Travel Journal: Entry #10

 Look at me. I’m on a roll! No really, I’m rolling. Can’t you see?

Okay. Last day of theme park madness. I am getting tired just thinking about it.

Universal Studios
As we had already visited Islands of Adventure, we headed to the actual studio side of Universal Studios. Picture a big boardwalk framing a man-made lake. On one side is Islands of Adventure, where Harry Potter lives now.. On the other is Universal Studios, where, um, older things live. We were under the assumption that we could hop from one side to the other seeing as they were all Universal. Oh, how wrong it is  to assume anything. The person at the gate told us that our passes were only good for one park at a time and if we wanted to go to Islands of Adventure we would have to upgrade. Our goal was to see Harry Potter world at night, something we didn’t do on our first day. So, humming and hawing, completely undecided and willing to see where the day took us, we entered Universal Studios.

We headed straight for The Mummy, a roller coaster that involved optical illusions of swarms of beetles crawling towards you. To push the creep factor over the edge into freaky kingdom, we were the first ones on the ride that day, which meant that we went through the maze, decked out to look like an ancient tomb, completely on our own. At one point, “a crew member” blocked our path and just stared at us creepily for a minute. Then disappeared into the shadows. The we got on the ride. Let’s just say that this was one we did not do again.

Again, props to the props people

We did the E.T. Adventure ride, which is probably fun for 5 year olds, but is boring for us and completely meaningless to our children; we went on the boat ride in the world of Jaws, which is about as lame as I remembered it from 25 years ago and did Men in Black Alien Attack which, like Buzz Lightyear, just once again proved that I couldn’t hit a whale in a closet if I tried.

Whoah, like negative much, dude?

Yeah, well, the day was kind of like that. Nothing seemed super worth it. A little old, a little shabby, nothing we were very excited to see.

Hence the faces on these two. But then, what should we decide to try?

Bart saves the day!

Oh yeah, baby, The Simpsons Ride. This was seriously one of the best rides of the whole trip. Using the same sort of technology as The Forbidden Journey and The Spiderman ride, The Simpsons Ride takes you through Krustyland. But Krustyland’s psychotic assistant wants you dead, so watch out!

I am breathless just thinking about it. It was so much fun I almost peed my pants. And, obviously, none too soon too. The day was about to turn into a real dud until Bart showed up.

More set design photos

Although The Back to the Future ride no longer existed, they still kept the old delorean.

Delorean. I want to go back to the future. Whatever that means…

We also saw a couple of shows. Shrek 4D, was not as good as the book touted it to be, I honestly can’t even remember the storyline, but I liked the poster:

We also saw Disaster, that starred a 3D virtual Christopher Walken as the “Master of Mayhem”. I can’t remember what the actual plot of the movie was, all I know is that we were put on a bus and made to scream our girliest screams while the place looked like it was being rocked by an earthquake. Also pretty fun.

Twister, which took you on the set of the movie called, yes, wait for it, Twister, showed how they made the movie. It ended with a cheesy set that got wrecked by G-force winds. It was okay.

Picnic in the park. Soggy wraps on the menu again.

Weird floaty ball thing in middle of man-made pond. Think it was for the fireworks.

We ended our tour of Universal studios by seeing one last show, Terminator (I can’t find the link on their site). Actors playing John Connor and his kooky mom gallivanted on the stage while things blew up and scary liquid metal dud jabbed at you in 3D. Kinda cool.

But as you can see, the Universal studios side was not so thrilling. We decided to upgrade our tickets so that we could go back to Harry Potter world. Only 150$ later, we were on our way…

Back to Islands of Adventure
Where we were greeted by this strange creature.

J and S decided that they wanted to try out the Dragon Challenge rollercoaster which, to her chagrin C was not tall enough to go on. They loved it! There was also a whole bunch of Harry Potter paraphanelia that we missed because of said shortness, mostly to do with the Triwizard tournament.

Oh, and Mr, Weasley’s car!

Triwizard cup I presume?

I am not sure where this was taken, but it’s cool…

Upside down candy skulls

Ahh, the puking pastilles…

While S & J were riding the dragons, C and I went back on the Forbidden Journey. As the line up was slower this time, we were able to take in a lot more of Hogwarts Castle. The points system (below), the story line and Ron making it snow, hear the conversation between the paintings, etc. It was well done.

I think my only beef with the ride would be the locker systems. If you are carrying anything big like a purse or a bag, you have to stick it in a locker that works by fingerprint identification. Okay, “works” might be an exageration. You are sent into these dimly lit, tiny rooms with hundreds of people either trying to get back in line quickly or get out of their fast and the damn things don’t work. Better crowd control and functional technology would be appreciated. ‘Cause it doesn’t give you much confidence if they can’t even get the lockers to work…

Here is Clea on her third time on the Forbidden journey

Because J & S wanted to  go on the Forbidden Journey again, we ended up accompanying them for a third time on the ride (see C’s face above).  So I got to know the ride pretty darn well thank you very much.

Which house is in the lead?

The Pensieve! makes you pensive, don’t it?

After our Forbidden Journey odyssey and a couple more times on the Flight of the Hippogriff (that was starting to rearrange my spine), we decided to walk around the rest of the park until night time, so we could see Harry Potter in all its fake gaslit beauty. The first stop of course, was the Splash zone. No, the photo is not washed out – all that white is the water about to land on my daughters.

One has to eat dinner though, right? Why not go to the Three Broomsticks, for some butterbeer and pasties? Well, none of us got the pasties, but S did get her favourite meal of all time: shepard’s pie. I honestly can’t remember what the rest of us ate. It was really the decors we were after.

Drinking beer in the Three Broomsticks

It was almost dusk, but not quite so we toured around Dr. Seuss world. We did the Cat in the Hat ride, which, although meant for small children, was weird enough for anyone.

The girls with Hogwarts in the background

Finally! Harry Potter world at night! Bask in the fictional beauty of it, people. Bask.

The gate into Hogsmeade
Honeyduke’s at night

Hogwarts all lit up

And thus concludes our Disney world/Universal studio adventure!

But, of course, we needed to take one last dip before we left…

Next stop, Savannah, Georgia!

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