Saturday, December 20, 2014

Wizards for a weekend

Because Jetblue airline tickets were cheaper than any other I could find, but they only flew out of Orlando rather than Ft Lauderdale...and because even those tickets were less expensive if you flew on a weekday rather than a Sunday which was the day our cruise ended, we decided to spend a couple of days visiting Harry Potter in Universal Studios before flying home. At least that was my plan...the Harry Potter part. Universal Studios is packed to the brim with all sorts of wonderful rides and attractions but I must admit, I only had eyes for the wizarding world part of it all. The rest of my family, though excited about exploring Hogwarts, Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley, were equally as jazzed about Jurassic Park, Spiderman and the Hulk.

But ah, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. It most definitely lives up to the hype! And I was giddy...maybe more so than even my children, about being there. I could not wipe the grin off my face, it all just seemed so ridiculously and perfectly real! And it's a good thing (mostly) that Bryan was there to curb my spending, because I really, really wanted to buy wands at Ollivanders, and extendable ears at Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes, and house scarves at Madame Malkin's Robes for all Occasions, and Bertie Bott's every flavor beans or chocolate frogs at Honeydukes. Actually I did by a chocolate frog....but you get the idea. Bryan agreed to lunch at Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade. And beyond the surprisingly affordable and decent food, I think he enjoyed watching me happily geeking out about the fact that we were eating at Three Broomsticks! And can I just say...frozen butterbeer? Good stuff!

We walked right in and got a table easily at the Three Broomsticks. We ordered the feast for six...and wow if it wasn't a huge amount of really impressive yumminess...ribs and chicken and corn and potatoes and veggies. You don't usually expect amusement park food to be so good.

We were lucky. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is extremely popular and therefore, extremely busy most all of the time. Especially the newly opened Diagon Alley and Gringotts Bank ride which had only been around for four months. Apparently the place had been hopping over Thanksgiving only a few days earlier. But seeing as we arrived on Sunday afternoon, most holiday travelers were already heading for home and we literally walked on to almost every ride in Universal and Islands of Adventure....Harry Potter or other.

So yes, I know its hard to believe but there really is more to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure than just Harry Potter. A very large part, in fact...that in all reality Bryan and Brandon were just as excited (or even more so, strange as that seems) to get to.

(The parade with Despicable Me Minions, Sponge Bob sea creatures and Dora the Explorer was not one of them...but they got trapped behind the rope barrier while coming off a roller coaster....with Lilian and me happily parade watching on the other side. It made me laugh...their looks of patient tolerance.)
Bryan's favorite ride was The Simpsons. It was the last thing we rode on Sunday night before the park closed. We had just come off the Men In Black ride which had spun me around in unexpected and sick-making circles so I was already a bit woozy heading onto The Simpsons...which is a simulator type ride. About 15 seconds into it and I realized I was going to be seriously and embarrassingly sick if I didn't close my eyes. And so though I missed the visual of it all, I was able to focus on what I was hearing around me. And what stuck out at me most was Bryan's laughter. I haven't heard him laugh that hard in a long time. He's long been a fan of The Simpsons TV show but more than that, he said he just really enjoyed being completely taken in by the ride...that despite it being animated and knowing how these things normally work, it still felt so real. I woozily walked away from The Simpsons ride and passed the Twirl 'N' Hurl. I had to take a picture because though we didn't go on it, I very literally related to the sentiment!

We spent oodles of time hanging out in Camp Jurassic...a huge playground type area that was actually even fun for the grown ups. It's one of Brandon's favorite parts of Islands of Adventure (he'd visited a few years ago with grandparents) and he wanted to make sure we didn't miss it.

When it boils down to it, though we had an amazing time and made a lot of memories on our cruise and our two ports of Jamaica and Key West, I think the best part of our trip was the time spent at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. The perfect frosting on the cake. I hope we can go back again some day.

No comments: