Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Islands of Adventure Day One (Part 2)

I have been looking forward to this trip to Universal for over 2 years.  The last time we visited Universal Studios Islands of Adventure in 2008 we saw a posted sign reading  "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter coming soon".  I was so excited.  We read each of the Harry Potter books out loud as a family and saw the movies following each book.  Without saying I have been a huge Harry Potter fan, not huge enough to sit at the bookstores until midnight for the release of the new book or wait in line for the midnight showing of each movie, but I did enjoy the series immensely. 

I have been giddy with excitement to walk through Hogsmead and drink Butterbeer ( a favorite beverage of the students of Hogwarts).  Needless to say Universal exceeded my expectations and our trip to the Wizarding World was amazing.  I felt as if I had stepped into a Harry Potter book.

We picked up our tickets from the will call kiosk and with our tickets we received a voucher for our Commemorative Harry Potter tickets.  It just kept getting better.  These are tickets guests receive if they visit the park in 2010.  They are 3D tickets with Harry Potter flying on his know, the scratchy kind that if you turn them one way and then the other the person moves.  I thought it was pretty special.

We bought a three day ticket for each of us so we could visit the park 2 days before the cruise and 1 day after the cruise.  If we couldn't get enough of the Wizarding World in 3 days then we would need mental therapy.

Once inside the door we decided as a family our first stop should be lunch.  We hadn't eaten since the Dayton Airport so we were well over due.  Everyone is always happier with a full belly.  We learned a couple years ago the only way to eat at Universal (and after walking through the parking garage, the 500 people movers, and The City Walk, leaving the park to eat was not an option) is to purchase the "Meal Deal".  The Meal Deal allows you to eat as much food as you want at 3 restaurants in the park.  We also purchased the meal deal drink... same thing applies... you are given unlimited re-fills throughout the day.

Directions on how to use the Meal Deal is as follows: Show your colored wrist bracelet when ordering your food, chose a main course, dessert and side item, wait for them to hand you your food with your chosen refill beverage, then sit down and eat.  You can do this as many times as you like.   The cost was $30.00 per person.  Even if we would have left the park we would have spent $10.00 per meal per person.  If you haven't noticed by now.... we LOVE the Meal Deal. :)

Our first stop with our glorious Meal Deal bracelets was the Comic Strip Cafe.

This was our first encounter with what we lovingly called "the yellows"

Notice the people in yellow shirts sitting behind Nick?  These were the yellows and Nick LOVED them.

They were a Brazilian group of students who where touring both Universal and Disney.  There was what seemed like thousands of them.  They were everywhere and Nick was getting really angry during lunch because we had to stand in line behind them and then it took us forever to find a table because they occupied all the tables.  Again, EVERYONE is happier with a full belly which Nick did not have at this time and he desperately wanted to have one.

Nick and Leslie learned how to "play" their new Meal Deal cups

Next stop was Harry Potter.  On the way however, we had to walk past the roller coaster called The Hulk. This roller coaster is not a coaster you can nonchalantly walk past and not ride. It is a GREAT ride so we had to stop and be taken by the Hulk on our way to Potter.

After a great adrenaline rush we were Potter bound.  We had to walk through Jurassic Park to get to Hogsmeade.  Jurassic Park is no Hogsmeade, but it is super cool in its own way.  Lots of tropical plants and dinosaur sounds.  We chose not to ride the Jurassic Park water ride this time. It is a fabulous ride, one I love very much, but you literally plunge underwater at the end of the ride and none of us felt like swimming in our clothes. 

The road to Potter was winding and uphill but with each step the Hogwart's music became louder and louder.

We could see the very tip of the castle as we finished out the last bit of Jurassic Park. When we walked across the bridge it really was if we were walking into J.K. Rowling's mind's eye. (Author of the Harry Potter books)

I was in awe.

The shops with the snow on the roof messed with my mind and I think I actually felt cooler looking at the snow regardless of the 95 degree weather.

Quidditch Uniform

Quaffle, bludgers and the golden snitch was flying around in the shop in the window.

Platform 9 3/4

Just as we entered into Hogsmeade the typical Florida rain shower blew in... we decide to enjoy a bit of butterbeer on the patio under an umbrella at.....

Sign on the patio....

Best way I can describe Butterbeer is old fashioned cream soda topped with an incredible, thick, butterscotch foam.  Very yummy.  Now I know why all the Hogwart students loved it.

This is a detail of butterbeer off the Universal web site... I visited this site a few times before our trip. :)

Guests to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter enjoy Butterbeer, a frothy drink, reminiscent of shortbread and butterscotch, served in Hogsmeade. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort is the most widely anticipated theme park entertainment experience ever created and is the only place in the world where the wonder, excitement and adventure of the Harry Potter books and films comes to life. 

We rode the Dueling Dragons roller coaster ( chose between two dragons to ride and each ride is different from the other) as well as the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey (a walk through Hogwarts Castle ending with a virtual ride with theatrical elements where you felt as if you were a character in each of the Potter books).  These were amazing rides with so many cool things to see.  We had to lock our cameras in the locker to protect them while riding the rides, but agreed to go through the line the next day to capture the incredible details of the Hogwarts castle.  These pictures will be shown in my next post of day 2 at Universal.

We spent a lot of time oohing and aweing in Hogwarts and then ate dinner with our Meal Deal bracelets at Burger Digs in Jurassic Park.

To walk from one area of the park to the other we always had to walk through Seuss Landing.  It drove Gregory absolutely batty.  He didn't feel the cartoon map was a very good map and once we got into Seuss Landing we could never find our way out.  The music alone drove him nuts.  I thought it was cute and wished someone wanted to ride the rides with me. :)

Here is a picture of Greg trying to figure out how to navigate through the park without walking through Seuss Landing.

Nick with more "yellows"... doesn't he look thrilled? :)

Here is Nick and Greg in Atlantis

Cool Nick

At the end of the day we were all four exhausted, especially Leslie who had been a real trooper since she was feeling badly.  She took cold and flu meds around the clock so she could enjoy her day the best she could. 

We then headed to the Hyatt to settle into our room.  We were all ready for showers and bed so we could get up the next day and go to the other Universal Studios park.

Here are some pictures of our room.

Next post.... Day 2 at Universal Studios and more detailed photos of Hogwarts Castle and grounds.

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