Sunday, May 31, 2015

Florida or BUST part 5; Universal Studios

Universal Studios
Orlando, Florida
March 23 &24th 2015

 The boys posed on the big wave as we we entered into Universal Studio's.

On Monday we had decided to go to Universal Studios. Although much less pre-planed as my Disney Park adventures of the past, we did have a very loose plan of stay to the left and do as much as we can. (We were not about to spend another dime for the pass the line passes either.) Monday happened to be rainy and chilly which may have decreased the number of park guests, we lucked out in that regards. (below are waffles that were being served at our hotel....and we were off to Universal.)
 Could I get a MORE excited face the day we are going to UNIVERSAL??? Really looking less then interested.
 Raining as we entered the park.
Below is a picture of Universal Studios resort. Once parked you enter Port Authority where your items are opened and searched before you cross a LONG bridge. When you first enter you embark on Citywalk; similar to Downtown Disney. To the right us Universal Studios and to the left is Islands of Adventure, we were heading to Islands of Adventure for our first day at Universal so off to the left we went. (There is A LOT of walking to simply get to the park from the parking garage. Unlike Disney that has boats, trains monorails and buses at Universal you have to walk. There are walking escalators that cover the bridge walkway to take some of the pressure off your feet, but plan on walking for some time before you are actually entering your park of choice.)

 This big guy is right as you enter City Walk. This is a mini golf place.
 In hindsight I wish I got more pictures of Citywalk, but we were really just walking fast to get to our destination and it was time for pictures. And here was our DESTINATION...
Islands of Adventure.
Going with the idea of bearing to the left and aware that everyone was on a mad dash for Harry Potter, we stayed left arriving in  Marvel Super Hero Island and the boys hit up The Hulk.

 Mark and I stood and waited,,,,and waited,,,and waited some more. Still no kids and then we began to notice, there was no more ride running. They were also no longer allowing people to enter the ride. What is going on???? Finally crowds were exiting the entrance. There were problems and no one was allowed to ride.  (It became stuck with people on it the following day and people needed to be escorted down.) Discouraged but not defeated we headed to the next ride in the
 These ducks were enjoying the rainy morning.
The first ride we officially went on was the Storm Force Acceleration. Similar to the teacups. Mark and I tried not to spin as much as the boys who whirled all about, Mark looks less then thrilled.
 Up  next was The Amazing Adventures of Spider-man. This was one of my all time favorites of the park. A roller coaster/movie 3-d affect ride that takes you on just as the tittle states an adventure with Spiderman. We spun, dipped, swung, skipped, fell and faced ultimate doom just as spidey saved us with his super web powers. I absolutely LOVED this ride.
 Continuing along we made it to TOON LAGOON. we didn't ride any rides as they were all water type rides and most were not quite open; and we really did not want to get any more wet then we already were. We did however have fun exploring the scenery.

 Toon Fun!!!

 A picture of Duddy Do-rights Ripsaw Falls.
 Up next was Jurassic Park. Just like the movie this area is everything to do with DINOSAURS.
 We headed onto the Jurassic Park River Adventure. It starts out calm as we all enjoy a river boat tour of these passive plant eating dinosaurs...

 It doesn't take long and we are surly in for DANGER!!!!
 Of Course we are soon FACE TO FACE with the daddy of all DINO bad guys the T-REX, and he is HUNGRY!!!
 AGGGGGGHHHHH!!! WE survive and fall down a waterfall to safety. (I got yelled at for taking pictures by the machine operator.)
 We were safe but SOAKED!!!
 Not so scary poses after we survived.
 Up next was The Wizarding World or Harry Potter.  Hogsmeade. 
 Hogwarts in the distance...
 I have to say this was all pretty impressive. The Harry Potter and teh Forbidden Journey was another one of my favorite is some of the entrance to the ride.
 Sorry for the poor pictures, I was grateful for my mothers small handheld camera but missed many amazing picture opps without my Nikon.

 The halls...

 Some of the pictures.

 The deciding hat...
 There were NO crowds and we got on the ride fairly quickly. The Harry Potter ride was similar to Spiderman in that you move around with the 3-D movie. You are unassuming on a magical broom about to play quidditch when the dark forces and he who shall not be named is attacking. With Harry and the others you again swoop, fly, dodge, barely making it away from incredible DANGER. Be aware, it is pretty SCARY, and Gavin felt sick due to all the movement.

In the village of Hogsmede one could purchase a magical wand. There was a line for this, so we skipped it and headed to find a snack. 

 The buildings were so neat. It was as if you were really there. We had a drink at Three Broomsticks before the boys headed to the dwelling dragons roller coaster.Dragon Challenge.
 Our drinks included apple cider,lemonaide and I had to try Butter Beer (non alcoholic of course). It tastes a little like cream soda.

 Everyone took a taste.

