Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Universal Day 4

Backposting for November of 2017

Our fourth day at the parks, we kind of dabbled in both "dry" parks, but got plenty wet!

Here are some highlights...

She rang the bell, so she won a bracelet.

See that black lump under the water?  That's Clyde.

After we had gotten thoroughly hungry, worn out, and soaked (only some of us), we went to a restaurant that has supposedly won awards as far as theme park restaurants.  It's called Mythos and had an ancient Greek theme.  It is visually gorgeous, and the food was tasty!

Remember that picture where Clyde got drenched??  Well, when he sat in the restaurant the AC was too much for him.  He was shaking uncontrollably, and his lips started turning blue... so I bought him that Ravenclaw sweatshirt :)

It was a seriously cool restaurant!

It wasn't too long after dinner, when the kids started talking about park-hopping again, that Nena, Papa, and Sherry decided they were done for the day, but told us to carry on and get our last day's worth out of the park.

 So, we went back to Universal Studios and Iris bought and interactive wand in Daigon Alley.  If you move the wands in certain patterns, cameras pick up the motions and different neat things happen, like a feather levitating, or a bird starts singing, or a fountain turns on.  It's pretty neat.

Then there was more Men in Black and Transformers to take in.

...more benches to rest on whilst your family uses the bathroom.

 ...more falling asleep while standing, as you wait for the Hogwarts Express to take you closer to your bed...

 ...and then when you arrive safely back in Hogsmeade, only to realize you're about to leave once and for all without ever having tasted a butterbeer, you finally buy your very own...

And then we staggered out and drove back to our rental house ready to pack up the next morning!!  It was a beautiful trip!

Monday, June 11, 2018

Volcano Bay! (Universal Day 3)

Backposting for November of 2017

Our third day at the parks was spent at Volcano Bay, Universal's new water park. 

Ya'll... their wristbands that they pass out to everybody make the wait times so much better.  The pavement and sand don't burn and tear up your feet like that of most water parks, and the ends of the slides don't almost drown you.  It's a really clean and beautiful water park.

Here is Iris modeling the wristband each guest is given when they enter the park.  You walk to which ever ride you don't want to stand in line for, scan your wrist band and then go do something else, like play in a lazy river, until you feel your band vibrate, then you have several minutes to get back to the original ride, and you just hop on.  It's really great!

 This gorgeous volcano behind us has three slide inside it, two of which have a floor that drops out from underneath you.  Clyde rode both!!

Wrapped around the volcano is a wave pool, and there are beautiful lights under and around the waterfall that make the volcano glow in different colors at night.

We rode this slide and it's sister slide several times with no line, when we first arrived!

There are two "lazy rivers" at Volcano Bay, but one isn't really lazy, it's like a speed river.  It keeps you moving rapidly, and while it is very exciting, it can stress people out too.  Nena was NOT a fan!  Probably anyone who is young or not a strong swimmer won't enjoy it so much.  These guys ADORED it though!

Here is the REAL lazy river!  It is very scenic and goes through a fun lit up cave!!  We went around several times!

Next up was a water roller coaster.  This one was definitely my favorite!!!  I think it was the kids' favorite too!!  This was the first ride for which we used our wristbands to hold our place in line.

During a locker/potty/snack break, I had to take this shot of Lu drinking Dr Pepper with THOSE CURLS!!!

And my pretty Mama!  Ya'll seriously, who would have ever guessed that this healthy, adventurous Mama would be having open heart surgery two months after this picture was taken??!!

Normally, at water parks my syncope isn't as bad, because the water helps bring my temperature down, but it kicked in after a couple hours.  The kids got to keep sliding and riding with Sherry and Nena while Stephen and I got dry and stayed in the shade with our feet in the water.

I'm blessed in that I have an awesome Mom and sister who will continue to take pictures in my absence!

After they got done with all the slides and rides, Mom joined Stephen and I, while Sherry and the kids got in the wave pool and played as the sun went down and the volcano lit up!

I was still wearing my Hufflepuff colors :)

This was an amazingly fun day!!  And it wore us out well!

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Universal Day 2

Backposting for November of 2017

Day two at Universal, we decided that even though we were going to Universal Studios for most of the day, we would start in Islands of Adventure so we could ride the Hogwart's Express to the Studios park and back. 

Since we had already been through Islands of Adventure, we kind of went at a more relaxed pace and took advantage of some fun photo ops...

 Iris and Clyde walked up to this fountain, and it started talking to them and having a conversation with them.  And if they teased it too much it would increase the water pressure and splash them.  It was hysterical!

Ha!  This one cracks me up!

Everyone is excited about our ride in the Hogwart's Express!!

It did NOT disappoint!  Seriously, the Express is so fun (if you're into Harry Potter, if not, then it's not worth the extra money)

The Night Bus!

12 Grimmauld Place!

Sneaking in to the Ministry of Magic...

Our first glimpse of Daigon Alley!  It was wonderful!

Gringott's Bank!  The dragon really breathes fire, and there is a VERY cool ride in Gringott's!!

Inside Weasley's Wizard Wheezes.  This was a really, really, really neat store.

Iris purchasing her Pygmy Puff...

Lucy next to the counter where the tellers are at Gringott's Bank...

On the Escape from Gringott's ride...  Lucy is pretty game for most rides, but she does have a phobia of fire, so if there are fire breathing dragons and she can actually feel the heat, that goes on the clutch-daddy-tightly list.

We ate at a shockingly quiet, nice, and tasty restaurant called Lombard's Seafood Grill.  I highly recommend this place; it gives you a nice air-conditioned break, during which, you will forget you are in a theme park.

As we ventured away from the Harry Potter stuff, we arrived at the Men in Black ride.  This one is SUPER fun!! You're shooting at targets as you practice being an agent, and you are competing with others in your car.  We all loved it!

Next was ET.  This one is nice and cool, and leisurely.  The flying scene is beautiful, and you're on a bike, it kind of gets a bit weird after that, but we still really enjoyed it!!  And Iris may have fallen in love with an ET plush doll at the end. ;)

Papa making Iris laugh after she was close to having a panic attack.  Yup, anxiety can even follow you to your vacation destination, but thankfully for us, it left her fairly quickly.

The Minion ride was next and EVERYONE of us laughed SO hard just while we waited in line!!  Seriously, waiting in line was hysterical!

After the Minion ride, four of us rode transformers!  It was great!  We are huge fans of Bumblebee, though.

We ended our loop through Universal Studios back in Daigon Alley, and the kids went into the wand shop.  It was gorgeous, and very realistic!

I attempted a pic of Stephen and kids outside Gringott's, but I had too much backlight.

We went back to the Hogwart's Express. 

And after ending up BACK in Islands of Adventure, and walking to the exit of the park, we were all exhausted.  We very gratefully stumbled into Margaritaville for dinner.

A very funny and friendly balloon guy on stiltz ( our table was up high) chatted it up with Iris while making her a sword.

 It was a REALLY super fun, and amazing day!!