Our first stop was the Pteranodon Flyers. Alec, Evan and myself all rode up in the sky hanging from the track like a Pteranodon. It was lots of fun and the ride emptied out into a dinosaur themed play area. I told the boys they could play for a little bit but reminded them that if they wanted to ride Flight of the Hippogriff again we needed to get to Hogsmeade before it got too crowded. They ran around for a while up rope bridges, through look out towers and down slides. They had fun until Evan thought he was lost and started to cry. Luckily he was nearby and I could hear him so I popped into view and assured him he was fine.
|Learning about dinosaurs in Jurassic park|
We entered Hogsmeade and immediately went to Flight of the Hippogriff. We all rode once and Alec was fine being paired off with a complete stranger. As we were standing in line waiting for the roller coaster to come around he was telling her all about Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley. The older boys liked the ride so much they asked to ride it again immediately. The line was pretty much non-existent so I agreed. Evan and my husband decided to sit out the final ride and we found them sipping non-frozen Butterbeer as we exited the ride. Alec wanted some Butterbeer too so we got him a cup and the boys spent the rest of our time in Hogsmeade casting spells around the town using their maps and wands. Alec liked to pretend his map was the Marauder's Map and was heard to mutter "mischief managed" a time or two. They would have happily spent the entire day in the Harry Potter worlds again but we reminded them that there were other fun rides too.
We boarded the Hogwarts Express back to London and the younger boys kept their wands out to fend off dementors. They were trying to keep them hidden from all the muggles we saw and they were having a ball. We went to Diagon Alley and rode Escape from Gringotts. Alec was real scared to even try it but we managed to get him on the ride. Most of the rides at Universal Studios are 3-D motion pictures combined with movement. Alec does not like 3-D and chooses to ride the rides without his glasses. He was so scared this time I didn't use my glasses either but kept reassuring him he was OK and everything was fake. It was a very neat ride! The special effects were amazing and the other two boys just loved it. They wanted to go inside the Magical Menagerie and pick out some stuffed animals. I hated the idea of carrying them around all day but didn't want to have to walk all the way to the back of the park to get them at the end of the day either. Alec chose a pink pygmy puff like Ginny has in the book and Evan chose a nice gray Hippogriff. They kept their animals and wands out while we walked around and they each cast a final spell or two before exiting Diagon Alley.
We all rode Men in Black Alien Attack and I got the highest score! We were being trained as recruits for Men in Black and had laser guns that we had to shoot at aliens for points. It was fun and silly and we all enjoyed it. It's nice that Universal Studios provides lockers free of charge near all the rides that don't allow bags on them. I also loved that almost every ride was indoors in air conditioning; a real plus when you're walking around in the hot Florida sun all day. We walked around and saw the DeLorean from back to the future as well as some other movie props.
After Men in Black we got some drinks and walked around while heading towards the Simpsons ride. My kids had no idea who the Simpsons were but they LOVED this ride. They're still reciting lines from the movie we watched. Throughout the wait areas there are TV screens with episodes of the Simpsons being shown. The ride itself is placed inside an amusement park and you're following the Simpsons as they try to escape from Sideshow Bob, who's trying to kill them. It's all presented in a funny, slapstick comedy kind of way and the kids were laughing uproariously the whole time. At least two of them told me this was a favorite of theirs!
We were walking around looking for some lunch ideas as we wandered across the E.T. Adventure ride. I had heard this was really cute and great for families so I convinced the boys to go on the ride. We sat on a giant bike and glided over cop cars and through the woods in a race to get E.T. back home to his planet. At the end of the ride we end up in E.T's world and see his friends and family. It was really cute and since we've watched E.T. the boys got a lot of the references in the forest scenes.
We found the boys some snacks and we went to watch a live show called Animal Actors on Location. We learned all about how they train animals to work on television and movie sets. While waiting for the show to start they all sorts of trivia questions about animals in movies; many of them about Harry Potter which really excited the boys. We got to see how they film birds in flight and how they use computer aided graphics to enhance footage of animals actors and make them talk. We saw birds, otters, dogs, skunks, and even cats. It was a super cute and fun show to watch. The boys just loved it.
|The pig cleans up garbage!|
|Showing how they film birds in front of a blue screen so they|
can add in background effects later with computers
|Watching how they make dogs talk in movies|
We stopped for lunch at a diner and shared some milk shakes, fries, burgers and chicken fingers. We passed by a mini little parade area with floats, music and dancing Spongebob characters. While eating we talked about what was left to see and do. We wandered over to the Transformer building but the older two boys didn't want to ride. The wait was a little long (like 20 minutes-- OK so I know that isn't a long wait time but it was for us at this time of the year) so we decided to go check out Despicable Me Minion Mayhem. We used our fast passes from Gringotts and walked right onto the next ride. It too is a moving picture ride and it was adorable. The boys love the minions and Gru and they were laughing a lot all through the waiting areas where they show video clips and all through the ride. It was awesome!
|Gru is telling us all about becoming minions|
We walked across the rode and went into the Shrek 4-d theatre. Alec was a bit leery since he doesn't like Shrek or 3-D movies but it was cute and funny and I'm pretty sure all the boys enjoyed it. The skies were getting pretty dark and we weren't sure how much longer the rain would hold off. Evan still really wanted to try out the Transformer ride and so we headed that way. We passed Bumblebee and Optimus Prime. The boys were thinking about getting in line to meet Bumblebee but we were told the line was closed. Imagine our disappointment when Optimus Prime showed up just minutes later! We could have gotten in line to meet him but by that time the line was already really long. We were bummed but Evan was more focused on the ride and Ian wanted to head into the Transformer store and buy a toy. We agreed that I'd wait in the store with the older two boys and my husband would take Evan on the ride (the ride, of course, dumps you out in the gift shop so we thought that would work perfectly). Within minutes of getting into the store the skies opened up and just started down pouring. We heard very loud claps of thunder and saw bright streaks of lightening. The store got very, very crowded at that point with everyone trying to hide from the storm and buy ponchos. I received a text from my husband that the ride had broken down and they were stuck on it! After a very long wait in a very crowded store we finally saw them exit the ride. They had to get off the ride and walk to the exit. They were given express passes to try and ride again at another time or another day but we decided to just call it a day.
The rain had let up slightly and it had been a while since we heard any thunder or anything so we started walking towards the front of the park. The rain started coming down a bit harder and in no time we were soaked to the skin. We heard some thunder and saw a huge streak of lightening so we headed into the nearest shop to finish waiting out the storm. Once the thunder and lightening stopped for good we made a run for the car. I commented that it probably wasn't a good day to get the kids picture in front of the giant globe that says Universal Studios but saw my opportunity near the exit turnstiles. Once through the turnstiles we still had a long way to go to get to the car and we decided to keep on trying to run; why I'm really not sure since we were already very, very wet. Somehow it just made it more fun though. Alec and I lost our flip flops in some of the huge puddles along the way and ended up pulling them off, running barefoot to the bridge that connects the parks to the cars. We were laughing and at that point we were so wet we couldn't possibly have gotten any wetter. Puddles up to my knees were dotted here and there, the rain was coming down so hard at time it seemed to be bouncing right back up and soaking our pants. It was definitely a time in our trip we'll never forget!
|They were wet here but by the time we reached the car no one had a single dry spot ANYWHERE!|