 Taking in a bit of the scenery including the train to Hogswarts.
Hogswarts express. Platform 93/4

 We finally left Hogwarts and made our way to The Lost Continent. 
 This Magic Fountain has a secret, DO NOT READ if you want to be surprised. You can ask this fountain to tell your future, make a wish or anything and it will respond. It will also interest you in a game. If you fail your will get a surprise SQUIRT!
 Gavin was not interested in Poseidon's Fury, so Ben and I went. This was a stage like show that takes you into the lost ruins of Poseidon and the Greek Gods. The archaeological crew all disappear as a powerful spirit has been unearthed causing havoc in the underworld. With each step we are taken deeper into traps and fate looks bad when Poseidon rescues us from flash floods, fire and damnation. It was pretty cool.  

 We had a very nice lunch at Mythos. Below is the menu.
 We were told that the interior was designed by the same guy who designed the Belagio in Las Vegas.
 This was the lighting in the women's restroom.
 Check out the ceiling. You can get a visual of the walls behind Mark. This place was so neat and the food was delicious. I have to say everything we ate at Universal was good eats. Universal WINS over Disney when it comes to food.

 Nice dry dining and the waiter was from up north in Rochester NY.

 This is the front of Mythos (above) and the side (Below)
 Once we had full bellies and a plan to go back to The Lost Continent for the later show of Sinbad the Sailor we headed to Seuss Landing
 Nice hats.. and a ride on Caro-Seuss-el
 This not so traditional carousal has Dr. Seuss animals instead of horses.

 This whole area is dedicated to books written by Dr. Seuss,
 This little walk way told the story of the Lorax.."“I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees. I speak for the trees for the trees have no tongues.” 
 We also rode The Cat in the Hat ride while visiting Seuss Landing, The Cat in the Hat ride is like many of the rides at Disney where you ride through the story and see each part unfold as you ride by.

After the cat and the hat ride, we still had a little time before The Sinbad performance, and the boys decided they wanted to get a magical light up ball. (seen back in Jurassic Park)

Some of the area greenery. Urtle the Turtle above and some beautiful waterlilly's below. 
 Once back at Jurassic Park we entered into the Jurassic Park Discovery Center and Camp Jurassic.

 These hands on activities were loads of fun. The dinosaurs could be controlled by the remote in their bodies. You could even scream into the microphone and sound like a dinosaur. (below)

 Mark takes a turn too.

 We had some fun in Jurassic Park before we headed back towards The Lost Continent and to Sindbad show.
 We saw this guy as we were walking across the bridge, He must be so used to people he nearly jumped into Ben's arms.
 (this is the magic ball the had to find,)
We made it to the Eighth Voyage of Sindbad stunt show.

 We had great seats for the show. Both funny and full of great stunts.

We had a full day at Islands of Adventure and made our way back to the exit. Ben stopped to play some drums.

 and I considered mailing a letter in this pretty cool mailbox.
 Goodbye universal we will see you tomorrow....
 After a long day at Islands of Adventure, we had to find a place for dinner.and Steak'n Shake was the winner.

I never refuse a burger and fries place and this was one restaurant that won votes from all parties. 
YEP! I skipped the pepper sauce too. 

 Shakes with our steak burgers was a given.

After dinner and a dip in the hot tub, we all slept like the dead prepared for day 2 at Universal this time at Universal Studios Park. 
 Day 2: Universal.

Our second day at Universal was a little different. Although we left the hotel around the same time there were already more people arriving at the park as we were. There was no rain to hold off some less determined crowds as there was on Monday, so we set off the day with the awareness that we would not have the park nearly to ourselves as he had at The Islands the day before.

Production Central
 First stop and already a line formed (25 minute wait time noted) was the new Despicable Me Minion Mayhem ride.

 You are about to become one of Gru's Minions when of course the process is not nearly as smooth. The girls are about to have a surprise gift when one of the current minion makes a minion mistake and the gift is loss. All things go CRAZY as the chase is in pursuit each turn more chaotic then the one before.

 This was a fun ride and up next was another ride based on one of our favorite movies..Shrek

Shrek 4-D is a performance rather then a ride. You are lead into the movie experience with movement, sound, sight and smell. Yep smell.  

"Hi" Shrek. I was unable to convince any of my children or husband to stand with characters while we were visiting Universal.

Once we had seen the 4-D movie of Shrek we were off to another of my all time favorite rides; Transformers.

 This ride was another long line. We had some fun pushing buttons while we walked to the rides boarding docks. Like many of the Universal rides, this blends movies and moving seats to create an adventure,

 Bumble Bee, my favorite Transformer.

 These guys were very cool!
Up next was New York.  Funny we had to go all the way to Florida to go to NY.
In New York we went to the Twister ride.

 This was not so much of a ride as a show. Actor Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt discuss the impact of a Twister on the environment and the making of the twister movie before you are experiencing a twister yourself right in front of your eyes. It was both exciting and scary to watch this natural (man made) event fall out before you.
 After Twister we made our way to the Revenge of the Mummy. This was another one of my favorites.
 This ride is an indoor roller coaster that is themed with Images of The Mummy. I loved this ride.
 We had made our way around the park and by then we were all very hungry for lunch. Ben had recommend Louie's Italian restaurant home of real NY pizza and it was so yummy. Once again Universal won the award for food.

