We decided that Wednesday was going to be the day we did a theme park. We were in complete agreement that the park in question should be Universal; between the new Harry Potter attraction and a coaster that Mr Chili really wanted to ride, it seemed that Universal was the way to go. We also found out that, because of the volume they were expecting (we’re not the only ones on April vacation, you know), the park was going to open at 8:00, so we bit the proverbial bullet and decided we’d get up early and try to get there as soon as they let people in.
Nearly $500 bucks later, we four had tickets (the TwoBlueDays, Bluemoon and Newmoon got their annual passes) and were making a beeline for Hogsmead. After a bit of confusion, we figured out that we could leave the bags with Bluemoon (who’d been on the ride before) and could skip the line for the lockers (which snaked about a half a mile down the street and around the lagoon). Mr. Chili bought the little girls some butterbeers, thinking that we’d have to wait forever, but once we figured out that we could go right in, they tried to finish them up quickly.
It turns out they needn’t have bothered. By the time we got up to where the bag-free line began, the attendant announced that the ride had broken down and, if we liked, we could take a self-guided walking tour of the castle I choked back my disappointment and took a stroll through the portrait hall (which was really pretty neat; the founders of the school – Helga Hufflepuff, Salazar Slitherin, Godric Griffindor, and Rowena Ravenclaw – were discussing the newest batch of students, and the effects were really well done. From there, we moved into Dumbledore’s office, which was pretty well appointed (though I couldn’t find the pensive). From there, we took a quick pass by the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom, then past the Great Hall, then got spit out into the gift shop. The ride still wasn’t running, and Gerry heard an attendant said that the attraction goes down a lot – sometimes for just a minute or two, sometimes for hours. We decided not to hang around and wait to see which it would be today.
From there, I took Bluemoon’s place in line for Olivander’s wand shop so she and Mr. Chili and Newmoon and Beanie could ride on the coaster formerly known as Dueling Dragons – it was renamed Dragon Challenge for the Harry Potter theme. I didn’t think Bean would want to do such an adventurous coaster, but she came off grinning like a fool and was the first to say “yes!” when it was suggested that the group go back to ride the other dragon. They came back in time to get into Olivander’s to see a little show about a wand choosing its wizard, then got shunted into a too-crowded gift shop from which I just wanted to escape (I’ll do my souvenir shopping online, I think).
We decided, after the second coaster ride, to get the hell out of Dodge. Our first stop was a snack; I grabbed a table while Bluemoon bought a couple of baskets of chicken fingers and fries for the whole family to share. From there, it was off to Seuss Land. Gerry’s got some much nicer pictures than I; go to his site and have a look around.
The girls got on One Fish, Two Fish, then I took them for a ride on the little elevated train that takes guests around the attraction. Mr. Chili and Bluemoon were going to ride on the Hulk, but they found a 90 minute wait when they got there, so they bailed. Once we got off the train, we headed to Toon Lagoon so Mr. Chili, Bluemoon, and the girls could ride the the Bilge-Rat raft ride. Yes; they all came off soaked.
From there, we headed for another snack at Margaritaville while we contemplated heading to the other park so Mr. Chili and Bluemoon could ride this stupid thing:
When we got there, though, the ride was closed. There are no words for their disappointment. The day was saved, though, when, as we were walking away, we watched some cars moving through the ride – it looked like they were testing it to start it back up again. They literally ran back to the ride while Gerry, Honey, the girls, and I made for the E.T. ride.
We got in fairly quickly and had a lovely time. I think that the ride is more fun if you’ve seen the movie, though, and I found out (much to my surprise) that the girls haven’t yet seen E.T. I don’t know how that happened – it’s aired nearly every Christmas – so I’ll have to rent it for them. When we finished the ride, Mr. Chili and Bluemoon were at our exit, their hair all tousled and with huge, wide grins on their faces. Not only did they get right in, but they got the first row. That score pretty much saved the entire day for Mr. Chili.
From E.T. we walked to the Men in Black ride, which was quite a bit of fun. Bluemoon got the high score in our car.
After that, we were cooked, so we made our way back to the car (after stopping at a shop to buy the promised chocolate frogs) and had a truly wonderful dinner at a Cheesecake Factory on the way home. We all slept like the dead last night.
Today was about shopping. Mr. Chili wants a new wallet, so we had some (mis)adventures looking for the Fossil outlet store We’re having breakfast for dinner tonight, and we’re thinking about taking in a movie tomorrow.