Friday, February 14, 2014

6am....yawn...why does it always come so early??

Back to the gates of Islands of Adventures at 8am....headed down the familiar road past Dr. Seuss land, beyond the sleeping fountain until we see a gleaming red train in the distance!!!

(funny side note...we are both wearing Pearl Jam shirts)

I took MORE pictures of Hogsmeade...then we went back to the Dragon challenge rollercoaster! The cool thing about this park, is that even while you are waiting in line (if there are lines, that is) there are neat things to this
 Oh hey...I wonder if Hagrid is home?

Hagrid???? Well, I guess he wasn't home. But Fang was..we could hear him barking inside the hut!

Looks like Josh was driving again

You can't really see..or maybe you can...but inside it was decorated like  Triwizard Tournament tent!

Once again, there wasn't a line. In fact, we road the first time all by ourselves!!! We hopped off the blue coaster (Hungarian horntail), and then hopped right on the red one! (Chinese Fireball)

Oh, we also rode the Flight of the Hippogriff know who you see while waiting in line?

Hi Friend!!! (and yes, he moves)

Josh putting on a brave face

View of Hogsmeade from the top of the rollercoaster!

By now, I was feeling pretty good and thought I could handle the Hogwarts ride again. I thought wrong. I barely made it through the floo powder before I got dizzy. Oh well...the castle is still really cool. I liked to take my time through the castle and couldn't understand why everyone was running down to the end just to get on the ride. I thought the castle was much cooler (and not just because the ride made me sick). The portraits all talked to each other...Dumbledore talked to us...Harry, Ron and Hermione talked to us (Ron even made it snow in the DADA classroom..for reals!) Then there were little things, you could hear teachers talking behind closed doors (about Hagrid and his Dragon) and the attention to detail was incredible!!!

Speaking of attention to detail...Moaning Myrtle was even haunting the public bathroom!!!

After a leisurely breakfast at the Three Broomsticks (during which I filled Josh in on a lot of Harry Potter lore), we headed out of the park and went back to Universal Studios to hit the rides that we missed. (we grabbed a bottle of pumpkin juice on the way out!)

By this point, I was still feeling the effect of the Harry Potter super nauseating ride. We rode the Mummy again, which was fine. Then we went to the Twister experience...which was more of a show than a ride, and despite me being all "I'm from Kansas...this ain't scary"...I still screamed. Then we found the entrance to the rollercoaster "rip ride rockit" and hopped right on! From there we went to the Men In Black ride, bypassing all the lines again(yay, express pass!!!) and shooting up some aliens. Then we walked back through Springfield and went to the Despicable Me ride. This ride was 3D and very made Josh almost made me barf. 

I was starting to feel the cumulative effects of the 3D rides. We went back to our hotel for a much needed nap. I woke up at about 4 and planned to go back to the park, but a sudden thunderstorm changed our plans! We got caught in a downpour and ran back to the hotel. We had a nice dinner in the hotel restaurant and then went back to the room for more movies and sleep!


and then we did some more stuff

We left Hogsmeade around noon and head back out to the rest of the park. On our way out, we stopped and watched the Poseidon's Fury show. It was a show similar to the Disaster! movie show. We walked back by the stupid sleeping fountain that was now awake and talking to people.

From there we headed to the Marvel Universe. We rode Dr. Doom's Fearfall with two small children who were much braver than we were. Then we went to the 3D Spiderman ride. Once again, Josh really like this ride. It was very similar to the Transformers ride. My problem was the Harry Potter had messed up my equilibrium and these rides were now starting to make me very dizzy! You know what you should do when you are dizzy? Ride a super fast rollercoaster! And that is exactly what we did! We went to ride the Hulk. Here we experienced our first wait, only because we wanted front row. Still, it was only about a 15 minute wait. I really enjoyed the shoots you out faster than you expect, way before you expect it! Funny thing, coasters don't mess with me like the 3D rides do. I could ride them all day and feel fine!

By this time we were getting a little tired (exhausted) so we went to Jurassic Park to ride the water ride before heading back to the hotel for a break. Jurassic Park is one of the older rides, but it was still pretty cool. They aren't joking when they say you will get wet though!!! So we are glad we saved this ride for last!

We walked (soaking wet) back to the hotel and decided to hit up the outdoor pool in February. Gotta love Florida. After about an hour at the pool, we went back to the room for a quick shower and nap and then headed BACK to Hogsmeade to see it at night!