 After lunch we headed to San Francisco
Mels,I'm not sure, but it made me think of the show Alice. I remember Flo used to say "Mel, Kiss my grits."
We made our way to the ride Disaster.We (the audience) happen upon a major motion picture being made. Several people are chosen to play key characters in the movie. We first enter the stage production room where individuals are provided with direction. ACTION,....

 Here we are learning about the stage studio and camera work.
 We are then hurried into the set. It is a train and we all take our seat with instructions to begin yelling and failing our arms, The director calls ACTION and we are experiencing an actual disaster as the walls begin to fall and things blow up around us, we also experience a flood of water that rushes at us as the train falls and shifts under our bodies. We are shown the footage of the performance when the action is complete and its a cut!

Up next is World Expo. About now the park is completely filled with people and the lines are becoming LONGER and LONGER. We were all feeling the effects of standing in long line, but kept pushing on and headed to The Simpson's Ride. This ride was brand new when we were last visiting Orlando and the pictures promoting the ride were everywhere. I am not sure I would wait in the long line to ride it again however. It was pretty neat, but the wait time was out of control.

After what seemed like an eternity and what made it seem so deceptive about the lines is there was a maze of lines some went some ways some went others. This made you think you were waiting longer when the people in front of you disappeared and you went off in another direction. We finally made it to the ride, which is a simulated movie ride where you go on an adventure with Bart, Homer, Maggie, Lisa and Marge at Krusty's playland. You can only imagine what trouble could occur.  

 Pictured above we are almost there. We wait in a small room that open to a car that remains in another room while you watch the movie.  I enjoy these types of rides, but I was so irritated by the long wait, I struggled to find enjoyment.
I had much more fun hanging out in the area around the featured ride. Here Gavin takes a phone call (the phone randomly rings and Barts voice is heard doing a crank call.)
 Apparently it wasn't that funny.
 Then we headed to Duffs for a beer. Yes, I actually had a Duff beer. (It was like a Coors).

 Ben ordered a Flaming Moe. See the smoke coming off his glass?

 A cold beverage recharged us all and we were back to the next activity FEAR FACTOR Live

 Just like the television show. people were to perform crazy stunts to prove they had what it takes to beat their fears.

 Hanging on the longest.

 Bugs in the box.

 Crazy Stunts...and eating really GROSS stuff.
 The final two had to climb down a wall find flags and keys made their way to the car and push a button before the other.

 It was all very exciting. I truly enjoyed this show.
After Fear Factor the boys went to Men in Black ride. Mark and I waited outside and they went in as single riders making the wait less. It was becoming even more crowded and HOT too.
We made our way to the next area and newest as well. In fact this area is so new, I didn't even know it existed until we were reviewing the maps. Hidden in the walls of England 

just beyond the buildings...(do you spy any thing odd lounging above those chimney. )

Yes there it is, Diagon Alley. Its location was literally behind the wall. If you were not looking for this area you may easily walk right past it. We didn't even attempt to ride any of the area rides as it was so crowded, Even walking the streets eyeballing the many shops and decor was difficult. We did find a second wand store with only a very short line where Gavin purchased his very own Professor Dumbledore wand.  

Some of the wand (for a few extra dollars and this one was $40- without it) have an interactive devise within it that when waved in front of store locations and other areas of both Hogwarts and Diagon Ally will move, make noise, spit water etc. It all sounded like a ton of fun, but we just didn't see the need in having such a wand.
I would like to simply spend some time just walking around looking at all the details. Each store front have such interesting book/movie references.
but look up ahead...what is that??? Is that a dragon?
He looked so creepy and life like lingering up there atop Gingotts Bank.

Here is a side view and look he is blowing fire!!! This had to be the best part.
After enjoying the fire breathing dragon we had some ice cream from one of the little stores. Floreans Fortescue Ice Cream Parlor. I skipped the Butterbeer\flavor and went straight for chocolate.

Some more store fronts...

Then we were heading back towards World Expo when I saw these guys.. I still couldn't convince my family to pose with them.

Along the way we stopped to see the Delorion (sp) from Back to the Future. Beyond that is the train that Doc comes back in from the Third movie.

Pretty cool.
There were also some of the cars from Fast and the Furious.
In Woody Woodpeckers Kid Zone, which we barley entered except to ride ET had several kiddie rides. We decided to by pass the children's ride and made a direct line to ET.
This was neat, but definitely one of the older rides in the park. The ET themed ride takes you through the forest where ET is found then you are lifted up in your bike with ET into the sky.   
ET's phone to reach his people.
This was one of those rides like Small World in Disney that really are not that exciting, but you have to go on it so you can say you did it.
Hollywood staged like old time Hollywood was next and people were getting ready for the afternoon parade. We breezed into Lucy's tribute and past the Brown Derby. My family had had enough for the day.

I was able to catch a photo of the boys in front of the Universal globe as it spun around on its axial.
We were not to tired to try a visit to the World Largest McDonalds Playland.

We got a drink and took in some sights.

Like this giant cup of coffee and does anyone remember this Moon Man from the McDonalds commercials back in the 80s?
It was certainly one very unusual McDonalds. But we didn't want to EAT at McDonalds....nope we wanted to try something new Checkers won and it was right across the street. Once again...Burgers and fries. We sure are predictable.