This is part two of the vacation memories. Hard to believe it was already two weeks ago!
On Saturday morning I rose and readied. The wife was flying in and I needed to pick her up around 8:45 (so I thought). Of course, at barely ten past eight she texted to tell me she was in the airport already, and I had only just begun to head for the shower.
After a quick shower and getting dressed, I hit the road. I’d mapped out the route beforehand, but damn Florida… you got some ‘splaining to do. The road to the airport turned out to be a toll road, and about a mile from the booths a solid barrier appeared splitting the lines. I got stuck to the left, which was easy pass only and couldn’t get back to the right after that. It was ludicrous, and means I know probably have to pay Florida a $100 fine since I couldn’t pay the toll.
Then the airport, where I drove around three times because there’s multiple terminals and I didn’t know which one she was at. We finally worked it out, much hugs and kisses were given, and we were off like a shot to Universal Studios.
Universal Studios is really three parks now. Universal Studios, Universal Islands of Adventure, and Universal Exploding Volcano something or other. I don’t know, whatever. Stop making this all confusing, theme parks! We’d bought tickets for the first two because both had Harry Potter sections, which also gave us a bonus of being able to ride the Hogswart Express between them (more on that later). We started at Islands of Adventure, which I think is the better of the two (because Marvel!).
First we wandered into the Superhero section, where my lovely wife kept up her tradition of either picking the nose of statues, or pointing out their crotches. Okay, so it’s my tradition as well.
Actually, this was just after she’d ridden the Hulk rollercoaster. I refused. I’m deathly afraid of high places and most roller coasters, and opted to keep my feet firmly planted on the ground. She adored it so much she rode it once more at the end of the day.
We went on some rides after this. The Spider-man 3D ride was not bad. We also saw a number of heroes and villains running around outside, which was very cool.
Other rides we took included Kong: Skull Island, which I have to say was actually pretty amazing. Another immersive 3D ride, but the screen is all around you this time, so it really looked and felt like we were traversing a jungle. The only negative I can say about each of these different 3D rides is: stop fucking squirting me! Every ride has a point where they squirt you, usually in conjunction with some action happening nearby (except for the Mummy ride, where they squirted us for no reason I could see, the bastards).
We visited the Jurassic Park discovery center, which was fine. But the reason for our visiting was next, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The castle was there (much smaller than in real life of course). We went on yet another immersive 3D ride in the castle, which was pretty awesome. Then visited the town for a while, going through some of the shops, watching kids waving their wands at windows where magic could happen (motion sensors). Pretty nicely done I thought.
We got on the Hogswart Express and rode it over to the other part of the park, the original Universal Studios. During the train ride, there’s a window that shows what’s passing by outside, and shadows appear on the frosted glass of the door with voices talking so it feels more like a real train ride and not a theme park ride. Nice touch I thought.
The OTHER part of the Harry Potter experience was at the original Universal theme park. This included Gringott’s bank, with a street view that looked straight out of the movie. We took the Gringott’s cart ride (fun) and visited the shops again, including Knockturn Alley, which was sufficiently spooky and dark and we loved it.
We visited other sections of this park. In New York, we saw the Blues Brothers playing and got a close up of their car.
We went through Simpson’s world and rode another 3D ride there, Krusty’s Koaster or something like that, which I didn’t like as much. Overall, though, I didn’t think there was as much here I was interested in. We did walk all around and take in the sites, though.
Finally, we took the train back (another video playing over the window and doors) and headed back to the Marvel area for our final event of the day. It was finally time for: dinner with Superheroes! I paid extra for this, and luckily it turned out to be worth the cost. The food was actually good even if buffet style, and the actors in costume really did a great job (plus the costumes were mostly pretty good I thought… especially loved the Cyclops costume).
All in all, Universal was worth the money, even paying for two people to go to two of the parks. We had no interest in the Volcano Bay waterpark, which made it more affordable. And we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
After this, we went back to the hotel and crashed. Got up Sunday exhausted, decided to take it easy. We went to Ripley’s Believe it or Not, saw some cool stuff, then attended one of the most amazing weddings I’ve ever been to. Congratulations to Sydney and Ryan, and thank you for including us on your special day!