Sunday, July 24, 2016
Univerisal's Islands of Adventure & Hogsmeade
Another 5:30 wake-up call and a continental breakfast and we were on the ferry again at 6AM this time bound for Islands of Adventure. Again first in line we positioned ourselves more central to the gates as we learned yesterday they pull one family from the front of the line to open the park and get a express pass for the day (which normally costs $100 per person). We watched the sun come up, but were not chosen.
When the gates opened we were ushered via roped off path to the back of the park. About half way there they did check to ensure we had our room key. We could see rising in the back of the park the castle that is Hogwarts. Entering Hogsmeade we went straight for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. Another ride that is a mix of 3D, moving cart, and incredible imagery. We were flying on our broomstick around Hogwarts. It was amazing...so much so Alec and I went on it again while my rather green parents sat it out. It was now 7:50 and we played with our wands a little in the streets of Hogsmeade while we waited for Dragon Challenge™ rollercoaster to open. Dad, Alec, and I were one of the first in line.
Now 8AM the park was opening for the public, so we decided to move it along outside Hogsmeade and went on The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man®, again without my parents as it was a 3D high-flying adventure. Now 8:30 the sun was up and it was getting warm fast, so we went on back to back water rides. I mean once you are wet...why not. So we did Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls®,Popeye & Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges®, Jurassic Park River Adventure® all in a row. In fact everyone except Mom did Jurassic twice. I was now miserably wet, so my Dad was nice enough to pay $5 so our entire family could go get into a huge stand-up dryer.
It was only 10AM and we had done all the rides we wanted to do. Well, there was Kong, but it's line was 90 minutes and my parents were a little worried about the fear factor for Alec. And then the Hulk roller coaster was not open. So we headed back to Hogsmeade for a snack. Well, a snack Harry Potter style. A frozen butter beer for us kids as well as a chocolate frog from Honeydukes. And then my parents had beers that are brewed especially for the adults in the Harry Potter portions of the Universal Parks, Hogshead brew and Dragontail Ale. My parents sat in the shade while we rode the Dragon Challenege again. Now 11:30 we decided to hurry back to the hotel and try again for the pool.
Back by ferry and up to our room we again met our room being cleaned. We quickly in broken Spanish asked if we could change and down to the pool we went. My brother and I got two slides down the water slide when the thunder bombed and the lifeguards told us to get out. We had just wrapped up in towels and were on our parents lounge chairs when the sky opened up and out came one of the largest downpours I have ever seen. We were soaked! We went up to our room to find our cleaner still there. Wow! They sure are thorough...or slow. We hung out in a little nook in the hallway and waited for about 25 minutes until she finished. Changed we went downstairs to a little grab and go type place and got sandwiches and other for lunch. Again another big nap for my parents and some tv vegging for us.
The skies would finally brighten up again around 5 and we headed to CityWalk and Jimmy Buffett’s® Margaritaville®. At first we followed the crowd into the main lobby where their was quite a wait, but Dad overheard them telling someone there was seating out on the deck. Ahh...everyone wanted the air conditioning. We went around the corner to the deck and was greeted by a really nice lady who we would find out was married to the man who was Jimmy Buffet's plane mechanic and the plane right out in front of the restaurant was the one that was shot at and the song "Jamaica Mistaica" was about. Our family is very familiar with the song because it happened in Negril where we have traveled numerous times.
Back into Universal we went back to Hogsmeade for a little shopping at Filch's Emporium of Confiscated Goods and we watched the a show of the Hogswart choir complete with croaking frogs. Ready to say goodbye to the crowds we opted to walk back to our hotel this evening. It was about 15 minutes and we earned ice cream before heading to bed. My brother and I ordered this Caribbean shake that turned out to not be very good, so my parents traded us for their cones of Nutella Pistachio and Salted Caramel. Then off to bed as we had a fairly early morning flight to Miami, then on to St Thomas in the American Virgin Islands and then a ferry ride to St John's. It was going to be a long travel day.