Poor Josh had to put up with me saying everything was "magical" all the time...but it was. On our way out, we picked up a frozen Butterbeer which I liked more than the regular(which we had at lunch) since it was a little less sweet. Butterbeer tastes like cream soda and butterscotch made a delicious baby.

We had a fun dinner at Pat O'Briens where we ordered some drinks and watched the dueling pianos and Josh sang a lot. Then we went back to the room to prepare for another early day at Hogsmeade. Hey, we got early entry...we would be fools not to take advantage of it!!! (and despite my pictures, this park fills up around 11am!)

It was Magical

We woke up at 6am the next morning, which is a horrible time to wake up on vacation. Today was the day!!! I was going to Hogwarts! We stayed at the Hard Rock for a few's cool and plays music, it's onsite, it gives us Express Passes to avoid lines...but mainly because if you stay in an onsite hotel, you get to enter The Wizarding World of Harry Potter a whole hour before the park even opens! Sold!

So Josh and I hit the pavement and walked to the Islands of Adventure park at 7:45am....yawn...Once we hit the park, we just followed the signs (and people) towards Hogsmeade. We had to run through Dr. Seuss land....

We found ourselves on the Lost Continent....getting closer...

Shut up Sleeping Fountain...

Finally...crossed a bridge, and lo and behold...

Be still my heart

Now, it was super crowded in Hogsmeade....
Ba ha ha ha ha ha it wasn't! We took a quick stop in Ollivander's to watch a young witch select her wand. Actually...the wand chooses the wizard. There was a cute little show with an actor who picked a kid out of the audience and tried to match her to her wand, with hilarious results. The show followed the first movie pretty closely and it was fun to watch.

Next stop...Hogwarts!!!

Through the gates....

I'm going to Hogwarts, Y'all!!!

We had to walk through the green house to get inside the castle

Pictures that actually move and talk


First day at Hogwarts and we are already being sent to the Headmaster's office....

Penny (sieve) for your thoughts

Dumbledore was talking to cant see him because you are a Muggle...and also this camera is not the best. From Dumbledore's office, we are sent to Defense Against the Dark Art's class. 

Hey!!! I know them!!! Harry, Ron and Hermione tell us they are going to sneak us out of class!!! 

Rawr....dragon bones

We wind through the Gryffindor common room

and find this guy, sorting us into rows...

Then comes the ride...oooohhhh aaaahhhh... The basic story is that we are skipping out of a boring lecture (by Prof. Binns, because DADA teachers keep disappearing) in order to see a Quidditch match. Oh, and there is the small problem of a Dragon being on the loose...silly Hagrid. Well, this ride puts you on this bench thingy and then twists you all around while watching a 3D screen. You really feel like you are flying. There are plenty of thrills too...stupid spiders...Did I mention that you really feel like you are flying? Any I have been known to get motion sickness on planes...well broomsticks are worse. They should have called this ride the Journey into infinite Motion Sickness! After the ride, I was feeling a bit sick so we wandered back through Hogsmeade. (following a short, but needed stop at a nearby Starbucks)

Zonkos and Honeydukes
 Inside Honeydukes, they have every single candy ever mentioned in Harry Potter!!! It was like a dream come true!
Bertie Botts Every Flavor with caution

I wanted to buy one of everything! I left with a (giant) Chocolate Frog complete with a Famous Witch or Wizard card (I got Helga Hufflepuff) and a package of peppermint toads.

Inside Zonkos Joke Shop

 Shhhh...The walls have (extendable) ears
I have not seen this Wizard :( (but the sign moves, just like in the movie)

After looking in the shops, we hit up the Dragon Challenge rollercoasters. There are two "dragons" and we rode them both, back to back since there were no lines. Then, I thought to myself "self, I think I want to go back to Hogwarts". I am stupid. The second time on that ride did me in. I had to close my eyes half way through and pray that I didn't vomit! After a few minutes sitting outside, we decided to go get some food and see if that would make me feel better. When in Hogsmeade, everyone knows there is only one place to go...
So we headed to the Three Broomsticks and got some lunch

 If you paid close attention, there were shadows of house elves and owls moving on the walls.

A quick peak into the Hogs Head pub

And we were see the rest of the park :) But I knew we would be back (two more times, in fact)