when you're entertained while you wait!
|Desks in the Bugle newsroom|
|Sorry, but not even a COMIC version of a newspaper office|
would ever use comic sans on a nameplate!
|I may have to post these in our journalism lab at school.|
|Even the trophy case was entertaining!|
|Ready for action!|
|A comic store in Super Hero Island?|
But of course!
|The 0 to 60 start straight into a corkscrew|
is an adrenaline junkie's dream.
The amazingly themed Toon Lagoon:
|We ate lunch here and had fun reading |
the speech bubbles on the walls.
After riding all of our "must-do's" (Popeye and Bluto's Bilge Rat Barges, Jurassic Park, Dr. Doom's Fearfall), we slowed the pace down and saw a few shows:
|The Eighth Voyage of Sindbad Stunt Show|
For our evening, we decided to go ahead and check out the Universal Studios side of things.
|Of course we were drawn to the monsters.|
|Even if we hadn't already planned to eat there|
the next day, the signage would've won us over!
Since we knew we'd be back the next day, we didn't want to do too much without Ryan. Still, we managed to hit up a couple of attractions:
|Revenge of the Mummy|
We tried to get into the Simpsons Ride, but technical difficulties sent us on our way. That was probably for the best, though, because it was fun to experience that one for the first time with our boy.
|The Universal Cinespectacular, featuring movie clips|
projected on water screens
Before leaving, we took in all the lights: